This article will cover why there is no bark forming on the surface of your brisket, and what you can do to fix it. We decided to look into different equipment used to cook the brisket (oven, grill, and other means) to really look into what is happening to the brisket when it is forming a bark, and what really effects the bark forming. This will help to clear up any information that you may be already holding on to that may be hindering you from getting a bark to form on your brisket.
For some people, a brisket bark is really important, while others just want a juicy and well cooked brisket. There is something about creating a brisket with a good bark that just makes it really look like it was professionally cooked. It looks cool and it can add a lot of flavor to the brisket, depending on the seasonings used. Just in case you want to know, a brisket bark isn’t essential to making an edible brisket, but it can make a brisket more flavorful, give it better texture, and make it look more appealing.
We say this, because we know that there might be a few people reading this that don’t have a good bark forming on their brisket, that might think that their brisket is ruined. It isn’t ruined just because it doesn’t have a good bark. The bark is just an added benefit (depending on individual personal preference).
A bark will form on a brisket as long as it is seasoned and given enough time to cook. We have seen bark form on a brisket in grills, in a smoker, in a pellet grill, and in an oven, but it takes time to form. If the brisket is cooked in a lot of liquids, then the bark may not form like it would for other briskets that aren’t cooked in liquids. Spraying the brisket or basting it with liquid flavorings while the brisket is cooking, can also cause a good bark to not form on a brisket.
Pockets of juice forming while the brisket is cooking in the brisket’s surface can also prevent those areas from forming a good bark. To prevent these pockets, a brisket has to be trimmed straight across its surface, instead of making dents or pockets in the brisket when trimming it.
In a few hours of cooking a brisket at a sufficient temperature, the brisket can start to develop a noticeable bark. However, there are a few things that have to be done to help the bark form on the brisket:
1. Make sure that the brisket is evenly coated thoroughly with seasoning before it starts cooking.
When a brisket is seasoned, it should be seasoned well on its surface (top and bottom), the sides of the brisket, and the ends of the brisket. The seasoning not only adds great flavor to the brisket, but it also contributes to a bark forming on the brisket. However, this does not mean that it will guarantee a bark to form on the brisket, and it isn’t the sole major factor to getting the bark to form.
We have observed various briskets cooked with different rubs and can confirm that there is no one special rub or seasoning mix that is the only seasoning for getting a good bark. So, don’t get caught up into thinking that a special rub of some kind is the only way to get a bark to form on your brisket. If someone is trying to tell you that or make it appear that way, they are wrong. Thinking this will just send you down a road with many paths, but atleast some of those paths won’t have dead ends. If you find a special rub or seasoning that you like that gives you a great flavor and bark doing this, then go for it.
We can tell you that from our observation of seeing different seasonings used on a brisket, that a simple salt and pepper mix can give a brisket a very good dark or black-looking bark, just like a special secret rub can too. In fact for people that are looking for a bark that looks this way and just want a basic great bark to form on their brisket, this is a great choice.
2. Give the brisket time to cook so that the bark can form.
Give the brisket enough time to cook. If you are concerned about a bark forming on a brisket and you haven’t given the brisket enough time to cook, then it won’t be there. As mentioned, after a few hours it should be noticeable if the brisket is cooking at reasonable times and temperatures. Let it slow cook like it should and do its thing. The longer the brisket cooks, the more the bark will form. It will get darker over time.
We have found that spraying the brisket with liquids too early when the brisket is forming this bark, can cause the bark to form less. It doesn’t guarantee that it won’t form, but it can certainly impede the progress. A brisket in most cases doesn’t need to be sprayed anyways during the first part of its cooking when the bark is actually forming. Usually after the bark forms, the brisket can be wrapped, basting can be done, or the brisket can be sprayed before wrapping it.
3. Wrap the brisket.
When wrapping the brisket, two types wrappings are usually used: aluminum foil and butcher paper. The butcher paper is more important, as it allows the brisket to breathe while it is being held at a resting temperature, while still covering and protecting the brisket at the same time. As mentioned, the wrapping of the brisket is usually done after the brisket has cooked for awhile and the bark is formed. Using butcher paper to wrap the brushes after it forms a good bark, can help to keep the bark from becoming mushy when it is wrapped.
4. Use a smoker.
A smoker can give a brisket a darker and better bark than what a brisket would have if it was cooked in an oven. An oven can still create bark on the brisket, but it will be lighter and possibly brown in color by the time it finishes cooking.
The bark in most cases forms naturally on the surface of the brisket when given enough time to cook, especially when it is cooked in a pellet grill or a smoker.