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Brisket temp keeps dropping? (Here’s Why)

When smoking meats with a lot of fatty tissue, temperature stalls and dips are quite usual. Even though this is a common occurrence, it doesn’t make it any less annoying when it occurs.

Temperature stalls and dips can continue for hours, which is alarming when you have dinner guests arriving soon.

From evaporative cooling to unfavorable weather, a brisket can stall for a variety of reasons.

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Everything you need to know about temperature stalls and dips is provided below, along with strategies for avoiding and mitigating its impacts.


Why Is my Brisket Temperature Going Down?

Evaporative Cooling 

This is the most common cause of your brisket’s temperature drop.

As a brisket smokes, it eventually reaches a stage known as “the stall” (also known as a plateau).

It occurs as all of the fats and juices melt and render into the meat. Excess fluids rise to the surface of the brisket and evaporate.

The rising and evaporating liquids actually chill the brisket at the same rate that the smoker cooks it. This is known as Evaporative Cooling.

Most of the time, this causes the temperature to come to a complete standstill and refuse to rise. However, the cooling can sometimes outperform the smoker, causing the temperature to drop temporarily.

A temperature stall or drop can last up to 6 hours! But this largely depends on the amount of fat on the brisket. Only when all of the liquids have risen and evaporated will the meat begin to cook again.

Keep in mind: Many new smokers believe that once their brisket is at the stall, they should turn up the heat to move it out faster.

While this may sometimes work, it is not encouraged. It risks overcooking the meat and damaging its melty texture.

It’s usually better to just wait it out and keep the smoker at a consistent temperature (between 225-250 degrees(F)).

Untrimmed Brisket

The fat cap, which bastes and breaks down into the meat, is what gives brisket its creamy and rich texture and flavor.

However, an untrimmed brisket may contain too much fat, causing the stall’s effects to become more drastic.

There’s nothing wrong with smoking an exceptionally fatty brisket but be prepared for temperature decreases caused by the additional juices released by the extra fats.

Some smokers will remove just half of the fat cap, leaving plenty for a melty brisket. You can get the best of both worlds this way.

Rainy Weather

You should check the weather forecast before smoking brisket, because precipitation can cause a smoker to lose some ambient smoke heat. 

When moisture accumulates on the outside of the smoker, an “evaporative cooling” effect occurs, lowering the temperature of the smoker

As a result, the temperature of the brisket may drop, especially if it is approaching, or already within the clutches of the stall.

If it starts raining while you’re smoking your brisket, increase the ambient smoke heat to keep up with the rate at which the smoker cools. 

Keep in mind: In cold weather, the same rules apply. Because the outside elements will affect the heat of the smoker, more heat must be used to compensate.

Over-Basting

As a general rule, the more moisture on the brisket, the longer it will take to smoke. These guidelines also apply to spritzing and basting.

Brush basting a brisket may add a ton of flavor and moisture, but too much liquid in the smoker will cause it to stall out or dip in temperature. 


When Does the Stall Occur? 

The stall normally occurs when the brisket reaches temperatures between 150 and 175 degrees(F). This is usually around 3 to 4 hours into the smoke. 

The “Texas Crutch” is a classic technique.

This involves pulling the brisket as it approaches 150 degrees(F), wrapping it in tinfoil, and returning it to the smoker.

The goal is to keep the juices heated by trapping them close to the brisket and reducing airflow around the meat. 

The stall can occasionally be avoided entirely by monitoring the brisket’s internal temperature and wrapping it before it reaches 150 degrees(F).


Final Thoughts

Although a temperature drop is often unavoidable, that doesn’t mean you don’t have an arsenal of strategies to help lead you through it.

Although you can increase the heat to help escape the stall, this is not encouraged since it might overcook the meat.

Instead, use the “Texas Crutch” to help you get out of the stall faster. Otherwise, you might be better off simply waiting it out.