Learning how to grill with cedar planks is a great way to infuse your dishes with a rich, smoky flavor. And heck, the presentation when you serve up the main course of cedar grilling planks is pretty magnificent in and of itself! You’ve probably run across recipes for cedar plank salmon in the past, but there are a number of different recipes to explore that involve cedar plank grilling. You can explore our cedar plank recipe collection to discover new favorites like Honey-Spiced Cedar Plank Chicken or Cedar Plank Pork Loin.
How to Pick Cedar Grilling Planks
- Buy untreated cedar planks at your local grocery, specialty food or hardware store. It should measure about 14 x 7 x 1 in. Most cedar grilling planks measure about this size and can handle most recipes. You can adjust to a bigger or smaller plank based on the dish you are preparing.
- Be sure to purchase untreated planks to avoid chemical contamination of food. All you want is that great earthy flavor, not potentially harmful chemicals.
- You don’t have to limit yourself to cedar. Try untreated oak, maple, cherry or apple wood planks for different flavors. Generally speaking, the more delicate flavor of cedar is good for lighter recipes like fish. Maple, apple, and pecan are ideal for heartier meats like pork. Oak and hickory have even stronger flavors and are great for beef.
How to Grill with Cedar Planks
- IMMERSE the cedar grilling planks in water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Make sure to weigh them down to ensure they are fully immersed in the water. A saucepan or similar works well for this task.
- PREHEAT the grill to medium heat. Using a barbecue or pastry brush, brush one side of the planks with vegetable oil. This will help prevent food from sticking to the wood. Top the planks with meat; place on center of the grill grate. Close lid.
- BRUSH the meat with barbecue sauce during the last 20 minutes of grilling time.
- GRILL the meat to the desired doneness. This should be determined by inserting an electric thermometer into the thickest part of the cut and avoiding any bones. Check back occasionally to ensure cedar grilling planks don’t flare up. Spritz any flames with a water bottle if necessary. A gardening spray bottle is perfect for this task.
- REMOVE the meat from the plank and turn off grill. Let plank cool on grill grate before removing.
Congratulations, you now know how to grill with cedar planks! The planks can be reused as long as they are not scorched, but some of the essential oils from the wood were likely used up during your first grilling session. This means that the smoky flavor may not be as bold upon subsequent uses. Additionally, the planks may take on some of the flavors of whatever you grilled on them initially. The best way to grill, if you are looking to reuse your planks, is to avoid placing them directly over the heat source. This will help avoid scorching.
If you do decide to reuse your planks, make sure to only clean them with warm water and a scouring pad. Don’t use soap. You don’t want soap soaking into your cedar grilling planks and then staying there. For stubborn char or food, you can use sandpaper to dislodge the unwanted bits. Be sure to let the planks dry overnight before putting them away. Also, stop by our bbq recipes collection soon to make sure you’re ready to make the most out of grilling season!