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Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon

A browned side of salmon cooking on a grill

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.

a piece of salmon cooking on a grill

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!

a tin of bourbon smoked salt and 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.

a plate with salmon, grilled asparagus, and raspberries

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

salmon on a cedar grilling plate

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!

salmon dinner

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

A browned side of salmon cooking on a grill

Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon

Yield: 4 servings
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
total time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Blake's Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon is a summer seafood recipe you don't want to pass up. Fire up that grill and let's get cooking!
5 Stars (2 Reviews)


  • 1.5 lbs. salmon fillet with or without skin
  • 3 tsp. course smoked salt
  • plenty of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ c. dark brown sugar
  • ½ 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° F. 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

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 410kcal Carbohydrates: 37g Protein: 26g Fat: 14g Saturated Fat: 3g Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 71mg Sodium: 1244mg Sugar: 30g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!

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58 comments on “Blake’s Sweet and Smoky Grilled Salmon”

  1. I don’t remember how I first stumbled across your recipe, but rediscovered it while looking through my saved recipes for ideas for the Fourth of July this year. I made this salmon for my two young adult sons, and it got rave reviews! My picky eater declared it his favorite salmon recipe of all time! Thank you for sharing it! 

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  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

    1. 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! :)

  9. 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.