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I’ll admit it. I don’t get the obsession with cedar plank salmon. Of all the options out there to plank salmon, cedar is at the bottom of my list. I know a lot of people like it, but I’m not a fan. I can’t explain it. My favorite wood to plank with is maple. I love the sweet smoke of the maple over cedar. I know that cedar planking is popular, but so is cilantro and that stuff tastes like soap to me. But this recipe is plank agnostic, so use whatever wood you like.

After choosing your plank, choose your salmon. The greatest salmon I’ve ever had came straight out of Lake Michigan and onto my grill within a few hours. There is nothing better than eating salmon that was swimming that morning! Here was the haul by one of the Grillin’ Fools (Tom, bottom left), and friends and family after one day of fishing this summer up in Michigan:

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Planked Salmon Ingredients:

  • Smoking planks
  • Salmon filets
  • Coarse salt
  • Your favorite rub

***Important Tip ~ One more thing about the planks. I highly recommend using planks specifically designed and sold for grilling/planking. Please don’t guess that a thin board might be good for planking. If it has been treated with chemicals it could make you sick or worse***

I didn’t go with any amounts in the ingredients as this is more about the process than it is the recipe. So let’s get to that process. First, take the planks out of the package and determine how many you will need. You don’t have to do one plank per piece of salmon. I grilled three pieces of salmon on a maple plank. First off, soak the plank for at least 60 minutes. If it soaks for 90 minutes or two hours, no big deal. But soak it in water for at least 60 minutes.

While the plank is taking a bath, prepare the salmon:

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Simply lay the salmon skin side down and coat the other side with a layer of coarse salt and then the rub:

How to Grill Planked Salmon CollageNow prepare the grill for medium-medium high heat (about 400 degrees), in this case a gas grill, but a charcoal grill will work too. Place the plank on the grill:

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Now wait three minutes to warm up the plank:

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Then flip it over and place the Coho salmon on the maple plank (or cedar or whatever else you choose for your plank), skin side down:

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In a few minutes, the wood will begin to smoke and impart that wonderful flavor into the fish and we are now planking:

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Grilling time depends on how well done you want the salmon. I prefer mine closer to rare and thus this only took about 16 minutes, but 20 would take it to a nice medium rare.

Be mindful of the plank as it can literally catch fire if the grill is too hot. Happens to the best of us. Happened to me as a matter of fact:

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Once the Coho salmon was on the grill about 10 minutes, I tossed on some white asparagus:

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When the salmon hit rare to medium rare (about 145F), I pulled it from the maple plank and plated it, allowing it to rest a moment while the asparagus finished charring. I served it with a bottle of chardonnay:

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The Coho salmon takes on a wonderful hint of smoke, but is not overpowered by it. And it’s low maintenance grilling. No flipping, rotating, nothing. Set it and forget it… as long as it doesn’t catch on fire!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below or send me an email.

If you would like other salmon dishes we’ve created on the grill, click here

Also, you can follow us on our GrillinFools Facebook page and Instagram.

How to Grill Planked Salmon

A simple lesson on how to grill planked salmon.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Coho Salmon
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 2 -4


  • Smoking planks
  • Salmon Filets
  • coarse salt
  • your favorite rub


  • Soak the planks for 30 minutes in water
  • Place the salmon skin side down, coat with salt and the rub on the meat side
  • Prepare the grill for 400 degrees/direct grilling
  • Put the plank on the grill for three minutes, flip over and place the salmon on the plank skin side down
  • Grill for 15 minutes for rare, 20 minutes for medium rare





Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

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