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Tips for Plank Cooking Wild Game on the Grill

If you haven't grilled fish or wild game on a wooden plank before, it's easy to do. Here are some tips on how to prepare a plank for the grill, along with some cooking options.

Tips for Plank Cooking Wild Game on the Grill
(Photo courtesy of Tiffany Haugen)

While Cedar Planked Salmon is popular throughout the nation, not as many folks have put wild game on a plank. Once I started plank cooking, the grill started staying out year-round and everything went on it.

Because planks help keep the moisture in fish and game meat, they take care of the problem of lean meat drying out and either tasting like shoe leather or falling through the grill. Planks also keep the grill clean and make a great serving platter/cutting board. If you haven't tried this easy method on the grill, get a fillet of fish, venison backstrap, or pork loin out of the freezer and give it a go.

Planks can be purchased "ready-to-use" or untreated wood can be bought at a lumber yard and planks can be cut to the desired size. Any non-resinous wood can be plank cooked upon; cedar, alder, oak, maple, cherry, apple, pecan, and hickory are some of the more common wood types.

Using a favorite marinade or BBQ rub, prepare fish or game according to your taste preference. Additional flavors can be added by placing a bed of sliced citrus under fish or sliced onions under game meat. Just follow the guidelines below, cooking fish to a temperature of 135 to 140 degrees and game to 145 to 155 degrees.

Plank Preparation

Step 1: Soak plank in water or other liquid, minimum 1 hour, maximum of 24 hours.

Step 2: Preheat plank on the grill at medium heat 2-3 minutes, or in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Brush a light coating of olive oil onto the cooking side of the board if desired to prevent food sticking.

Cedar Planked Salmon
Cedar Planked Salmon (Shutterstock photo)

Plank Cooking Options

Grill (Direct Heat)

Use the lowest setting on a gas grill or low charcoal heat. Place plank with food directly over the heat source. Cook with the lid closed. The plank should reach heavy smoke in 10 to 15 minutes. When the plank begins to smoke, check often – use a spray bottle filled with water to extinguish any flame on the plank. This approach promotes a heavy smoke flavor.

Grill (Indirect Heat)

Use a medium setting on a gas grill. If using charcoal, pile coals to one side. Place plank opposite the heat source. Cook with the lid closed. The plank should begin to smoke after 15 to 20 minutes. The plank should not catch fire using this method. Cooking time increases due to the lower temperature. This method promotes a light smoke flavor.


Preheat oven and board to 350 degrees. Place plank with food, directly on the oven rack. Position a foil-lined baking sheet on the rack below the plank to catch any drippings. This method infuses a light smoke essence into food. Planks can be cleaned and reused.


Words Of Caution

  • Never leave planks unattended on the grill or wherever being cooked. 
  • Avoid repeatedly opening the grill cover as this can cause flare-ups and lost heat.
  • Be careful not to inhale smoke or allow it to billow into the eyes. 
  • Use a large metal spatula to move planks around and off the grill. 
  • Do not bring a burning or smoldering plank inside the house.

From the book "Grill It! Plank It! Wrap It! Smoke It!" by Tiffany Haugen.

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