How to Overcome the Brisket Stall Temperature When Smoking Brisket

Are you ready to embark on a backyard barbecue adventure? If so, brace yourself for the ultimate challenge: smoking a beef brisket. Briskets are notorious for their tough and intimidating nature, but fear not! With the right knowledge and techniques, you can conquer the dreaded brisket stall and have a perfectly smoked or grilled brisket in no time.

What is the Brisket Stall?

Picture this: you’re grilling a thick slice of brisket, and as the temperature rises, you notice it gets stuck between 150° to 170°F. This is when you’ve reached the brisket stall, a phenomenon that commonly occurs when cooking large cuts of meat.

To ensure your brisket is properly cooked, the thickest part should reach at least 195°F (200°F is even better) using a meat thermometer. If the temperature stalls, you have two options: wait it out or power through.

How Does the Stall Occur?

The brisket stall, also known as “the plateau” or “the zone,” happens when the cold air inside the meat clashes with the hot air from the cooking process. This clash creates a stall, making it take longer for the cold air to escape and the brisket to cook through.

During the stall, the brisket’s temperature may drop slightly due to a process called evaporative cooling, where moisture causes the exterior to cool down. However, rest assured that this is a natural occurrence and part of the cooking process.

What Are the Brisket Stall Temperatures?

The brisket stall typically occurs between temperatures of 150° and 170°F. However, it’s important to note that the stall can happen before or after reaching this range. Be prepared for the stall when cooking your brisket, as it is a common occurrence.

If the stall happens too early in the cooking process, around 125° to 145°F, it’s best to remedy the situation right away. Stalling at these temperatures can be caused by cooking at low temperatures, using an inaccurate thermometer, or not probing the right spot on the meat.

Further reading:  A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Beef Brisket

The most common range for the brisket stall is between 150° and 170°F, so be prepared to deal with it when cooking your brisket. At temperatures of 175° to 185°F, you may experience a second stall, which is a shorter delay in the cooking process. Finally, at 190°F, your brisket should be ready to serve, but some prefer to cook it to a higher temperature for a perfect internal doneness.

Is the Brisket Stall Bad For Your Meat?

No, the brisket stall is not bad for your meat. In fact, it is a natural part of the cooking process, especially with thick cuts of meat like brisket. Many pitmasters include the stall in the total cooking time for the meat. However, if you’re pressed for time, there are methods to beat the stall and speed up the cooking process.

Should I Beat the Stall or Wait for It to Finish?

The decision on whether to beat the stall or wait it out depends on your time constraints and preferences. Waiting for the stall to finish is the traditional method and will result in great, tender meat. However, it significantly lengthens the cooking time and requires more fuel.

If you’re in a hurry and need the brisket to be ready quickly, you can try beating the stall. This method speeds up the cooking process and prevents evaporative cooling. However, it may result in a softer bark, less smoky flavor, and potentially less tender and juicy meat.

To help you decide, here are the pros and cons of both methods:

Pros and Cons of Beating the Stall


  • Significantly speeds up the cooking process
  • Prevents evaporative cooling from occurring on the meat’s surface
  • Can give the bark a soft and braised texture if desired


  • May produce a soft and mushy bark
  • The meat might lose some of its authentic smoky flavor
  • The meat may not be as tender and juicy as desired
  • Requires extra effort in additional preparation and cooking methods
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Pros and Cons of Waiting the Stall Out


  • Better rendering of the meat’s fat content
  • Results in a more tender meat
  • Develops a more intense smoky flavor
  • Requires less adjustment to the grill’s temperature


  • Takes a longer time to finish cooking (up to 7 hours or more)
  • Requires constant monitoring of the meat
  • Requires extra planning and preparation time
  • Risk of fire hazards, especially if left unattended overnight

How Long Does the Brisket Stall Last?

The duration of the brisket stall varies depending on factors such as the size and thickness of the meat, cooking temperature, and moisture content. On average, the stall lasts around 4 hours, but it can range from 2 to 7 hours.

Drastic changes in cooking conditions, such as a drop in temperature or excessive moisture, can cause temporary drops in the meat’s temperature. Additionally, there is a rare occurrence of a second stall, usually happening at temperatures of 175°F to 185°F. However, with proper planning and preparation, the stall can be managed effectively.

How To Beat the Brisket Stall

If you’re in a situation where you need your brisket to be ready quickly, there is a method that can help you beat the stall: the Texas Crutch. This technique involves wrapping the brisket tightly in foil or butcher paper, which speeds up the cooking process and bypasses the stall.

Here’s how to use the Texas Crutch:

  1. Wait until your brisket reaches at least 150°F.
  2. Prepare two sheets of foil or butcher paper, with the length being around 4-6 feet.
  3. Place the brisket in the middle of the foil or butcher paper, ensuring the bark is facing upwards.
  4. Consider adding flavor enhancers or liquids before wrapping the brisket tightly.
  5. Fold over the edges of the foil or butcher paper to seal it tightly.
  6. Return the wrapped brisket to the grill or smoker.

Using the Texas Crutch can reduce the smokiness of your brisket, but you can still retain some by waiting until the temperature reaches 150°F before wrapping it. Unwrap the brisket when the temperature starts to rise again, allowing the outer bark to regain its crispness.

Can You Prevent the Brisket Stall?

While it’s not guaranteed, there are methods you can try to prevent or minimize the occurrence of the brisket stall:

  1. Let your brisket rest before cooking: Allowing the brisket to come closer to room temperature before cooking can help reduce the chances of stalling.
  2. Raise your grill or smoker’s temperature: Increasing the cooking temperature to around 300°F can help minimize the stall, but be aware of the risks, such as overcooking.
  3. Use the water pan method: Placing a water-filled pan in your grill or smoker can help regulate temperature and increase humidity, potentially reducing the stall.
  4. Use smaller cuts of meat: If time is of the essence, consider slicing the brisket into smaller pieces to speed up the cooking process.
Further reading:  How to Smoke a Brisket on the Big Green Egg

Can You Have a Second Stall?

While rare, a second stall can occur during the cooking process. This may be caused by fluctuating temperatures, excessive basting or spraying, or leaks in the foil or butcher paper. However, with careful cooking and proper preparation, a second stall can be avoided or minimized.


Q: How long does the brisket stall last?
The duration of the brisket stall can vary, but on average, it lasts around 4 hours. Factors such as the size and thickness of the meat, cooking temperature, and moisture content can affect the stall time.

Q: Is the brisket stall bad for the meat?
No, the brisket stall is a natural part of the cooking process and not harmful to the meat.

Q: Should I wait out the stall or beat it?
The decision depends on your time constraints and preferences. Waiting out the stall results in tender meat but requires a longer cooking time, while beating the stall speeds up the process but may affect the texture and flavor of the meat.


Smoking or grilling a brisket can be a challenging task, but with the right techniques and methods, you can conquer the dreaded brisket stall and have a perfectly cooked piece of meat. Whether you choose to wait it out or beat the stall, remember that patience and proper preparation are key to achieving mouthwatering results.

For more insights on cooking techniques and delicious recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Happy smoking!