The Science Behind the Brisket Stall: How to Overcome It

Brisket Stall Explained

The art of smoking meat is a beloved tradition, but it can also be a test of patience. If you’ve ever smoked a pork butt or beef brisket, you may have encountered a frustrating phenomenon known as the brisket stall. This is when the internal temperature of your meat hits a plateau, typically around 155-165 degrees Fahrenheit, and seems to stay there for hours. But fear not, we’re here to explain what causes the brisket stall and how you can overcome it.

Unraveling the Brisket Stall Mystery

The brisket stall occurs due to the evaporation of moisture in the meat as it cooks. This evaporation is influenced by the heat of the smoker, which can be adjusted to control the stall. The meat’s heating rate matches the smoker’s temperature, causing the brisket to stall. This is particularly challenging when smoking a whole brisket, as it takes time for all parts of the meat to reach the desired temperature.

Factors That Don’t Cause the Brisket Stall

Smoker Grill

There are a few factors commonly mistaken for causing the brisket stall. One of them is airflow. While the airflow in your smoker affects the stall temperature, it is not the primary cause. Another factor is moisture. While it plays a critical role in the smoking process, excessive moisture can actually cause your smoker’s temperature to drop. Maintaining a proper balance is key.

Further reading:  The Art of Smoking the Perfect Beef Brisket on the Grill

Overcoming the Brisket Stall

Wrap the Brisket

To prevent the brisket’s internal temperature from dropping too much during the stall, it’s crucial to wrap it in foil or unwaxed butcher paper. This helps retain moisture and prevents the exterior from drying out, resulting in a tender and juicy piece of meat.

Increase the Smoker’s Temperature

If you find that your brisket is taking too long to tenderize, try increasing the temperature of your smoker. The evaporation process is directly influenced by the smoker’s heat. A higher temperature can help you achieve the desired tenderness without drying out the meat.

Use a Water Pan

For those who don’t have the luxury of closely monitoring the brisket, placing a water pan in the smoker is a reliable method to maintain moisture and tenderness. The water pan creates steam, keeping the brisket moist throughout the cooking process. You can even add apple juice or beef broth for added flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the brisket stall last? The stall can last anywhere from 6 to 7 hours, starting around 2 to 3 hours after the internal temperature hits 150°F. It’s a normal occurrence, so plan and adjust your smoking process accordingly.

Can a second stall occur? While it’s not common, a second stall can happen. To prevent this, consider using a water pan or adding liquid to the brisket during cooking.

Can you prevent the brisket stall from happening? Yes, the three methods mentioned above are the best ways to prevent the brisket stall. Using a water pan or monitoring the temperature and spraying the brisket with water can help maintain the optimal cooking environment.

Further reading:  How to Overcome the Brisket Stall Temperature When Smoking Brisket

Do you wait for the stall to end? If time allows, you can wait for the brisket stall to end. However, be prepared for the process to take more than 7 hours, resulting in a crispy bark on the meat.


Achieving a perfectly smoked brisket requires a delicate balance of smoker temperature, moisture, and airflow. By understanding the science behind the brisket stall and implementing the recommended techniques, you can conquer the challenge and enjoy a tender and juicy dinner. For more tips and recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Happy smoking!