Cedar Plank Salmon prepared simply with a sweet and spicy chipotle dry rub, cooked on the grill over a cedar plank giving it that smoked influence, and finished with a sweet maple syrup glaze. Sweet, spicy, and absolutely incredible. This recipe is what landed us our cookbook deal, and is the exact recipe that graces the cover of our critically acclaimed book!
There are only a very small handful of recipes that are available both in our cookbook, and also free online. This is one of them, and I couldn’t be more excited since this is one of my favorite recipes of all time!
We love playing around with different flavors when it comes to grilled salmon. It doesn’t take much time to grill, so cooking it on a cedar plank can help you get some of that great smoky flavor when you cook it hot and fast. It only takes 20 minutes, and the steps are easy.
- Soak the plank
- Fire up the grill, with two-zone grilling
- Season salmon
- Grill and glaze
This recipe is best with an entire filet of salmon. In terms of the type we tend to buy wild caught Coho or King salmon for the thickness. If you find smaller, thinner, salmon then adjust the cooking time down (as thinner cuts will cook quicker).
Know that farm raised salmon will have a little more fat content. We prefer wild.
Tips for Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon
- When buying salmon be sure to ask the fish monger to remove the pin bones (the small bones along the filet).
- Plan a third of a pound of salmon per person.
- If you want to serve individual salmon steaks versus the filet, cut the filet up PRIOR to cooking. This avoids tearing the salmon when it’s cooked.
Source a food safe cedar or alder plank board. They should be untreated and made for grilling.
It is very important to properly prepare your cedar plank before you grill. Obviously, wood + fire = more fire. The last thing you want is your cedar plank AND salmon filet to go up in a blaze of glory.
Soak your cedar plank, fully submerged in water, for at least 30 minutes! Ideally 60. No short cuts here, keep it in for the full 30 minutes or you’re gonna have a fire on your hands, and not the good kind of fire if you know what I mean! And contrary to some opinions, adding other flavors, like soaking in wine or other beverages, won’t impart any additional flavor. Water is all you need.
Now, pat your soaked cedar plank dry to absorb the excess moisture, and you are ready to season your Cedar Plank Salmon!
Chipotle Dry Rub
Salmon has amazing flavor naturally, especially when you add the flavor of a cedar plank. However, we want to add a few more layers of flavor for this recipe. The best way to do that is by adding a Chipotle Salmon Rub before you grill.
The ingredients for our Chipotle Salmon Rub include:
- brown sugar
- chili powder
- chipotle powder
- salt and pepper
This combination gives it a sweet and smoky flavor with a little heat at the end.
*Note: you may not use all of the dry rub on your salmon depending on the exact size of your fish. Just save the rest in a small jar and use for future recipes. This rub is also great on pork and chicken.
How to Grill Cedar Plank Salmon
- Pre-Heat Grill: Prepare grill for indirect cooking.
- Season Salmon: Coat your fish with olive oil and liberally season it with the salmon dry rub, then place it on the the cedar plank.
- Grill Salmon ON the Cedar Plank: Place the Cedar Plank Salmon over direct heat. Cook for approximately 12-15 minutes, monitoring it for flames, until the internal temperature of the salmon reached 125 degrees, using a digital thermometer.
- Move Cedar Plank: After the salmon has reached 125 degrees move to the indirect side leaving grill uncovered, and then coat with the maple syrup, and let sit for about 1-2 minute to caramelize, or until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 130 degrees.
- Remove from heat and rest for roughly 5 minutes. The carry-over heat will continue to cook the salmon to 135 degrees (medium rare) over that time and the maple syrup will firm up slightly.
Time to serve and enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, once you have used the cedar plank it is not reusable. Between raw fish and the primary flavor being consumed from the fire, it should be disposed of. If you have a smaller cut, consider sawing the plank in half (before cooking) so you can make it last.
You can brine if you wish, but this recipe does not require it and it actually tastes much better without a brine highlighting the salmon flavors.
Salmon is like steak. If you trust where it came from (i.e. you purchased quality salmon) you can safely cook it rare/medium rare/well done. We like our salmon cooked to medium rare, or 135 degrees Fahrenheit, to maintain a juicy and super tender salmon. The USDA recommends all salmon to be cooked to 145 degrees F.
Wine Pairing for Cedar Plank Salmon
I have two go-to pairings for this dish – a semi-sweet Riesling and new world style Pinot Noir.
Salmon, in general, tends to have delicate flavors and textures, but this one, coated in that sweet, spicy, and savory rub and maple glaze, offers the opportunity to pair it with something a little bolder. If you go for a medium-bodied fruity Pinot Noir from California, for example, you’ll find a nice match up in bold fruit balancing out the flavors in the rub, yet smooth enough to pair with that tender delicate meat under the rub.
Alternatively, we love Riesling with this. If you find the dry rub to be on the spicy side (this will depend on the strength of the chipotle powder you have), the Riesling will provide a refreshing and sweet contrast to the heat. It will also balance well with the sweetness in the dry rub and maple. It’s a pretty versatile wine that works great with the flavors in this dish. Just look for one on the slightly sweet side (you don’t want a bone dry Riesling for this, and nothing on the sticky sweet side).
