How to Perfectly Grill Fish on a Cedar Plank

Cedar plank salmon
Christopher Testani

Fish can be intimidating to master on the grill—its delicacy and tendency to stick to the grate mean a lot can go wrong. But not if you do it cedar-plank style—you never have to turn the fish over, and it gets infused with a nice smoky flavor.

Salmon is a good fish to start with to get the hang of it. Try this mesquite cedar plank recipe, then use these cooking tips for foolproof fish.

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1. Cook only the freshest fish

With salmon, make sure it’s wild, not farm-raised. “It tastes better, the texture is better, and it’s much healthier,” says Jamie Purviance, author of Weber’s New American Barbecue. Leave skin on to retain moisture.

2. Use an untreated, cooking-specific cedar plank

The wood should be about 12 by 6 inches. Soak it in water for an hour before you start grilling.

3. Cook over direct medium heat

“Most people think you should use less heat with fish because it’s delicate,” says Purviance. He suggests medium heat with a plank; high heat without.

4. Brush the salmon with extra-virgin olive oil

After oil, season with salt and black pepper.

5. Place the wet plank over the fire and close the lid

When the plank begins to smoke, turn it over. Place salmon, skin-side down, on the plank, close the lid, and leave for 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Remove the fish carefully

Once the fillet’s cooked, carefully slide a metal spatula between the skin and flesh. Lift fillet away to plate. “The smoke adds great flavor, so you never really need a rich sauce,” says Purviance.

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