A Guide to Wood Plank Grilling

Wood Plank Grilling Header

You’ll be amazed at how simple the wood plank grilling method is.

Wood plank grilling is not rocket science, yet many who know their way around the grill have yet to try out this additional step in grilling that takes the standard bbq fare from zero to a hundred. I’d like to think the biggest obstacle keeping many from trying out this method is simply inadequate understanding of just how wood plank grilling works and the minimal amount of preparation that’s actually involved.

Here at CAPPEC, we’re especially passionate about grilling and if I do my job right, I’ll have encouraged you to invest in a few of these planks by the end of this article. Go experiment with the variety of wood plank flavors and uses because you can do way more than just cook salmon! You’ll be quite pleased with the results and can thank me later. Let’s get started!

Why Grill With Wood Planks?

Wood plank grilling allows the surface of the food you are cooking on the plank to be infused with some of the plank’s natural flavoring. They are also a really great problem solver when grilling foods that can sometimes stick or fall apart on grill grates, especially fish. These planks serve as a nice non-stick surface and also take away the need for flipping your food. Wood plank grilling is extremely dynamic and you can cook just about any kind of food on a plank, including fruit, veggies, and meats.

So Many Options! Choosing Your Plank:

Wood Plank Grilling Logs

When choosing what kind of plank you want to grill with, the first thing you must keep in mind is to use untreated hardwood, as treated wood can leak toxins into whatever you are cooking. Arsenic is never a good spice for your meat. Store bought planks tend to come in rectangular sizes 13” x 7”, which are generally all-purpose.

Do you throw out a lumberjack vibe? You can also cut your own wood! Remember, don’t buy treated hardwood and aim for about 1” thickness. You will also want to sand it before using it because splinters are the worst.

Choosing the kind of wood for your plank is discretionary, but it’s known that each kind of plank you choose produces a different flavor with varying levels of intensity:

Mild flavor: Alder & Cedar

Alder and Cedar wood plank grilling produces a subtly sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor that is shared with the food it’s cooking. Some people prefer alder to the more popular cedar because it helps to produce a stronger flavor with its hints of vanilla. Try each out and form your own opinion, so long as you reserve this wood for more delicate foods like fish.

Medium flavor: Maple, Pecan, Cherry, & Apple

It’s no surprise that these woods help to produce a sweeter, smoky flavor on the foods resting on it. These woods are best for chicken or pork because they don’t overpower the flavor of the meats.

Bold flavor: Oak & Hickory

Oak and hickory impart a very strong wood flavor on the grilled food, so it only makes sense to pair it with thick cuts of beef or gamier meats.

Soaking The Plank

Soaking the plank for an hour will help you avoid catching any unwanted fires in your grill. Because you need the entire plank submerged in liquid, it’s best to throw a weight on top of the plank. Some grillers prefer soaking their wood in different liquid mixtures like fruit juices, wine, or tea. That’s completely discretionary, so long as your wood has been in it for the full hour.

Preparing The Plank

Smoking Wood Plank

Once you take out the plank from its liquid, you should dry it off and get it ready for the grill! It’s recommended to lightly coat your plank with oil and even some sea salt and herbs for additional flavor.

Once the grill is preheated, adjust the grill temperature to medium heat and place your planks on the grill for 5 minutes. Stand by with a spray bottle of water in case you need to be a hero and put out any flames. Once it starts smoking, it’s ready for food!

Reusing The Plank

A plank can generally be reused if you are using indirect grilling methods or if it has not charred too much. You need to clean it, of course, which you can do by scrubbing it down with a scouring pad and water. You can even put it in your dishwasher to be washed. Just be sure not to use soap unless you’d like this taste on your next entree.

What To Cook

Everyone has heard of or tried cedar plank salmon, but we are here to say there is so much more to planking than just fish!


Wood Plank BBQ Chicken Wings

Inviting the friends over to watch the next game? You can get some snacks grilled up with these Alder Smoked Game-Time Wings.


As you know, salmon is the king of cedar plank grilling, but don’t be afraid to try out a new fish. Why not try Cedar Plank Rainbow Trout.


Grilled Flat Iron Steak

Don’t be afraid to step into the bold, smoky flavor of hickory with this Hickory Planked Flat Iron Steak.


Sides are always my favorite, especially when they are grilled and stuffed! Here is a great recipe for Cedar Plank Grilled Portobellos Stuffed With Summer Veggies.


If you haven’t tried grilled fruit, you must try these Oh-So-Simple Cedar Plank Peaches. This is a really fun way to step out of your comfort zone and diversify your grill recipes.

What’s your favorite type of grilling plank? What do you like to cook on it? We love to hear from our readers, so comment below or tweet us at CAPPEC_Official.


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