How To Get Good Barbecue Bark

How To Get Good Barbecue Bark?

Even the most experienced pitmasters can have trouble getting the perfect barbecue bark. However, How To Get Good Barbecue Bark? The good news is that, with a little bit of practice, you can achieve this delicious and sought-after crust on your barbecued meats, too.

In this blog post, we will show you how to get good barbecue bark that is sure to impress your friends and family members. Even so, this recipe is easy to follow and results in a delicious, charred bark that’s perfect for any barbecue. Stay tuned for more information. And give it a try at the next BBQ party.

How To Get Good Barbecue Bark

What Is Barbecue Bark?

Simply described, the bark is the crispy black layer of ingredients and taste that forms on the outside of your slow-smoked barbecue. There are a plethora of methods to describe it if we want to delve a little further.

Barbecue bark is a delicious and healthy snack, often given as a gift during the holidays. The bark is made from lean meat marinated in spices and then dry-rubbed with a coating of barbecue sauce before it’s cooked. The trimmed fat is removed prior to cooking as too much fat can make the bark chewy rather than crispy. It takes only 45 minutes to prepare this tasty treat that usually serves 8 to 10 people as an appetizer or 4 as an entrée.

Bark also has several other names, including beef bacon, rinds, beef crackling, beef crunch, or homemade beef jerky. 

The combination of a sugar-and-salt spice rub, humidity from the meat and powdering, and eventually some great smoke from a low-heat timber fire results in the formation of bark. Continue reading to learn more about where it originates from and how to prepare it so that your smoked meat is the center of attention.

What Is the Process of Making Bark?

Before coming to the question of how to get good barbecue bark, we need to have a general look at the process of making barbecue bark.

It’s the product of a series of sophisticated chemical interactions, yet it’s surprisingly easy to manufacture! The basic explanation is that bark is produced by combining the following components in the proper order:


A spice rub based on sugar and salt

Low temperatures.

Water vapor.

Let’s look at each of these characteristics in more detail.

Spice Rub:

This is your place to start, and you may include anything you want to it except salt and sugar, which are the foundation of a delicious bark rub.

Pepper and paprika are common ingredients in traditional spice rubs. However, additional common rub additives like onion powder, ginger, garlic powder, and cayenne can affect the taste and texture of your final product (bark). A spice-heavy rub will be heavier than one that is mostly salt-based.

When it comes to grilling, sugar may be problematic. Sugar, as we already know, burns fast at high temperatures, leaving you with a sour, scorched piece of meat. Sugar in your rub should not cause difficulties because smoking is done at moderate temperatures (usually under 300 °F). To be safe, some people still advise newbies to add sugar at the conclusion of smoke.


When it comes to smoking, you can use almost anything that will burn. However, be advised that certain woods are better than others when used for bark production. For example, fruit trees like apple and cherry produce a sweet smoke while hog plum and pecan give off a flavor with hints of licorice.

Maple is popular in many parts of the country because its mildness makes it well-suited to poultry and pork. Oak is another favorite among pitmasters. It produces an intensely flavored smoke that enhances any meat but remembers that oak also has a tendency to dry your food out faster than other types of wood.

Oak is considered the king of smoking wood by many pros. This type gives a strong, smoky flavor with a hint of sweetness and is suitable for most meat and fish. If you can’t find oak wood chips, go with hickory instead.

The smoking process:

For the best bark formation, you need to maintain your smoker between 225°F and 275°F. At these low temperatures, enzymes present in the meat break down the collagen fibers so that they become gelatinized as they cook. With time, this will dissolve into an amber-colored juice that mixes with smoke particles to create aromatic compounds—allowing meats to brown and taste great! If your smoker goes higher than 275°F, microbes present on the surface of any meat would be killed before sufficient flavor development even at prolonged exposure times. 

Water Vapor:

Water vapor is a powerful force in bark production, and it comes from moisture on the surface of the meat and within its tissue. As this water works its way to the smoke chamber of your smoker, the boiling point lowers which speeds up evaporation.

This occurs when moist air hits cooler surfaces such as cold metal grates or colder air at any point of cooking. If you’re smoking in an oven, this part happens automatically :

Even if your smoker doesn’t go above 160°F, it’s still important to provide airflow during cooking so that your wood smoke can pass through freely; otherwise; you’ll get a bitter flavor instead of what should be a delicious smoky essence.


