How to The Perfect Smoke Ring on Your Brisket

Have you ever wondered what that pink layer of meat is that hovers just under the surface of your brisket?

That pink layer that nestles itself just under the bark is called the smoke rings. 

Smoke rings are the emblem of a top-quality BBQ.

A good smoke ring should be around ¼ inch thick. As a backyard bbq-er, this is something we strive for. Once we get it we know that we have stepped up a level in the BBQ world.

smoke ring on my brisket with good bark from 4th july cookout
The smoke ring I got on my brisket at my 4th July cookout!

Hot tip: It is all about getting a good amount of nitrogen dioxide out of your wood.

Let’s see below how to get the best smoke rings in your next piece of brisket. Afterward, check out my electric smoker brisket recipe for the perfect smoke ring!

How to Get A Smoke Ring

To Get Started, We Need To Understand the Smoke

Before we can look at how to make a smoke ring we need to clarify exactly what is the smoke?

To put it simply and not get too technical, the smoke is made up of a combination of very tiny particles. We can see these particles in an aerosol mixed with quite a complex cocktail of gases & water vapor.

Getting the exact mixture you want is quite important. The flavor of the smoke can add a delicious smoky elegance to your dish or a horrid cigarette-butts smoke taint that can ruin even the best cut of meat.

So what is a smoke ring then? The smoke ring occurs when there is an interaction between the myoglobin (the pink protein in the meat) and the gases carbon monoxide & nitric oxide. (carbon dioxide).

These gases are made up during the combustion of wood. 

The smoke ring is found in the top layer of the meat because the nitrogen dioxide is absorbed into the meat from the outside.

How To Make The Smoke Rings on Your Brisket (The Holy Grail)

So now you know what a smoke ring is, how can you get this badge of honor at your next bbq? Well, there are a couple of different ways.

  • Method 1:
    In general, soaking your wood in fresh water before smoking will help create a good smoke ring. 

    By soaking your wood in the water you are helping your wood produce more nitrogen dioxide, thus more chance of getting a better smoke ring.

  • Method 2:
    Another way to get a smoke ring is to coat your selected meat with a salt tenderizer. This will load up the surface of your meat with nitrogen dioxide and give you an help enhance your smoke ring.

    I do warn you, this method is seen as cheating, so if you are a  competition BBQ-er this might not be the best option for you.

Creating a smoke ring is something that you should be very proud of. It takes skill, a little bit of knowledge, and a fair bit of practice.

Your guests will appreciate the effort you put in and will be sure to applaud you appropriately.

Have you managed to make a smoke ring before?

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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