How to BBQ Salmon on Cedar Plank

Barbecuing seafood is a great alternative option to have when you don’t want to spend too much money on prime cuts of meat. Grilling salmon is one of the best options available as well, thanks to the fish’s less delicate meat and the perfect amount of fattiness. Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, so it’s no wonder there are so many different ways to cook and grill a delicious salmon dish.

One of the more popular ways to grill the fish is to make salmon on cedar plank BBQ. The dish is incredibly simple to make but can be adjusted to be as elegant as you want. In some cases, you can even season the salmon with different spices to make it with more ethnic flavours! 

We’ve gathered up a few great tricks to show you how to barbecue salmon on cedar planks and what you can do to make it one of the best dishes in your grilling cookbook. If you need accessories to help grilling easier, our catalogue has a wide range available.

Soak your cedar planks before grilling

The first and most important step on how to BBQ salmon on a cedar plank is to soak the wood first. If you haven’t grilled on a plank before, the soaking process allows the wood to steam while adding flavour to the salmon. The water in the plank also makes it so that the plank doesn’t get lit on fire when your grill’s flames touch it. 

Though many people use water to soak the cedar, you can also use any kind of liquid to add a specific flavour to the steam. Many barbecuers suggest using wine, ciders or even sake. This, of course, gives the fish a somewhat alcoholic flavour that’s perfect for cookouts with your friends or coworkers. For more kid-friendly options, apple juice and other similar fruit juices can pair well with the cedar’s mild spice and with your salmon.

Whether you use alcohol, juices or water, the heat needed to cook the fish will only be enough to turn the liquid to steam. So, fortunately, neither the plank nor the alcohol will catch fire.

How many cedar planks do you need per fish?

There isn’t any set amount of planks you need to get to cook the salmon. But, there are a few things you should consider about how to BBQ salmon on a cedar plank before you buy your food-safe cedar planks. First, consider how many people you’re planning to serve the salmon to and the size of your grill. Naturally, smaller grills have far less room to work with and place your planks. If you’re only serving yourself or one other person, you only need one plank.

How your salmon’s been cut can also play a big part in how many planks you’ll need. If you have an entire side of salmon, you’ll need one plank dedicated to that piece. Ultimately, the more people you serve impacts the amount – or size – of the fish and how many planks you’ll need. 

The ingredients you need to BBQ salmon on cedar planks

In addition to your salmon and your choice of drink that you’re soaking your cedar planks in, you’ll need ingredients for seasoning the salmon. A mixture of salt, pepper and olive oil can be used for a simple base but can also be too simple for some of your guests. So, to make everyone at your table happy with your grilled salmon, try adding these seasonings for more flavour.

  • 1 tsp of garlic powder and 1 tsp of onion powder are staples of many grilled foods, and salmon is definitely one of them. The two powdered seasonings work well together to add a bit of savoury goodness and even make the salmon smell wonderful!
  • ¼ cup brown sugar can be added to add a hint of sweetness that’s used to both complement and enhance the savouriness of the other seasonings. 
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika adds enough heat to make itself known, but not enough to burn. The smokiness can also enhance the smoke you get from the grill without overpowering the fish! You can also add more paprika if you want more spicy goodness.

It’s highly recommended to keep the salmon’s skin when seasoning unless none of your guests or family members likes fish skin. The skin often helps in keeping the meat of the salmon from sticking to the plank, reducing the chance of the fish getting ruined. Instead of removing the skin before grilling, cut a few slits into it before seasoning then grill it. Once it’s cooked through, you can remove the skin and serve.

How to grill your salmon steaks

To start grilling, soak your cedar planks in water or another drink for two hours. Take this time to season your salmon and preheat your barbecue. Once the grill’s reached 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit – or medium high heat – place your salmon onto the soaked cedar planks before moving those onto the grate. Cover it and let the fish cook for 16 to 20 minutes before serving.

How to prevent your fish from sticking to the planks

How to BBQ salmon on a cedar plank can be made even easier if you add a little oil onto the top of the planks where the fish is placed. While this is primarily used to help move the salmon around, serving becomes much easier. Many barbecuers serve cedar plank salmon straight off the plank itself, so the addition of the oil underneath the fish can improve both serving and the aesthetic appeal!


The main focus of barbecuing salmon on cedar planks is the taste you get from the cedar-infused smoke and the salmon itself. Though the seasoning we mentioned is a great all-around option for grilling fish, you can also try other combinations. Soaking the planks in sake can provide a great chance to make Japanese-inspired salmon while wine can be used for Italian or French cuisine. Try different combinations to make your BBQ cedar plank salmon your own!