How to get bark with a pellet smoker

Summer is just around the corner, and for all of us BBQ aficionados, that’s a time to get outside and light up the pellet grill. Perfecting the craft of barbecuing can be both challenging and spiritual – nothing rivals the experience of smelling that delicious smoky aroma that greets you the moment you lift your pellet grill lid. How to get bark with a pellet smoker?

How to get bark with a pellet smoker

Getting a good bark on all sides of your meat is key to success, while also making sure to cook off all excess fat. When done right, there’s something magical about watching how each piece gets decorated with that signature smoke ring when cut open.

Be it brisket, pork belly or ribs, mastering the art of barbecuing is an absolute must for any backyard warrior this summer season.

If you want to get a good bark, pellet grills are the way to go. The best pellet grills can create a delicious bark that is full of flavor. However, if you have excess fat on your meat, it can create a bark that is greasy and not very tasty. To get the best bark, make sure to trim any excess fat from your meat before cooking.

What is BBQ Bark?

What is BBQ Bark?

If you’re a complete beginner to barbecuing, chances are you don’t know what bark is. Bark is the crunchy and flavorful crust that wraps smoked meats like pork butt. It forms due to complex chemical reactions from combining heat, oxygen, and smoke.

This magical combination produces a deep, dark, almost-licorice colored crust that all true barbecue connoisseurs know and love. To make sure your smoked pork butts have the perfect bark for every bite , remember to find a recipe that sets the right amount of smoke and heat levels.

Roasting meat on the barbecue creates a delicious process aptly nicknamed, “the Maillard reaction”. In this transformation of proteins and moisture into something else entirely, your steak is transformed.

The surface dries out as it cooks which leads to protein molecules binding together creating a hard layer; known as the pellicle. Using spices or rubs before roasting gives an extra crunchy yet delightful crust – AKA bark

Quick Tips and Tricks to Get a Good Bark

Quick Tips and Tricks to Get a Good Bark

If you want to enjoy the most delicious and flavorful bark, there are several essential components. Through understanding how your meat is formed, you can begin experimenting with various techniques that will help create a beautiful outer layer – all of which contribute towards making succulent barbecues.

  • Seasoning/Spice Rub
  • Temperature
  • Smoke
  • Moisture
  • Fat Content

Now let’s look at all these elements individually.

Seasoning/Spice Rub

Crafting the perfect BBQ rub is more than just a flavor-infused blend of spices. The fat and water soluble components you choose play an important role in forming that tasty bark we all love!

As your meat smokes, salt molecules dissolve into the smoke’s moisture or your meat’s own juices and start to seep inside – enhancing its smoky goodness from within. With a little thought put into each ingredient choice, every bite will be bursting with succulent flavor.

When it comes to smoked meat, the great taste of the bark depends on how well you prepare. To get a good bark, it’s important to understand the cooking process that will occur in your pellet smoker.

Before starting the flavor journey, rub ingredients are applied over the top of the meat; however instead of dissolving, they stay on top and create a glaze.

As fat renders during cooking, fat-soluble flavors begin to dissolve as well and contribute to the glaze. This glaze then creates a pasty substance across smoked meat and with any undissolved spices and herbs added during the process an amazing dish is born – smoked meat with an incredible bark.



How to Get Bark with a Pellet Smoker If you’re looking to get that perfect bark on your next barbecued meat, using a pellet smoker is key. Temperature control is one of the most important aspects of smoking meats, and many people make the mistake of going too high or too low.

If you’re cooking your meat on a pellet grill, the temperature needs to be just right so the meat doesn’t simply char unappealingly, but also so that bark has a chance to develop. Check out our article on how to determine pellet smoker cooking temperature and time for more tips on how to get that perfect bark every time.

Cooking barbecued meats in a pellet smoker is becoming increasingly popular, and the golden temperature setting for the best bark to form is around 225°F to 250°F. Once you start to hit these temperatures – halfway through the cook — a curious thing happens: the moisture begins to evaporate, cooling down the meat and slowing the cook down.

This is often referred to as ‘the stall’. When enough moisture has been removed from the meat, thanks to how a pellet grill works, this allows the rub to dry out and kick-starts what’s called the Maillard reaction.

From then on, smoke and savory flavors start emanating from the meat and creates that perfect bark that BBQ enthusiasts crave so much.


Smoking meat is a hugely important factor in the creation of your bark. By smoking the meat, you are giving it exposure to a lot of darkness, which will determine the darkness of your bark.


For the bark of a succulent, smoky barbeque to form, all that’s needed is enough natural moisture present from both smoking and meat itself. Despite popular thought, there’s really no need for constant basting during cooking; if too much moisture remains on the surface due to this process it can actually prevent the Maillard reaction necessary which causes flavor development.

Fat Content

Cooking and smoking your meat requires a delicate balance of temperature, fat content and flavor. Too much or too little either way can ruin the bark – so keep it just right for that perfect taste!

Pulled pork is a classic comfort food, and it’s all about the crust! Fat helps create this tasty treat by dissolving fat-soluble ingredients in the rub.

Too much however can lead to poor pellicle formation which will prevent proteins from forming crucial connections with oxygen and heat – meaning you miss out on that delicious crunchy exterior.

To achieve succulent, mouth-watering barbecue that melts in your mouth, careful attention should be paid to balancing the ratio of fat and wood.

Too much fat can result in a greasy mess; too little will leave you with dry meat. Perfection lies somewhere between – just enough luscious fats for flavor plus Nutwood smokey goodness creates an unbeatable bark.


To summarize, the key to getting bark on your meat is simple –

Enjoy an effortlessly delicious, flavorful feast any night of the week with a Z Grills pellet grill. To make sure you create that perfect balance between fat and moisture in your meat’s bark, combine water-soluble ingredients alongside non-soluble ones like spices to form the glaze while taking account for smoke temperature as well.

Once all these steps are done, prepare yourself for some truly scrumptious BBQ every time.

What’s your favorite bark tip? Let us know in the comment section below!

How do you get bark when you smoke?

Barks are made by cooking perfectly cooked meat in smoke, water vapour and a little heat for hours, leaving a delicious meat heaven. Whether it be rubs, the wood used or the amount of fat the meat contains a lot of factors into the chemistry causing bark formation.

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