Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

This recipe comes from my husband Blake. We call him The Grillmeister around here, as he turns out some mighty fine fare on his backyard Weber grills and Big Green Egg. Blake’s “farmboy” upbringing is the perfect compliment to this site, not to mention our marriage. He grew up in a farm family, just like me, about 50 miles north of where my family lived.

Blake and I started experimenting with grilled salmon many years ago, before the kids were ever in the picture. Blake first used a fish grill basket or placed the salmon directly on the grill grates. But he always had mixed results with attaining a pretty presentation on the table. He wanted something more dependable, and started playing around with cedar grilling planks last summer. The Grillmeister very quickly converted to this method for salmon. Grilling planks are the perfect solution for presentation, plus they yield a moist piece of fish with a lovely smokiness.

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

This uber awesome Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon is a meal that Blake has been making for our family since early this spring. We’ve served the leftovers to Mom (it’s not our fault she said “don’t plan on me being there for supper”…just lucky for her, there WAS some left when she arrived!) and, most recently, to my two sisters and their kids when they visited for a few days. And everyone has melted in pleasure over its moist and tender, sweetly caramelized deliciousness.


My youngest sister Jessica started a summer tradition last year of gathering all our kids together for a few days. She invited everyone to their home last summer in South Dakota, so this year we planned the social event of the summer at our house in Minnesota. Our girls have referred to it as the “Cousins Retreat”.

These seven kids had so much fun together! An overview of their days…swimming at super clean and clear Square Lake, and then heading to beautiful historic downtown Stillwater to dine at DQ, pick out a little bag of old fashioned candy at Tremblay’s Sweet Shop, and play at Teddy Bear Park, every young child’s dream park. They played made-up games outside for hours, went for walks, and giggled themselves to sleep in the bedroom with the sign on the wall that read “Cousin Hangout”.


But this was not just a cousins retreat. Oh, no. I like to think it was a “Sisters Retreat”, first and foremost. Cheryl, Jessica, and I have far too few days during the year when we’re all together at the same time. So these were some very special days to catch up on life, take walks, share a morning latte, and enjoy some wonderful food and a bottle of wine each evening. Blake’s salmon was most definitely a hit. And I’ll be sharing that gorgeous chopped salad (upper left photo) recipe yet this summer, too!

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

When Blake and I first started playing around with grilling salmon all those years ago, we knew that including maple syrup was one of our very favorite methods of preparation. We loved the sweetness that it added, but most importantly, the caramelization and texture.

And then this spring, when Blake got more serious about perfecting a go-to recipe for us, he sprinkled on this fabulous Bourbon Smoked Sea Salt that I brought home from my trip to Louisville, Kentucky last year, when I was a guest of GE Monogram. The smoked salt comes from Bourbon Barrel Foods, an amazing company I was able to tour in the heart of Kentucky bourbon land. Bourbon Barrel Foods microbrews small batches of Bluegrass Soy Sauce, fermented and aged in re-purposed bourbon barrels. And it’s so good! They also produce many other wonderful food items, such as this bourbon smoked sea salt. You can order it directly from their site for this recipe, or use your own favorite smoked sea salt.

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

I’m telling you, this has been one of my very favorite meals this summer. I don’t think it’s possible to mess this salmon recipe up. It always turns out perfectly moist, with a sweet and slightly smoky flavor.

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

And the salmon comes away from the board almost like magic. It’s a beautiful thing. We love to serve the salmon straight from the plank, such a fun presentation on the table!

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon -

Do you use grilling planks for salmon? I’d love for you to share YOUR favorite recipe with us!

Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1-1/2 lbs. salmon fillet, with or without skin
  • 3 tsp. course smoked salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. pure maple syrup
  • also needed:
  • cedar grilling plank
  • 1 to 2 cans beer, for soaking the plank


Place grilling plank in a 9''x13'' pan and pour 1 to 2 cans of beer over it, so that top of plank is covered and wet. Set a heavy glass or bowl on top of the plank to keep it submerged. Set aside for 2 hours.

About 45 minutes prior to grilling, prepare the salmon. Place salmon in a separate 9''x13'' pan or similar dish, and then sprinkle the fillet evenly with smoked salt and a good dose of freshly ground black pepper. Then sprinkle with brown sugar, patting it gently onto the salmon. Next slowly drizzle the maple syrup over the brown sugar, letting the syrup soak into the brown sugar and salmon. Set aside on the counter to marinate.

When the grilling plank is done soaking, preheat grill to 400°. Drain and discard beer from pan holding the plank. Set plank back into same pan, and then place marinated salmon onto the plank, to carry out to the grill. Set plank with salmon directly onto the grill grates and shut grill. Don't peek until it has been cooking for 15 minutes. Depending on the size and thickness of the salmon, cook for about 20 to 25 minutes total. And don't be concerned if the plank starts to smoke, that's a good thing. A very good thing! The salmon is done when it is deeply bronzed as shown in the photos, and any surfaced oil deposits have been cooked out. You can also insert a fork into the thickest part of the salmon. If it flakes easily, it's finished cooking.

