You don’t need a special smoker to add wonderful smokey flavor to your chicken. Just use simple wooden planks to grill juicy golden Cedar Planked Chicken. Simple and delicious!
My daughter Jenna (the other kook) bought me a pack of Cedar Planks for my birthday along with a new flexible tripod. She’s always challenging me to try a newfangled cooking device. While planks are not exactly new (apparently used by Native tribes for hundreds of years and culinary schools since the early 1900’s), they were new to me. I’ve been meaning to try them for years and finally I had no more excuses. So after my usual research, I plunged in.
How to Make Cedar Planked Chicken
Honestly, the planking method was surprisingly easy with great results. I used a flattened (spatchcock) chicken, dressed it simply with lemon, olive oil and herbs, then set it on the planks on the grill to do their magic.
Starting with direct heat for a few minutes to allow the wood to start charring and smoking, I then switched to indirect heat for about 20 minutes (i.e. turned off one or two burners and left the rest on). Finally, I switched the indirect heat to low heat for the last 15-20 minutes.
This sounds like a lot of attention, but keep in mind that the entire cooking process was about 40-45 minutes, depending on how big the chicken is. Worth it…
When I opened the lid, I peered at a beautifully golden juicy cedar planked chicken which tasted fantastic infused with a mild cedar smoked flavor. Really good!
- The thinner planks (1/8-1/4 inch) only take 5-10 minutes to soak (instead of 30 minutes for 1/2 inch planks) and you can toss them out after one use so no clean up. They cost approximately $1.50-$1.80 each and you can get them anywhere that sells BBQs (Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Costco, Walmart, etc). They also only need about 3 minutes on the direct heat to begin smoking.
- You can add apple juice, white wine or beer to the water for soaking to add a bit more flavour.
- There is no need to turn the food.
- Keep the BBQ lid closed as much as possible to keep in the smoke.
- Keep a spray bottle or water handy in case the planks catch fire.
- The experts say you can wash the thicker 1/2-3/4 inch planks with water (not soap) and reuse them if they are not too charred. After a couple of uses, though, the smokey flavors diminishes. I try to buy the thinner ones and just toss them.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use any marinade you like for the chicken.
- Skip the marinade and sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder before cooking.
- This cedar plank chicken is delicious cold or at room temperature so, yes, it can be made ahead.
Cedar Planked Chicken Recipe
- 1 whole chicken or one flattened/spatchcocked chicken NOTE 1 (I use brined/kosher chicken)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (thyme, green onions, oregano, rosemary) or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 cedar wood planks (1/8 to 1/4 inch thick)
- chopped parsley or herbs, plus squeeze of lemon for garnish
- PREPARE CHICKEN and PLANKS: To flatten a whole chicken, see NOTE 1. Soak the planks in water for 10 minutes if 1/4-1/8 inch thick and 30-60 minutes if 1/2 inch thick.
- COAT CHICKEN WITH LEMON HERB MIXTURE: Combine all other ingredients (except planks and garnish) in a small bowl. Coat the chicken all over with the mixture. Place in fridge, covered in a ziploc bag or covered with plastic wrap and marinate for a few hours or overnight. Shortcut: Eliminate marinating step by buying a kosher or brined chicken. Or, let chicken marinate on counter for 30-45 minutes. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before grilling for 30 minutes.
- PLANK AND GRILL CHICKEN: Heat grill to high. Pat planks with paper towel. Spray lightly with oil. Place chicken, skin side up, on the planks (I use two planks side by side if chicken is too wide for one). Place plank with chicken directly on the hot grill, close the lid for 3 minutes (if 1/8-1/4 inch plank) and 5-8 minutes for 1/2-3/4 inch plank. Planks will start charring and begin to give off smoke. Then turn off burners under the chicken (keep on other burners). Cook undisturbed for about 20 minutes. Shift planks 180 degrees to help with even cooking. Close lid. Turn burner(s) that were off back on to low and cook for another 18-22 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and reaches temperature of 155-160F in breast on instant read thermometer.
- SERVE: Transfer chicken to cutting board, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into pieces. Temperature will rise. Add garnishes and serve. If not too charred, planks can be rinsed in water (no soap) and reused. If only 1/4 inch, I toss them.
- To flatten (spatchcock) a whole chicken: Turn chicken over, breast side down. Cut along both sides of the backbone using a kitchen scissors or boning knife. Remove backbone. Turn chicken over and press down hard on the breast bone to flatten.
- Make Ahead: this chicken can be made ahead as it's delicious cold or at room temperature.
Here’s a similar planked chicken recipe using a whole chicken:
Cedar Planked Grilled Whole Chicken get the recipe
Or try this planked salmon recipe:
Canadian Maple Planked Salmon get the recipe