You want to cook brisket at 225 F but it has stopped cooking called the brisket stall and the internal temperature has halted at 165 F.
Now your question would be “How long brisket stall will last?” or “What do I do to break the brisket stall?”
Well, firstly, brisket takes 10 to 12 hours to cook at a low and slow temp of 225 F. Secondly, you have to understand why brisket stalls before you uncover the reasons and solutions for it.
Why brisket stalls? and What Temp Does Brisket Stall?
What to do when smoked brisket stalls? These are some of the very important questions that I will answer in this article. Along with busting many myths related to brisket stalling. Let’s find out!
When does Brisket Stall?
Brisket is one of the difficult meats to cook and the purpose of smoking is to break its meat fibers down to the point where they soften and are easier to eat.
This is done when the brisket reaches a certain internal temperature, however, the internal temperature of the meat can stop rising at around 155-165°F for hours in the middle of the process, rendering it unable to cook further.
This break in the cooking process is called a brisket stall. Below I mention the mechanics and solutions to understand and beat this brisket stall.
The Mechanics of the stall:
Brisket stall occurs due to a process called ‘evaporative cooling.’
Let’s dive into the mechanics of this stall. It is synonymous with a water cooler where air passes through a water barrier, evaporates the upper layer of water, and passes into the atmosphere through a fan.
Inside a smoker, the temperature rises, causing brisket meat to sweat. This moisture evaporates, causing the meat to cool down. Just like how we feel cooled down after sweating.
The smoker’s temperature keeps going up, the brisket keeps sweating, and moisture keeps evaporating, causing the meat to cool down gradually.
Eventually, the cooling effect balances the high temperature and causes the brisket’s internal temperature to stall. This is the brisket stall, and it stays till all moisture of the brisket is evaporated and the smoker can start heating up again.
A brisket can develop a hard, rough bark at the top after the stall. Hence, it is so important to wrap the brisket at the right moment so it to not lose a lot of moisture and to cook evenly and on time.
You can also read more about brisket’s internal temperature here.
What Temp Does Brisket Stall: Brisket Stall temperature:
Now, it is important to be informed about “when and what Temp does brisket stall?” Brisket usually stalls at an internal temperature of 155 F to 165 F. A number of variables can affect the internal brisket stall temp.
- The size of the brisket
- Type of smoker (what was the fuel source, how was the airflow)
- The temperature you are cooking brisket at.
- How was the brisket prepared (was it injected or brined or how was it seasoned)
- If the brisket was wrapped or unwrapped during the stall.
How long does brisket stall last?
For example, if you cooked your brisket at a low temperature of 225 F, then it is guaranteed that the brisket stall will last for a long time.
A temperature of 250 F is ideal and might help in reducing the brisket stalling time to about 1 to 2 hours. Similarly, an unwrapped brisket will also stall for longer than compared to a wrapped one.
One thing is for certain, you need to change some variables to beat the stall. If you do nothing, the stall is likely to last for more than 4 hours and ruin your dinner plans.
Many pitmasters go the long and slow smoked brisket route but high and fast have had better results in beating the brisket stall.
Busting Brisket Stall Myths:
There are a lot of common myths associated with brisket stalling and it’s important to understand them as well, in order to avoid them in the long run and to become an experienced pitmaster. Knowledge is definitely the key to success.
Myth 1: Latent heat lipid phase transition
This leads people to believe that the heat within the smoker causes fat to melt, which causes the stall while smoking brisket.
This might be true, but it is not the main or only reason for the stall and may not play a huge role within the brisket stall.
Myth 2: Protein denaturation
Another misconception is that people believe the proteins within brisket meat are damaged completely and cause the brisket to stall or sometimes halt the entire cooking process.
This is especially not true, as there are many ways to save the tough collagens of a brisket through various wrapping techniques.
Myth 3: Fat rendering
This is a similar misconception to the latent heat lipid phase transition but with a different name tag.
It also means that the brisket fat melting within the smoker’s high heat causes the brisket to stall, which is entirely not true as moisture plays the main role in balancing out the smoker’s internal temperature. Fat does not evaporate!
How to beat a Brisket Stall every time!
There are various methods of beating a brisket stall, but the end product is to wait out the stall patiently and wait for the cook to complete.
Some pitmasters prefer an unwrapped approach which may increase the brisket stall time further. Wrapped methods to stop brisket from stalling are more convenient and provide a much juicier brisket.
It saves about one hour of cooking time. I researched and outlined the various methods through which to stop the brisket stall easily and quickly.
It is important to remember that many people do not wrap their brisket as soon as the stall starts rather; they wait a little bit before they begin the wrapping process.
The brisket stall temperature of 175 F has been found to be optimum for the wrapping process to ensure thorough cook on the brisket as well.
1. Texas Crutch
The most common method of beating a stall is tightly wrapping the brisket in aluminum foil. The foil is an exceptional barrier and halts the process of evaporative cooling.
Now the moisture trapped inside the foil is like cooking the brisket within a liquid to halt the stall and keep the cook moving forward.
But a problem with this method may be that the smoked brisket comes out mushy and very soft. A few pit masters swear by wrapping the brisket after its brisket is completely finished cooking.
This helps in reducing the crispiness but not losing it completely either.
2. Butcher Paper
Now, the method is similar to the foil wrapping method, but here the difference lies in the material of the wrapping. Butcher paper is porous, which means it is permeable.
Hence, fat and moisture get absorbed and pass through the wrap, but at a steady and slow rate. This can help in reducing the brisket stall, but not as considerable as the Texas crutch method.
