How long does the stall last on brisket? Here’s how it works

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  August 2, 2022

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Smoking brisket is one of the most notoriously difficult things to do in BBQ.

Those familiar with smoking meat know all about how hard it is to keep the temperature of the meat on target.

One of the challenges is the bbq stall, and it almost always happens when you smoke brisket since it’s such a large cut of meat.

You’re likely wondering how long does the brisket stall last and how does the brisket stall temp affect the cooking process?

Usually, the brisket stall lasts anywhere from 2 to 7 hours. So, before the meat’s temperature begins to increase again, the stall can last up to 7 hours. However, once it does begin to rise, the temperature can rise swiftly.

In this post, I’m explaining how long you can expect the dreaded stall to last and what to keep in mind when smoking brisket to perfection.

How long does the stall last on brisket? Here's how it works

How long does a brisket stall last?

When the meat’s internal temperature reaches about 150°F, usually after two to three hours, brisket stalls typically begin, which can last from 2 to 7 hours.

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How to buy a bbq smoker video

So it could be up to 7 hours before the meat’s temperature begins to rise again.

Here’s the important thing to note:

  • if the meat stalls at a higher internal temperature of 200+ degrees, the stall will naturally last about 2 to 3 hours even if wrapped in aluminum foil or butcher paper
  • if the meat stalls at a low temperature below 200 degrees, it lasts longer, for up to 7 hours
  • once the temperature begins to rise again, it can rise swiftly

The brisket stall usually begins after a couple of hours. This happens because of a chemical reaction called evaporative cooling.

Unwrapped brisket is likely to stall at a higher temperature than wrapped brisket.

The 140-degree brisket stall

The brisket stall can last even longer than usual when it stalls at a very low temperature of 140 degrees.

It’s possible that you simply hit the stall a little bit early when the meat thermometer stays stable at 140 and doesn’t rise.

Hitting the bbq stall too early is a mistake that many beginner pitmasters make.

They think that since the meat temperature isn’t rising, they should crank up the smoker temp to try to get things moving again.

This is a big no-no!

If you do this, you’ll likely overcook the brisket and still have a super long stall with all the moisture evaporating, and then you also get dry crusty meat!

Why does brisket stall so long?

The evaporative cooling effect is caused by the water in the brisket turning into steam and escaping from the meat.

Since there is less water in the meat, the temperature stalls because the water can no longer evaporate and cool the meat.

The brisket stall temp is around 150°F, but it can stall anywhere between 135°F and 165°F.

It stalls longer because all the moisture from such a large chunk of meat has to evaporate first before the temperature can begin to rise again.

Seven hours is a long time to wait, but it’s worth it because, after the stall, the brisket will be incredibly tender and juicy.

But you can use methods like the Texas crutch, which involves wrapping brisket in pink butcher paper or aluminum foil to help it cook faster and avoid the stall.

When you use this method, the brisket will cook faster, and the stall period is reduced.

Can a brisket stall too long?

Yes, it’s possible to have a brisket stall which is considered too long by professional pitmasters.

If the stall lasts for more than 6 hours, it is generally considered too long. This is because the brisket will continue to render and break down, making it tough and dry.

What happens if the brisket stall is too long?

First of all, you’ll have to spend more time with the smoker waiting for the brisket to be done cooking.

But if you don’t beat the stall and it goes on for too long (7+ hours), the brisket will likely dry out.

This is because all the moisture has been evaporated, and there’s nothing left to keep the brisket moist.

Is brisket stall longer than other stalls?

Brisket is a tough piece of meat that benefits from low and slow cooking methods, such as smoking. This allows the connective tissue to break down, making the meat more tender.

The stall is a phenomenon that occurs when cooking certain tough cuts of meat, like brisket.

The meat’s surface temperature will stop rising and plateau for several hours, usually around the 155-170°F range.

This can be frustrating for cooks who are used to seeing their meat’s temperature continue to climb steadily during the cooking process.

However, the stall is actually a good thing, as it allows the tough connective tissues in the brisket to break down and render, making the meat more tender.

Brisket is a big chunk of meat, but other cuts like pork butt, pork shoulder, or pulled pork can also stall.

The difference is that brisket stalls last much longer, often for several hours.

This is because brisket has a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down, and this takes time.

With other cuts of meat, the stall is usually only for an hour or so.

Why does brisket stall so much?

When you cook any large cuts of meat, they’re going to stall because of the size. It takes longer for the heat to reach the center of the meat.

And since brisket is such a large cut of meat, it’s going to stall more than other cuts.

Brisket’s composition also has a lot to do with why it stalls so much. It’s got a high-fat content, so fat rendering takes time.

High-fat meat is more prone to the evaporative cooling process.

Can brisket stall more than once?

In some cases, the dreaded bbq stall occurs more than once during a smoking session.

A brisket can enter the stall during the cooking process more than once.

When there is a significant shift in the cooking environment during the smoke, it tends to occur more frequently.

In particular, if the temperature inside the smoker has gone too low or if the brisket has been exposed to too much moisture, it could stall twice, even more times.

For example, the brisket can stall at 165, 175, or even at the 190-degree point. Once the stall hits, the smoking process automatically slows down, and lots of evaporative cooling takes place.

Also read: Do you need a water pan when smoking brisket? Absolutely!

Do you wrap brisket during the stall?

Yes, you can wrap the brisket in aluminum foil or butcher paper to beat the stall, and this is called the Texas crutch.

Wrap the brisket when it stalls. This will help to increase the internal temperature of the meat, so it can continue cooking and eventually reach the target temperature.

Just be careful not to wrap the brisket too tightly, as this could cause the meat to steam and become overcooked.

Conclusion

Brisket stalls anywhere from about 2 to 7 hours, depending on your smoker and the cut of brisket you’re cooking.

Wrap the brisket during the stall to help it cook faster, but be careful not to wrap it too tightly, or it will become overcooked.

If the stall lasts for more than six hours, the brisket is likely to become tough and dry. That’s why it’s good to keep the barbecue stall under control and limit it.

Now your brisket is perfectly cooked, it will be good to know how to properly reheat brisket

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.