Unwrap Brisket After The Stall-Expert Tips and Pros/Cons

When it comes to smoking brisket, one of the most debated topics among barbecue enthusiasts is whether to unwrap the brisket after it reaches the notorious “stall.” The stall refers to a period during the smoking process when the internal temperature of the brisket plateaus, often for several hours. This article explores the pros and cons of unwrapping brisket after the stall, its uses, expert tips, and considerations to help you make an informed decision.


Unwrapping brisket after the stall can have various purposes, each with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  1. Bark Development: Unwrapping the brisket allows for the continued formation and enhancement of the flavorful crust, known as the bark. This can result in a thicker, more robust bark that many barbecue aficionados crave.
  2. Faster Cooking: Removing the wrap can help accelerate the cooking process by allowing the meat to absorb more smoke and heat directly. This can be useful when you’re short on time or aiming for a crispy exterior.
  3. Smoke Penetration: Some argue that unwrapping the brisket enhances smoke penetration, contributing to a more pronounced smoky flavor.
  4. Moisture Retention: On the flip side, keeping the brisket wrapped can help retain moisture, preventing the meat from drying out during prolonged cooking.

Expert Tips:

Making the decision to unwrap or not depends on your desired outcome and experience level. Here are some expert tips to consider:

  1. Temperature Monitoring: Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to accurately monitor the internal temperature. The stall typically occurs around 160-170°F (71-77°C). Once it starts to climb again, you can decide whether to unwrap or leave it wrapped.
  2. Wrap Selection: If you decide to wrap the brisket, choose your wrapping material carefully. Butcher paper and aluminum foil are popular options. Butcher paper allows for more moisture and air circulation, while foil provides a tighter seal.
  3. Partial Unwrapping: Some pitmasters prefer a compromise by partially unwrapping the brisket during the stall. This allows you to maintain some of the benefits of wrapping while still enhancing bark development.
  4. Experience Matters: If you’re new to smoking brisket, consider leaving it wrapped to avoid potential pitfalls like drying out the meat. As you gain experience, you can experiment with unwrapping to find your preferred method.


Before deciding to unwrap your brisket, consider the following factors:

  1. Brisket Size: Smaller briskets might not benefit as much from unwrapping as larger cuts. The stall can be shorter on smaller cuts, so unwrapping might not be necessary.
  2. Cooking Environment: Factors such as humidity, temperature, and the type of smoker you’re using can influence whether you should unwrap the brisket. In drier conditions, maintaining moisture through wrapping could be more critical.
  3. Personal Preference: Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference and the taste you’re aiming for. Some prefer the enhanced bark and smoky flavor of unwrapped brisket, while others prioritize moisture retention and tenderness with wrapping.

Additional Tips for Unwrapping Brisket After The Stall:

  1. Resting Period: After the brisket has reached your desired internal temperature, regardless of whether you unwrapped it or not, it’s crucial to let it rest. Resting allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier, more tender final product. Tent the brisket with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour before slicing.
  2. Timing: Timing is everything when it comes to unwrapping. If you choose to unwrap, do so when you believe the bark is adequately developed, and the internal temperature is around 160-170°F (71-77°C). This is usually when the stall begins to break. However, you can also decide to unwrap at a slightly higher temperature if you want to prioritize bark formation.

Pros and Cons Recap:

Pros of Unwrapping:

  • Enhanced bark development.
  • Potentially faster cooking.
  • Increased smoke penetration.
  • Ideal for those who prefer a robust smoky flavor.

Pros of Keeping It Wrapped:

  • Moisture retention.
  • Reduced risk of drying out the meat.
  • Easier for beginners.
  • Consistent results.

Cons of Unwrapping:

  • Risk of drying out the brisket.
  • Potential for less moisture retention.
  • Requires more experience and attention.

Cons of Keeping It Wrapped:

  • Less pronounced bark.
  • Extended cooking time.
  • Limited smoke penetration.

Can I unwrap after the stall?

Yes, you can absolutely unwrap your brisket after the stall if that’s your desired cooking method. Unwrapping the brisket after the stall is a common technique used by many pitmasters to enhance bark development and promote a more pronounced smoky flavor. Here’s a simple guide on how to do it:

  1. Monitor the Temperature: Keep a close eye on the internal temperature of your brisket using a reliable meat thermometer. The stall typically occurs around 160-170°F (71-77°C).
  2. Wait for the Stall to Break: During the stall, the internal temperature may plateau for several hours. This is when the collagen in the meat is rendering and causing the temperature to remain steady. You can decide to unwrap when the temperature starts to climb again, typically above the stall point.