Serving the salmon straight from the plank makes for a great conversation piece at the table and is so fun to take your portion from. The plank does get quite charred, however, and you may want to place a platter or pan underneath the plank to save a pretty tablecloth.

Notes: Blake has made this with and without the skin on. It works great either way. The photos in this post depict a fillet without skin, and the salmon comes off the plank very easily. When using fillets with skin, place the fillet skin side down on the plank. The skin will somewhat stick to the plank and allow you to very easily remove and serve the salmon.


from Blake at a farmgirl's dabbles

I’m linking up with:


53 Responses to “Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon”

  1. #
    cassie — July 16, 2013 at 8:41 am

    My husband is the grill master in our house too. He loves his Weber! And I love salmon…this sounds wonderful!

  2. #
    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — July 16, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I’m one of three girls too and after living in 3 different states for 9 years, I’m so grateful to live less than a mile away from both of them!!! I am literally drooling over this salmon!!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      You are SO blessed to live close to both sisters, that’s awesome!

  3. #
    Mique — July 16, 2013 at 9:05 am

    My husband would die if I made this for him. Yum!!

  4. #
    Paula - bell'alimento — July 16, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I have a soft spot for grilled salmon.

  5. #
    Tieghan — July 16, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Amazing. This looks the the best salmon. Seriously, I am not kidding. It looks so good!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      And I’m not kidding when I say it’s the best salmon I’ve ever ate!! ;)

  6. #
    Kim @ Sand & Sisal — July 16, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Oh my…. you had me at beer soaked cedar planks! This recipe sounds delish. I adore salmon and I’m always looking at new ways to prepare it. Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      The soaking of the cedar in beer is a wonderful smell, for sure!! ;)

  7. #
    Mabel Gutliph — July 16, 2013 at 9:43 am

    This sounds amazing, I have been using foil packets, and I have not been entirely impressed with that. Just wondering if you can reuse the cedar planks, or if you have to use a new one every time?

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

      Some advertising says you can reuse cedar planks, but I don’t see how with this particular recipe. The sugar and maple syrup burn up on the board quite a bit. I found a great deal on Amazon for planks, makes it much more reasonable to do this more often.

  8. #
    Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig — July 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Have the planks and the salmon we caught from the river..just need some smoked salt and we are good!! Thank you for sharing, we go salmon fishing all the time so always looking for a new way to eat it!!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Ahhhhh…now I just need some of that fresh caught salmon!!

  9. #
    Vickie Medley — July 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you so much for the detailed instructions on how to make salmon. This looks delicious and we’re going to try it. I’m glad you had a great time with your family get together. The kids will cherish the memories.

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      I hope you like this, Vickie!

  10. #
    Mom — July 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I was so glad there were some leftovers when I got to your house on Mother’s Day. Silly me
    for saying don’t worry about supper for me!! Hats off to Blake and his awesome grilling skills.

  11. #
    Shaina — July 16, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    Looks fantastic! We adore smoked salmon in these parts.

  12. #
    Donna — July 16, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    Oh wow, that looks so good! I wish my hubby liked to grill outdoors. No such luck here. So maybe I might have to get that wood plank and give that salmon recipe a try! Salmon is my favorite protein food!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      Do give this a try, it’s really the easiest thing. I had never helped prepare it until this latest time, when I wanted to accurately get the recipe written down. Couldn’t believe how it easy it was!

  13. #
    Donna — July 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    PS: The kids are adorable and I love the way they made the sign and all! And how fun you “big” people can let the kids have fun while you have your own fun times! Way to go! :-)

  14. #
    BRee — July 16, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Looks great and cute pic too!

  15. #
    Jess — July 16, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    That cousins retreat sounds like so much fun for the kids! (And the adults too.) Some of my best memories are summers spent with my cousins – what a fun thing to do for them, Brenda!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      Our schedules get so filled up, there was literally only that week that worked for all 3 of our families for the entire summer. But so worth it!!

  16. #
    Angie — July 17, 2013 at 7:16 am

    I’ve got to get some of that bourbon salt, this salmon looks perfect!

  17. #
    Lana @ Never Enough Thyme — July 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Oh my word! Now I am craving this salmon. This is truly one of the most delicious things I’ve seen in weeks. Now, I must track down some of that salt!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      AND the soy sauce from Bourbon Barrel, too! It is amazing!

  18. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — July 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

    This looks incredible, Brenda! So scrumptious, easy and perfect for keeping the heat out of my kitchen and onto my grill! Thanks for sharing.

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:52 pm

      Thank you, Georgia. I try to cook as little as possible in the kitchen during the summer, so thankful Blake loves to grill!

  19. #
    Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective — July 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    This sounds wonderful! It’s our favorite way to eat salmon!

