What is the stall when smoking a brisket?

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Last Updated on: 20th October 2022, 11:38 pm

Brisket is one of the most common meats when it comes to showing off your smoking skills to your guests.

But smoking a brisket is a really prolonged process and there are a lot of variables involved in it, including stall.

In this guide we are going to discuss what the stall is when smoking a brisket.

Brisket stall is a phase of smoking when the internal temperature of the brisket stops rising.

It lasts for around 4 hours and prolongs the smoking session.

It usually happens around 160°F due to evaporative cooling of the moisture inside the brisket. Being a pitmaster, the brisket stall is the last thing that I want to face on earth. you can also read our guide on what temperature does brisket stall for more information.

It is really frustrating when you are putting your full effort into the smoking process and the internal temperature of the brisket seems to be on a plateau.

Additionally, you also need to be careful about the drying out of the brisket due to the prolonged process.

So many pitmasters wonder why there are brisket stalls and how to get around them.

Today I am going to discuss it in detail and give you some cool tips to get through it with the least effort. So let’s get started.

What is a brisket stall?

Brisket stall is a phase of smoking where the internal moisture of the brisket starts evaporating and cools down the surface of the brisket.

Due to this cooling, the internal temperature of the brisket stops increasing and is known as “brisket stall” Stalling is a normal thing when smoking tougher meat like brisket.

It usually lasts for around 4 to 7 hours, depending on how you deal with it.

Brisket stall chart

But if the moisture inside the smoker is higher or the temperature is too low, then it can be prolonged.

Stump usually occurs while smoking tougher meat cuts like brisket and pork .

But it can also occur in lean meat if the humidity of the smoker is increased.

Although the stall of the lean meat will be shorter than that of the brisket. Stalls are a really hot topic in the BBQ space.

Different pitmasters use different approaches to beat the stall when smoking brisket.

But before we discuss how to beat the stall, we first need to understand why the stall occurs in the first place.

Why does the brisket stall during smoking?

There are various theories about why brisket stalls occur.

Some people believe that the stall occurs when the collagen present in the muscles starts to breakdown to form gelatin.

While collagen holds the muscles together, when it’s converted to gelatin,it makes the muscles more tender.

While some other pitmasters think that when the temperature of the brisket reaches 160°F ,the fat present in it starts to render.

So the moisture content of the brisket is increased. Due to this, it takes longer to increase the temperature.

But after several heated discussions, it was finally concluded that the brisket stall occurs due to evaporative cooling.

When the brisket is uncooked, it has a large amount of moisture, which evaporates during the smoking, and the brisket shrinks in size .

The evaporation usually occurs when the internal temperature of the brisket reaches the boiling point of water.

The moisture present inside the brisket is drawn to the surface of the brisket and starts evaporating. This evaporation results in cooling down the surface of the brisket.

Due to this cooling, the temperature of the brisket stops increasing until most of the moisture has evaporated from the brisket.

The time period required to evaporate the moisture and increase the internal temperature of the brisket is known as “stall”

How to beat the stall when smoking meat

Now that we have discussed what a brisket stall is, let’s come to the juicy parts.

How can we pass through the stall when smoking?

There are two approaches to beating the stall when smoking, and both of them are equally effective.

“Pedal on the metal” approach

Although we have coined a little fancy name here, it is really a simple process.

In this approach, you just have to crank up more charcoal to increase the temperature of the smoker.

This way, you can power through the stall.

Although it might take more effort and take longer to beat the stall this way, it will be worth the effort.

When the temperature of the smoker increases, the moisture of the brisket will evaporate quicker and give you a good looking bark in the end.

The Texas crutch approach

It is also a simple method to wrap your brisket in aluminium foil or butcher paper during the stall.

So, when the internal temperature of the brisket stops increasing, you should consider wrapping your brisket in aluminium foil.

The aluminium foil will prevent heat loss, and the temperature of the brisket will increase quickly.

This approach will require less effort, but it can affect the flavour and appearance of your brisket if not done properly.

If the brisket is wrapped too early, then it will result in the bark not developing at all.

While wrapping the brisket also means that the brisket will be cooked by steaming when wrapped.

So it might make the bark a bit softer.

Which approach is better to beat the stall?

Honestly, it is your personal choice to follow any approach you are comfortable with.

If you have some time and are interested in putting in some effort, then consider going with the pedal on the metal approach.

It will make sure that you have a nice bark and a perfectly done brisket.

You might wonder if, by doing so, the temperature might increase slowly.

But actually, when the brisket exits the stall , its internal temperature will reach 200°F sooner than you know it.

On the other hand, the Texas crutch approach is also as beneficial as the other one.

Wrapping a brisket doesn’t mean that it will destroy the brisket completely.

Moreover, if you want to avoid getting too much bark, you can use butcher paper to wrap your brisket.

As per general rule, 225 Fahrenheit is the beat temperature for the development of bar on brisket . so you should consider increasing the temperature before wrapping. you can also read our guide on best temp for development of bark on brisket.

Butcher paper is a food-grade paper that is commonly used in cooking.

It is porous and allows the moisture of the brisket to escape away while allowing the smoke to sneak in . So it helps to beat the stall while maintaining the bark at the same time.

What temp does brisket stall at?

Brisket stall usually occurs around 150°F-170°F, depending on the conditions under which the brisket is smoked.

The brisket stalls at this temperature due to evaporation of the moisture present inside the brisket.

Usually brisket stall only occurs once during the smoking process.

But if the brisket is not smoked effectively, the brisket can stall several times in a single smoking process.

You should consider checking this article on at what temperature brisket stalls for more information.

Final takeaway

Brisket stall is a phase of smoking when the internal temperature of brisket stops increasing.

The temperature often shows a plateau due to the evaporative cooling.

You can power through the Stall by increasing temperature or wrap the brisket to beat the stall

Jakob miller
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