More Salmon Recipes for the Grill or Smoker
- Perfect Grilled Salmon
- Grilled Salmon Salad
- Easy and Tender Smoked Salmon
- Grilled Salmon with Orange Maple Glaze
- Smoked Salmon Dip
If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes.
This recipe was originally published in March of 2018 and updated with new process photos, and details in the recipe and similar recipe recommendations.
If a person doesn’t have a grill, I’d there a way to use a cedar plank or get that flavor on the stove or in the oven?
Sean Martin says
Yes! great question and we will update the article with more details. Two options –
1> Cook salmon in the oven on the soaked cedar plank at 400 degrees F. It won’t burn up without a direct fire. It may smoke slightly so be sure you have good ventilation.
2> You can use cedar wraps. They are thinner versions of the cedar plank meant to be wrapped around the salmon. Technically for this recipe we don’t recommend it because it prevents browning on the salmon which is a big part of this flavor. But for other recipes it’s an option. On amazon just check out cedar wraps.
Hello, how much of each ingredient do I use to make the rub for the Chipotle salmon? Thank you.
Sean Martin says
Dave, the recipe card has all the details for portions on the dry rub.
Julie Suchanek says
We are making this recipe tonight on our gas grill. What temperature do we want it on?
Sean Martin says
Julie, For a gas grill, I would have two burners lit to medium to start. Depending on your BTUs, that may be too low. Place the cedar plank right over the lit burners. If you don’t see some slight smoke in 2 minutes, turn them up to medium high. The good news is that you can easily turn down the burner if the cedar plank combusts or looks to be burning too much. But it will smoke and you will see some char to it. Likely that will be around 375 – 400 degrees ambient cooking temperature. But the best guide will be the two burners themselves and at least medium.
For your grilled maple chipotle cedar plank salmon, do you use skin on or off for your fillets and about what temp do you want for your grill (kamado type)?
Sean Martin says
Byron, we use skin on salmon (skin off is fine too and doesn’t change the cook time) – and for our Kamado we set it up for two zone with a 450 degree target over the direct heat. any hotter and the plank will catch fire. We then move the plank to indirect after a few minutes so it can finish and not burn the plank.
Shannon Chin says
Any chance you could tell me how to do this on my pellet smoker? It looks amazing and I would love to surprise my husband with this!
Shannon, what type of pellet smoker do you have? I ask because some allow easy access to remove the difuser plate so you can get direct heat over the flame. If you can do this, I would replicate the direct heat over your flame and then if needed, move the cedar plank to indirect.
If your pellet smoker can get to 400 + degrees and you can’t get direct flame access, then crank the heat up as high as you can, and then follow the method using the high method. What is key, is that the plank flavor really gets into the meat when it slightly combusts. For that you need that direct heat.
Megan Joy says
I wish we had a bbq! This sounds so good. We love salmon but don’t make it at home very often. That glaze sounds delicious!
How to cook salmon skin When salmon is boiled, smoked, or steamed, the skin can become soggy and rubbery, which is not very pleasing to eat. However, when grilled, seared, or fried salmon skin becomes crunchy and is full of flavor because of all the fats in the skin. Cooking salmon with the skin on Some people prefer to cook salmon with the skin on. Cooking the salmon this way helps stop the delicate flesh from drying out. Crispy salmon skin can also add a different texture to the dish. When cooking salmon on the grill, leaving the skin on can protect the meat underneath from burning. Salmon bacon One of the simplest ways to prepare salmon skin is to make “salmon bacon” or “salmon rinds,” which are thin strips of salmon skin fried in oil. separate the skin from the fish cut it into 1-inch strips and dry them with a paper towel — it may take some time to get all the moisture from the skin, so be patient add cooking oil to a skillet and put over medium-high heat when the oil is hot, add the dried strips of salmon skin to the pan turn the pieces as needed to keep them from burning when crispy, remove the strips from the pan and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil add salt and seasoning to taste This simple recipe can be adapted to fit almost any meal and is a simple way to add salmon skin to the diet. Risks and side effects Fresh wild-caught salmon may be recommended to avoid potentially contaminated fish. There are a few important things to consider before adding salmon skin to the diet. It is essential to know where the salmon comes from before eating the skin.
Renee @ The Good Hearted Woman says
Oh my gosh! This made me so hungry, Mary! I’ve done a similar salmon glaze with honey, but maple syrup would be awesome, too. P.S. I love your son’s interpretation of “vegetarian.”
Thank you and I seriously cannot make this stuff up!!!
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
I’ve long been a fan of cedar planked salmon but your version, with the delicious maple chipotle glaze sounds extra fantastic Mary!
Marlynn | UrbanBlissLife says
Look at that gorgeous maple glaze! This salmon looks AMAZING, Mary!!
Hi! Just pinned this from FBC, and had to come over to look at the recipe. Your gorgeous photo lured me in — it just looks SO incredibly delicious! Yum!
Catherine @ Ten Thousand Hour Mama says
We still have never cooked salmon on a cedar plank, but your post makes it look soooooo good—and not intimidating!
This looks like a more flavorful way to enjoy salmon, if only I could get someone to do all the work and bring it to me:)