How to Use Wood Planks for Grilling

If you’re ever stuck in a remote, deserted cabin and need to grill some meat for dinner, this may be the most important article you read today. Although grilling on an open fire is fun for those few minutes when it’s working properly (and if not, well then at least we’ll have hotdogs), there are plenty of alternative cooking methods that could get your meal cooked up in no time flat.

Cedar grilling planks are a great way to cook food on the grill. Cedar wood is also easy to find and affordable. This article will show you how to use cedar grilling planks for cooking.

Grilling plank with iron steak.

As the temperature increases, so do our ambitions to improve our grilling skills. If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly on the lookout for a new trick, a special seasoning, or a useful new gadget to amaze not just your taste senses, but also your friends, family, and neighbors.

This year, I’ve found the benefits of barbecuing using wood planks.

Wooden grilling planks are single-use pieces of wood (usually around 5″ by 11″) that put on top of your grill and are covered with food. They’re employed to effortlessly give smokey characteristics to the grub that would otherwise be impossible to get.

A plank may be used to cook any kind of food that would ordinarily be grilled on a grill – meat, vegetables, fruits, and so on. I’ve been experimenting for a few months and am sharing the broad concepts of utilizing wood planks, the advantages of doing so, and a few different recipes to whet your appetite below.   

The Advantages of Wood Planks

1. Quickly produces a great smokey taste from a grill. A wood plank imparts a smokey taste to your cuisine that is frequently only possible with a genuine smoker or a smoker box with chips. Using a plank is a much simpler, faster approach that doesn’t need the same amount of preparation or time as other ways.

2. Keeps your meal wet and flavorful. Because your food comes into touch with the moistened wood rather than the grilling grates, it stays considerably moister than it would otherwise. This also gives you greater flexibility when it comes to grilling times. Especially with white meats like chicken and pig, I often observe a delicate line between completely cooked, moist meat and thoroughly cooked, dried up meat. You just have a few minutes to remove the meat from the grill before it becomes dry and rough. That window is widened a little with the addition of a board. The wood provides you more flexibility and, in the process, will probably make you a better grillmaster!

3. Prevents food from crumbling. A lot of items that you grill — particularly vegetables — may break apart, adhere to the grates, and even fall through and down into the burners when put directly on the grates (I’m looking at you, asparagus!). Your fish remains in one piece on a plank, your burgers and chicken breasts don’t adhere to the grill, and your vegetables stay nice and tidy in one spot. It’s similar to using a grilling basket in terms of functionality, but it’s better because you get that woody, smokey taste.

4. It’s a breeze to clean up. While grilling is generally a low-maintenance activity, the plank makes it much easier. Because grilling planks are one-time-use goods (they become bent and burnt), you may either toss them in the trash or use them in your next campfire. There’s no need to brush your grill or pre-heat it.  

5. You’re welcome to use the oven! Is it possible to get a smoky taste directly from your oven? Yes, absolutely! Soak your plank (more on that below), then place a drip tray — also known as a cookie sheet — on a lower rack and you’re good to go! To give your dish a grill-like crispiness, turn on the broiler for the final 5-10 minutes of an oven-planked recipe. While this page does not include any oven recipes, you can read more about utilizing wood planks in the oven here.


How to Work with Wood Planks

1. Purchase supplies online or at a grocery shop. You may be wondering where these wooden planks come from in the first place. It’s possible you’ve never spotted them at the shop. At general, they may be found in most grocery stores and/or barbecue supply stores. My neighborhood supermarket sells wood planks, but only in one kind of wood (more on that below).

Going to an internet merchant such as Amazon or Wildwood Grilling (which specialized in grilling planks and other wooden equipment) can provide you with a far wider variety and enable you to purchase in larger quantities, saving you money.

So, you’re saying there’s a selection? Isn’t a plank of wood simply a board of wood? On the contrary! Wood planks come in a range of species, including cedar, maple, oak, and alder. Distinct woods will give your dish different tastes. Alder has a milder smokey flavor, but cedar has a robust, foresty flavor that goes well with veggies and fish (cedar and salmon is a common combo in the Pacific Northwest). Experiment and see what you can come up with!

If necessary, boards of various sizes may be obtained. While the measurements I indicated in the start are the most common, you may go larger or smaller to fit whatever you’re grilling.  

Wood grilling plank soaking in water.

2. Soak the plank for 30-60 minutes before using it. Before utilizing, completely immerse the wood plank in water for at least 30 minutes, preferably 60. This keeps whatever you’re grilling wet while also preventing the plank from catching fire. Only one recipe that I’ve seen clearly states that the plank should not be soaked, which is a grilled meatloaf that I shared last year.

