Why am I not getting a bark on my brisket?

Last Updated on: 20th October 2022, 03:13 pm

Bark is the most effective way to judge a pitmaster’s BBQ skills .

But if your brisket is not getting bark without putting effort into the smoking, then there is a higher chance that you might be doing something wrong.

Today, we are going to dive deeper into the common causes of not getting bark while smoking a brisket.

I personally have been in this situation before and after smoking several types of meat, I believe that you can get a good bark no matter what type of meat you are smoking.

The most common reasons for not getting bark on the brisket include increased moisture, low temperature, and a higher amount of fat on the surface of the meat.

if your brisket is not getting bark then you need first make sure that you have given it enough time . usually it takes between 3 to 5  hours for brisket to get bark. for more detailed information you check our guide on how long does it take for brisket to get bark.

You can get the bark on your brisket by doing the basics right.

Common reasons for not getting bark while smoking brisket

If you are smoking brisket for the first time, then you don’t have to panic because getting bark and getting a smoke ring are the two most difficult skills to learn in the bbq space.

But if you have smoked for enough time and are still not able to get the bark, then consider fine tuning your smoking process.

There is a higher chance that you are doing something wrong.

Here are the most common reasons for not getting bark on brisket.

greater moisture content

Moisture, temperature, and smoke are the most important pillars of the smoking process.

If you can get these right, then you will get a mouth-watering smoked brisket at the end of the process.

But it is not as easy as it sounds. There are many variables involved.

When it comes to moisture in the smoking process, it is really crucial for the effective smoking of the brisket.

Moisture should be maintained in a balanced way to smoke effectively.

If the moisture content is lower , then the brisket will dry out.

But if the moisture is increased, the bark will become soggy or it will not develop at all.

The reason behind this is that the humidity will not allow the surface of the brisket to dry , due to which the bark will become too soft.

Wrapping the brisket too soon

Wrapping is another controversial topic in the smoking industry.

Brisket is usually wrapped when it hits the stall and the temperature stops increasing.

It occurs around 160°F and the temperature of the brisket shows a plateau for several hours.

Brisket can stall at different temperatures. so need to keep an eye out to stay informed when your brisket stalls. here is more detailed guide on brisket stall temperatures.

Pitmasters use two ways to counter this phase.

The first one is to crank up more charcoal and wait for the temperature to increase.

The other one is to just wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper and retain the heat .

for more information on wrapping brisket , you can check our guide here.

Due to this, the internal temperature of the brisket increases.

Usually, most of the pitmasters prefer the easy route of just wrapping the brisket and rushing the process without much effort.

Although it is effective to beat the stall , you might end up affecting the texture of the bark.

The reason is that if you wrap the brisket in aluminum foil, the brisket will cook by steaming due to the bark becoming soggy.

The moisture will be trapped inside the foil and fall back onto the brisket, which will result in affecting the texture of the bark.

But if you wrap the brisket too soon before the bark has developed, the bark will not develop at all .

Bark develops due to the reaction of smoke and oxygen with the surface of meat.

If the meat does not come in contact with smoke for enough time, then the bark will not develop at all.

Low temperature

Temperature is also an important factor in the development of bark on the brisket.

The bark develops when the surface of the meat dries out and proteins present on the surface of the meat breakdown to form polymers.

These polymers then join to form a pellicle.

Bark is formed by the combination of pellicle and rub.

If the temperature in the smoker is too low , then the proteins will not convert into pellicle and bark will not be formed.

So it’s important to increase the temperature high enough for the development of bark.

Usually, the temperature between 225°F and 300°F is ideal for the development of bark.

You should consider keeping your brisket at this temperature for at least a couple of hours before decreasing the temperature or wrapping the brisket to make sure the bark develops completely.

The fatty surface of meat

Brisket usually has two portions, a fatty portion and a lean meat side.

Fat is usually smoked along with the lean meat because it helps in enhancing the flavor of the meat after rendering.

In addition, it also helps in avoiding the sudden overshoot of temperature.

But if the fat content is higher, then the fat will melt down and increase the moisture on the surface of the brisket.

Due to this, the bark will become soggy or not develop at all.

It is better to trim the fat by 1/4 to make sure it doesn’t affect the bark .

The rub’s composition

Rub is also an important constituent of the development of bark .

If the rub is not applied well or if the composition of the rub is not good for the development of bark, then it will result in a thin bark.

Usually, it is considered that a rub with some sugar content will give a better bark.

The spices present in the rub react with the apple cider vinegar and breakdown to produce a better bark.

It is an effective trick to spritz apple cider vinegar onto the brisket if you are not getting good bark after smoking for enough time.

In addition, the components of rub also dissolve in moisture present in smoke and fat cap to produce a glaze.

While the glaze reacts with the rub’s undissolved components, it takes on a paste-like appearance.

When this pasty solution dries out , it produces bark.

So, the composition of the rub is really crucial for the quality of the bark you will get.

You can make your own rub by testing different compositions or buy a good quality rub online to make sure you get a thick and black bark on your brisket every time.

Wrapping in aluminum foil

Aluminum foil is the most common thing used for the wrapping of brisket during stall.

But it can affect the texture of bark .

The reason is that the aluminum foil is not porous and it encloses the brisket as a whole .

Because of how the moisture is trapped inside

This trapped moisture then drips back onto the bark, which results in moist and soft bark.

In addition, the aluminum foil also affects the texture of bark when it comes into contact with the bark.

It is better to use butcher paper or other alternatives for better results.

Tips for getting good bark

Now that we have discussed the most common reasons for not getting bark on your brisket, it’s time to share some battle-tested tips to increase the chances of getting bark on your brisket.

These are the most effective tips that work like a charm for me.

  • First of all, you should make sure to maintain a balanced amount of moisture to make sure that the meat does not dry out without affecting the texture of the bark.
    You should consider avoiding using water pans or other things for the first few hours, which are crucial for the development of bark.
  • Moreover, you should consider wrapping the brisket once the bark has been developed.
    If the brisket does not contain the bark, then you should consider adding more fuel and increasing the smoker temperature.
    Once the bark has been developed, then you can move forward to wrapping it .
  • Another tip would be to use different binding additives like mustard or olive oil to bind the rub to the surface of the meat.
    If the rub is kept stuck to the surface of the meat, then it will give a good bark upon exposure to heat.
  • Moreover, you should apply the rub generously.
    Make sure to apply the rub on all sides of the brisket. There should be enough rubbed on the brisket to cover the surface completely.
  • If possible, consider using a rub with some sugar content in it. Usually, it is a common fact that sugar will caramelize and give a good bark.
    But make sure to not overuse it just for the sake of bark . because it can also affect the flavor of the bark if overused.
  • Moreover, consider spritzing your meat with different liquids like apple cider vinegar or broth after the stain.
    It will help the surface of the meat cool down and absorb more smoke. which will result in a better bark.
  • Additionally, you can use butcher paper in place of aluminum foil for better results. Butcher paper is porous and allows some smoke to sink and moisture to sneak out .
    It will help the bark retain its original texture while wrapped.

If your brisket doesn’t have a bark after applying all the tips, Then, return your brisket to the smoker or oven preheated to 300°F.

You should keep it there for around 30 minutes. Hopefully, it will improve the texture and thickness of the bark.


For various reasons, bark might not develop on your brisket.

Low temperature and high moisture are the most common of these causes.

You should consider following the tips and techniques mentioned above to get better results.

Jakob miller