Using Wood Planks for Grilling Steak: This is One Cooking Method You Need to Try!

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steak on wood plank
Photo by moigram licensed under CC0

Have you ever been to a restaurant, ordered a ribeye, and had it delivered to your table on a wood plank? It’s possible that the wood isn’t just for show; the chef may have used that plank to cook your steak on the grill.


Plank steak might be just what you needed to bring your grilling game to the next level. Cedar planks aren’t just for steaks, either. You can also use them to grill up your favorite vegetables, fruits, and other meats (need some new ideas for meat to grill? Why not try our rib roast or marinated chicken breasts?).

Here’s everything you need to know about grilling with wood and how it can benefit your steak dinners.

Why Wood?

One of the reasons you use the grill is to give meat and vegetables a smoky flavor that your oven and stovetop can’t replicate. Cooking meat on wood helps bring out that smokiness even more without charring or drying out the meat.

Think of it like a flavor buffer between your meat and the grill. Steaks still get heat from the grill, but since they’re not sitting directly on the grill, you won’t be left with a charred crust that sometimes forms. Instead, you’ll get a tender piece of meat with the added flavor of the wood.

The protection of the wood plank also keeps your meat and other foods from falling apart by getting stuck on grates or falling through. It’s similar to using grill racks, but with extra flavor! Thank the wood for giving you an easier cleanup too.

Common Types of Wood for Grilling

Wood planks for grilling are usually cedar. Cedar wood planks give meat a hearty flavor that really leeches onto the meat. However, these planks can come in a wide range of types. Each type lends a slightly different flavor to your meat, so it might take some experimentation to find out what kind you like best. Some other common types of grilling wood planks include:

  • Apple
  • Maple
  • Alder
  • Hickory
  • Oak
  • Cherry

Some meats go better with specific types of wood, so keep that in mind. Fruity woods, like apple and cherry, work wonderfully with pork and chicken, while cedar and alder tend to be the perfect choices when grilling fish on a plank.

How to Use Grilling Plans to Grill the Perfect Steak

Are you ready to start grilling with wood? Here’s how to do it:

  1. First, find some planks! Amazon sells them, but you can also find planks at kitchen supply stores. Of course, you can always head to the lumber yard and ask for someone to cut planks for you, or do it yourself at home. They don’t need to be a specific length or width, but you’ll want to make sure your food has extra room around the edges. Planks should also be about an inch thick.
  2. Soak planks for 30 minutes in room-temperature water before placing them on the grill. This keeps them moist enough to avoid catching fire, so you’ll want to ensure that the plank’s submerged completely in water.
  3. Preheat the grill while you finish the soaking process.
  4. If you’re adding fish to the plank, you might need to brush it with a think layer of oil before grilling.
  5. Season your meat, add it to the wood, and place it on the grill. Have a spray bottle filled with water handy just in case the board does catch fire. You can also sear meat first by placing it directly on the grates for a couple of minutes on each side, and then add it to the wood to finish cooking.
  6. Grill as you normally would, but food may need more time than usual since they aren’t getting direct heat from the grill.

That’s it! The grilling process is essentially the same, with the addition of a wooden board between your food and the grill. Quality woods will last through a few more cycles – usually 3 or 4 total – so don’t throw planks away when you’re done.

Conclusion: Using Cedar Planks for Grilling

Grilling planks not only help keep your food from falling into the depths of the grill, but they also add flavor and maintain an excellent texture for meats. Order an Ultimate Grilling Assortment from Chicago Steak Company, grab some wood planks from the store, and fire up the grill for a whole new grilling experience.