What is BBQ Stall? All the Ways to Combat BBQ Stall


Have you ever experienced the absolute horror of watching your smoking meat drop in temperature and not go back up despite an increase in the cooking chamber’s temperature? This is what a meat stall is.

And every frequent smoker has experienced the terror of stalling.

It can ruin a fine evening for you and make your meat take much longer to be cooked than you thought. 

But you can always learn how to avoid a BBQ stall. We are here today to help you understand the science behind these interruptions in your smoking process, and to prevent them from disrupting your eating schedules any further.

How Does it Work? The Science Behind It

To be as straightforward as possible, a meat stall occurs as a result of meat sweating. Do you know how perspiration cools you down when you are sweating? That is exactly how moisture evaporates in the meat and cools it down.

The meat stall is caused by liquid evaporating from the surface of the meat. This process works in the same way as sweat. 

Because the stall can persist for several hours, it can be aggravating. It’s because the rate at which the meat heats up and the temperature at which the smoker heats up and cools down corresponds to the rate at which evaporative cooling occurs.

But the meat does not stay in the stall indefinitely. There is only so much surplus moisture that may be digested.

The remaining moisture in the meat is bound up in fat, protein, and collagen, where it will stay to give us that delicious meat jello. The temperature of your meat then begins to rise once the surplus moisture has been used up.

Simply put, your brisket or pork butt is sweating at the brisket stall temperature and the pork butt stall temperature.

The rising temperature of your smoker evaporates the moisture in the meat after around three hours of cooking.

The heat created by your smoker’s fuel is balanced off by evaporative cooling, causing the temperature of the meat to plateau at roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

When cooking brisket or pork butt, the stall is especially feared.

Also Read: Clean Smoke vs. Dirty Smoke in BBQ

How Long Does a BBQ Stall Take?

The stall for brisket usually begins after two to three hours, when the internal temperature of the meat reaches roughly 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The stall sometimes lasts up to 7 hours before the meat’s temperature begins to increase again.

When the temperature begins to climb, it can rapidly become unbearable. It’s not uncommon for a brisket to go from 170 degrees Fahrenheit to 203 degrees Fahrenheit in less than an hour.

Evaporating moisture causes the temperature of the meat to stall, with the stall advancing from the outside surface to the core.

The following are some of the factors that affect meat stalls.

Meat Cut

The bigger the chunk, the more quantity of water it’ll hold and the more time it’ll take to cook. The meat’s surface area also has a role. Moisture evaporation is increased when there is a wide surface area.

Type of Smoker

Smokers with more airflow increase evaporation. Some pellet smokers even include a fan, which can help to shorten the stall time. Electric smokers are also more well sealed, reducing evaporative cooling.

Water Pan

Water pans maintain a high level of humidity inside the smoking chambers, reducing the amount of moisture lost during smoking of the meat.

They allow the water to combine with the smokey taste of your meat. The disadvantage is that they contribute to added moisture on the meat’s surface, lengthening the stall time.

Also Read: Water Pan Offset Smoking

Ways to Combat the BBQ Stall

There are a few easy steps you can take to either prevent any BBQ stall, or at least save several hours.

Wrapping in a Foil

To avoid or get past the stall, cover your meat by wrapping it in foil. This wrapping is called the Texas Crutch.

You wrap the meat in foil after adding a liquid to it, be it wine, beer, juice, etc. and create a climate with high humidity, cooking the meat throughout without elongated stalling. You are then only supposed to finish cooking the meat to the recipe’s recommended finished temperature before unwrapping it to avoid or go beyond the stall.

However, despite being a helpful technique, the Texas Crutch may not be the best choice if you prefer your bark firm. 

For this reason, you can also use butcher paper instead of foil.

Increasing the Cooking Temperature

Another way would be by trying to boost the temperature of the smoker to get around the issue. As previously stated, evaporative cooling keeps the meat at a constant temperature. Increasing the cooking temperature does not prevent the stall from happening, but it does cut down on the total time it would take otherwise.

The main idea is to employ heat energy to overcome the temperature of evaporative cooling. However, the disadvantage of using this method is that it causes meat to sometimes become very tough as the heat disrupts the rendering of fat and connective tissues.

Increasing the temperature of your smoker from 225 degrees Fahrenheit to roughly 325 degrees Fahrenheit ensures a firm bark and can be useful on pork shoulders, but not so much on brisket.

Using a Water Pan

A water pan can be used to set up your smoker to then just let it run. Set up your smoker, only opening it when you need to add water to the tray or pan, or extra wood or charcoal to the basket. You can check the temperature of both the grill and the meat by the use of a wireless digital thermometer like ChefsTemp Quad XPro Long-Range Remote BBQ Alarm Thermometer.

Wrapping it Up

BBQ stalls are a struggle to deal with. But with our advice to help you out, you will no longer have to deal with them!


Tyler Lachance is a cookout professional. His expertise on cooking grilled food, creating marinades, formulating sauces and matching his food with the perfect drink is unrivaled.

Born and raised in a family that has a long history of cookout, he has treated this activity as a part of his culture and who he is.