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Can't get good bark using a Kamado Joe


Joined Oct 17, 2013
I am about to smoke up a brisket this weekend and want to fix a problem I've been having. I've had my Kamado Joe for about 5 years or so now and I've BBQ'd a ton of different meats on it. Everything always comes out tasting great but no matter what I do, I can not get a good bark....on anything. It doesn't matter what I do; different rubs recipes, spray every hour, no spray at all, water pan, no water pan, wrap mid-way through, foil wrap, butcher-paper wrap, no-wrap,.... it makes no difference. My rub always comes our mushy.
I believe my problem is with the moisture in the Kamado. I'm familiar with the Maillard reaction but I think with the Kamado being so insulated, its keeping moisture in the air that the rub never has a chance to dry. It makes for really moist meat but is not allowing a good bark to form.

BBQ Guru's, Please help, How do I fix this?
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Meat Mopper
Joined Dec 1, 2019
I love my Eggs, especially during the winter, but I get better bark on my drums or when cooking on larger steel smokers because the fire itself is more active. You are correct.... kamados are very efficient, with respect to insulation, drafting, moisture retention, fuel efficiency, and the like. So, you don't need a water pan, spraying or mopping is only needed after a few hours to help set the bark, and the purpose of any wrapping is either to stop the smokiness, or to help tenderize the meat. The Maillard reaction relies on sugars, which I don't like on brisket.

What kind of rub are you using? And what kind of pit temps do you use for the larger meats like brisket or butts where you are trying to get a serious bark?

I can get bark like this on my large Egg, but I have to pay attention to the surface moisture and vent settings...., you need good drafting to get bark, and it takes longer than on other smokers. Play with your drafting and see if that helps.

Here are some Dino ribs I did on my drum, The bark was automatic, in fact I wrapped because I didn't want any heavier bark.



SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Nov 12, 2010
Try regulating with the top vent.... Leave the bottom vent wide open.... Could be the golden answer... Who knows...


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Joined Sep 7, 2013
What are you using as a base to get the rub to stick to your meat? If it's mustard, that might be part of your problem. Personally, I apply a light coat of oil then the rub. The oil helps "fry" the exterior/rub in the heat when you do not wrap.

Also, put the fatty side on the bottom, toward the heat source.


Meat Mopper
Joined May 9, 2010
What temp do you normally cook at? I have concluded using the Kamado, you may have to cook at higher temps to get good bark.
I just did a brisket point on the Kamado Joe a few days ago. I used a CyberQ temp controller and have to keep my top vent no more than 1/4 way open to let the controller maintain the temp properly. Cook at 275 measured at grate level with the probe. I used a light coating of mustard for my binder. Used a Kroger Private Selection 5 salt/5 pepper rub and went heavy on the rub. 7.5 hours for a piece of meat just under 4 lbs. No wrap. No spray. My brisket had great bark.



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