Cedar Plank Salmon

The Pacific Northwest tradition of cooking fish on a wood plank likely originated centuries ago with the region’s Native American population, and it is carried on today for good reason: the wood—usually cedar or alder—flavors the fish as it gently cooks, imbuing it with a subtle smokiness. Few recipes as simple as this one, made with sugar-brined salmon fillets, garner such impressive results. The technique also makes the fish easier to handle while it grills or bakes. To prevent your plank from going up in flames, make sure to use wood that is at least 3/4 inch thick and has been soaked for several hours. For a lovely finishing touch, serve roasted lemon halves alongside the planked salmon.


  • 4 (8-ounce) fillets of king salmon
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt


Soak two 4-by-8-inch thin cedar planks (or one cedar plank large enough to fit the 4 fillets) in water for several hours. (The water can be flavored with herbs and citrus, if desired.)

In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar and salt with ½ cup water and stir until dissolved. Rub the brine on both sides of each salmon fillet. Place the salmon in front of a fan or allow to air-dry until the brine feels tacky on the fish, about 2 hours. Give the fillets a quick rinse to remove most of the brine and pat dry.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the salmon fillets skin side down on the cedar planks. Place in the oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until just barely done (the fish should still be slightly translucent at the center). Serve on the planks.


4 Servings