You may have stumbled upon the word ‘stall’ while researching brisket. You might never have heard of the word up until now. You’d be forgiven for this as it’s a word used a great deal by those who regularly smoke their meats. Should you not be one of these people, then we are here to explain everything.
To fully explain if brisket can stall, and how often, we need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together first. We need to explore what the term refers to, and what causes it, and then we can tackle the facts head-on. So, although we ultimately would like to know if brisket can stall twice, there is a lot more to the topic.
It is normal for brisket to stall between 150℉ and 170℉. This occurs as a result of evaporation caused by the meat’s juices. It is not uncommon for this to happen a second time, at varying temperatures. Brisket can stall a second time but some techniques can be used to help avoid this.
What is a Brisket Stall?
It makes perfect sense to first find out what a brisket stall is. If we add in the word ‘plateau’, this will probably make the definition a bit clearer. We hear about dieting and people’s weight plateauing all the time. This effectively means someone’s weight stays on an even keel, not budging in either direction.
If we apply this same scenario to the temperature of a smoker, you can see where we are heading with this. Stalling occurs when a large piece of meat is cooked on low for a long time. At a certain point during cooking, the temperature inside of the meat stops rising.
As well as being called the stall or plateau, it is often referred to as the zone too. All three of these words relate to the same phenomenon. This stall can last hours once it has occurred. Many see this as an integral part of the smoking process so if you can let this occur naturally, please do.
What Causes a Stall?
Now we know what a stall is so let’s turn our attention to what causes this to take place. The process is caused by the liquid on the meat evaporating. It can be frustrating, particularly if you have guests to feed and you see the temperature has plateaued. The evaporation combines with the temperature of the smoker. In turn, this causes the temperature of the meat to flatline and remain in this state for hours.
Many pitmasters liken the process to humans sweating. We perspire when we are hot and it allows our body temperature to stabilize.
We like this YouTube Video which explains stalling succinctly.
At what Temp Does the Stall Occur?
Let’s look into the temperatures at which this stalling process occurs. Much of this answer will depend on the size and type of meat. Generally speaking though, it tends to occur when the internal temperature is around 150℉ and 170℉.
There are many factors involved in the exact temperature this will occur:
- The size of the meat
- The type of meat
- The shape of the cut
- How much moisture the meat releases
- Whether the meat was injected
- Whether any rub was used
- What cooking process was used
- Which fuel was used
Can Brisket Stall at 140℉
This is a little low for brisket to stall. It is loosely possible that it has stalled prematurely. However, it is more likely that your thermometer is not giving an accurate reading. Another plausible reason for showing an incorrect temperature is that you have poked the probe into an air pocket.
Can Brisket Stall at 145℉?
Brisket can stall at 145℉ but this is a little low still. It might be that the overall temperature has dropped and you need to add more fuel. Or, you might need a new thermometer.
Can Brisket Stall at 175℉?
Should you find the temperature steadily rising and then hitting 175℉ and stalling again, you may have an issue. It could be that the temperature of the smoker was set to 300℉ or above which isn’t ideal for brisket.
Can Brisket Stall at 185℉?
This is considered a late stall and can be very frustrating when you are against the clock. It does happen though so it is something to be aware of. You have the option of wrapping and finishing off in the oven at this stage.
Can Brisket Stall At 190℉?
Your brisket stalling at 190℉ can feel soul-destroying as, at this point, you’d be anticipating it being cooked. This stall can delay the meal for a few hours which isn’t ideal. However, at this point, you can check to see if it is ready. The resting period allows the brisket to continue cooking.
How Long can a Brisket Stall Last?
How long is a piece of string? Perhaps not the most helpful answer but it does depend on a few things. The size, shape, and quality of the brisket will all influence the stalling time. Generally speaking though, you can be looking at up to 7 hours for the stalling process to finish. It can last as little as 2 hours though.
How to Speed Up a Brisket Stall
Are you wondering if there are any techniques out there to speed up a brisket stall? Now, it is important to say at this point that some pitmasters recommend letting the stall occur naturally. They even swear that it adds to the flavors at the end.
If you are short on time, however, and your guests look ready to start eating each other, you may want to speed things up a little!
- You can break the golden rule of ‘low and slow’ and instead take the ‘hot and fast’ approach. Some enthusiasts have shown that it doesn’t need to be a long drawn-out process. They have had success with cooking brisket between 290 and 350℉.
- If you are cooking both the point and flat cuts, separate them for cooking purposes. This will speed up the smoking process.
- Create your humidity by filling a spray bottle with water. You can then sporadically spray your meat. You need to be careful not to reduce the temperature with this method.
- Wrapping the meat in butcher paper or foil can help avoid the stall. This is because wrapping your meat stops evaporation from occurring.
It is time to sum things up and address the original question; can brisket stall twice? The answer is a painstaking yes. Stalling can impact the cooking time quite dramatically as we have discovered. Unfortunately, it does not always happen just once.
On the plus side, we have given you some suggestions on how to avoid the stalling process. We will end this article with this. If you are not pushed for time then let the brisket stall. At the end of the day, it’s not something you have done wrong. Far from it, it is part and parcel of dealing with brisket and adds to the experience. Should you be in a rush though, look at our ideas above for hurrying things along a little.