Smoked Cedar Plank Salmon is a game changer if you’re a salmon lover. The cedar plank imparts a wonderful smoky flavor to the salmon and makes it deliciously moist and tender.
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Salmon is a healthy and delicious fish that can be cooked in many different ways, one of the best ways to cook salmon is on a cedar plank. This dish is perfect for any occasion, whether that’s a casual weekday dinner or hosting your friends on the weekend, this dish is sure to impress.
The salmon is marinated in a slightly sweet brine, then smoked over a cedar plank for a tender and juicy finish. This dish is sure to impress your guests and leave them wanting more!
Why a Cedar Plank?
Using a cedar plank is an excellent way to impart a slightly sweet and smoky flavor to your grilled or smoked salmon. The porous nature of the wood allows the smoke to penetrate the fish, while the natural oils in the cedar add a subtle sweetness that pairs perfectly with the rich, fatty flavor of the salmon.
Another benefit of using a cedar plank is that it helps to prevent the fish from sticking to the grill grates or smoking racks.
The wood provides a non-stick surface that keeps the fish moist and flavorful, without the need for added olive oil or other coatings.
Whether you decide to smoke or grill salmon with a cedar plank, you can avoid the need for added oils or fats that can add unnecessary calories and fat to the dish. Plus, the natural flavors of the salmon and the cedar are allowed to shine through, creating a delicious, healthful meal that’s perfect for any occasion.
How To Make Cedar Plank Smoked Salmon
Brine Salmon Fillets
Before smoking the salmon, it’s a good idea to brine it first. Brining is a process of soaking the fish in a saltwater solution. It helps to keep the fish moist and enhances its flavor. In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, salt, pepper, and water until dissolved.
Submerge the salmon in the mixture and cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours, to allow the salmon to fully absorb the brine.
Soak Cedar Plank
Cedar planks are commonly used for smoked and grilled cedar plank salmon. Soaking the plank for at least an hour before using it is crucial to prevent it from burning on the grill.
To do this, simply place the plank in a container filled with water and let it soak for at least 1 hour.
The ideal temperature for smoking salmon is around 250°F. This temperature will ensure that the fish is cooked through and has a smoky flavor. Before adding the salmon to the smoker, preheat it to 250°F.
Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, rinse it under cold water, and pat it dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance its flavor, then let it sit for about 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature.
Heat The Cedar Plank
Pat the soaked cedar plank dry and place it on the pellet smoker. Let soaked plank heat up for 5-10 minutes with the lid closed.
Once the cedar plank is hot, carefully place the salmon fillet, skin-side down, on top of the plank. Close the lid and let the salmon smoke for about 40 minutes, or until it is easily flaked with a fork. Avoid opening the lid too often, as this can cause heat and smoke to escape, and slow down the cooking process.
Remove From Smoker & Serve
Once the salmon is fork-tender, remove the cedar plank from the smoker and let it cool for a few minutes. Finally, it’s time to enjoy the delicious smoked cedar plank salmon.
Serve it with lemon wedges to squeeze over the top, and fresh herbs such as dill or parsley to garnish. The citrusy tang from the lemon and the fresh aroma from the herbs will complement the smoky flavor of the fish perfectly.
Tips For Making Cedar-Planked Salmon
Here are a few tips that a beginner should keep in mind when making smoked cedar plank salmon on a pellet smoker.
Maintain Consistent Smoker Temperature
It’s important to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process to ensure that the salmon cooks evenly. Keep an eye on the grill thermometer and adjust the smoker as needed.
For this recipe, it’s best to use a mild wood pellet such as alder, apple, or cherry wood. These types of wood will provide a subtle smoky flavor that won’t overpower the salmon’s natural taste.
Don’t Skip The Brine!
Brining is an important step that helps keep the salmon moist and flavorful throughout the smoking process. Be sure to brine the salmon for at least 2 hours before smoking for best results.
Choose Good Quality Salmon
The quality of the salmon you use will affect the overall taste of the dish. Look for fresh salmon fillets, wild-caught if possible, and avoid farm-raised salmon if you can.
Best Beer To Pair With Smoked or Grilled Salmon
Nothing complements a perfectly smoked or grilled cedar plank salmon quite like an ice-cold beer. But with so many different types of beer out there, it can be tough to know which one to choose. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
Here are the top three types of beer that pair well with this recipe, and an explanation as to why they work so well.
This refreshing German wheat beer has a light, fruity flavor that complements the savory flavor of the salmon.
The effervescence of the beer also helps to cleanse the palate between bites, allowing you to fully savor the flavors of both the salmon and the beer.
A good pale ale has just the right amount of hop bitterness to balance out the richness of the salmon.
The subtle caramel sweetness of the beer also pairs well with the brown sugar in the brine, creating a harmonious flavor experience.
A classic pilsner is a perfect choice for those who prefer a lighter, more refreshing beer. The clean, crisp taste of the beer cuts through the oiliness of the salmon, while its subtle hop bitterness provides a nice contrast to the smoky flavor of the fish.
Smoked Cedar Plank Salmon Recipe
- Pellet Smoker, Charcoal Grill, or Gas Grill with Smoke Tube
- Wood Pellets (Cherry or Apple wood)
- 1 cedar grilling plank
- 1 Pound skin-on center-cut wild salmon fillet
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 Freshly ground pepper
- 2 lemon slices
- 3 to 4 sprigs of thyme
- Create a brine by combining brown sugar, salt, 1 tsp pepper, and 4 cups of water in a large bowl. Stir until dissolved and submerge salmon completely. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Soak the cedar plank in water for at least 1 hour. This will prevent the wood from burning on the grill.
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F.
- Take the salmon out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before smoking, rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper
- Place the soaked cedar plank on the pellet smoker and close the lid. Let the plank heat up for 5-10 minutes.
- Place salmon skin-side down on the cedar plank and smoke for about 40 minutes, or until it is easily flaked with a fork.
- Once the salmon is cooked, remove the cedar plank from the smoker and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Serve with lemon wedges and fresh herbs
Smoked Cedar Plank Salmon FAQs
There are many benefits to eating salmon. This type of fish is very healthy and is a good source of protein. Smoked salmon is also very flavorful and can be a great addition to any meal.
It usually takes about 20-40 minutes to smoke cedar plank salmon. However, the exact time will depend on the thickness of the fish. thicker pieces of salmon will take longer to cook through.
You can use any type of wood pellets, but apple, cherry, or cedar pellets work particularly well with this recipe, as they complement the natural flavor of the cedar plank.
Soak the cedar plank in water for at least an hour before using it. This will help prevent the plank from burning and ensure that it smokes properly.
While it’s not necessary to use a brine, it can help to add flavor and keep the salmon moist during the smoking process. The brown sugar, salt, and pepper in the brine work together to create a slightly sweet and salty flavor that complements the cedar plank.
It’s a matter of personal preference, but it’s usually best to leave the skin on when smoking salmon on a cedar plank. The skin helps to protect the flesh from heat and smoke, and it also makes it easier to remove the salmon from the plank once it’s cooked.
Yes, this recipe works well with other types of fatty fish, such as trout or arctic char, though the cooking time will change based on the thickness of the fish you choose.
No, you don’t need to oil the cedar plank. The natural oils in the wood will help to keep the salmon moist and prevent it from sticking.
The salmon should be easily flaked with a fork when it’s done. This usually happens when the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145°F.
Cedar plank salmon pairs well with a variety of sides, such as roasted vegetables, rice pilaf, or a fresh green salad. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the salmon before serving for an extra burst of flavor.