  20. #
    Billy — July 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Sounds tasty! We try to eat more fish, but it can get a little routine. This will be a great recipe to try.

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks, I hope you like it!!

  21. #
    Kelly Senyei | Just a Taste — July 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    This looks fantastic! That top photo is making me drool!

    • Brenda replied on July 17th, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      Thank you, Kelly. It’s such a great meal!

  22. #
    Chloe Chase — July 18, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Very interesting grilling tips. Using a small piece of foil just large enough to hold the salmon makes a lot sense. I look forward to trying it. Thanks.

  23. #
    andrea — July 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Hi! I LOVE the salmon recipe! My parents have some salmon from a trip to Alaska-I will try this for them! I noticed many different “flavors” of planks on Amazon. Which did you use?

    • Brenda replied on July 18th, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      We really like the cedar. But I def want to experiment more, I’m sure there’s more to like! Nice to hear from you, hope you like the grilled salmon! :)

  24. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — July 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    This looks fantastic, I love grilled salmon.

  25. #
    Aggie — July 23, 2013 at 6:34 am

    I love grilling on the plank…though it’s been quite a long time since I’ve done it. Tell Blake this salmon looks incredible!! I’m really loving the smoked salt, delicious.

    • Brenda replied on July 23rd, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks, Aggie. I’ll let Blake know! ;)

  26. #
    Cheryl — July 23, 2013 at 11:49 am

    This was by far the best salmon that I have ever eaten… and of course with the best company!!!!

    • Brenda replied on July 23rd, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      Blake’s grinning over here, thank you! It was such a lovely evening. Love you!

  27. #
    Eden — August 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Reading this, I didn’t know that everyone didn’t use planks to grill their salmon. However, I am from BC and this is the mainstay of salmon grilling here. Another cool way to do this is to soak the plank (or for a large, whole fish use cedar chips), at whatever you like to the fish, wrap the whole thing in tinfoil and put it in a dug out pit with coals for a little while. It’s like an earth slow cooker :)

    You can also use the wet cedar planks in the actual slow cooker to cook the salmon. I have a son who loves salmon and since grilling at -40 C is not really an option, I have learned how to do this. Just cut the plank down to size to fit in your slow cooker, soak it for an hour or 2, add whatever rub you like to the fish and cook for 2 hours. If you have a huge slow cooker, 5 or 6 quart, make a tent of tinfoil over the fish. The best part? The house does not smell of fish at all! Only the spice smells escape.

  28. #
    Jeff — September 3, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Oh Brenda, you really have to pat your husband on the back for this one! I mean, it was soooooo good and a huge hit at my table, although my pictures don’t do it justice. I just had to post about it and link back to you a few times over because that’s how I roll. :) Oh, and I kept the recipe title the same because Blake deserves all the credit here! Please give him a “well played, sir…well played.” for me! Cheers!

    • Brenda replied on September 3rd, 2013 at 6:42 pm

      I am so happy to know you tried this, thanks for coming back to let me know! I made sure Blake got your comment. ;)

  29. #
    Tammy — September 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Hi, any chance you could give me directions for making this in the oven? Thank you.

    • Brenda replied on September 18th, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Tammy – I’m sorry, I have not played around with baking this in the oven. Please let me know if you give it a try.

  30. #
    vemma — November 20, 2013 at 5:59 am

    It is prepared from natural mangosteen fruit which contains
    the pericarp extract that is the major ingredient to keep
    a healthy body and mind. The benefits of having your corporate image on work wear are numerous.
    The location for the class is in the Learning Exchange (Arden) on Howe Avenue,
    Suite 115 Sacramento, CA 95825.

  31. #
    Empower Network — December 19, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Online marketers have got silently laid too much with this and
    finally, his or her prayers have been responded to within the
    simplest way possible. Over the last 15 months Empower Network has literally exploded.
    Considering the far reaches of the world wide web, this is a common query that requires an answer.

  32. #
    32 — December 26, 2013 at 5:17 am

    At least one doctor has reported marked improvements in his patients to whom he recommended fucoidan.
    Article Source: a Certified Oncology RN for over twenty years, I can attest to the remarkable wellness
    found in drinking this unique chemical-free
    seaweed extract(Limu moui), as well as, by witnessing
    the myriad of health benefits in others. Many internet marketing reps struggle to form a full time revenue because they don’t understand how
    to market.

  33. #
    Cheryl — May 10, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Oh my goodness, this was sooo good. What is Blake making us this year???? Can’t wait to find out!

    • Brenda replied on May 12th, 2014 at 11:31 am

      We’re not quite that far along, but I’ve been thinking about menus. ;)


  1. Pingback: Mediterranean Chopped Salad

  2. Pingback: Grilled Chipotle-Orange Salmon • a farmgirl's dabblesa farmgirl's dabbles

Leave a Comment