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10 Things To Know About The Brisket Stall

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Brisket Stall

If you happen to be smoking a brisket or cooking it, you’ll most likely have to understand the stall. The stall is essentially just when the internal temperature seems to hover around 150°F and 170°F for several hours. More specifically, it also may seem that the temperature is flat lying at a particular temperature within that range with no signs of increasing. Don’t worry at all, this is completely normal and to be expected.

Whenever you smoke a brisket or pick one, the stall will always occur. There are different methods that you can also employ however, to ensure that the stall is mitigated to the best of your ability. This basically includes wrapping it. You can wrap a brisket in either butcher paper or foil. Another such method you can use to employ that mitigate the stall for a particular brisket, would be to start increasing the ambient temperature at wish you were cooking it. This just brute force is it and can’t even push pass the stall entirely. All of this to say, a brisket stall is very ambiguous and is certainly dependent on several factors outside of simply wrapping or the temperature at what you were smoking.

Brisket Stall Temp

When you’re smoking a brisket you can expect to experience the stall at certain temperature ranges. The temperature range that you can expect a brisket stall is anywhere from 150°F and 170°F. This is more so a guideline in fact, but in my experience, this is definitely the range that temperatures internally can begin to flatline for several hours. 

When the temperature begins to flatline for several hours, don’t panic. This is 100% normal and will most likely happen to everyone, even experienced Pit-masters. When you have a stall, just know that you are in for at least a couple of hours of consistent internal temperature readings.

Brisket Stall At 150

When you’re smoking or cooking a brisket and the internal temperature is hovering at around 150°F, you may be entering the stall. At this point in time, you can choose two methods to expedite things. The first method you can use, is to begin increasing the ambient temperature at which you were smoking the brisket itself. If you happen to be smoking at a lower temperature range, let’s say for example at a range of 225°F or 250°F, you can certainly try to increase the ambient temperature way past that and two up to 300°F. This will significantly increase the chances of having a shorter brisket stall time. That’s simply because the temperature serves to fully cook the meat a lot faster than the lower temperatures.

The second method you could also use to shorten the brisket stall time is to begin wrapping the brisket. Wrapping the brisket essentially helps further cook the meat a lot quicker than it otherwise would. The moisture contents as well as the heat emitted from the brisket gets trapped within the casing of either the foil or the butcher paper, thus cooking the brisket a lot quicker. A faster cooking brisket means that the brisket stall will be a lot shorter.

Brisket Second Stall 

As you start your journey throughout your brisket career, just know that stall is part of the game. Not only that, but as you become a lot more experienced as a pit master when cooking brisket, you may even see that there is more than one stall present throughout the entirety of the cook. The first brisket stall is the famed 150°F to 170°F stall. This is the initial stall that you can expect when the internal temperature readings are flatlining and very consistent with no signs of changing whatsoever. As you start to break through the 170°F internal temperature portion of the cook, and rise to around 190°F, you may experience another flatlining session of internal temperature. This is the brisket going back into another stall.

Don’t panic! More portly don’t get too impatient. When you experience another flatlining of internal temperature for your precious brisket, just know that as you are cooking it over a longer period of time, the meat is obviously doing its’ thing. Don’t really pay to close attention to the internal temperature. After let’s say about 30 minutes or so, you should experience another rise in temperature past 190°F. You’ll notice that the temperature may flatline at 190°F but then quickly jump to 195°F all the way up to and passed 200°F. This is the portion of the cook where you really want to begin monitoring internal temperatures as well as employing the probe test, since the brisket will quickly be done there after.

In essence, a brisket will experience a second stall around 190°F, with a sudden spike in internal temperature readings to 200°F. Once this occurs, take the probe out and begin reinserting all throughout the meat to ensure it is pretty tender. Then you will have a brisket that is done

How long does the stall last on a brisket?