3. Remove the plank from the grill and preheat it without it. You don’t want to use your grill to pre-heat the plank. Before you could even put anything on it, it would have dried up. First, preheat the grill, then set the plank on top of it, along with your food.

4. Grill as usual, but have a spray bottle close at hand. Keep a spray bottle on hand in case of a flare-up. When I initially used a plank, I ignored their suggestion and ended up with a little hot plank towards the end of the grilling period. As time went on, I kept a spray bottle close by and used it almost every time. Check your plank every five minutes or so and put out the fire as required by spraying the dried out and burning areas (don’t worry if some of the spray gets on your meal, but try not to douse it).

5. Get in the habit of bowing. The plank will lean downward, like a frown, after a few minutes on the grill. That isn’t an issue with a larger cut of meat like a steak or a salmon filet. As things roll or grow a bit deformed, it may be more of a concern for vegetables, burgers, and brats, among other things. To combat this, set the plank on the grill for a few minutes without food, allowing it to bow, then flipping it over to make a tiny boat for your delicacies.


6. Allow for additional time. I’ve found that food cooked on a plank takes a bit longer to cook than food cooked directly on the grill. It gives the impression of cooking over an indirect fire, particularly when the plank is damp and chilly to begin with. On a plank, a piece of chicken that would ordinarily take 12-15 minutes to cook on a grill grate takes closer to 20 minutes. The same goes for a steak. As a result, plan on adding around 50 percent longer cooking time.

7. Sear the meat for a few minutes to generate grill marks and a little char. The wonderful grill marks and subtle burn you receive on your meal when grilling rather than baking or pan-searing is one of the best things about it. It has such a primitive flavor to it, as if you’re eating something that was cooked thousands of years ago.

Unfortunately, using planks does not provide those specific grilling advantages. To combat this, remove your meal off the plank for the last few minutes and place it directly on the grates. You’ll get the advantages of the woody taste while keeping the desirable markings and char.


In general, planks may be used in any typical grilling recipe. Simply add some grilling time, as already suggested.


Salmon on wood grilling plank.

When seeking for grilling plank recipes, salmon (and fish in general) is the most prevalent ingredient. Because fish tends to break apart on grills, placing it on a platform is extremely useful, and it lends itself to soaking up those woody tastes. The suggested wood is cedar, but any wood can do!


  • 1.5-2 pound skin-on salmon filet
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper


  1. Plank should be soaked for 30-60 minutes.   
  1. Place the salmon in a big dish and marinate it in the juice of one large lemon 30 minutes before cooking.  
  1. Preheat the grill to medium (400°F).
  1. Before grilling, season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  1. Place the salmon skin side down on the plank and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish easily flanks. It’s preferable to be slightly undercooked than overdone when it comes to salmon.


Flat iron steak on wood grilling plank.

This was, without a doubt, the greatest steak I’ve ever cooked. It quickly converted me to a flat iron cut enthusiast (one of the greatest “cheap meats” available!).


  • Flat iron steak, 2 pound
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • brown sugar, 2 tsp.
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 12 tsp. black pepper, ground
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne (adjust depending on desired spiciness)  
  • 12 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 12 teaspoon cumin


  1. In a small dish, combine all of the dry rub ingredients.
  1. Refrigerate the meat for 2-4 hours after applying the spice mix evenly on it.
  1. Plank should be soaked for 30-60 minutes.
  1. Preheat the grill to medium (400°F).
  1. Place steak on plank and cook for 8-15 minutes, depending on desired doneness. Then, if preferred, lay the meat directly on the grill grates for another 2 minutes to get a good char.


Asparagus on wood grilling plank.

This recipe is as easy as it gets, and it creates a fantastic side dish that works with almost any main course. The quantities for the components listed below are dependent on the number of people you’ll be feeding and your own preferences. To give additional variation and color, halved or quartered tiny red potatoes may be used.



  • Asparagus
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • salt with garlic


  1. Plank should be soaked for 30-60 minutes.
  1. In a large mixing basin, combine all of the ingredients and stir well.
  1. Preheat the grill to medium (about 450°F).
  1. Place plank on grill without food for 3-5 minutes to allow it to bow.
  1. Place your vegetables on the board after flipping it over. Grill asparagus for 15-20 minutes, or until tender but still crunchy.  

Many thanks to Evan Rains of Wildwood Grilling for supplying me with some helpful hints and recipe suggestions.



Cedar grilling planks are a great way to get the most out of your wood. They burn hot, and have a nice smell. To make cedar grilling planks, soak them in water for about two hours before using. Reference: how to make cedar grilling planks.

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