Cedar Plank Grilling

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Executive Chef
Jun 3, 2004
Cedar Plank Grilling

If you're looking for a new grilling idea, walk the plank! Cedar plank grilling infuses food with delicious smoky flavour. The joy of this method is it requires little supervision, so you can spend less time at the barbecue and more time with family and friends. Tracy shares her secrets to mastering this surprisingly simple grill skill.

Follow these easy steps for cedar plank grilling:

1. Immerse plank in water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. You may have to weigh plank down with a soup can.


2. Preheat barbecue to medium heat. Using a barbecue or pastry brush, brush one side of plank with vegetable oil. This will help prevent food from sticking to wood. Top plank with meat; place on centre of barbecue grate. Close lid.


3. Barbecue to desired doneness. Check back occasionally to ensure cedar plank doesn't flare up. Spritz any flames with a water bottle if necessary. Brush meat or fish with barbecue sauce during last 20 minutes of barbecuing time.


4. When done, remove meat from plank and turn off barbecue. Let plank cool on barbecue grate before removing.


Plank Basics

Buy untreated cedar planks at your local grocery, specialty food or hardware store. It should measure about 14 x 7 x 1 in.
Be sure to purchase untreated planks to avoid chemical contamination of food.
You don't have to limit yourself to cedar. Try untreated oak, maple, cherry or apple wood planks for different flavours.
please be especially aware not to buy treated wood of any kind for this. most times, the treated wood has chemicals like arsenic and petrochemicals infused into it, which are not only immediately poisonous but also cancerous.
Hahaha ... Rainee ... when I was a kid (back about 3yrs after dirt was created) in the Boy Scouts and went to Wilderness Camp ..... about the only wood we had to cook with was red cedar. We didn't need no stikin' fancy gourmet store "plank"!

And I say that "tongue-in-cheek" 'cause that was all we had to cook with :wub:

Cedar plank, or a fire made from cedar wood, definately gives food a unique flavor. One that I still remember was a steak marinated in apple juice (about 2 hours) cooked over a fire of red cedar ... a few years later (when I could buy it) one marinated in apricot brandy was even better!
Plank cooking

We have recently talked about plank cooking in the Knox household after our neighbor served up fish that was perfect. He cooked it on a plank in his oven.

Where do you find untreated planks? We have found planks on the internet but most seem expensive (with fancy packaging and logos stamped into them). I looked at the hardware but now have been made aware that "Treated" lumber could kill me.

We just want a reasonably priced plank to cook on. If anyone has any info (or a supplier) on how to acquire a plank on the cheap it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Knox's Spice Co.
Call around to the different hardware or lumber yards and ask for untreated cedar.
Cedar Planks

I bought several Cedar and Alder planks from Barbecues Galore when they were on sale. We grill salmon on cedar and trout on alder and there is NO better tasting fish than wood planked fish. For some reason the fish tastes buttery and smooth with a great subtle taste of wood. I would love to do some pork on applewood since I think Applewood Smoked Bacon is the best in the country, but can't find applewood planks anywhere. Anyone???:ermm:
With all the many things I've tried, especially on the grill, you'd think I'd have tried planking. But alas, I have not. But you bet I'm gonna, and very soon. I'm thinking this weekend would be a good time. I know I've seen cedar planks available in Wal-Mart, in the barbecue section of the gardening dept. I can anticipate the taste now. And this thread is just what I needed to get me going. I've got some bass and trout fillets just waiting in the freezer. :mrgreen:

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
check out the fish section, I know I've posted 1 or 2 plank recipes.
Probably so, just watch it closely for the temp.
Planking on a gas grill

htc said:
Rainee, can I follow your instructions if I use my weber gas grill? Thx!

:cool: I always do planking on a Weber gas grill. It's perfect. Don't think want to try this in the oven because the wood sometimes catches fire around the edges.
Well ya just talked me into it. I went to Wal-Mart after work and plunked down a little over 6 bucks for two planks of cedar. I then went home and fired up the Weber charcoal grill. The whitefish was already thawed. I followed the directions to soak the wood but sped up the process by using hot water (heat accellerates most physical reactions and caused the wood to absorb water more quickly). I dried the side that the fish was going to occupy and sprayed with cooking oil. Placed the fish on the grill, left all vents fully open and cooked for about ten minutes total. While the fish was cooking, I steamed some yellow crook-neck squash.

Now I love fish, especially fresh water fish. There is a certain flavor common to fresh water fish, strongest I think in 8 to 10 inch speckled trout (out of Lake Superior please). But I have to say that cedar planked whitefish has given me a whole 'nuther dimension in which to enjoy fish. The stuf was just incredible. There was a ballance of that fresh water fish flavor (mild in whitefish), coupled with a touch of salt, and the sweetness of the cedar. And it wasn't the cedar smoke. It was the flavor of the wood.