Smoke is an essential element of bark, but the interactions between smoke and moisture are integral to its production. That’s why it’s important that you use low temperatures (225°F-275°F) to form bark.

Higher smoking temperatures (above 300°F) will boil away water vapor before it has a chance to work its way into meat fibers. The result is steaks that are gray, dry, and not very flavorful inside!

Because water has such a powerful effect on flavor development at lower temps, you should limit your time above 275°F as much as possible.

This information has given us an overview of the process of “how to get good barbecue bark”. So, please continue to read to know more.

About The Science Of Barbecue Bark

When you’re grilling, two chemical reactions are responsible for the development of bark. The Maillard reaction and polymerization are two of them.

In terms of the Maillard reaction, this is the same reaction responsible for the browning of bread when it’s toasted in a hot oven or grilled over high heat. In short, the amino acids and sugars that are present in meats react to produce endless flavor combinations. This happens at temperatures above 300°F, and you only need a few minutes on the grill for this reaction to take place because the meat has been sliced thin.

In order words, bark formation takes place very fast.

The other chemical process behind bark development is polymerization, which occurs during cooking and involves certain cross-linking reactions between wood smoke molecules and natural compounds inside any given piece of meat. 

For example: 

Naturally occurring phenol alkaloids from organic, darkly colored woods can be drawn into the tissues of meat through time spent in dense smoke.

Compounds from both smoldering wood ash and gases are drawn up inside steam produced by water vapor, which rises during cooking to meet cooler air above the grill grate. When this happens, compounds are trapped in tiny pores where they can work their way deep into any muscle fiber over time. This is why longer cooks lead to more flavorful but also drier results.

How To Get Good Barbecue Bark? Tips & Guides:

We may use the following techniques and strategies to make the most delectable barbecue bark:

Use A Good Rub To Season Your Meat:

During the process of how to get good barbecue bark, a good rub is the first important step. You can choose to use a spice-heavy or sugar-heavy rub, depending on your preference. Just make sure it contains salt and pepper as well as other spices like garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, coriander seeds, paprika, or curry powder. The more moisture present in the meat at application time (30 minutes to an hour before cooking), the better the Maillard reaction can take place through searing heat.

Spritz Your Meat To Create Layers Of BBQ Bark:

To make things even more flavorful and create more layers of bark, we can use a spray bottle to apply water or other liquids before cooking. Use only cold liquid—hot ones will alter the meat’s internal temperature and destroy the Maillard reaction.

Cook The Meat At A Low And Slow Temperature:

Also, throughout the process of how to get good barbecue bark, a low and slow cooking process is typically between 225°F and 275°F. We can cook for as long as 18 to 24 hours if we so choose, but this doesn’t always produce the best results. Depending on what type of protein you’re working with and how large it is, you’ll want to check in every three or four hours or so. The lower temperature will allow for moisture to be trapped inside the meat throughout the entire cook time.

Don’t Use Too Much Barbecue Rub:

When you cook low and slow, you can use a lot of coating to create bark. But beware of this: if too much rub is used, the sugars inside will burn rather than caramelize. It’s okay for some parts to be darkly charred, but using excess amounts of sugar-heavy rubs like turbinado sugar (a.k.a., Sugar in the Raw) or white granulated sugar can quickly turn into blackened sections on your meat if undercooked or cooked too quickly at higher temperatures.

Using A Meat Thermometer To Make Bark:

Depending on what type of meat you’re cooking, bark may be ready before you think it is! If so, your best bet is to use a digital probe thermometer to make sure your meat is completely cooked through. With probes like the ThermoPro TP20, you’ll be able to monitor the internal temperature of your protein from up to 300 feet away, making it much easier for you to check without having to constantly open and close the lid on your smoker.

Experiment With Various Flavors Of Wood Pellets:

When using a pellet grill, you can experiment with different flavors of wood pellets to see what’s most delicious. Different types of tree bark and branches store different types of oils that create distinct flavors when burned away into smoke, so be sure to do some experimenting!

In general, there mentions a detailed direction for the question “how to get good barbecue bark”. People can take up references and apply when you want to create a delicious BBQ bark. 

How Should Meat Be Prepared for Best Barbecue Bark?

The chemical mechanism for making bark is sophisticated, but increasing the amount of bark on your next barbeque is straightforward. Follow these guidelines:

Select Your Cuts Carefully:

Don’t choose meat that is too lean. Use cuts with more fat, connective tissue, and collagen for more flavorful bark.

