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Brisket temp stuck at 180? (Explained)

Temperature stalls are practically unavoidable when smoking any type of thick cut of meat with a substantial fat yield.

When excess moisture begins to render out, which is normally about 150-160 degrees(F), stalling occurs. Unfortunately, stalls can be unpredictable and occur at any temperature, sometimes more than once.

Late stalling can occur at temperatures as high as 180 degrees(F), which is what we’re here to discuss.

This can be caused by a variety of factors. Some believe it’s because 180 is when the last of the extra juices render out, generating a second round of chilling on the meat’s surface.

However, there are several elements to consider, including too much moisture in the brisket, the smoking heat employed, the amount of fat on the brisket, and even the weather.

The following is a discussion of why your brisket may be stuck at 180 and what you can do to help prevent it.

Understanding A Temperature Stall

It is important to comprehend why temp stalls occur in the first place in order to have a better understanding of this.

Brisket is a large piece of meat with a lot of fat that must completely breakdown and emulsify into the meat while being smoked. Extra moisture renders out of the fat as it melts and rises to the surface of the meat.

The juices rise, and as they evaporate, they begin cooling. The consequence is a temperature stall (or plateau) as the meat cools at the same pace that the smoker cooks it.

It is known as “evaporative cooling“. The meat won’t start cooking again until all of the rising juices have evaporated.

This may persist for three to eight hours. The speed at which these liquids rise and evaporate determines the stall duration.

When the internal temperature is between 150 and 175 degrees(F), a stall typically occurs. But as was already said, in some circumstances, excessive rendering at 180 might cause evaporative cooling.

Why Is My Brisket’s Temperature Refusing to Rise?

Smoking Untrimmed Brisket

Brisket that still has its whole fat cap connected is referred to as “untrimmed.” Although fat is necessary for brisket, too much of it might affect how it cooks.

Excess fat on a brisket causes excessive pooling, which increases moisture inside the smoker. This can result in unexpected temperature stalls or dips.

To mitigate this, remove at least half of the fat cap from the brisket.

Over-Basting the Brisket

As your brisket smokes, it’s common to spritz or baste it, adding a fresh coating every two hours or more. This marinates the meat with extra seasonings and keeps it moist while cooking.

However, excessive basting may add too much moisture to the smoker, intensifying the effects of evaporative cooling.

It’s a good idea to dry the surface of any type of red meat with a paper towel before preparing it for grilling or smoking in order to remove moisture. This will allow the meat to cook much more evenly.

The Weather

Even though smoking meat in cooler weather is perfectly appropriate, you will need to alter the ambient smoke heat inside to account for the chilly air outside the smoker.

An equal threat comes from windy conditions. When a smoker is improperly positioned in the wind, the heat is deflected away from the smoker, which lowers the temperature.

Make sure your smoker is facing the wind in the direction of the airflow that it naturally receives.

Rain has a cooling effect. When rain or snow builds up outside the smoker, it evaporates and reduces the ambient smoke heat.

The smoker itself goes through the same evaporative cooling process as the brisket during the stall. Just like you would in cold weather, you’ll need to adjust the smoker’s temperature if it starts to rain.

Are You Using the Correct Heat?

Make that the smoker has been completely warmed and is set to the appropriate temperature before you even think about placing a brisket on it.

Brisket should be smoked at a temperature of between 225 and 250 degrees(F). Without enough heat, the brisket would not only have difficulty passing through the stall but may also experience a drop in internal temperature.

How Long Does Brisket Usually Smoke For?

Smoking the brisket at 225 degrees(F) is recommended. At this temperature, the brisket will need between 1½ and 2 hours to cook for every pound of brisket.

A 5-pound brisket will thus require 10 to 12 hours to smoke entirely and attain an internal temperature of 200 to 205 degrees(F).

The temperature should be increased to 250 degrees(F) however if you want to shave off a little time without affecting the brisket’s quality.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that can cause brisket to stop at higher temperatures, some of which may be beyond your control.

The good thing is that the pros have gone through this as well and have shared their knowledge with everyone in the smoking community.

Smoking meat is all about trial and error, so don’t get discouraged! Hopefully the information above gets you closer to becoming a pitmaster!

Happy smoking folks.