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Cedar Plank Blackened Salmon

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Safeway. All opinions are 100% mine.

Tender cedar plank salmon rubbed with cajun blackened spice, served with rice and summer vegetables. It’s the ultimate summer grilling recipe!

taste and texture

A spicy, savory crust yields to a juicy and flaky center, the flavor of the smoky cedar plank permeating the skin. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top cuts through the heat in the cajun spices and brings some vibrance to the dish.

The blackened seasoning contains paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Served with it is a savory seasoned rice pilaf and a garlicky mix of zucchini, summer squash and red onion cooked to a tender crisp.

shopping at safeway

Before making this recipe, I needed to grab groceries, and I knew Safeway would have all my summer grilling essentials.

I went to my store and picked up about 2lbs of high quality, fresh sockeye salmon straight from the seafood counter. The cedar planks were found nearby on a display with a large selection of seafood spices and condiments, and I found their produce department had a great variety of fresh fruits and vegetables ready for grilling.

I shopped at a Safeway in my local area, but you can also find quality grilling essentials at the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, Safeway, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Randalls, Shaw’s Supermarket, Star Market, Tom Thumb and Vons.

If you’re unable to physically shop, Safeway also offers Grocery Delivery and DriveUp & Go™ for convenience!

safeway bag laying on its side with its ingredients spilled out

preparing the recipe

To start, the cedar planks need to soak 2-4 hours before cooking, and once the salmon is coated it needs to chill for 1 hour.

Here’s how I time everything out. Start the planks soaking 4 hours before you plan to eat. At hour 2, take out the salmon and start prepping. Check and remove any pin bones, cut it into 5 oz fillets and pat all sides dry, brush each of them with oil and spread the seasoning on the top and sides. Put them on a plate and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

During that hour, prepare the rice pilaf. The rice will need to rinse and soak for about 20 minutes, during which the stove can preheat and your aromatics can start toasting. Once the rice is done you’ll have a few minutes to bring your grill/oven and a skillet on the stove to temperature.

Pat the cedar planks dry, place your salmon and start grilling. While it cooks, quickly saute the veggies with thyme and garlic, then cover and set aside to continue steaming.

Planning everything out this way means the moment the salmon comes off the grill the rest of the meal is ready to go. Other sides can also be prepped ahead as well.

a fork taking out a piece of cedar plank salmon with a lemon on top

how to avoid overcooked fish

Just like a steak, salmon has stages of doneness.

  • 110°F and below – Rare The salmon is still translucent and a deep orange/red color. This is a texture ideal for sashimi. Use a high quality sushi-grade salmon for this, like sockeye or coho. *Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.
  • 110°F to 125°F – Medium Rare The salmon looks a little cloudy or opaque, but is soft, juicy and without a gritty or chalky texture.
  • 125°F to 140°F – Medium to Well Done The salmon gets flakier and chalkier, but isn’t too intense. The salmon starts releasing albumen (the white stuff that comes out of the connective tissue, similar to chicken).  A good restaurant will serve their salmon close to medium: tender, juicy, relatively flaky without getting chalky and little to no albumen. 
  • 140°F+ Super Well Done The salmon is hard, chalky and dry and often lacking in flavor. This salmon shows signs of buffet style – a fish that has been sitting out for far too long and looks more white than pink.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I recommend having a meat thermometer on this site. Once again, it is one of the most used tools in my kitchen. Take out the guesswork – even the cheap ones will give you consistently cooked food every time.

blackened salmon on a cedar plank with a lemon slice on top

what to serve with blackened salmon

Blackened salmon is best served over a rice pilaf. The main difference between pilaf and regular rice is the cooking technique. In rice pilaf, the rice is thoroughly rinsed and fried in oil with some aromatics. The end result is a fluffy pile of flavorful rice and seasonings that don’t stick together.

The rice pilaf pictured is my Best Basmati Rice Pilaf.

And summer bring some really gorgeous vegetables: zucchini and squash. I toss them in a skillet with some red onion, oil, garlic and thyme – it compliments the fish beautifully and is easy to prepare while the salmon cooks. Ingredients and instructions for this are included below.

Other side suggestions: mashed potatoes, mashed cauliflower, coleslaw, or green beans.

I think you’ll really enjoy this recipe! The blackened salmon pairs so well with the rice and vegetables – I hope you give both of them a try!

until next time. x

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blackened salmon served on a bed of rice on a white plate
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blackened salmon on a cedar plank with a lemon slice on top

Cedar Plank Blackened Salmon

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Tender cedar plank salmon rubbed with cajun blackened spice, then served with rice and summer vegetables. It’s the ultimate summer grilling recipe!

  • Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 5 oz fillets 1x



blackened seasoning:

  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt


  • 6 5 oz. salmon fillets
  • vegetable oil
  • 23 cedar planks
  • 1 lemon, halved and sliced
  • minced Italian parsley, for garnish

summer vegetable medley:

  • 2 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 2 yellow squash, sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 TB vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • salt

1 recipe Best Basmati Rice Pilaf


  1. Mix all ingredients for the blackened seasoning and set aside.
  2. Start soaking the cedar planks in water for a total of 4 hours.
  3. 2 hours into soaking, start prepping the salmon. Run your fingers along the flesh to check and remove any pin bones, then coat the top and sides with oil.
  4. Rub about 1 1/2 tsp blackened seasoning on each fillet, on the oiled surfaces.
  5. Put the fillets on a plate and chill for 1 hour. If serving with rice, prepare it during this hour.
  6. If using the grill: Prepare a gas or charcoal grill and bring it up to 400°F. If using a charcoal grill, wait until the coals ash over, then make sure all vents are open.
    1. Take the planks out of the water and pat dry.
    2. Remove the fish from the fridge and let sit 10-15 minutes at room temperature. Brush the skins with oil then place skin side down on the cedar planks.
    3. Place the planks on the grill and close the lid, then reduce the temperature to 350°F. Cook to medium rare, about 10-12 minutes.
  7. If using the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
    1. Take the planks out of the water and pat dry.
    2. Remove the fish from the fridge and let sit 10-15 minutes at room temperature. Brush the skins with oil and place each fillet skin side down on the cedar planks.
    3. Bake the cedar planks directly on the center rack 12-14 minutes, or until medium rare.
  8. While the salmon cooks, put a skillet or medium saucepan on the stove and set to medium. Heat the oil until it shimmers, add the dried thyme and cook 1 minute, stirring often.
  9. Add minced garlic and cook 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant. Mix in the zucchini, summer squash and red onion and saute 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t brown. Remove from heat and cover 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
  10. Garnish each fillet with a slice of lemon and minced Italian parsley. Serve warm with prepared basmati rice and summer vegetable medley.
  • Author: Sarah | AwayFromTheBox
  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grill/Oven
  • Cuisine: American

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  1. I dont understand why you had us mix all these spices up to use only 1.5 tsp on the fish. Seems like a waste. What am I missing?

    1. I simplified it to make it easier to mix, and spice mixes last around 6 months, so it gives you extra blackened seasoning for future prep. But you bring up a valid point. I’ll revisit this one soon – if I remember correctly, you need 1.5 tsp of seasoning PER fillet, and this recipe yields 6.

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