    Unwrap Carefully: If you’ve been using a wrapping material like butcher paper or foil, carefully remove it. Be cautious of escaping steam, as it can be hot. Some pitmasters choose to unwrap completely, while others opt for partial unwrapping, leaving a section of the brisket exposed.

    Continue Smoking: Place the unwrapped brisket back in your smoker or barbecue grill. This allows the meat to continue cooking and develop a thicker bark.Monitor Temperature: Continue monitoring the internal temperature to ensure that the brisket reaches your desired doneness. The recommended internal temperature for a well-cooked brisket is around 195-205°F (90-96°C), but some prefer it slightly higher for more tenderness.


Rest the Brisket: Once the brisket reaches your desired internal temperature, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful brisket.

Remember that unwrapping after the stall is just one approach, and the decision should align with your specific preferences and cooking goals. It’s essential to experiment and adjust based on your experience and the results you want to achieve. With practice, you’ll develop a method that consistently delivers delicious and tender smoked brisket.


Reasons to Unwrap Brisket During the Stall

Faster Cook TimeUnwrapping can help the brisket cook faster by reducing the stall duration.Quicker resultsRisk of drying outConsider if time is a concern.
Bark DevelopmentUnwrapping allows for better bark formation on the brisket’s surface.Enhanced flavor and texturePotential temperature fluctuationsGood for a flavorful crust.
Smoke AbsorptionUnwrapped brisket can continue absorbing smoke flavor during the stall.Rich smoky tasteRisk of oversmokingConsider if you want a smokier flavor.
Temperature ControlUnwrapping allows for more precise temperature control during the cook.Consistent cookingRisk of losing moistureUseful for maintaining even temps.
Personal PreferenceSome pitmasters prefer the texture and flavor of unwrapped brisket.Unique taste and textureRequires more attentionA matter of personal choice.

Reasons to Keep Brisket Wrapped During the Stall

Moisture RetentionKeeping the brisket wrapped helps retain moisture, preventing it from drying out.Juicier meatSlower bark developmentRecommended for juicy results.
Steady TemperatureWrapping maintains a stable cooking environment, reducing temperature fluctuations.Consistent cookingLess pronounced barkIdeal for consistent results.
TenderizingWrapping can help tenderize the brisket by trapping moisture and heat.More tender meatReduced bark formationSuitable for tenderness.
Faster Stall ResolutionWrapping can speed up the stall resolution due to the Texas Crutch effect.Shorter cooking timePotential for softer barkUseful for time-conscious cooks.
Beginner-FriendlyWrapping is less prone to mistakes and is beginner-friendly.Easier for novicesLess bark developmentRecommended for beginners.

Factors to Consider Before Unwrapping Brisket

Brisket SizeThe size of the brisket impacts how long the stall lasts.High
Cooking EquipmentDifferent smokers and grills may require different approaches.Moderate
Cooking TemperatureThe chosen cooking temperature affects stall duration.Moderate
Desired TexturePersonal preference plays a role in deciding when to unwrap.Low
Time ConstraintsConsider how much time you have for the cook.High

Tips for Maintaining Brisket Moisture While Unwrapped

BastingRegularly baste the brisket with flavorful liquids to prevent drying out.
SpritzingSpritz the brisket with water or a moisture-enhancing solution.
Use a Water PanPlace a water pan in the smoker to maintain humidity.
Foil TentCreate a foil tent over the brisket to trap moisture while unwrapped.
Resting PeriodAllow the brisket to rest after cooking to redistribute juices.

Common Mistakes When Unwrapping Brisket

Unwrapping Too EarlyRemoving the wrap before the stall is over can lead to dry meat.Dry brisket
OvercookingUnwrapping too late can result in overcooking or drying out the meat.Tough texture
Inconsistent TemperatureFluctuating temperatures while unwrapped can lead to uneven cooking.Uneven texture
Ignoring MoistureFailing to manage moisture while unwrapped can result in dry brisket.Dry, tough meat
Rushing the ProcessImpatience can lead to mistakes; rushing the stall can result in subpar brisket.Suboptimal results

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, whether you should unwrap your brisket after the stall depends on your personal preference, experience level, and desired outcome. It’s essential to understand the trade-offs and experiment with both methods to find the one that suits your taste and cooking style. Remember that practice makes perfect in the world of barbecue, so don’t be afraid to try different approaches until you achieve that mouthwatering, tender, and flavorful brisket you’re aiming for.

Unwrap Brisket After The Stall


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