Spritzing is another one of the many ways that you can take control of the cook. Adding moisture, changing textures, adding flavor, and developing the smokiness.
Spritzing is used when barbecuing many different meats, but when it comes to brisket it’s a whole new ball game.
Let’s look at exactly what spritzing does to brisket, what to spritz brisket with, the top ten options to pick, and how often to spritz brisket.
Spritzing means to spray a liquid in quick bursts.
In the context of food and barbecue, spritzing means to fill a food-grade spray bottle, or spritzer, with liquid and spray your food at various stages throughout the cooking process.
The most popular spritzing liquids range from water, to juice, to hot sauce, but the choice is entirely up to you. It won’t completely change the flavor. But like in all good barbecue, it will add another layer.
Spritzing is one of the many ways you can control the moisture, taste, texture, and flavor of your barbecue.
What Does Spritzing Do To Brisket
There are many theories to what spritzing exactly does over the course of smoking brisket. That’s the beauty of barbecue, it’s more of an art than a science.
Though, the common consensus is that spritzing your brisket:
- Increases the humidity, moistening the meat and the air inside the smoker. This prevents the meat from drying out and overcooking. It also helps the meat absorb more smoke by sticking to the moist exterior
- Cools down the exterior of the meat. Although this slows the cooking process slightly, it does prevent the bark from getting too chewy. You can also visually tell the difference between the dark mahogany brown when spritzing, and a charred black and dry bark.
- Helps build the flavor profile you want. If you want to build sweetness you can use fruit juice. If you’re going for complexity you can use cider vinegar or hot sauce. If you want to stick with the classic brisket flavor you can always just use water.
If your brisket is cooking too fast, spritzing can slow things down and let you develop additional flavor, smoke, and tenderness.
10 Best Liquids To Spritz Brisket With
So, what should you spritz your brisket with?
Well, it depends on what kind of flavor you want to build and how much moisture you’re looking to add.
Naturally, some spritzing liquids are more flavorful than others. Some have more sugar, which helps develop a darker color. Some have vinegar, some are thicker or thinner liquids too.
Each of these factors influences how the flavor and bark develop on the brisket itself.
Here are the top 10 spritzing liquids to try and their effect on brisket.
Apple, pear, grape, even pineapple are all good choices for building a sweeter and stickier bark. One part fruit juice and one part water makes for a solid and effective spritzing liquid. Sugar influences the color of the bark, as it darkens when it caramaziles.
Because of the high sugar content in fruit juice, you often end up with a sweeter, stickier, and darker bark.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can make for a tangy, and complex flavor profile for your brisket.
To make sure it’s not too vinegary, mix one part cider vinegar with one part water, or one part fruit juice for extra sweetness.
Pear cider vinegar works a treat too!
Hot sauce yields the most flavorful results, as in, you can actually taste the difference when you bite down on the bark. It’s always best to use a more watery hot sauce like Cholula, or red hot, but you can spritz or baste on a thicker sauce if that’s how you like it!
Beer has its own complexity of flavors, and the slight hoppy and fruity notes work well as a spritzer liquid. Again, you can choose to water it down, but unless you’re using a dark thick beer it’s not necessary.
if you want to increase humidity, slow the cooking process to build more smoke flavor, or just want to keep the meat moist, you can just spritz with 100% water.
I recommend to try it out at least once while you’re smoking your brisket — just to see the true effects of spritzing, without going crazy with sugary or vinegary liquids.
Worcestershire Sauce is distinctly savory, adding a rather salty component.
When used in the right amounts (50:50 with water) it adds a brilliantly savory taste to the bark.
However, if you’re already using a rather salty rub you may wish to choose a less salty rub, as things can get a little TOO salty.
When spritzed, red wine is incredibly aromatic.
Over the smoking process, the alcohol in the wine will effectively burn off, leaving just the fruity or nutty undertones.
However, I’ve found it’s best to mix red wine 50:50 with water or juice, otherwise the bark can get a bit tangy.
