How to Grill with Wood Grilling Planks

If you have done a lot of grilling, you know that there is a lot that goes into it. Many people see grilling as simply preparing food in an easy way, but the truth is that there is a lot more that goes into it than that. There are all sorts of ways that you can subtly flavor your food, including  using grilling planks. There are many types of grilling planks that you can use to flavor your food in different ways, not to mention what you can actually do with each different type of wood plank.

Types of Grilling Planks

There are many different wood flavors in which planks come, the most commonly used are cedar planks. Others include alder, mesquite, apple, hickory, cherry, oak, and maple. These planks all function similarly, but they have different flavors that they end up adding to the food that you are grilling. You should choose grilling planks that complement the types of food you are cooking. Alder is a mild and sweet wood that has a very subtle type of flavor, while cedar planks have a strong woodsy flavor and is more aromatic. You should choose a plank of untreated wood, as treated wood may end up contaminating the food.


Typically, grilling planks are about 13″ x 7″ and are shaped like rectangles. You should take into account not only size but also the type of the wood. You should know what type of flavor is carried by each kind of wood, and you should use your knowledge here to choose the type of wood that would best complement the flavor of the food that you are cooking. If you are cooking a delicate meat, such as fish, gentle flavors such as alder and cedar planks are better. If you are cooking something heartier, like chicken or pork, a medium wood such as apple, pecan, or maple will be a more appropriate choice. A gamier meat, such as beef, may do better with a heavier wood such as hickory or oak.

How to Use Grilling Planks

You can actually use and reuse grilling planks, because they retain their own flavor. Generally, you can use grilling planks about two or three times before having to throw them out. The planks will impart their own subtle flavor while maintaining the natural juices that are in the meats and vegetables that you are grilling.

How to Prepare Wood Planks for Grilling

How to use wood grilling planks by following a few easy steps

In addition to the natural flavor contained in the plank, you also should soak the plank for a period of time between one and four hours in wine, juice, or water. Some people even use tea for this purpose. This will add moisture to the wood, along with another unique flavor, which can affect the taste of your food and also prevent the plank from ending up lighting on fire in the oven or on the grill. You should “temper” or lightly toast the plank before using, to prevent the plank from warping during the grilling process and to intensify the smoky flavor of the plank. You can season it when it is being used for the first time by putting it on a preheated grill for about two minutes, turning it once during this time in order to toast both sides. When it starts to crackle, it is ready for cooking. You should put oil on the side on which you are cooking in order to avoid the problem of the meat sticking to the plank. One advantage of cooking on a plank is that when you are using one, food does not have to be turned during the grilling process. You should keep a spray bottle of water close to you in order to put out any flames that you see start to form on the plank.

As you can see, there is a lot to take into consideration when choosing a plank for your grilling process. You should know not only how to choose a plank but also how to prepare and use it once you have chosen it.

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