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Sweet & Smoky Brown Sugar Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

This cedar plank salmon recipe is one of the easiest salmon recipes I’ve made! It gets its sweet and smoky flavor from a delicious grilled salmon rub made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper…

cedar plank salmon topped with a brown sugar grilled salmon seasoning surrounded with lemons and arugula

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Cedar Plank Salmon

Another salmon recipe??? Yes! Maybe I’m just making up for lost time, but I’m really enjoying testing out new salmon recipes after finally kicking my anxiety surrounding preparing fresh fish to the curb.

Fish was not something we ate when I was growing up (outside of the occasional fish sticks LOL), so I had exactly zero experience with it. All that to say that, if I can do it, anyone can do it! And easy recipes like this are the best way to get started.

This sweet and smoky grilled cedar plank salmon recipe is BY FAR the easiest salmon recipe I’ve tried yet. You simply smother fresh salmon fillets in a quick and easy grilled salmon rub, which is just a simple dry rub made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Then you just grill it on a cedar plank and serve… It’s super delicious and a great way to impress guests!

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Alaska Seafood frozen Alaskan salmon fillets package for plank salmon

Why I Choose Wild Alaskan Salmon

Of course, I recommend starting with Alaskan salmon — because all Alaska salmon is wild caught, never farmed. Why is this so important to me? Wild salmon is higher in omega-3s, lower in fat, and contains less toxins than farmed fish. So if I don’t see it clearly labeled, I always verify that the salmon at my local grocery stores is Alaska salmon.

Like I did today when I didn’t see it in the fresh fish case… Alaska salmon season is winding down, so it’s becoming harder to find it on display. But the butcher behind the counter was kind enough to point me in the direction of some bagged frozen Alaskan salmon, which actually turned out to be even more convenient because it had all of the pin bones already removed. Not a huge deal, but definitely a nice perk!

NOTE: If you’re looking for an excellent source for wild Alaskan salmon, I highly recommend ButcherBox’s high quality sustainably-harvested wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon!

cedar plank salmon seasoning grilled salmon rub made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper

Sweet & Spicy Brown Sugar Salmon Rub Recipe

Four simple ingredients make up the brown sugar salmon spice rub for this cedar plank salmon: brown sugar for sweetness (obviously!), smoked paprika for a bit of smoky spice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Simply stir them together well with a fork, and it’s ready to go.

You can even prepare this easy grilled salmon seasoning rub ahead of time to keep it on hand. Just give it a shake to make sure the ingredients are well-mixed before using.

P.S. This salmon dry rub is pretty tasty on grilled chicken thighs and/or pork chops, as well. Grill them right alongside your salmon for non-fish lovers!

cedar plank salmon grill topped with brown sugar grilled salmon seasoning

How To Cook Cedar Plank Salmon On The Grill

So you don’t HAVE to grill this salmon recipe on a cedar plank… But it’s certainly a fun and different way to cook fish, as well as being one of the easiest ways to prepare it.. My kids were so curious to try it!

Be sure to use an untreated cedar plank for grilling. I’ve seen them on clearance at almost all of the grocery and hardware stores I’ve visited lately, so this is the perfect time of year to give it a try for cheap. It does add a distinct cedar flavor to your salmon, so if you find it’s not for you, just use a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil next time and decrease the grilling time slightly.

Want to learn how to cook cedar plank salmon on the grill? There’s really just two things you need to know: 1) Be sure to soak your cedar plank in water for at least an hour before grilling to prevent it from going up in flames. And 2) After soaking it, pat it dry, and then brush the side that you’re going to place the salmon filet on with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking.

BTW, this technique will work on both a gas grill or a charcoal grill — both will produce delicious salmon that’s perfectly cooked. This really is the best salmon recipe for the summer months! And it will even work in the oven if you want to make baked cedar plank salmon during the colder winter months. Check the notes in the recipe card for instructions on how to make cedar plank salmon in the oven.

grilling salmon on a plank with a brown sugar salmon rub

How Long To Grill Salmon On Cedar Plank?

Lay each of your salmon fillets skin side down on the oiled face of a soaked plank. Brush the fillets with olive oil and press the brown sugar salmon rub all over the top. Lay the cedar planks directly on the hot grill grates. Cover grill and cook over indirect medium-high heat for about 15 minutes.

Salmon cooks quickly, so check frequently to see if it’s cooked through and flakes easily as you get close to the 15-minute mark. If you prefer to use the internal temperature as your guide, salmon is cooked through when it reaches 145 degrees internally in the thickest part of the fish.

