American Canadian Main Course Recipes Seafood

Salmon on a Cedar Plank

Plank cooking originates with the indigenous people of North America in the region that is now the U.S. Pacific Northwest, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada.  Tribes living near the mighty rivers flowing from the coastal mountains to the Pacific, traditionally enjoyed their abundant natural resources.  Migrating Pacific salmon were often caught with spears then placed on locally available red cedar planks to cook over a fire pit.  The wood and smoke, from this method, impart wonderful subtle and natural flavours to the fish.  As the region developed in modern times, this traditional method was shared with settlers and tourist and later evolved into this popular barbecue recipe.

A migrating Pacific salmon near Seward, Alaska, USA. Photo: Drew Farwell

Salmon on a Cedar Plank

The wood and smoke, from this method, impart wonderful subtle and natural flavours to the fish.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 340kcal
Author: Kevin Lamoureux


Salmon and Topping

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 1 cedar plank
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 garlic clove crushed with sea salt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice about ½ a lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Sea salt for spreading on the plank

Barbecue Rub

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds ground
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds ground
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dry dill
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp fresh ground pepper


  • Soak the cedar plank in cold water for at least 2 hours.
  • Mix the barbecue rub ingredients together in a small glass jar with a lid. As you will be using about 1 tbsp per salmon filet, the rest can be stored and used the next time you make this recipe.
  • Wash and dry the salmon, then coat with the barbecue rub.
  • Prepare the topping and spread over the salmon.
  • Preheat a barbecue to 450-500 F.
  • Sprinkle the plank with sea salt, then put into the barbecue with the lid down until you hear it crackle (about 5 mins).
  • Have a spritz bottle of water on standby in case you need to douse any flames that break out on the plank. The key to getting the right amount of smoke is to have the plank char and smoulder.
  • Make sure your barbecue temperature is at least 450 F then place the salmon on the plank, skin side down. Cook for about 12 minutes for a thinner filet, 15 minutes for medium thickness and about 18 minutes for a thicker piece. Do not turn or move the salmon on the plank.
  • Keep an on the barbecue as the salmon cooks. You want to make sure the planks don’t break out in flames but still smoulder to create smoke. Move the plank away from the direct flame if necessary.
  • When done, remove the filets from the plank with a large spatula and serve immediately.


The key to moist, tender and flakey salmon is not to over-cook it. You want to catch it just as the flesh becomes flakey and looses its pearly appearance. Use only untreated wood that is usually available in grocery stores or from home and kitchen suppliers.

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