There are many foods that smell one way and taste another. But the cedar tasted exactly as it smelled, and that was great. I am thoroughly impressed with the technique. Thanks for this thread. It gave me yet another food love in my life. :mrgreen:

And now, I have an idea, but not the food to test it. I submit for discussion and experimentation the idea of inserting large, water-soaked slivers of cedar into a bonless pork roast, like lardoons, and roasting, or better yet barbecuing, with a savory, slightly salty rub, maybe even just S&P. Anybody up for it? I think the flavors would complement very well. I just don't have a pork roast, and I think my wife would look at me very strangely were I to try it. She's just not the experimenting type.

Let me know what you think about the idea.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Goodweed of the North,
I need to comment that your screen name reminds me of a Viking name, very cool.

I will try your suggestion. Just so I am clear. Your idea is to take a cedar plank and cut it into chicken bone size slivers and run it through a pork roast. What are you thinking, maybe 3 or 4 of them evenly distributed thngthwise throught he roast? For the sake of the experiment, what about seasoning? Should we keep it simple, salt and pepper?

I also have a question about fish. My wife rarely eats fish but planking may be a means of us eating more fish. When you cook fish on a plank how do you season and prepare it. Do you use salt and pepper and lemon or just lemon. Does it matter if the skin is still on? Something simple to get me started.

OK...this might be a really dumb question :blush: ...if I go to the local lumber yard (no Home Depots or Lowes around here) and buy a piece of cedar, do I know that it hasn't been treated with something? How do you know you're getting a "pure" piece of cedar? (no cedar trees around here either :LOL: )
Buying Cedar from Lumberyards

callie said:
OK...this might be a really dumb question :blush: ...if I go to the local lumber yard (no Home Depots or Lowes around here) and buy a piece of cedar, do I know that it hasn't been treated with something? How do you know you're getting a "pure" piece of cedar? (no cedar trees around here either :LOL: )

:mellow: Unfortunately you can't be positive about buying untreated cedar because most of the help in these stores are not aware of the wood being treated at all. They say they have no idea or they're guessing. Builders' grade lumber is always treated because they have to kill the pests and the larvae that nestle in the wood. This is toxic. I always buy planks from a bbq store or at Lowes or Home Depot type stores in their bbq supply department or almost anywhere that carries bbq equipment- look in your Yellow Pages - so that I know I'm buying untreated wood packaged for grilling purposes.
GOODWEED and OTHERS: Try grilling flatfish such as walleye, trout, pickerel etc. on Alder planks. A different flavor than cedar but sooooo very good. :mrgreen:
Callie, if there isn't a bbq store around where you live or no planks that specifically say for grilling, I would play it safe and order them on the internet. Or mail order from a reputable place.

Maybe Rainee has a company she works with that she likes...
I have of late been hearing from some locals around here that a form of alder, we call them tag alders, is an incredible smoking wood. I imagine that if I were to cut a few of these "nuisance" trees, and split them, I could lay the meat on the wood. The only ceomercially available food grade planks available around here are cedar. But I find lots of sugar maple branches, and sometimes saplings laying here and there after a good wind storm. I could split those as well, and again use them for flavor infusion. Looks like I'm going to be experimenting again.

As for the sliver insertion, yes, that is exactly what I meant. First, I would use only salt & pepper, so that you know what flavor is added by the cedar. And then, you can go from there and add fruit flavors, or other seasonings.

For the question about the fish, I used whitefish fillets, skin-side against the wood. The skin of fish usually has the strongest fishy flavor, except for any fat that is. But make sure to cut away any visible fat. The fat tastes bad and is home to most of the toxins absorbed by a fish (methyl mercury, dioxin, pcb's, etc.) I didn't use lemon as I feel it would have been too strong a flavor and might have hidden the sweet cedar flavor. I did spray the wood with cooking oil, after soaking.

The wood serves two purposes. First, it protects the fish from the intense heat of the charcoal, thereby cooking it in a more gently environment. Second, it gives up some of its flavor to the food cooked upon it. Less importantly, it smokes a little, which again enhances the fish flavor.

Hope this helps.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
thanks, htc and DQ! I'll do some looking around locally first...then on to my friend, the internet! When ya live "out in the sticks," you do lots of online ordering! What did we do before all the www.'s???!!!
Other woods for grilling

:chef: Other good woods for grilling are indeed the maple as Goodweed mentioned and applewood. These are great for chicken and pork as well as fish. If you can cut your own you're in luck. A lot cheaper and you know it's not treated. Go for it. DO NOT USE PINE. Pinewood produces a sap that is not only horrible tasting but will burn the plank to bits. And it's not considered safe because of the resin it emits. :sick: :sick: :sick:
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