A brisket stall can last anywhere from half an hour to two hours. This also depends on which stall you are going through. If you are just cooking your brisket and it is encroaching upon the first stall at around 150°F, expect to have a flatlining of internal temperature readings for at least a couple of hours. If you are going to the second stall, at 190°F, then expect that experience to last anywhere from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Temperature readings and times may vary, but these are very accurate guidelines to follow.

What do I do when my brisket stalls?

There are two main things you should consider when you notice your brisket stalling. The first of which is to not panic. Causing panic is not a good idea because you will start to make very unwise decisions such as taking the meat probe out and inserting it all throughout the meat when there is really no need to do so. You’ll also start to perhaps even play with the temperatures not knowing that it may be directly impacting how fast the brisket is cooking, such as opening the lid to the smoker and always checking on it. Opening the smoker lid to the cooking chamber will only serve to prolong the cooking process and by default, the stall itself.

The second thing to do with a brisket stall, is to not get too impatient. Getting too impatient causes a lot of Pit-masters to consider pulling the brisket way before it is actually done. I’ve seen many Pit-masters suggest just pulling the brisket off at 190°F, which is a total disaster of a recommendation. You want to see the entire cook all the way through, regardless of how long it takes.

Outside of not being impatient and not panicking, you can also consider increasing the ambient temperature to ensure your brisket cooks in a timely manner. You’ll also want to wrap it, as mentioned above, in either butcher paper or foil. It really is that simple, all you need a little bit of practice and time to get this method right.

Should I wrap brisket at the stall?

If you are considering wrapping a brisket that is experiencing a stall, you have the option of wrapping it. Wrapping it essentially just cooks the brisket a lot faster and can be a great way to rapidly increase the internal temperature readings. A lot of the times, many people experience a flat lining of internal temperatures ranging anywhere between 150°F and 170°F.

 By wrapping a brisket, you will ensure a timely cook and can enjoy your barbecue a lot quicker. Despite that however, there are a couple of negative side effects that many seem to report in doing this. One of the main side effects of wrapping a brisket throughout the stall, is that it may destroy the bark. Basically, any seasoning or rub you may have on the meat will become very moist and wet. It will not be crunchy or hard in nature, and will almost resemble a pot roast the type of profile.

At what temperature does the stall end?

If you’re wondering what temperature the stall actually is, you can expect it typically at around 170°F. At the tail end of that temperature, you can experience a significant increase in internal temperature readings. The temperature readings should increase all the way up to 200°F, at which point the brisket should be ready to pull off of the smoker and begin resting in an ice chest cooler.  

Wrap brisket before or after stall

If you’re wondering whether or not wrapping a brisket is worth it, and if you should wrap a brisket before or after the stall, you should consider how quick you want to get out of the stall and how much you value your barbecue rub and seasoning.

If you wrap a brisket before the stall, you will certainly decrease the likelihood of prolonged stall temperature readings. In other words, the stall will be mitigated to the best of your ability, and the internal temperatures should increase substantially. The side effect of this however, is that you may be sacrificing quite a bit of barbecue rub and seasoning. Even if you were to wrap a brisket in a piece of butcher paper, which is less prone to impacting the seasoning or rub than a piece of foil can, the bark and what not will be significantly be reduced.

If you happen to choose wrapping the brisket after the stall, you may also experience a significant diminishing of your BBQ bark and rub overall, while also experiencing very long wait times for the brisket stall to actually conclude.

If you’re going to wrap your brisket, then you will absolutely want to make sure to wrap it before the stall, to diminish any time spent on waiting for it to finish, and if you want to keep your bark or seasoning, feel free to take the wrapping off of the brisket so it can begin forming again before the brisket actually finishes cooking all the way through.

Final thoughts

The brisket stall is one of the most nefarious points in any brisket cook. A lot of the times, it can be the cause of a lot of frustration and impatience among many Pit-masters. There are a variety of mechanisms one could employ to help mitigate the effects of flatlining internal temperatures. Just go ahead and wrap it before the stall. After the internal temperature taps out at around 170°F, feel free to unwrap the brisket so you can preserve the bark and crust formation. Once the brisket reaches 200°F, it is done and ready to be pulled off the smoker.