Trim The Meat Of All Excess Fat And Tendon:

Fat doesn’t dry out while cooking on the grill or in the smoker, so it will interfere with creating bark. If you trim away all excess fat and pieces of tendon before cooking your protein, you won’t have to remove them later (which can be a messy endeavor). This also makes it easier for your rubs to stick to the meat’s surface.

Use A Dry Rub With A Sugar Base: 

Dry rubs with a base of sugar will help create the caramelization that is crucial for making bark. If you’re using pre-made dry rubs, look for ones with ingredients like turbinado sugar (a.k.a., Sugar in the Raw), granulated cane sugar, molasses, honey powder, brown sugar, or white granulated sugar.

When Using Trays, Use Caution:

When smoking or grilling, trays with racks are typically used to catch the juices of the meat and prevent flare-ups. But when cooking low and slow, these trays can collect too much juice from the meat. This excess liquid will pool below your protein and drip into your fire or coals which can cause a lot of smoke in your food and reduce flavor by introducing acrid flavors into your bark.

Alright, so now, you know to prepare the meat before practicing the process of how to get good barbecue bark. Remember all the steps in turn to have the best delicious barbecue bark. 

What Are Some Delicious Bark Smoking Tips?

So, how to get good barbecue bark? Are there any tips for smoking to create a good BBQ bark? The answer is yes.

To achieve outstanding bark when it comes to actual smoking, strive for:

Temperature Control:

Control the heat of your smoker by monitoring the temperature and adjusting vents. The lower the heat, the longer it will take for meat to come into contact with smoke. With a pellet grill, you can monitor internal temperatures from up to 300 feet away, making it much easier to have complete control over your low-and-slow cooking process.

Be Patient:

Low and slow is as slow as it gets, so be patient! For ideal bark, set your smoker or grill between 225°F – 250°F and allow 4 hours per inch of thickness of protein being smoked. Depending on what type of fuel you’re using and how much meat you’re cooking at once, this could mean anywhere from a few hours to a whole day! Don’t open the lid during cooking, and don’t flip your meat until it’s almost finished.

During The First Two Hours Of Cooking, Avoid Basting:

While it’s tempting to start basting your meat with sauce or other liquids after the first few hours have passed, this will typically cause too much steam to be created which can lead to a loss of flavor. For best results, allow the smoke to do its magic during the first couple of hours without interrupting it.

Wrapping Is Not Necessary:

While the idea of wrapping your protein in aluminum foil and adding ingredients like beer, apple juice, or honey sounds appealing, it’s usually unnecessary and poses a few risks. If you cover meat during cooking, it can become too soft and even mushy. What’s more, dripping liquids could extinguish the fire of your smoker which will create an unpleasant end to your hard work!

This part mentions some useful tips for smoking nice bark. So, you can read and follow your smoking process at the party.

What Effect Does Your Rub Have On The Bark?

So, during the process of how to get good barbecue bark, what are the influences of the rubs on your good barbecue bark?

Water-soluble and fat-soluble substances in the rub have distinct functions to play in the production of the bark.

Water-soluble elements in the rub, such as salt and sugar, will break either in the meat’s moisture or in the smoke as the meat smokes. The flesh will be penetrated by the dissolved salt molecules.

The rub’s undissolved components will linger on the meat’s surface and begin to produce a glaze. The fat in the meat will render as the meat continues to cook. The fat-soluble components in your rub will also dissolve at this time.

The glaze, which comprises dissolved components as well as undissolved herbs and spices, comes together to produce a pasty material on the meat’s surface.

The components on the exterior will burn out and produce the spice crust as the cook goes and the pellicle grows. Your delectable bark is made up of the pellicle and the crust.

Salty and acidic rubs are supposed to hasten the formation of a bark. While this may appear to be a possible shortcut, don’t get too enthusiastic. While the bark may form more quickly at first, the quality of the bark you acquire towards the conclusion of the cook is not improved.

What Effect Does Smoke Have On The Bark?

Next, how does smoke affect your barbecue bark during the practicing process of how to get good barbecue bark?

Smoke plays an important role in the development of bark.

Initially, smoke will play a minimal role during the formation of a bark. This is because only a small amount of heat is transferred to the meat at this time and mainly serves to flavor the surface area. At this point, you’ll be relying almost exclusively on your rub for flavor, with smoke playing only a supporting role.

