The best way to grill Salmon is on a cedar plank. Period. End of story. If you have not tried yet, you really should. When cooked to the right temperature, the salmon would literally melt in your mouth.
I have grilled Salmon on a cedar plank for years! I have made so many variations of it over the years with different planks, seasoning, and techniques. Friends and family absolutely love it. It is my family’s favorite meal by far!
The wait is over! I will be sharing several variations of how to grill Salmon on a cedar plank in the coming weeks. We make it once a week without missing a beat.
Welcome to the definitive guide of how to grill Salmon on a cedar plank.
What is the best Salmon fillet to buy?
Costco Salmon with and without Antibiotics
We prefer the farm raised Salmon fillet over the wild caught because the farm raised one is more fatty which means it is be more tender. The wild caught is obviously healthier, but for us, the farm raised fillet wins because the buttery result that melts in the mouth is worth it!
That said, the debate of which fillet to buy doesn’t end there. Costco carries two farm raised Salmon products. One of them is raised in Norway and the other in Chile.
The major difference is that the Norway Salmon is raised without antibiotics.
I’ve tried both and I guarantee you that there is a noticeable difference. The Salmon raised in Norway without antibiotics is the clear winner! It is $3 per pound more expensive but is absolutely worth it.
Costco Salmon – From Norway and raised without antibiotics
Costco Salmon – From Chile and raised with antibiotics
How do you master the art of grilling Salmon?
There are so many variables but it is actually so easy. All it takes is paying attention to the 4 most important factors:
- A good quality salmon fillet
- The cedar plank
- The seasoning
- The temperature
Good quality Salmon fillet
As I mentioned, the best one for grilling is the farm raised Salmon fillet from Norway. I buy it from Costco. But obviously, similar great quality products are found in many grocery stores.
It is also very important to pay close attention to the “Use By” or “Sell By” date. I found that it often makes a noticeable difference in taste when the “Use By” date is many days away. On a couple of occasions, I bought it when the date was only a day away and it simply was not fresh!
I buy these cedar planks from Amazon. I have also picked up a few over the years from Home Depot and other local stores. They come in different sizes and so does the Salmon fillet.
Soak the plank in water for a minimum of one hour. I almost always leave it submerged in water for 2 to 3 hours. If you don’t soak it at all, it is not the end of the world but the plank could charr too much or catch fire which may not be pleasant. A little charring though is desirable because it helps infuse the food with cedar smoke. So just place the plank in a large baking sheet and add enough water to cover it. The plank will float and that’s ok as long as there is a little water over it. It won’t hurt to flip the plank half way through the soaking.
I do my best to cover the entire plank with the Salmon fillet. This is to make sure that very little of the plank is exposed. This reduces flare ups especially if you didn’t have enough time to soak it in water long enough. You can choose to place the entire fillet on the plank and trim any excess. You can place the trimmed pieces together on another plank if you like. Another way to do this, which happens to be how I did it this time in this recipe, is to cut the Salmon in ready-to-serve portions and place them on one or two planks. If you have more room on the plank, add your favorite veggies! Experiment!
Seasoning the Salmon is easy but very important. I have experimented with so many combinations over the years. The best, by far, is this:
- Juice a lemon and pour the juice over the fillet. Give it a minute to absorb the juice.
- Drizzle a tiny bit (1 tsp) of olive oil. Use a brush to gently distribute the oil evenly.
- Apply a thin even layer of your favorite Salmon seasoning. Picking the best seasoning there is, is so important. I can’t tell you enough how awesome the McCormick Gourmet Cedar Plank Salmon Seafood Seasoning is. I’ve tried so many different ones and this one is the absolute best, by far! If you try this recipe with some other seasoning and don’t fully fall in love with it. Try it again with the one I’m recommending and you will appreciate how matching this seasoning mix is for grilling a salmon on a cedar plank. The last time I checked, Costco carries the same exact one in the link above.
- The seasoning is salty and therefore you shouldn’t need to add salt. Don’t over do it with the seasoning. Try a thin layer over the entire Salmon. The Salmon is thicker in the center so you might need more seasoning there and less elsewhere.
The most important factor in grilling the Salmon to the buttery perfection we love is hitting the right temperature. It is way too easy to overcook the Salmon. Three additional unnecessary minutes of grilling could totally miss the mark.
I pre-heat my gas Weber grill to 400°F while I’m seasoning the Salmon. At that temperature, the Salmon is usually done in about 12-15 minutes reaching an internal temperature of 127°F. But as mentioned, plus or minus 3 minutes makes a huge difference. So here are some tips:
- The FDA recommends cooking Salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F.
- I shoot for an internal temperature of 127°F and take it off the grill immediately. Then I cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. While resting, the Salmon will reach an internal temperature of 145°F-150°F.
You may be wondering how I measure the temperature and deal with the accuracy. In the past, I used to eye ball it and open the grill when I think it’s done and poke the Salmon with a thermometer to check. This is really what I want to strongly discourage.
If you are looking you ain’t cooking!
The goal is to not open the grill at all until you’re done. It is so helpful to have a thermometer that extends outside the grill. You would put the temperature probe inside the Salmon and be able to read the temperature on a display outside the grill. Tracking the temperature is very important. Otherwise, it’s going to be hit or miss.
I use the MEATER Wireless Smart Meat Thermometer religiously. Trust me that it is not a gimmick. It has completely transformed grilling in our house. I use it a lot for chicken breast which can be tricky to grill to a safe temperature without undermining tenderness. The MEATER is basically a thermometer that you can put in the Salmon (or whatever else you’re grilling). Then you can start the cooking from the app on your phone. You can select what you’re grilling and the desired temperature. The MEATER tell us when the food is ready and when it’s fully rested.
MEATER or no MEATER, tracking the temperature is key to achieving the best results possible when grilling an amazing Salmon on a cedar plank. Use what works!
Use a heavy-duty metal spatula to carry the plank on and off the grill.
And this is exactly how to grill Salmon on a cedar plank 🙂
How to grill Salmon on a cedar plank
Are you drooling yet? I know I am! I can’t wait to make this mouthwatering Salmon again.
- Farm-raised Salmon from Norway with no antibiotics, 1 fillet
- Lemon juice, 1 lemon
- Olive oil, 1 tsp
- McCormick Gourmet Cedar Plank Salmon Seasoning, to taste
- Soak 1 or 2 cedar planks in water for 2 to 3 hours.
- Pre-heat the grill to 400°F.
- Place the Salmon in one piece or in ready-to-serve portions on the cedar plank.
- Trim excess while trying to maximize the use of the plank surface. Try covering most of the plank with the Salmon.
- Pour the lemon juice over the fillet.
- Drizzle olive oil over the Salmon. Use a brush to gently distribute the oil evenly.
- Apply a thin layer of the seasoning.
- Insert the temperature probe or the MEATER in the thickest part of the Salmon.
- Reduce the heat on the grill to the low setting.
- Carefully place the plank in the center of the grill using a metal spatula.
- Close the lid and don’t come back to take a sneak peak. No cheating!
- Monitor the temperature until the Salmon reaches an internal temperature of 127°F.
- Remove the plank from the grill immediately with a metal spatula. Place it in a baking sheet.
- Cover the entire Salmon plank immediately with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Devour! Enjoy! Celebrate! Share with others! 🙂
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