Eco-Friendly Grilling: Exploring the Reusability of Cedar Planks

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Salmon Filet on a cedar plank in a grill


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As grill season comes into full swing, many of us foodies are turning to cedar grilling planks to add a unique and smoky flavor to our favorite meats and veggies. But what happens when the party’s over?

Can you reuse your trusty cedar planks or toss them in the trash like yesterday’s leftovers? The answer may surprise you!

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about reusing cedar grilling planks – from safety concerns, to cleaning techniques, creative ideas for repurposing used planks, and more.

So hold on tight because, by the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to impress your neighbors with your knowledge of how to get the most out of those cedar grilling planks!

Salmon Filet on a cedar plank in a grill

What Are Cedar Grilling Planks?

If you’re not familiar with cedar grilling planks, they are thin pieces of wood that can be used to grill food. Cedar is a popular choice because it adds its own unique flavor and aroma to food when heated, making it ideal for grilling seafood, chicken, or pork.

Cedar planks come in various sizes and shapes so that they can fit different types of grills. They are especially useful for people who don’t have a smoker but still want to impart some smoky flavor into their meats.

When using cedar planks, the plank should first be soaked in water for at least an hour prior to grilling. This helps the plank from burning too quickly on the grill while also infusing more steam into the meat as it cooks.

Overall, cedar grilling planks are an excellent way to add extra flavor and moisture to your grilled dishes without having the hassle of smoking meat.

Can You Reuse Cedar Grilling Planks?

If you’re someone who loves to grill, you may have wondered whether or not cedar grilling planks can be reused. After all, they can be a bit pricey and it seems like such a waste to just throw them away after one use. The answer is yes, you can reuse cedar grilling planks under certain conditions.

Firstly, it’s important to consider the quality of the plank. If the plank has become too charred or burnt during its first use, it may not be suitable for reuse as this could affect the flavor of your food and potentially give off harmful chemicals. So make sure you inspect your plank before deciding whether or not to reuse it.

Another factor to consider is the previous use of the plank. Using a plank that was previously used for fish on chicken or beef could transfer unwanted flavors or bacteria onto your food. If you are reusing a plank, make sure it was previously used with similar flavors to avoid any cross-contamination.

Finally, consider the level of charring on the plank and how much wood remains intact after its initial use – more charred planks should not be reused for health reasons while lightly charred ones still have life in them.

Of course, if none of these factors apply and your cedar grilling plank is still usable after one round then here are some steps on how best to extend their usage: soak them thoroughly before using again to prevent burning; clean with warm water soap will compromise any remaining natural flavor; store flat in a cool dry place once dried completely from washing so no moisture is retained inside which could cause mold growth over time eventually making them unfit for cooking on anyways!

1. Quality of the Plank

One important factor to consider before reusing cedar grilling planks is the quality of the plank. A high-quality plank can be reused multiple times, while a low-quality one may not hold up as well after just one use.

When selecting cedar grilling planks, look for ones that are thick and free from knots or cracks. These types of defects can weaken the plank and make it more likely to break or burn during use. It’s also important to choose planks that have been sustainably sourced and are free from any chemicals or preservatives.

After using a cedar grilling plank, inspect it carefully for signs of damage or wear. If there are any cracks or burns on the surface, it may not be safe to reuse the plank as it could potentially release harmful chemicals into your food.

In summary, choosing high-quality cedar grilling planks and inspecting them regularly for damage is key when considering reuse options. By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite grilled dishes while getting maximum use out of your cedar planks.

2. Previous Use of the Plank

When deciding whether or not to reuse a cedar grilling plank, one important factor to consider is the plank’s previous use. If the plank was already used for grilling and has a significant amount of char marks or debris on it, it may be better to discard it and use a fresh plank.

Using a previously used plank can result in inconsistent flavors in your food, as remnants of the previous meal may still linger on the wood. Additionally, if the char marks are too pronounced or there are large pieces of debris on the plank, this can affect how well your food cooks and could potentially cause flare-ups during cooking.

That said, if you have only lightly charred your previous meal on the cedar planks, they may be suitable for reuse. To determine this, inspect them carefully before soaking them prior to using them again.

In general, it’s best practice to use new cedar grilling planks for each individual meal you wish to make. However, with proper care and attention paid when inspecting previously used planks before reuse you can get away with reusing some lightly used ones without compromising flavor or cook quality.

3. Level of Charring

One of the factors to consider when reusing cedar grilling planks is the level of charring from the previous use. The charred areas can impact the flavor of your next dish, so it’s important to assess how much char is left on the plank.

If there’s only minimal charring, you can easily reuse the plank without any issues. You may even notice an improvement in flavor as some flavors are seared into the wood fibers during cooking.

However, if there’s a significant amount of char on the plank, it’s best not to reuse it. The excess charring can overpower your next dish and alter its taste entirely. It’s also worth noting that heavily charred planks are more prone to cracking or breaking while cooking.

To determine whether a plank has too much charring for reuse, inspect it closely for large blackened spots or areas where chunks have been burned off. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and use a new plank instead.

In summary, while some light charring on a cedar grilling plank is perfectly fine for reuse, excessive charring should be avoided as it can affect both taste and structural integrity.

How to Reuse Cedar Grilling Planks?

If you’ve decided to give reusing cedar grilling planks a try, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Follow the steps below to ensure your reused planks are safe and effective:

  1. Soak the Planks: Before using your planks again, make sure to soak them for at least an hour in water or another flavorful liquid like wine or beer. This will help prevent burning and also infuse additional flavor into your food.
  2. Clean the Planks: Once soaked, gently scrub both sides of the plank with a soft brush to remove any remaining charred bits and food particles from previous use. Avoid using soap or harsh cleaning agents as these can alter the flavor of the plank.
  3. Storing the Planks: If you’re not planning on using your planks right away, store them in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag until ready for future use.

