Craving a show-stopping seafood dish that’s both impressive and easy to prepare? Our smoked cedar plank salmon is the answer to your grilling prayers.

A plated smoked salmon fillet garnished with herbs, served with green beans, sliced lemon, and a dollop of sauce on a white plate.

This easy seafood recipe combines the delicate flavors of fresh salmon with the aromatic essence of cedar, all enhanced by a gentle kiss of smoke. It’s easier than making grilled salmon because you don’t have to worry about sticking, giving you picture-perfect results every time. 

And unlike oven-roasted salmon or pan-seared salmon, cedar plank salmon has a unique smoky flavor that you can’t quite get with indoor cooking techniques. It’s our favorite way to elevate our fish recipes without a ton of extra effort.

Why Smoke Salmon on Cedar Planks?

This simple technique infuses your salmon with a delicate, smoky flavor and keeps it perfectly moist and flaky. The soaked cedar plank acts like a natural barrier between the fish and the high heat of the grill, preventing drying out. 

As the salmon cooks, the wood itself releases a gentle steam, further contributing to the moist texture. This results in a restaurant quality dish that’s both delicious and visually appealing, as the salmon can be served directly on the aromatic cedar plank.

Four raw salmon fillets on parchment paper in a baking tray, surrounded by bowls of salt and pepper, a lemon, and small dollops of butter on a dark background.
Beautiful wild Alaskan salmon.

Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe Ingredients

We keep the flavors basic for this version, but once you’ve mastered it, feel free to add any seasonings and spices you would normally use on salmon to change this up.

  • Salmon Fillets: The main course! Salmon is a fatty fish that cooks beautifully on the grill, taking on a smoky flavor from the cedar planks.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper
  • Compound Butter (optional): A flavorful topping for the cooked salmon. Compound butter is simply softened butter mixed with herbs, spices, or other ingredients. It melts over the hot fish, adding moisture and extra flavor. We use herb compound butter, but you can choose a flavor that complements the salmon, like roasted garlic or chimichurri.
  • Cedar Planks: These aren’t just for show. Cedar planks impart a wonderful smoky flavor to the salmon as it cooks. Soaking the planks beforehand helps prevent them from burning and allows them to release a more subtle smoke flavor.

How to Make Salmon on a Cedar Plank

  • Prep the Grill: Preheat your grill for indirect heat at 350°F (177°C) with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes. See our notes in the recipe card for a gas grill or charcoal grill. 
  • Smoke the Cedar Planks: Place the soaked cedar planks on the cooler side of the grill for 3-5 minutes (rough side up). Flip and preheat for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Season and Smoke the Salmon: Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place salmon on the preheated cedar planks, skin side down. Close the grill lid and smoke for 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness) or until the planked salmon flakes easily with a fork and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
  • Serve: Carefully remove the salmon on the planks from the grill. Top with compound butter and serve with your favorite sides.

Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips

  • Soak the cedar planks for at least an hour to minimize the risk of burning.
  • Be aware that the planks can catch fire. Have a fire extinguisher on hand and follow the safety tips provided in the FAQ section if this happens.
Four pieces of seasoned salmon fillets are cooking on wooden planks on a grill.

What to Serve With Cedar Plank Salmon

This cedar salmon deserves some delicious sides to compliment the smoky goodness. If you want to keep things smoky, serve your salmon alongside some grilled corn on the cob, smoked potato salad, or smoked brussels sprouts with bacon

Want to keep things light? Pair your salmon with some roasted butternut squash or roasted green beans. And of course, we can’t forget the bread. Serve up your salmon with these herb bacon cottage cheese biscuits. If you’re feeling extra fancy, we love a good dipping sauce like lemon aioli or horseradish aioli

A white plate with cedar plank salmon on arugula, green beans, and lemon slices, placed on a wooden table with a fork and knife on the side.

Leftovers & Reheating

Leftover cedar plank salmon can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Plenty of time for delicious lunches or quick dinners! If you’re looking for a longer-term solution, leftover portions can be frozen for up to 3 months.

When it’s time to enjoy your leftover salmon again, use low or medium heat on the stovetop. Just place the leftover salmon in the skillet and reheat until warm. Be careful not to reheat for too long or the salmon can dry out. 

Alternatively, we love to flake leftovers for a smoked salmon dip.

More Salmon Recipes

This cedar plank salmon is a great way to elevate your basic salmon recipe. With simple ingredients and a unique cooking technique, you can create a restaurant-worthy meal right in your own backyard.

