Plank grilling has been an American cooking staple for hundreds of years. With origins tracing back to the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, planks of cedar, alder, oak, maple, and other woods have been—and still commonly are—used to enhance meats, fish, side dishes, and even desserts using the naturally occurring flavors in the smoke and wood.
But before you throw just any slab of wood on the grill, take a few precautionary steps to obtain your desired results.
First, decide which type of wood will yield the flavor you want, and be sure that it’s 100 percent untreated to avoid harmful additives and chemicals.
Also take note that your plank must be soaked for at least 30 minutes before use so it doesn’t burn. You can get creative with your flavors by soaking the wood in anything that you would normally cook with—think beer, wine, herbal teas, fruit juices, etc. You can add one part water to one part liquid of choice for a more subtle flavor, or submerge the plank completely in your water alternative for a stronger presence of flavor.
Pick Your Plank
Try these recommendations for choosing the perfect plank, or mix and match as you please:
>> FISH: The gentle flavors of cedar and alder are a good match for many delicate foods, such as fish and veggies.
>> CHICKEN OR PORK: Medium woods such as maple, apple, and pecan will leave more of an impression on heartier meats like chicken and pork without overpowering the food.
>> BEEF OR GAMIER MEATS: Oak, hickory, and other weighty woods will bump up the wood flavor in heavier dishes.
Check out our collection of plank grilling recipes here!