Using chicken or beef stock or broth can be a great alternative for spritzing brisket with.
It amplifies the savory flavors of the bark, but doesn’t make things overly salty.
Still, it’s worth diluting the stock as you don’t just want to be tasting that — you want some natural brisket flavor too!
If you’re a natural whiskey lover, then you’ll love using whiskey as a spritz for brisket.
I guarantee you you’ll be able to taste the flavour of the whiskey on the bark, and certainly as a complexity than you can’t really get elsewhere.
It’s incredible when the deep heat of the whiskey mixes with the smokiness of the wood.
Of course, you don’t need to spritz at all. Some pitmasters prefer to let the brisket dry a bit in the initial stages to develop a crusty bark, and then wrap it earlier to keep the meat moist for the remainder of the cook.
What Do The Professionals Spritz Their Brisket With
Aaron Franklin: Recommends to use water, apple juice, or hot sauce or apple cider vinegar.
Uses it more to keep the meat moist rather than for flavor.
Malcolm Reid @ HowToBBQRight: Doesn’t Spritz.
Just cooks the brisket to the desired colour he wants and wraps it for the remainder of the cook in butchers paper.
GirlsCanGrill: Uses apple cider vinegar every few hours until it’s ready to wrap in aluminum foil.
Matt Pittman, Meat Church: Chooses to go without on a Traeger to give the brisket more time alone in the pellet smoker.
Tips For Spritzing Brisket
Use a Reliable BBQ Spray Bottle
Every pitmaster knows you don’t want to lift the hood at any stage unless it’s absolutely necessary, as you’ll be losing valuable heat.
Using the best bbq spray bottle, with an easy squeeze trigger, good coverage, and even distribution will let you get in and out without extending the brutal brisket stall unnecessarily. Proper food-grade spray bottles will also be able to spray slightly thicker liquids like vinegars and oils, rather than cheap plastic bottles clogging and dripping instead.
Although you can make just about any spray bottle work, you don’t want to be messing around under the hood without it being absolutely valuable to the cook.
How Often To Spritz Your Brisket
For most meats, including brisket, the start of the smoke is the most essential for developing bark, absorbing smoke, and beginning the cooking process. For this reason you never want to open the hood until it’s been at least 2-3 hours minimum. Give it time to work it’s magic.
From here, Be sure to spritz the brisket no more than once every hour, as every time you open the hood you are losing valuable heat.
If you are spritzing more often you can afford to delay the wrapping phase and build a stronger flavor and develop the bark. But you shouldn’t really go overboard with spritzing. Too much spritzing can keep the brisket too moist for the bark to form properly!
As the saying goes “If you lookin’ you ain’t cookin”.
A Few Sprays Is Enough
When it’s time to spritz you don’t want to over-do it. It’s not like your watering your lawn!
Remember, you are just trying to provide a bit of extra moisture to the meat. A few sprays is always enough. Look to do a few even spritzes back and forth and you’ll see the spray settle on the surface of the meat.
If you do spray too much liquid, you’ll bring the temperature of the meat down to drastically, and by the time it’s back up to temperature the moisture will have evaporated, so really you are just delaying the cooking process and drawing the brisket.
Don’t Overpower The Brisket
When it comes to the flavor of the liquid, simple is always best. Most experts agree that the flavor that the spritz provides is near to none. Although some claim that it helps the barks texture, bite, and flavor.
When it comes to choosing what you want to spritz your brisket with, stay with the basics. The last thing you want is to add something you think will add great flavor, only for it to overpower the brisket and the rub.
If you’re looking for more smoke flavor, check out the best woods for smoking brisket.
The beauty of barbecue is there is no one right way. Although spritzing is entirely optional, knowing what to spritz brisket with, how long, and how much to spray can definitely improve your game when it comes to building up flavor and developing the bark and smoke ring.
If you’ve got a tradition of using an uncommon spritz liquid, or want to weigh in on the debate of spritzing brisket please let me know below!