Have you tried this recipe? Do us a favor and rate the recipe card with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

Cedar Plank Salmon

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Four pieces of seasoned salmon fillets are cooking on wooden planks on a grill.
Transform ordinary salmon into a smoky, aromatic delicacy with this foolproof cedar plank method. Our easy recipe guides you through every step, resulting in a tender, flavorful fish dish that’ll rival any seafood restaurant.


  • 4 4 oz salmon filets 1 lbs, skin on or off.
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 tbsp Compound butter we used our herb compound butter for this one, but we often use our roasted garlic or even the chimichurri butter, depending on the flavors we want


Soak the planks

  • Start by soaking your cedar planks for at least one hour in water. The planks will want to float when you put them in water, so press them down with a heavy bottle to keep them completely under the water.

Prep the Grill

  • Clean the grill grates and allow the grill to preheat for indirect heat with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes. See our notes below for gas or charcoal grills.
  • When the grill has preheated, reduce the heat to around 350 degrees F.
  • Place the planks on the cooler side of the grill and allow for 3 to 5 minutes. We place the rough edge up for this process.
  • Flip, so the rough edge is now on the grill grates and allow the planks to preheat another 3 to 5 minutes. There should be a nice aroma coming from the grill.

Smoke the salmon

  • Season the salmon with the salt and pepper.
  • Carefully arrange the salmon over the cedar planks, skin side down, and close the grill lid.
  • Smoke the salmon, for about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your filets until it flakes easily with a fork and reaches 145 degrees F with a digital thermometer.
  • Carefully remove the planks with the salmon from the grill and place them on a metal baking sheet.


  • Top the salmon with compound butter to melt over the fish and serve with your favorite side dishes.


Be sure to soak your cedar planks for 1 hour before grilling.
For a gas grill: 
  • Preheat your gas grill by turning all 4 burners on and letting the grill preheat for 10 minutes.
  • When ready to cook, create a 2-zone fire by turning off 3 of the 4 burners (or 2 of the 3, depending how many burners your grill has). Let the grill cool to around 350 degrees F.
  • Place the cedar planks on the cool side of the grill and cook as directed. 
For a charcoal grill: 
  • Prep your charcoal grill by pouring lit coals onto one side of your grill. Place the grill grate on top and clean and oil the grates.
  • Cover with the lid and adjust the airflow vents to allow and let the grill preheat to 325 – 350 degrees F.
  • When ready to smoke the salmon, place the planks on the cool side of the grill. 
Helpful Links:


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 182kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 696mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.01g | Vitamin A: 374IU | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.5mg
Author: Kita Roberts

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Recipe FAQs

Can I use another type of flavor or seasoning besides compound butter?

Absolutely! You can use your favorite salmon rub, some lemon slices, or any other type of seasoning you like! We love going southwest with cumin and ancho chili powder or simple with brown sugar and maple.

Where can I find cedar planks?

Cedar planks are readily available at most grocery stores, usually near the seafood counter or near the grilling supplies. Hardware stores like Home Depot and Ace might also carry them. Look for planks that are produced for cooking – they will be untreated and in good condition (no cracks or warping).

How long does it take to cook cedar plank salmon?

Cooking time depends on the thickness of your salmon fillets. Generally, it takes 10-15 minutes on a preheated grill for salmon to cook through. The best way to tell if it’s done is the “flaking test.” Gently press the center of the salmon with a fork. If it flakes easily, it’s cooked!

Can I use other types of wood planks?

While cedar is the classic choice, other untreated hardwoods like alder or plank can also be used. Experiment and see what flavors you enjoy! if you’re feeling creative, check out the best woods to smoke salmon.

What’s the point of cooking salmon on cedar planks?

Not only do they simply make grilling salmon easier (no sticking to the grill grates), the soaked planks help prevent the salmon from drying out on the grill, ensuring a beautifully moist and flaky texture.

What do you do if the planks catch fire? 

Truth is, you are cooking with wood over a flame, and the wood can catch fire. So, it’s always best to be prepared with basic grill safety tips and a calm head. We soak the cedar plank for an hour to minimize the chances of this happening, so do not skip that step.
First, never leave the grill unattended. If the cedar plank catches fire, turn off all of the burners, use long tongs to lift it off the grill grates, away from the fire, to the top grill grate, and close the lid to see if you can choke out the fire by removing the oxygen.
However, if the plank is really on fire, consider using long grilling tongs to carefully and without fast movement transfer it to a metal baking sheet. The idea is to get the wood off the heat and onto a fire-safe pan as quickly as possible. Tap out the flames with a long spatula.
If things go really bad, have a fire extinguisher nearby ready to use.

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.


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