Cedar Plank Rosemary and Lemon Salmon

Gas grills are for wusses. Oh all right, that’s not really true, but I have been a charcoal grill user since day one. Way back in the stone ages when I was a child, my father was the king of the Weber kettle in the backyard, cooking up burgers and hot dogs and chicken and hot links for all! Inside the house, mom would handle the baked beans and potato salad.

And where would little Cheryl be? Outside helping dad with the grilling, which meant being a go-fer girl when he needed something. I told you he was the king, and I was a mere servant girl. Although a servant girl would imply that I was being paid, and lord knows that was not the case! But I learned how to start the charcoal, how to spread the coals and how to grill.

Grilling over hardwood coals imparts the best flavor in my opinion, which you just don’t get with a gas grill. Of course, this is not to say I would never own a gas grill. I can imagine they come in handy, since you do not have to wait for the coals to be ready. In fact, I have been lusting over this Combination Gas-Charcoal Grill from Char-Broil. But I am happy still grilling on my father’s trusty Weber kettle grill. And I plan on teaching my daughter the proper way to BBQ, when she is old enough.

I recently agreed to write a guest post on the grilling blog over at Outdoor Gourmet, a great website that sells grilling planks, wraps and other accessories to make your grilling experience delicious. When you grill your foods on a wood plank, it stays moist and the wood imparts a subtle flavor.

The planks were soaked in water, although I bet you could soak them in other liquids to impart even more flavor. Of course anything highly flammable would probably not be a good idea. You know, something like 151 proof rum.

I like to buy my salmon in a whole fillet, which is one complete side of the fish. I then cut it into smaller pieces, and freeze them for future use. I had some wild salmon with the skin on to use, so I made a simple marinade of olive oil, Meyer lemon zest, salt and fresh ground pepper.

Salmon has such a strong flavor it can really stand up to other strong flavors. Many types of fish would just get overpowered if you paired it with fresh rosemary, but not salmon.

I laid some large, fresh rosemary sprigs onto the soaked cedar planks, then put my marinated salmon on top. That is three different sources of flavor: the simple marinade, the rosemary and the cedar. And then you add the hardwood smoke from the BBQ, and you have a really special salmon fillet.

When preparing your grill, set the coals up for indirect heat.  That means put the pile on one side of the BBQ only, as you can see in the picture.  The planks are then set on the side without the coals, so the wood does not get completely incinerated by the heat.

Once the salmon is on the grill, cover it up and let it go for about 15 minutes, until it is done to your liking.

My plank did not catch on fire, and the rosemary began to dry out a little, releasing its oils into the salmon.

The salmon was moist, tender and flaky with hints of lemon, rosemary and smoke throughout. If you are worried the salmon would taste like a cedar closet, have no fear. The cedar notes were very subtle and lent a distinct and lovely flavor to the salmon.

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Cedar Plank Rosemary and Lemon Salmon
Grilling salmon on a cedar plank imparts a subtle flavor while helping the fish retain its moistness.
  • 2 large wild salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • to taste sea salt
  • to taste fresh ground black pepper
  • 6-8 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 cedar planks, soaked per manufacturers instructions
Prepare your grill for indirect heat cooking.

Place your salmon fillets onto a plate or platter. In a small bowl mix the zest, oil, salt and pepper together. Rub the marinade onto the fillets and let it sit at room temperature while your grill is getting ready.

Divide the rosemary sprigs between the two soaked cedar planks. Place one salmon fillet onto each plank.Place the planks onto the grill rack on the side without direct heat, then cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the salmon is done to your liking.


Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 35 mins Yield: 2 salmon fillets

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista


5 thoughts on “Cedar Plank Rosemary and Lemon Salmon”

  1. I made this tonight for my roomies. They loved it! I changed a few things –added lime & lemon zest and it gave a noticeable bright freshness that I really enjoyed! Also, instead of a bbq, we had to bake it and it turned out fine! Thanks for the recipe!

  2. That looks absolutely divine! Very droolworthy. As much as I love salmon AND rosemary, I don’t think I’ve bothered to pair them. I can imagine it’s as good as it looks.

  3. I think this sounds fabulous. My rosemary is finally getting big enough that I could cut sprigs for this dish. It’s definitely on the menu for next week. Thanks for sending this along.

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