How to Use Grilling Planks for Beginners

Level up your grilling game and add a natural wood flavor to your food with this how-to guide for grilling planks. The best part is, for very little extra work, you’ll get incredible results.

What are Grilling Planks?

First, let’s discuss what grilling planks are and their benefits. Grilling planks are thin pieces of wood that are used to cook food on a grill. They are typically made from cedar, but can also be made from other types of wood such as hickory, maple, or cherry.

Cedar planks are a popular choice because they impart a subtle, smoky flavor to the food that is cooked on them. This can be especially appealing for fish, vegetables and even chicken, which can be bland when cooked on their own.

Benefits of Grilling with Planks

The benefits of using cedar planks for grilling are numerous.

  • They add amazing flavor to your food without the need for marinades or sauces.
  • Planks help to keep your food moist while it cooks, which can be especially beneficial for fish
  • Make it easier to grill delicate foods like vegetables, as they provide a stable surface to cook on
  • Can prevent vegetables from falling through the grill grates
cedar planked salmon

What You’ll Need

To get started with grilling on cedar planks, you will need a few basic tools and materials.

Cedar planks (choose the size that best matches your food)
A brush and olive oil (or butter)
Bowl of water (that planks can fit in)
Pair of tongs

The first step in grilling with cedar planks is to soak the planks in water for at least an hour. This will prevent them from catching fire on the grill. Alternatively, if you’re shorter on time, boil some water and then soak the planks in hot water for about 15-20 minutes. Just be careful to not burn yourself putting them in, or when removing them.

Once the planks are soaked, you can begin to prepare your fish or vegetables. Brush the fish or vegetables with oil or butter and season them with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, place the cedar planks on the grill and let them heat up for a few minutes. It’s critical to place your planks over INDIRECT heat. If you’re using a Weber-style grill, you’ll want to set it up with the charcoal on one side so you can place the plank on the other. If using a kamado grill, make sure to use the ceramic heat deflector.

Once the planks are hot, place the fish or vegetables on the planks and close the grill. Cook the fish or vegetables for the appropriate amount of time, depending on their size and thickness. A good rule of thumb is to cook fish for 10-12 minutes per inch of thickness, and vegetables for 8-10 minutes.

As your fish and vegetables are cooking, you can use the tongs to turn the cedar planks occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. You can also baste the fish or vegetables with butter or oil to add flavor and moisture.

When the fish or vegetables are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. The fish or vegetables will have a smoky, woodsy flavor that is unique and delicious.

How to Use Grilling Planks for Beginners 1

Tips and Tricks to When Grilling with Cedar Planks:

Soak the planks for at least an hour before grilling to prevent them from catching fire.
Use tongs to turn the planks occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Baste the fish or vegetables with butter or oil to add flavor and moisture.
Let the fish or vegetables rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Grilling with Cedar Planks:

Not soaking the planks before grilling (or soaking long enough) which can cause the planks to burn or catch fire
Overcooking the meat or vegetables which can make them dry and tough
Not using enough oil/butter

Grilling with cedar planks is a great way to add flavor and complexity to your fish and vegetables. The process is easy and can be done by anyone, even first-time grillers. We’ll go over the basics of grilling with cedar planks, including tips and tricks, best practices, and mistakes to avoid.