The production of smoke from wood begins once it comes into contact with fire or other sources of heat. Once these gases are produced, they take advantage of every crevice and crack in your smoking setup and travel through all available channels before depositing onto your protein. If you have a water pan in place or any fats/oils that pool below the meat, the smoke will dissolve in these liquids and carry them upward.

In ideal conditions, your smoking setup has a hot fire in ash-covered coals in the firebox and a cool air intake on the opposite side of the smoker. This forces an inflow of cool air through the coal bed and ash. The heat from this fire is swirled by eddy currents produced when the gases pass through an exhaust vent which leads to a chimney flue at its base.

The temperature in your cooking chamber can reach up to about 110°F during this time no matter what type of fuel you’re using or how much meat you’re cooking at once. As such, when it comes into contact with smoke particles, that temperature is low enough to enable the solid and liquid smoke particles to dissolve in it.

Remember that because more smoke particles attach to the glaze, the more your meat is subjected to the smoke, the darker it will get.

What Effect Does Temperature Have On The Bark?

In addition, how does the temperature impact your barbeque bark when you’re practicing how to get good barbecue bark?

Towards the end of a cook, when you start to see a bark forming, it is crucial to keep the internal temperature from rising too high. If your smoker’s air intake damper can manage temps up to about 200°F, it’s fine to leave it open at that point. Keep in mind that the cooking chamber is hot and most likely around or above 110°F most of the time.

An ideal temperature range for the delicious bark is between 220-250°F. Anything above this will result in a caramelized bark, which is also tasty but not what you want for pulled pork or brisket.

If the temperature is too low, you won’t be able to form as much bark as desired, and the flavor of your rub may not become concentrated.

At these higher temperatures, expect your bark to form faster than normal but also expect it to crack and flake off. This is why it’s important to keep the temperature low enough to prevent this from happening.

What Effect Does Time Have On The Bark?

How to get good barbecue bark? There is a factor that will affect this process. It’s time.

Time is a crucial element when it comes to forming bark.

Ideally, you want all of your components – salt, sugars, fats, water, and other organic materials – fused together so that they will hold fast once the heat causes them to evaporate and recondense as a glaze on the surface of your meat. You need time for these flavors to mingle with one another and break down into a pasty consistency that will remain attached after evaporation. In order for this process to happen, you should be patient throughout your cook as you allow the rub to form a crust.

What Effect Does Fat Content Have On Bark?

The presence of fat in the rub will have a huge impact on bark formation and quality.

A proper bark should be dry, crumbly, and somewhat flakey when it’s ready to be pulled off. Too much moisture or oil content in a rub can cause a wet or slick bark that sticks too much to your meat instead of staying attached where it belongs.

To avoid this problem, you want to omit any liquids from your recipe. If you’re using protein sources with high-fat content like bacon, use only lean cuts of pork for best results. Corned beef is formulated to come out moist rather than tough so if you really want to go back-to-basics with corned beef brisket, consider cooking some lean beef in water and then adding that liquid to your rub instead.

So, fat content is one of the most important factors that will influence the procedure of how to get good barbecue bark. As a result, people must care for fat content when making BBQ bark.

What Effect Does Moisture Have On The Bark?

Lastly, whether the moisture impacts the process of how to get good barbecue bark? Actually, in order to hold onto the rub, you need a surface covered in a dry rub that isn’t too moist.

If your meat is drenched in wet rub after a brine or injection, the salt and sugar levels will only dissolve into a liquid that will separate from any further moisture applied during an extended cook session. This defeats the purpose of creating a bark as it doesn’t have enough potential to cling to your meat before falling apart altogether.

When you’re planning for a long cook time – at least 8 hours but preferably 12 to 15 for big cuts like brisket – use only salt and sugars as tenderizers to avoid this problem. If you want to add other flavorings such as herbs and aromatics, do so early on before your meat is cooked to the desired internal temperature so that they don’t need to sit there too long.

Conclusion On How To Get Good Barbecue Bark

In summary, we have received the answers to the question “how to get good barbecue bark”. As with any good recipe, there are variations that you can make to the ingredients or cooking process to achieve your desired outcome. Experiment with these tips and find what works best for you, your smoker, and your barbecue bark. Once you have it down, be sure to share your results with us on social media – we’d love to see them!

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