When it’s done, you can serve this flaky salmon right on the cedar plank or transfer to a platter! A few lemon slices on the side are always a nice touch.

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cedar plank salmon made with brown sugar grilled salmon seasoning with arugula and sliced lemons

Sweet & Smoky Brown Sugar Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This cedar plank salmon recipe is one of the easiest salmon recipes I've made! It gets its sweet and smoky flavor from a delicious grilled salmon rub made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, and freshly ground black pepper...

Ingredients

For the brown sugar salmon rub:

Instructions

  1. Depending on the size of your salmon fillets, soak one or two cedar planks for grilling in water for one hour. Pat the soaked cedar plank dry with a paper towel, and brush one side with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper with a fork.
  3. Place salmon skin side down on the oiled face of the cedar planks and brush each with olive oil. Press the grilled salmon rub all over the top of the salmon.
  4. Place cedar planks directly on the hot grill grates. Cover grill and cook over medium-high indirect heat for 15-20 minutes. I recommend keeping a small spray bottle of cold water close by, just in case there are any flare-ups. The salmon is done when it's cooked through, flakes easily, and reaches 145 degrees internally in the thickest part of the fish.
  5. Serve warm on the cedar plank or cut into desired portions.

Notes

Baked Cedar Plank Salmon

Yes, you can bake salmon on a cedar plank in the oven! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Follow the above instructions through Step 3. Bake the salmon at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. It's done when it's cooked through, flakes easily, and reaches 145 degrees internally in the thickest part of the fish.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 servings Serving Size: 1 (6-oz.) fillet
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340Total Fat: 14.7gSaturated Fat: 2.2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 113.9mgSodium: 386.7mgCarbohydrates: 6.8gFiber: 0.5gSugar: 6.1gProtein: 43.6g

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

Can You Reuse Cedar Planks?

Some of you have wondered if you can reuse cedar planks… Used cedar planks can be reused indefinitely, as long as they’re still in good condition without a lot of char.

Some additional tips for reusing them:

  • Rinse the used cedar planks well with hot water, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Store the used planks in the freezer between uses.
  • For best flavor, be sure to use the same planks for the same type of protein or veggies each time. Using them for the same recipe is even better, because they will hold on to those flavors and seasonings.

When the cedar planks become thoroughly charred, toss them and begin using a new plank!

More Easy Salmon Recipes To Try

Looking to add more salmon recipes to your menu? Here are a couple more equally delicious and easy options!

  • Lemony Garlic Butter Grilled Salmon In Foil Packets With Green Beans — This simple grilled salmon in foil recipe is packed with lemony garlic butter flavor! Adding green beans to the foil packet means you have have a healthy protein and side dish on the table in under 30 minutes…
  • Parsley & Garlic-Rubbed Sheet Pan Salmon With Asparagus And Potatoes — This parsley and garlic-rubbed oven baked salmon recipe is sure to become your new favorite… Makes a main dish + 2 sides with just one pan to clean up!

I’d love to see how your cedar plank salmon turns out… Tag me @Unsophisticook on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!

Diane

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

This was so tasty! Loved the combination of sweet and smoky flavors!

Tara Kuczykowski

Thursday 9th of September 2021

So glad you loved it, Diane! Such and easy and tasty way to prepare salmon.

Maggie

Sunday 27th of June 2021

We LOVE this recipe! This is a regular in our house during the summer since I found your recipe about 2 years ago. Thank you!

Tara Kuczykowski

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

So happy to hear this, Maggie!!

Debbie

Friday 4th of June 2021

Can you reuse the cedar plank?

Tara Kuczykowski

Friday 4th of June 2021

You sure can, Debbie! They can be reused until they become too burnt or crack.

Meg Stewart

Monday 31st of May 2021

I burned my plank pretty good and kept spraying flames with water - I did soak for about 1 hour and 15 minutes - but let me tell you … the flavor is fantastical!

My nephew who eats very few things in this world - ATE this salmon. He loved it as much as my 5 & 10 year old did!

Excellent recipe

Tara Kuczykowski

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

Love to hear this, Meg! (Well, not the burning part, LOL.) So glad you all loved it!!

Mae

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

Tried it and it was just delicious! Thank you for such a nice recipe!

Tara Kuczykowski

Wednesday 24th of March 2021

You're so welcome, Mae! Glad you enjoyed it.

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