However, the outer layer of brisket, i.e., the bark steers clear of becoming too mushy.
3. Aluminum Foil Boat
Now, this is a rather new technique which may need a lot of mastering, but what it implies is that the brisket is wrapped in a boat-like formation, i.e., around the edges only. This protects drying out but also makes sure the top is crisp and tough.
This boat keeps the juices around the brisket and breaks the brisket stall fairly early as well.
4. Unwrapped method
Now, many pit masters do not believe in the wrapping method, which means they wait for the stalling process to stop on its own without interference.
However, this also means that it may take more than seven hours for the brisket stall to stop. The brisket is then wrapped in foil overnight to soften its bark.
5. Start early and rest:
Brisket stall may be unavoidable, but missing out on dinner is not. You should always start early when you plan to smoke a brisket.
Even if the time for smoked brisket stall is a lot, you don’t lose dinner plans. And in case you finish earlier, you can always rest the brisket to make it less crunchy and tough.
Many people follow this overnight brisket method, also called the low and slow method, to avoid waiting for the stall to end and for a thoroughly cooked brisket.
It is safe to use an electric smoker for such purposes, but also, use a good internal thermometer with an alarm system for if your smoker heats up too much or when smoked brisket internal temp is reached.
6. Avoid the stall altogether
Now, on the other hand, if you are short on time. The best way is to cook the brisket fast, wrapped, and at a high temperature before it even reaches brisket stall temp.
Higher temperatures mean that you may avoid the stall altogether. Put your smoker on high and wrap the brisket as soon as the internal temperature reaches 150 F.
However, it also means that your brisket may not be as juicy or not as smokey as you prefer.
Try the hot and fast method by starting a well-cut brisket at 275 F to 300 F smoker temperature and get smoked brisket in a couple of hours.
Brisket Temp Cooking Chart:
Following are estimated cooking times for brisket based on size and smoker temperature.
|Brisket Size||Temperature||Cooking Time||Resting Time|
|12 lbs.||225 F||18 hours||19 hours|
|18 lbs.||250 F||18 hours||19 hours|
|12 lbs. unwrapped||225 F||19 hours||20 hours|
|18 lbs. unwrapped||250 F||19 hours||20 hours|
|16 lbs.||275 F||10-12 hours||11-13 hours|
|16 lbs. unwrapped||275 F||11-13 hours||12-14 hours|
How to check the internal brisket stall temperature?
It is important to know that the ideal internal brisket temperature is anywhere between 185 F to 195 F. But here is the tricky part: brisket temperature is measured internally at three different points to check for doneness.
Although, I feel it is much better to use an instant thermometer to check these temperatures and to avoid probing your meat.
However, one should know what temperatures to achieve when working with smoked brisket during or after a stall.
The flat muscle temperature must be 167 F, while the point must be 184 F. The temperature in the middle of the brisket must be 175 F. For final doneness, we focus on the last temperature reading. Wrap the brisket when the brisket’s internal temp reaches 175.
If you are going to use a thermometer probe to check the doneness of the brisket, it is important to always insert it in the same spot every time.
Brisket Stall at 150, 190/unexpected temperatures/multiple brisket stalls:
So, it is not uncommon for brisket to stall twice. Sometimes brisket stalls at 150 F, then stalls at 190 F again.
A stall may happen multiple times, sometimes because of a bad thermometer reading or perhaps due to increasing moisture again after a stall by putting stock in. Let’s find out what to do when it stalls at various multiple points.
Brisket stall at 125:
This means that smoker’s temperature is too low. Don’t let it stay low, crank it up to 250 F immediately. If the internal temp still does not rise, take it out, double foil it, and pop it in a 300 F oven.
Brisket stall at 140
This stall usually means a faulty thermometer. Recalibrate and check the brisket stall temp again. Another reason can be hitting an air pocket, remove your thermometer and probe another place on the brisket.
Brisket stall at 155 and 170
155 F is an understandable smoked brisket stall temp. This is the point where you may foil up the brisket in aluminum or butcher paper. Your brisket may resume cooking soon when the moisture evaporates.
170 F is actually the ideal brisket stall temperature and pit masters wrap their brisket after a while for that moist yet crisp exterior. Wait it out!
Brisket stall at 175:
This means you are using the high and fast methods of smoking. However, if this is your second stall, then it might be due to basting the brisket. This is a relatively shorter stall and can be waited out.
Brisket stall at 180:
It usually occurs after the first stall. If it takes too much time to resume, you can easily remove the brisket, foil it up, and put it in a 300 F oven for 90 minutes.
Brisket stall at 190:
Keep a probe handy to find its internal temp accelerates from 190 F. Now, if the probe slides in easily, then remove the brisket and let it rest where the internal temperature will increase further.
Can brisket stall more than one time?
Yes, a brisket stall may happen multiple times, sometimes because of a bad thermometer reading or perhaps due to increasing moisture again after a stall by putting stock in. Let’s find out what to do when it stalls at various multiple points.
How do you speed up a brisket stall?
You can either wrap it up or increase the smoker temperature or even finish the brisket in the oven to speed up the brisket stall.
What is the internal temp when you break through brisket stall?
180-195 is a good smoked brisket stall internal temp to end the process at.
Do I raise temp soon after brisket stalls?
Raising the temperature will provide a hard bark on your brisket.
Try not to wrap it soon after the stall to avoid cooking it too quickly. Add a water pan to the smoker or use some other heat source to adjust the remaining cooking time and monitor the moisture within the smoked brisket.