Can You Reuse Cedar Planks for Grilling – Are Cedar Planks Reusable?

One of the most burning questions I come through regularly is whether a cedar plank is reusable for grilling or not. Different cooking enthusiasts disagree with each other on this issue. Some of them think that the plank loses its flavor after the first use. 

Using them a second time searching for flavors is a waste of time. On the contrary, some think that a cedar plank can provide even better flavor the second or third time.

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I stand somewhere in between. In my opinion, if you have the right knowledge, you can reuse your cedar plank very effectively. 

If you don’t, well, we all know what that means. Read through this article and ask yourself again, can you reuse cedar planks for grilling?

Can You Reuse Cedar Planks for Grilling – Obliterate Your Confusion 

Yes, you can reuse your cedar planks for grilling. But it’s not that simple. The truth is, there will be a difference in flavors when using a cedar plank for the second time. 

When you use a plank on the grill, it often results in getting charred. If the plank blackened and got burnt, it doesn’t grant your food the same flavor as the first time. 

If you want to minimize the plank’s burnt areas, try to cover the whole plank with your food. Even then, you shouldn’t expect to get the same result as the first one. If you want the best flavors out of your used plank, go through the following instructions. 

  • Clean the plank after your first use. Remove any residue that may be sitting on the surface. Scrub the residue off if necessary. 
  • Soak your plank in warm water for about half an hour. If you add flavorful ingredients like salt to the water while soaking the plank, the result will be better.
  • Use the plank in your grill and keep it fully covered.  

If you differentiate between the first use and the second, you will notice some details. 

First of all, the amount of water the plank absorbed will not be the same. The plank will absorb much less water the second time compared to the first time. 

Secondly, you will experience different tastes with the same plank when you reuse it. The taste will not necessarily be bad. But it won’t be as strong as you want it to be. Last of all, You will notice your food spreading a lot less aroma than the first one.    

To sum up this subject, you can reuse your cedar plank. But it doesn’t mean you should. If you are sensitive about intense flavors, you should always use new planks each time you grill your food.   

Reusing Cedar Planks after Using Them on Oven

Using a cedar plank in an oven is different than using it on a grill. Ovens don’t use open flames for cooking your food. This means that the plank doesn’t get charred. 

It almost stays the same as new. The plank would absorb almost the same amount of water the second time if you used it in an oven the first time.  

Although, the flavor can vary from the first time to the second. But if you compare grilling and oven cooking, reusing the plank will work far better in ovens. 

The steps of reusing a cedar plank are the same for oven cooking too. Clean the plank and store it. Soak in warm water before reusing it again. 

Is It Wise to Reuse the Same Cedar Planks Again for Grilling

As I mentioned before, just because you can reuse a plank doesn’t mean you should. It all comes down to you what you are valuing when cooking. Do you prefer the best smoky flavors when grilling your protein, or do you want to save money? 

Remember that you don’t have to throw away a plank after grilling on it for the first time. Use it for other purposes like starting a fire.  

I always prefer using new planks because flavors are my top priority. I can never think of compromising my food flavors after putting so much effort into grilling. When it comes to cooking, everyone always follows their own way. 

So I will recommend you do what you think you should do. If you feel like reusing your planks, you should.

How Safe Is It to Reuse Cedar Planks

There is a paradoxical issue to address here. You must clean the plank thoroughly to make sure it’s safe to use again. Any prior food residue can result in harmful effects on your food. Then again, the more you clean your plank, the more flavor it loses. 

So you have to find a middle ground to save both sides. Don’t scrub your plank too hard to remove all the woody flavors from it. Wash it gently with warm water, and hopefully, all the harmful parts will be removed.   

Pro Tips for Reusing Cedar Planks

I’ve reused cedar planks one or two times. I discovered that you could make the best out of your cooking with reused cedar planks if you follow a few tips.

  • Rinse the once-used plank with warm water. Avoid using soap. Once dried, store it in the freezer till you use it again. 
  • Make sure you don’t cook different proteins on the same plank. It can mess up the flavors. For example, if you cooked chicken the first time, don’t cook salmon when reusing the plank. Even if you wash the plank really well, the flavor remains on the plank. 
  • No matter if you are cooking on a grill or oven, always cover the whole plank to avoid burning to be able to reuse it again. 
  • Choose planks that are at least ½ inch or more. The thicker, the better. Thick planks are less likely to get charred while cooking. 
  • When you are cooking on the grill, avoid placing the plank directly over the heat. It may save you a charred plank. 

