Temperature stalls are common and anticipated when smoking thick and fatty cuts of meat such as brisket and pork shoulder.
What people may not realize is that it can also be common for the internal temperature to temporarily drop, which may be pretty frightening if you are 6 hours into a smoke.
Temperature drops can occur for a variety of causes, including insufficient smoke heat, faulty meat thermometers, too much fat on the brisket, and even adverse weather.
But don’t worry! We’ll tell you why your brisket’s temperature is falling and what you can do to help prevent it and get it back up.
Why Does Brisket Temperature Dip?
Not Enough Heat
Most of the time, the error is straightforward and only takes little correction. A brisket can stall if your smoker isn’t adequately preheated or is set to an insufficient temperature.
The recommended temperature to smoke brisket is 225 degrees(F). At this temperature, the fatty and connective tissues can fully dissolve and emulsify into the meat.
The meat cooks about 1 1⁄2 to 2 hours per pound of meat (so a 10-pound brisket would take roughly 18 to 20 hours to smoke).
250 degrees(F) is also perfectly acceptable. The difference is slight, but it can cut an hour or two off your smoking time.
However, if your smoker is set to a temperature lower than 200 (180 degrees(F) for example), the heat may be insufficient to drive the brisket past the stall, causing it to fall dramatically.
Brisket will eventually begin to secrete the excess juices that rise to the surface of the meat as it smokes. These juices then cool and evaporate, rapidly chilling the brisket at the same rate the smoker cooks it.
Normally, this causes the temperature to merely plateau, but in some situations, it might cause it to fall.
With a higher fat content, the amount of excess liquids increases significantly, making evaporative cooling considerably more intense and cooling the meat faster than the smoker cooks it.
The brisket will continue to rise in internal temperature only after all of the leftover juices have rendered and dissipated.
Remember, the more moisture in the smoker, the more likely the brisket’s temperature will drop.
Poor Weather Conditions
While you may smoke meat in practically any weather, you will need to adjust to compensate for any bad weather.
- Cold weather, for example, can reduce the ambient heat within the smoker. To compensate for the cooler temperatures, you must turn up the heat.
- Strong winds can direct heat away from the meat, causing it to cool. You must either shield your smoker from severe winds or place it so that the wind flows via its natural airflow.
- Rainy conditions can also mimic the effects of evaporative cooling on the smoker. As precipitation accumulates on top of the smoker, it evaporates, lowering the ambient smoking heat.
Does Wrapping Brisket Help Avoid This?
Absolutely! Wrapping smoked meats is a very common approach, and the results speak for themselves.
When wrapped, the airflow surrounding the brisket is constrained, keeping the juices heated and preventing evaporative cooling. Only when the wrap is opened will the temperature drop. However, this is only done at the end once you have reached an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees(F).
However, aim to rest the brisket while it is still wrapped. It will hold its heat considerably better this way, allowing for a longer and more effective rest.
Can Brisket Be Pulled At 190?
Carry-over cooking refers to how meat will continue to rise in internal temperature after it has been pulled from the smoker.
Heat gets becomes trapped in the thickest parts of the brisket, which continue to move to the centre, cooking and raising the temperature even after being removed from the heat source.
This can raise the temperature by up to 10 degrees(F). So, if your final temperature target is 200, pulling at 190 will get you there while it rests.
There are numerous reasons why a brisket’s temperature drops while smoking. Many of them merely require minor adjustments.
It’s a process of trial and error, just like anything else. So, keep the following considerations in mind:
- Untrimmed brisket increases the likelihood of temperature dips, so try to remove at least half of the fat cap.
- Poor weather conditions affect how a smoker cooks, so adapt as needed.
- Try to restrict the amount of moisture within the smoker, which means bastes, water pans, and spritzes should be utilized and monitored carefully.