Knowing how to make cedar plank grilled salmon means yes, you can ensure your pricey catch won’t stick to the grill grate or slip through it while while you imbue it with a subtle smokiness. (As the authors of this recipe note, the skin will stick to the plank during grilling, but that’s okay. Just leave it on the plank and revel in the rest of the fish.)–David Leite

Cedar Plank-Grilled Salmon FAQs

What does the cedar plank do for salmon?

The cedar plank will help to season your salmon and give it a deeply fragrant, smoky flavor. The steam coming from the plank as it cooks will also help your fish to cook evenly.

What types of fish can be grilled on a cedar plank?

Choose smaller fish, or smaller filets – dependent on the size of your plank. Aside from salmon, walleye, sea bass, grilled trout, and char are all great options.

Why does fish need to rest before grilling?

Allowing your fish to come to room temperature on the counter or cutting board for 15-ish minutes prior to cooking will ensure that it cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out. This time also allows the fish to absorb some of the salt and seasoning.

How do I decipher the label on the salmon package?

We know it can be intimidating when confronted by all those terms scribbled on those maddeningly teensy signs alongside fish at the seafood counter. You know, like “Atlantic” and “farmed” and “organic” and so on.

But instead of launching into the merits of wild versus farm-raised or deciphering what, if anything, “organic” means when it comes to anything pulled from the sea, we’ll simply state that in the Pacific Northwest, late spring and early summer still constitutes wild salmon season.

So all you really need to look for are signs that state “wild” and “Pacific” and “salmon.” If you want to take things a little more complicated, know that “King” referring to a mild, idyllic, fatty fat fat variety of salmon and “sockeye” an über-rich, more robustly colored–and flavored–variety. (We’re partial to King. But that’s just us.)

Can I soak the cedar plank in something besides water?

Sure. Soaking your plank in wine, cider, or sake will help to impart additional flavors to the salmon. However, that will add significant expense to your meal, so rest assured that it will still turn out wonderfully if you choose to soak your plank in tap water.

Half of a whole salmon on a cedar plank over glowing coals.

Cedar Plank–Grilled Salmon

5 / 4 votes
This easy cedar plank grilled salmon is made on your grill with a simple Asian-inspired glaze of wasabi, sugar, soy sauce, and ginger.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories338 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


  • Four 1/8-inch-thick cedar planks, 8 to 10 inches long


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the plank
  • Four (6- to 8- ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, (or substitute arctic char or trout)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared wasabi, (that is wasabi paste from a jar or a tube)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce, (or tamari for a gluten-free option)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • Salt


  • Soak the cedar planks in water to cover for 12 or so hours.
  • Blot the planks dry with paper towels. Soak a new paper towel in olive oil and brush it along one side of each plank.
  • Season the salmon with salt to taste and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • Mix together the oil, wasabi, sugar, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl.
  • Using paper towels, wipe off any moisture that accumulates on the surface of the salmon. Place each fillet, skin side down, on the oiled side of a cedar plank and generously brush the top of each fillet with some of the marinade.
  • Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot.
  • Place the planks on the grill, cover, and cook until the salmon fillets begin to split on top, the marinade bubbles, and the salmon is cooked to the desired doneness, about 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. (The planks may smolder a little, but that’s okay.)
  • Let the salmon rest a few minutes before wiggling a metal spatula between the salmon skin and the fillet and easing the fillet portion of the salmon from the skin, which will remain attached to the planks. Serve the salmon immediately.
  • Discard the planks after dinner, once they've cooled completely.
The Japanese Grill

Adapted From

The Japanese Grill

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 338 kcalCarbohydrates: 8 gProtein: 35 gFat: 18 gSaturated Fat: 3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gCholesterol: 94 mgSodium: 221 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 6 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Tadashi Ono | Harris Salat. Photo © 2011 Jun Takagi. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe, as written, is spot on and resulted in a delicious piece of fish with a very complex flavor that belied the simple preparation and quick cooking time. This plank grilled salmon recipe will literally turn your run-of-the-mill salmon into a rockstar, basking in all the adoration and adulation it deserves.

Two golden fillet of cedar plank–grilled salmon on wood

I kid you not when I say my seven-year-old son, while solemnly placing a hand on his chest, stated, “This salmon has married my heart.” That alone warrants a 10 in my book.

