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How to Plank-Grill For Subtle, Smoky BBQ Flavors

Plank Grilled Salmon with Fresh Dill and Cucumber Sauce

Photo by Meredith

Rock the plank!

Try grilling fish, meats, and vegetables on fragrant wood planks. We'll share tips for plank-grilling and favorite recipes to try.

How to Plank Grill

When choosing a plank, pick only untreated cedar, alder, hickory, or maple. Different woods provide distinct, subtle, smoky 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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy so flames can be extinguished if the plank starts to burn.

TIP: Crumble up charred planks over coals to use as smoking chips.

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.

Related: How To Easily Remove Pin Bones From Salmon

Planked salmon with cherry tomato and basil relish

Photo by Meredith

VIDEO: How to Plank Grill a Salmon

In this video, you'll see how to make Cedar Planked Salmon with Dill.

Related: Essential Tips For Grilling Seafood

After Plank Grilling

  • Remove the plank from the grill and place into a container of water.
  • Reuse grilling planks about two or three times. If there's wood left, you can use the plank. Re-soaking for another use is optional.
  • Rinse used planks with soap and water and let dry. Store plank in a dry, clean place.

Plank Recipes That Aren't Salmon

Grilled Peaches and walnuts with Goat Cheese

Photo by Meredith

More: See our collection of BBQ & Grilled Seafood Recipes.

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