Grill on fragrant wood planks for subtle, smoky flavors. Try plank grilling with fish, meats, and vegetables. There’s nothing to it!
King of the Plank
Salmon is the original partner for the plank. It’s a pairing that dates back to the native people of the Pacific Northwest, who grilled salmon over open fires on planks of cedar and alder. Salmon’s still the champion. Here are some top-rated planked salmon recipes.
How to Plank Grill
When choosing a plank, pick only untreated cedar, alder, hickory, or maple. Here are a few other tips to ensure plank-grilling success:
- Prepare the plank by soaking it at least one hour in a bucket or cooler filled with water. This adds moisture to the wood and prevents it from burning on the grill.
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt or 1 cup of white wine, apple juice, citrus, or berry juice to the soaking water to accent wood aromas.
- If a plank is being used for the first time, season it by placing it on a preheated grill for 2 minutes, turning once. Lightly toasting the plank on both sides will intensify its smoky flavor and prevent warping. When the plank starts crackling, it’s ready for cooking.
- Place marinated or ready-to-cook foods directly on the plank. Keep the grill’s lid closed as much as possible to maintain temperatures and maximize smoking. Note: Planked food does not have to be turned during grilling.
- Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy so flames can be extinguished if the plank starts to burn.
- Remove the plank from the grill and place into a container of water.
- Rinse a used plank with soap and water and let it dry. Re-soaking for another use is optional. Store plank in a dry, clean place.
- Reuse grilling planks about two or three times. If there’s wood left, you can use the plank.
- Crumble up charred planks over coals to use as smoking chips.
Choosing a Wood Plank
Different woods provide distinct, subtle flavors.
- Western Red Cedar–Sweet, spicy, with a mild smokiness; versatile for fish to veggies.
- Western Alder–Robustly smoky with a hint of vanilla; ideal for salmon, other fish, vegetables, cheese, and even pizza.
- Western Maple–Mildly smoky with buttery accents; suitable for all foods.
- Shagbark Hickory–Rich smoke with subtle, bacon-like flavor; excellent with burgers, meats, and poultry.
Pioneers of the Plank
Native people of the Pacific Northwest have used the plank grilling method for generations. Each summer, they held ritual ceremonies and feasts giving thanks for the annual return of wild Pacific salmon to their home rivers and streams. Roasting the magnificent fish on cedar and alder planks over an open fire was part of the celebration.
More Top Plank Recipes: