Skip to Content

Why does brisket need to be 195? (Explained)

Can Brisket Stall At 190?

One of the most vexing aspects of smoking brisket is becoming locked in the grips of a temperature stall.

While this is to be expected when smoking high-fat foods, it can still be aggravating, especially if it stalls more than once…

Unfortunately, a “second stall” is known to happen, and it usually occurs at about 190 degrees(F), so close to the end!

The temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit is critical for a smoking brisket. This is when the rest of the meat’s fatty and connective tissues finish rendering away, which might occasionally cause a subsequent temperature stall.

Other factors, such as too much fat on the brisket, weather conditions outside the smoker, or the quantity of moisture inside the smoker, also contribute to this.

This article explains why your brisket may stall at 190, and what you may do to fix it.

The Science of The Stall 

To gain a better understanding of this, it is necessary to first understand why temp stalls arise in the first place.

Brisket is a hefty cut of meat with a lot of fat that needs to break down completely during the smoking process. As the fat dissolves, extra moisture renders and rises to the surface of the meat.

As the juices rise, they begin to chill as they evaporate. As a result, the meat cools at the same rate at which the smoker cooks it, resulting in a temperature stall, or plateau.

This is referred to as “evaporative cooling.” Only after all of the rising juices have gone will the meat begin to warm up again.

This can last anywhere between 3 and 8 hours. Everything is dependent on how rapidly these liquids rise and fall.

A stall usually happens when the internal temperature is between 150 and 175 degrees(F). However, as previously noted, in certain scenarios excessive rendering at 190 can trigger evaporative cooling, resulting in a second stall.

Unfortunately, a variety of additional things can contribute to this happening…

What Else Can Cause Stalling At 190?

Over-Basting/Spritzing

It’s normal practice to spritz or baste your brisket as it smokes, adding a new layer about every 2 hours or so. This keeps the meat moist during cooking and marinates it with additional spices.

Over-basting, on the other hand, might introduce too much moisture to the smoker, which can amplify the effects of evaporative cooling.

The more moisture there is inside the smoker, the longer it will take to fully cook.

Keep in mind: When prepping any form of red meat for grilling or smoking, it’s a good idea to pad the surface with a paper towel to eliminate moisture. This reduces the amount of moisture that enters the smoker and allows the meat to cook more evenly.

Smoking Untrimmed Brisket

The term “untrimmed” refers to brisket that still has its entire fat cap intact. While fat is needed for brisket, too much of it might interfere with how it cooks.

Remember that more moisture equals greater stalling. If there is too much fat on the brisket, it can create excessive pooling and stalling at 190 degrees.

Over Checking” the Brisket

As a brisket finishes smoking, you may be tempted to peek to see how it is looking. However, excessive lid opening might result in significant ambient heat loss inside the smoker.

When you open the lid, you lose around 10 degrees(F) each second. This produces temperature fluctuations, which might lead it to halt or possibly fall.

Why Is Brisket Cooked to 200 Degrees(F)?

200 is the optimal internal temperature for brisket. When its temperature reaches 200-205 degrees(F), its tissues have been adequately broken down and rendered, resulting in its lusciously delicate texture and delightfully rich flavors.

Brisket’s quality will suffer if it is undercooked or overdone. It will be difficult to shred and pull apart since it will be tough and probably dry.

Brisket is best cooked at temperatures ranging from 225 to 250 degrees(F). It will achieve 200 in around 1½ to 2 hours per pound of meat at these conditions.

Can Brisket Be Pulled At 190?

You can certainly pull it if you can’t manage to get your brisket past 190. In fact, due to a phenomenon known as “carry-over cooking,” most smokers will frequently pull their brisket at 190.

This occurs when meat continues to cook slightly after it has been removed from the heat source.

Thick cuts of meat, such as brisket, retain heat within their thickest parts, which continues to move inward while resting, causing the temperature to rise by up to 10 degrees(F).

Most smokers account for residual heat rise by pulling their meat 10 degrees away from their target temperature, allowing it to climb while resting.

In some circumstances, carry-over cooking can cause meat to overcook if pulled at the exact target temperature.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with one stall is tough enough, but two? That can be aggravating.

Fortunately, expert pitmasters have seen it all and are happy to share their knowledge with novices to the industry. Understanding the science of stalling can help you in this endeavor and distinguishes amateurs from professionals.

Happy smoking!