The most frustrating step in the smoking process is dealing with a brisket that refuses to rise in internal temperature. Sadly, this is frequently unavoidable.
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While smoking, briskets, pork shoulders, and other large portions of meat will reach a temperature “stall,” or plateau. It’s completely normal, and it’s often not your fault.
However, in a few cases, faulty equipment, poor planning, or even bad weather can all play a role.
In this article, we’ll go over all of the likely causes of your brisket’s temperature dip, why it happens, and what you can do to correct it.
Why Is My Brisket Temperature Dropping?
Temperature Plateau (The Stall)
When cooked at low and slow temperatures, cuts of meat with a lot of fat produce a lot of liquid. The fatty and connective tissues dissolve and emulsify into the meat, producing a delectable outcome!
However, when the tissues breakdown, the extra moisture rises to the surface of the meat and evaporates, causing the meat to stop cooking, or stall out.
Because the smoke heat cannot compensate for the pace of cooling, the inside temperature reaches a plateau. Depending on how thick the meat is and how much fat it contains, the temperature can actually fall during the plateau in some situations.
Only once all of the additional liquid has evaporated will the brisket begin to rise in temperature again. Depending on the size of the fat puck and the temperature of the smoker, it can tack on a few extra hours to the smoking time.
Stalls are most common between 150 and 175 degrees (F). However, the brisket will occasionally stall a second time around 190 degrees (F).
Not Enough Ambient Smoke Heat
This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how many beginner smokers make this mistake.
The problem with insufficient heat isn’t simply that it won’t cook the meat because it will cook eventually.
The trouble is getting through the stall. If your smoker isn’t adjusted to a high enough temperature, it won’t be able to combat the temperature plateau, potentially causing the stall to last up 4 to 5 hours!
Too Much Fat on The Brisket
Remember that the stall is caused by rendered fats pooling to the surface and cooling the brisket. The more fat there is, the stronger this effect is.
This is frequently the case with untrimmed briskets. Most smokers will trim half the brisket to reduce moisture pooling while still receiving a flavorful basting from the marbling.
It’s the best of both worlds!
Keep in mind: large amounts of fat aren’t the only thing that might contribute too much moisture to the smoker. Over-basting and spritzing can also be a problem.
Brush basting works great for brisket because it keeps the meat succulent and adds flavor. Over-basting, on the other hand, will cause too much moisture to accumulate inside the smoker, resulting to a lengthier stall or a temperature drop.
Poor Weather Conditions
When smoking in cold weather, you must compensate for heat loss in the smoker by increasing the heat slightly. (In warmer weather, the opposite effect occurs; the heat must be reduced to avoid overcooking.)
Rain can also cause the smoker to lose heat, causing the brisket temperature to drop. As precipitation accumulates on the outside of the smoker, it evaporates, producing significant heat loss to the ambient smoke temperature.
Faulty Meat Probe
The first step in smoking a brisket is to ensure that all of your equipment is in working order. If your meat thermometer isn’t providing you precise readings, smoking will be a very strenuous process.
When smoking meats, the temperature is more important than the cooking time. Incorrect readings may imply that the brisket’s temperature has reached a plateau when, in fact, it is still rising.
After each smoke, make sure your thermometer is thoroughly cleaned. Char and other residues that become caught on will reduce its efficiency.
Is 200 Degrees(F) too Low to Smoke Brisket?
The best average temperature for smoking a brisket is 225 degrees(F), but it can also be done at 250 degrees(F). However, smoking at 200 degrees(F) is still perfectly fine, though you will have to wait much longer.
At 200 degrees Fahrenheit, the brisket will smoke at a rate of around 2 hours per pound of meat. So, a 10-pound brisket would take around 20 hours to smoke completely.
Unfortunately, in most cases, this situation is inescapable. As a result, it’s a good idea to plan for the stall from the start.
Fortunately, because this is such a common occurrence, seasoned smokers have been able to share their knowledge of what works best for avoiding a temperature drop.
Keep the following in mind:
• Check that the heat in the smoker is high enough and stable.
• Trim at least half of the fat cap from the brisket to reduce any “cooling effects.”
• Check that all of your equipment, notably the meat probe, is in good working order before you begin.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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