Why Soaking a Cedar Plank is Important

First of all, soaking is necessary because that’s how the flavor is created. The water from the plank evaporates because of the heat, and the food absorbs the flavor. 

If you want intense smoky flavors of wood on your food, you should definitely soak the plank in warm water. 15 minutes is the optimal time for soaking a plank. 

Secondly, if you don’t soak the plank, there’s a very high chance that it’ll catch fire and ultimately result in a hazard. A dry plank will hardly add any flavors to your food. So it defeats the purpose of using the plank.

A lot of people soak their planks overnight. I didn’t find that much helpful. I’ve observed and measured the amount of water the planks absorb. It remains the same when you soak them for half an hour and when you soak them overnight.

How to Choose The Right Cedar Plank

People who are only getting started sometimes get the idea that the different planks’ flavors don’t make much difference. That’s not true. Different planks will add different flavors to your food. So how to find the right plank?

You will find pre-cut wooden planks specifically made for grilling in many stores. Choosing the flavor comes down to you. 

Some of the most popular flavors for grilling on planks are cedar, hickory, cherry, maple, pecan, alder, and apple. Most people prefer cedar, among others. 

When you are choosing planks for flavors, try to combine them with your most cooked proteins. For example, try imagining how apple-smoked salmon or hickory-smoked bacon will taste. 

It’s a great idea when you are confused about flavors. If you are still unsure about which one to get, You can always get several planks to experiment with.

Moreover, compare what plank flavors will complement the protein you are cooking. To be more precise, all planks go well with all protein. 

It’s all about what combination you like. So if you haven’t tried any of them, I suggest you try a few different planks before deciding which one you like best.  

Tips for Cooking on Cedar Planks

Try these tricks for the best results when cooking on cedar planks. 

  • Using saltwater to soak cedar planks is common. Many people use salted water to increase the flavor. You can add wine or fruit juice to make your grilling zestier.
  • Brush oil over your plank and the meat. The chance of sticking food to the plank becomes low when you oil them both. 
  • When using a new cedar plank, cure it by preheating. Place it on the grill for two minutes while keeping the lid closed. Repeat it for the other side. It helps increase the flavor. 
  • Wood conducts heat at a slow pace so take your time to grill while using planks.
  • If your wood plank gets too burnt and gradually breaks, you can use them as wood chips. 

FAQs

  • Do I need to flip fish on wood planks?

When cooking on planks, you don’t need direct heat to the fish. That means you don’t need to flip the fish. It will cook perfectly without flipping.  

  • Can you use cedar planks more than once for grilling?

You can. But the second time won’t be as good as the first time because some of the essential oils will be used away. Be careful not to burn the plank while using it the first time. 

  • Can you soak cedar planks for too long?

Soaking the cedar plank for 15 minutes for the first time is enough. You should soak it a while longer when using it the second time. Not too long, half an hour will be sufficient. But after that, it doesn’t matter how long you soak the cedar plank. The result remains the same. 

  • What can I cook on cedar planks?

You can cook vegetables, fruits, salmon, chicken, and seafood. You can also cook other proteins, but these will result in the best by retaining flavors. 

  • How to clean a cedar plank?

You can wash your cedar plank by washing it with warm water. If there’s any food left from the first use, scrape them before rinsing. 

  • Are cedar planks oven-safe?

Using cedar planks in the oven will result in subtle flavors. Oven planks are explicitly made for ovens, and they can last years. 

  • How many times can cedar planks be used?

You can use cedar planks two or three times for grilling, depending on their condition. If it gets too charred, you’ll end up using the planks only once. 

  • Can you reuse cedar planks after cooking salmon?

If the planks don’t get too burnt, you can reuse them. But make sure you only cook salmon on the planks, or the tastes will get mixed up. 

  • How do you stop cedar planks from burning?

Soak the plank well and cover the whole plank with your food. Often the edges are not covered well and result in getting burnt.   

  • Can you use cedar plank on the electric grill?

Yes, you can. In fact, there’s a low chance of burning your plank because electric smokers don’t use direct flame for cooking. 

Conclusion

So there you have it. Everything you needed to know about reusing a cedar plank: you can reuse your cedar plank for grilling only if you didn’t damage it too much the first time. 

If you intend to reuse your plank, I suggest using it carefully the first time. Follow the instructions when reusing the planks, and you should be good to go. I learned these steps by experimenting several times. That doesn’t mean you have to do that too. 

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