By following these simple steps, you can safely reuse cedar grilling planks multiple times while still enjoying their unique smoky flavor profile. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain situations where reusing cedar grilling planks may not be advisable – we’ll discuss those in more detail next.

1. Soaking the Planks

Soaking the cedar grilling planks before reuse is one of the most crucial steps. It prevents the plank from catching fire and helps infuse smoky flavor into your food.

To soak your cedar grilling planks, place them in a container deep enough to submerge them completely in water. Add enough water to cover the planks and add a tablespoon of salt or lemon juice for every quart of water you use. This will help enhance the flavor.

Let the planks soak for at least an hour, but ideally, they should be soaked for 2-4 hours before using them again. Be sure to check on them periodically during soaking to ensure they do not float up.

Once you have removed the planks from soaking, pat them dry with paper towels before putting them back on the grill. Remember that soaked cedar grilling planks can be more brittle than dry ones, so handle them carefully when placing on and removing from your grill surface.

Transition: Now that we’ve covered how to prepare your reused cedar grilling planks by soaking, it’s essential that you also know how to properly clean and store these boards after use so they’ll keep going longer next time around – let’s get right into it!

2. Cleaning the Planks

Cleaning cedar grilling planks is an important step to ensure that they are safe to use again. The charred bits of food and oil can stick to the plank, making it a breeding ground for bacteria if not properly cleaned.

To clean cedar grilling planks, first scrape off any remaining debris with a dull knife or spatula. Then, rinse the plank with hot water until all visible debris is removed.

Next, create a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl. Soak the plank in the solution for at least 10 minutes. This will help to kill any remaining bacteria on the surface of the plank.

After soaking, rinse the plank thoroughly with hot water again to remove any traces of vinegar. Once fully rinsed, allow it to air dry completely before storing it away.

It’s worth noting that while cleaning cedar grilling planks can prolong their life and make them safe to use again, repeated use can affect their flavor profile. If you’re looking for optimal flavor every time you grill, we recommend using new cedar planks for each cooking session.

3. Storing the Planks

After using cedar grilling planks, it’s important to properly store them so they can be reused in the future. The first step is to make sure the planks are completely dry before storing them. Any remaining moisture can lead to mold or mildew growth on the plank and make them unsuitable for reuse.

Once dry, you can wrap the planks individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will help prevent any dust or debris from accumulating on the plank. Alternatively, you can store them in an airtight container with some ventilation holes punched in.

It’s important to keep cedar grilling planks away from direct sunlight and heat sources when storing them as this can cause further charring and alter their quality. They should also be stored somewhere with low humidity levels as high humidity can compromise their structural integrity over time.

Storing your cedar grilling planks properly will ensure that they stay fresh for future use and maintain their natural flavoring properties. Follow these simple steps and you’ll be able to enjoy delicious grilled food using your favorite cedar grilling planks multiple times over!

Are Cedar Planks a Sustainable Alternative to Charcoal for Grilling?

Cedar planks provide a sustainable option for grilling, serving as an alternative to charcoal. These planks come from a renewable resource and offer a unique flavor to the food. Unlike charcoal, cedar planks do not release harmful emissions. Moreover, they can be reused or composted, making it easy to properly dispose of charcoal after grilling.

When Should You Not Reuse Cedar Grilling Planks?

While it is possible to reuse cedar grilling planks, there are certain situations where you should not. Here’s a list of when you should avoid reusing cedar grilling planks:

  1. The plank has been heavily charred: If the plank has turned completely black and has large burn marks, it’s time to retire that plank. Over-charring can lead to an unpleasant bitter taste in your food.
  2. The plank has been soaked for too long: Soaking the plank in water is necessary before using it for grilling, but if the wood becomes overly saturated or waterlogged, it will crack and break apart during cooking.
  3. The plank is old or moldy: Cedar is a porous wood that can easily absorb moisture and develop mold after extended periods of use or storage. Moldy planks can be harmful to your health and should be discarded immediately.
  4. You’re cooking something with strong flavors: If you plan on cooking something with strong flavors like garlic, onions or spices, it’s best to use a fresh unused cedar grilling plank as those smells may have penetrated into previous uses.

When in doubt about whether to reuse a cedar grilling plank or not, always err on the side of caution and avoid reusing them if they don’t look up-to-snuff – consider these an investment worth making over again!

Can Cedar Planks Be Reused for Grilling Multiple Times?

Yes, cedar planks can be reused for grilling multiple times. After using them, simply clean off any residue and allow them to dry completely before using them again. This is a great way to reduce waste and minimize the need for disposing of used charcoal.


In conclusion, reusing cedar grilling planks is possible but it largely depends on several factors such as the quality of the plank, previous use of the plank, and level of charring. If you’re unsure about whether or not to reuse a plank, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution and discard it.

If you do decide to reuse cedar grilling planks, make sure you soak them in water for at least an hour before use and clean them thoroughly after each use. Storing them properly in a dry place will help prolong their lifespan.

While cedar grilling planks are a popular choice for adding flavor to grilled dishes, they are not suitable for every type of food or cooking method. Make sure to avoid using them with very fatty foods that can cause flare-ups or on direct heat sources like charcoal.

Overall, if you take proper care of your cedar grilling planks and follow safe usage guidelines, they can be reused multiple times without compromising their effectiveness. Happy grilling!