My Primal Grilling cedar planks were 7/16 inch thick and came with a suggested soaking time of 1 to 2 hours. We chose 2 hours. This worked just fine as the planks did not catch fire and only smoldered around the edges.

I would like to caution against tasting the marinade prior to cooking—I almost blew out my sinuses (if there was a “laughing hysterically at self” emoji, it would go here). But do not panic! Although I don’t understand the science behind it, the heat from the grill tempers wasabi’s hostile set-your-face-on-fire kick.

We loved this salmon. The cedar imparted an undertone of sweet smokiness, and the marinade mirrored the sweetness without overwhelming the fish. It tasted fantastic and was also quick and easy to make.

We found it needed an additional 15 minutes (beyond the eight stated in the recipe) on our grill before the marinade started to bubble, and at that point our salmon was done perfectly and still was very moist. We served it with very simple sides: steamed rice and sautéed broccoli florets.

If you’re afraid to grill fish because of it sticking to the grill or falling apart, then this cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe is for you! It’s a great weeknight grilling dish—as long as you remember to soak the planks ahead of time.

Easy to prepare, with delicious Asian flavors. The wasabi amount was a lot, so adjust it to your taste. The bite is a nice offset to the fattiness of the salmon. Delicious.

The grilled salmon came off of the cedar plank very easily. It was really moist and tender! Despite the amount of wasabi, the glaze wasn’t harsh at all.

In fact, the Asian flavours have quite an addictive quality, and I’m glad to have had a bit of the glaze left over. I brushed a little over the salmon at the table to heighten the flavour experience.

Notes: 1. Soaking time may vary. My cedar plank was a tad thinner than 1/8-inch, and cooking only took about 30 minutes. 2. The skin remained on the plank when I removed the salmon, which was rather nice, as a lot of people don’t like the texture of it.

This Asian-style cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe is easy and delicious. The recipe suggests soaking the cedar plank overnight. I’ve used cedar planks on many occasions, and have found that you only need to soak it for 4 hours or so.

The one tip I learned from this recipe is to oil the cedar plank. I don’t know why I never thought of this before, but it sure helps in removing the fish.

The marinade comes together very quickly, and the wasabi gives it a nice tang. I used Wild Copper River Salmon and California sea bass. They both turned out wonderful.

I might try, next time, adding less sugar. It wasn’t too sweet, but I think I’d have liked more of the wasabi heat and tang to shine through.

I loved the salmon prepared this way. Cooking on the cedar plank was so simple and the marinade caramelized on top of the salmon. The cedar smelled great as it was cooking and infused the salmon with a subtle smoky flavor.

I worried that the wasabi would be a competing strong flavor for the salmon, but it mellowed as it cooked.

This recipe offers a lot of flavor for being so quick and easy. The only prep to do is to soak the cedar planks in the morning or night before. I used a charcoal grill, so the salmon took about 4 minutes longer to cook. I’d gauge that my temperature was more of a medium than medium-hot. The fish still turned out incredibly moist.

If I could change anything about the recipe, it would be the glaze—I found it to be a little on the sweet side. I might dial back the sugar or add more wasabi or soy next time.

This cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe is a delicious way to grill salmon, but it comes with a few precautions. My gas grill cooks very hot, so I chose to use the indirect grill method.

Even with that, my cedar plank charred and burned. I sprayed it with water during cooking, but the board couldn’t possibly be used again (is it supposed to be?) with this technique. It took about 25 minutes to cook my salmon to an internal temperature of 135°F.

I wonder if we can substitute for powdered wasabi, as each tube of wasabi costs $2.49—and a full tube is needed for this recipe. Overall, though, the fish was moist, flavorful and a bit smoky—a winner. The recipe is perfect, but the technique needs to be refined for different grills.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks great and I’ve already prepared the dressing. Just wondering if I use skinned salmon fillets and place them directly on the cedar plank ?

    1. Idit, I think you’ll find without the skin, the fillets will fall apart. It will taste fine, but the presentation will be wanting.

  2. 5 stars
    This cedar plank-grilled salmon recipe was super delicious and very easy. Soaking the cedar planks should be in bold at the top of the recipe because I almost forgot that step! As long as you follow the recipe exactly as stated, you’ll have a very yummy dinner.

  3. I’ve never tried this technique because of the expense of cedar planks. Can they be reused?