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How to Start Grilling with Cedar Planks

There are all sorts of fancy gadgets designed to take your grilling game to the next level. A rather simple accessory to add to your barbeque station this summer that can open up a whole new world of grilling is a basic plank of cedar wood.


Why Should you Grill with Wooden Planks?

Grilling planks are pretty self-explanatory: The rectangular sheets of wood are designed to be placed directly on the grates between your food and the heat source. However, the reason grill masters use them is a bit less obvious.


One major benefit to cooking with grilling planks is the enhanced flavor. As the wood heats up, the ingredients sitting on the plank will absorb the smoke it generates. Cedar planks are prized for their aroma, but apple, maple, hickory, and mesquite are all deliciously fragrant alternatives.


The roaring flame of a grill is great for charring steaks and burgers quickly, but not every protein can handle such an intense cooking process. Planks make food taste better by providing protection from the heat.

For example, fish can dry out quickly and fall apart on the grill grates. A wooden plank cooks fish gently with indirect heat, keeping it moist and intact. Salmon is one of the most common foods to grill on cedar planks for this reason.

This method of grilling also has the added benefit of being easy to clean up after!


How to Grill with Planks

For starters, resist the urge to slap them on the grill right away. The wood needs to be soaked for at least an hour to prevent it from bursting into flames. Plain water is fine, but submerging the planks in wine, cider, or sake will boost their flavor.


After the planks have been soaked for an hour or two, heat your grill to around 350°F to 400°F. The planks should be placed in the indirect heat zone. If cooking salmon, lay it on the wood and cover the grill, allowing it to cook through for 12 to 15 minutes.

The plank can be salvaged at the end of the day by scrubbing it with soap and warm water. You can reuse it throughout the summer until it becomes overly blackened or damaged.


How to Choose the Right Planks

Grilling planks should be large enough to keep food from spilling over the edge. The thickness of the wood matters as well; if the sheet is at least half an inch thick, it will produce more smoke and stand up better to repeat usage.


The only thing that should be transferred between your food and the plank is mouthwatering flavor, so be sure to check that the wood hasn't been treated with chemicals. As well as sanded down to remove splinters.


These extra-thick cedar planks from Primal Grilling check all the boxes, and they’re available in packs of five for $29 on Amazon.

If you want to experiment with different smoke flavors, this $25 variety pack from Wildwood Grilling features six types of wood (including cedar, hickory, and cherry), plus recommendations of different foods to pair them with.



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