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Brisket temp stuck at 145? (Here’s Why)

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Temperature stalls and drops are a typical, although aggravating, feature of smoking meats. Especially with larger cuts with more fatty and connective tissue.

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Temperature stalls typically occur between 150 and 165 degrees(f). However, due to a variety of factors, temperature pauses (also known as plateaus) have occurred as early as 135-145 degrees(F).

Too much fat on the brisket, utilizing too much heat in the smoker, or even employing faulty equipment are all reasons why brisket would prematurely plateau.

This article will discuss why your brisket may stall much early than anticipated, and what you can do to help it.  

What Is a Temperature Stall?

We smoke brisket at low temperatures for lengthy periods of time to fully break down the fatty and connective tissues, allowing them to emulsify into the meat. It’s the magic component that makes perfectly cooked pulled pork melt in your mouth.

Excess liquids, however, begin to rise to the top of the brisket at some point throughout the cooking process, where they cool and evaporate. As these juices chill, it cools the brisket, rapidly dropping its internal temperature at the same rate the smoker is cooking it.

This is known as “evaporative cooling.”

Simply put, the smoker cannot keep up with the rate at which the juices cool the meat. This can last for several hours, anything from 2 to 8 hours.

The brisket will continue to cook only when all of the extra juices have all evaporated.

When Do Stalls Typically Occur?

Unfortunately, temperature stalls can happen repeatedly and can be unpredictable.

Normally, this starts around 150 to 175 degrees(F). Folks will usually wrap their brisket after it reaches 150 to reduce the stalling effect. (We’ll cover wrapping in more detail later).

This is hardly a precise science, though. Stalls have been seen to start at as early as 145 degrees(F).

Don’t give up though; it will eventually free itself from the stall and start cooking again. The ideal course of action is to let it come out naturally, but there are a few things you may do to get it out of the awful hold of a stall.

Why Does Brisket Stall At 145?

Too Much Basting (Too Much Moisture in The Smoker)

For smoking meats, a typical rule of thumb is that stalls are more likely to happen when the smoker has a lot of moisture collected within it. Excessive bastes, spritzes, or even too much water in the water pan may also be to blame.

Be careful not to over baste, and once the brisket reaches 150 degrees, remove the water pan to help coast through the stall. 

Note: when you open the smoker lid, you lose about 10 degrees(F) of ambient smoke heat per second. This is another reason not to baste too much is because you must open the lid to do it.

Excessive Marbling

When brisket is referred to be “untrimmed,” it means that the entire fat cap is preserved. Usually 1 inch thick, this layer of fat is reduced to 1/4 inch.

When smoking, excess fluids from a brisket with greater fat may rise to the surface in a greater abundance, which may cause an unanticipated stall.

In essence, evaporative cooling may be intensified by adding additional fat. It may even temporarily lower the temperature in some circumstances.

Cold Weather

If you’re smoking your brisket during the colder months, you might want to turn up the ambient smoke heat in your smoker.

The cooler weather has an effect on your smoker, lowering the total heat. You must raise it to compensate for any loss caused by the elements.

Does Wrapping Brisket Help?

Wrapping a brisket to help mitigate the impact of a temperature stall is an classic trick. It’s also known as the “Texas crutch.”

Wrapping a brisket keeps it tightly bundled, keeping its rendering juices warmer and reducing the effects of evaporative cooling.

Brisket is typically wrapped when it hits 150 degrees (F0, but if you notice it stalling before that, wrap it up.

Butcher paper or tin foil can be used to wrap the brisket. 

  • Foil can cover the brisket considerably more firmly, keeping it much warmer. It can, however, damage the quality of thick bark or crackling skin by keeping the juices much more tightly packed in. It sometimes causes the brisket to become too soft or even mushy.
  • Butcher paper will not cover the brisket as securely, but it will allow for more airflow, which will aid in the development of a beautiful bark on the brisket. Paper will preserve the quality more but won’t deliver the brisket through the stall as fast as foil. 

Both are effective, so it is truly a matter of personal preference.

This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of 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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