what to spray on chicken while smoking

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Last Updated on: 19th December 2022, 06:25 pm

Poultry tastes best when cooked with love and smoking is the best way to cook it by being involved into each step of the process.

But keeping in mind that chicken is a type of lean meat, it can start to dry out if smoked for longer time.

To avoid it from drying out, different people use different liquids to add moisture.

Although whether you need to spritz it or not is another debate, you still need admit that it helps to keep the chicken soft and tender throughout the process.

Spritzing is really a complex topic and there are hundreds of options out there to use.

But having too many choices also makes it overwhelming.

So a alot of beginners wonder what to spray on meat while smoking.

We are going to discuss it detail in this blog post.

As per general rule, you can use any liquid for spritzing chicken as long as it can pass through the spray bottle and you are satisfied with it’s flavor.

But if you dive towards perfection, then there are several ifs and buts involved.

we have been asked about spritzing liquid for several time and today we are going to explain it detail.

we have also published a guide on What to spray on meat when smoking. you can check that out.

Let’s get started.

Best liquids to spray on chicken while smoking

When it comes to deciding what to spritz on chicken while smoking, there are various choices.

You can use any liquid which contains these three qualities.

  • First and foremost, it should be food grade. It is the most essential quality of the liquid used for spritzing because if the liquid is not edible then it can affect the quality of chicken being smoked.
  • Additionally, the liquid should also not be flammable.

    Although the chicken will not come in direct contact with fire while smoking, the temperature might overshoot sometimes or there can be sudden flare ups in smoker.

    So the liquid used for spraying should be non-flammable.
  • Lastly, it should be thin enough to pass through the nozel of the spray bottle.

    It is also important because viscos liquids cannot be used for spritzing due to not being able to pass through spray bottle.If you want to apply a viscous liquid then consider using mopping for it.
spray bottle

There are several liquids that can be used to spray on chicken to avoid drying out of chicken during smoking.

But you have to choose the one depending on the affect it will have on the flavor and appearance of the chicken being smoked.

Here are the most common liquids used for spritzing chicken.


Water is the most common liquid used for spraying chicken while smoking.

It is usually preferred over other liquids because it doesn’t interfere with the natural flavor of the chicken and rubs while maintaining the moisture.

water on table

Although it does not affect the flavor of chicken , you still need to be careful about the spritzing of water because due being too thin , it can result in washing away of the rub applied on the surface of the chicken being smoked.

Water is best option available if you don’t want to get involved in the minutiae of the flavor maintenance and just need to maintain the moisture content.

It has been used for spritzing for centuries due to its simple composition.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another liquid that is usually used for spritzing chicken while smoking.

It is usually used when you want to enhance the flavor of chicken along with maintaining the moisture during the smoking process.

Apple cider vinegar helps in enhancing the flavor and appearance of chicken smoked.

When it is used in combination with an alcohol, it can react with the spices present inside the rub and help get a darker and thicker bark

Apple juices

Another liquid that is typically used for spritzing chicken is apple juice.

Apple juice is a good alternative for water while spritzing because it can help enhance the flavor of the chicken while avoiding the drying out of chicken at the same time.

apple juice on table

You should keep this in mind about using apple juice as a spritzing liquid that apple juice can make the the flavor of the chicken a bit sweeter or subtle.

The reason behind this is obvious that apple juice is similar to other fruit juices and can contribute in flavor of the chicken.

In addition to the flavor, apple juice can also affect the appearance of the chicken.

The reason is that apple juice contains sugar content which can caramelize during smoking and give the chicken a brownish appearance.

It is still one of most common spritzing liquid due to its flavor.


Butter is rarely used for spritzing chicken while smoking but it is still one of the most effective solutions for avoiding the drying out of the chicken.

But butter usually comes in a solid form and you need to make it thin enough to pass through the nozel of spray bottle.

To use the butter for spritzing, you first need to decrease it’s viscosity.

To do this , you first have to melt the butter so that it becomes liquid.

After that add some water in it to make sure it can pass through the spray bottle easily.

Butter is a great addition to the chicken Being smoked because it can soften the texture of the chicken along with maintaining it’s moisture.

You need to be careful about overusing it because it can make the appearance of the chicken messy if overused.


Last but not the least, bone broth is also a great addition to your bbq arsenal because it can maintain the moisture of the chicken without increasing the sugar content of the chicken.

It is a good option if you are spritzing chicken for the first time.

Spritzing chicken during smoking can be overwhelming at start because choosing the right liquid for spraying is complex.

Because apple juice contains a higher sugar content and other liquids can interfere with the appearance of the chicken

But using broth for spritzing is a safe spot for new pitmasters because it is neutral flavor liquid and does affect the flavor or appearance of chicken.

But you need to check it’s composition before using it.

Usually it is composed of apple cider and salt , but it might contain other additives.

When to spritz chicken during smoking

In addition to selecting the ideal liquid to spray on the chicken while smoking, you will also have to decide when to apply it.

if you spray too quickly then the chicken will become messy.

While applying too late will be of no use because chicken will have already dried out.

As per general rule, you should start spraying liquid onto the chicken after smoking for 90 minutes and bark has developed.

After that, you should keep spritzing chicken after each 30-45 minutes throughout the smoking process to keep the chicken soft.

you should start applying liquid onto your chicken after 90 minutes to 2 hours have passed.

Usually after 2 hours, the most of the internal moisture will have evaporated and spritzing will help it to avoid drying out.

If you are smoking soft chicken or didn’t tracked the time for some reason, the bark is another aspect to check while deciding to spritz chicken.

If the bark has developed then you can start spritzing chicken to avoid the hardening or darkening of bark.

After you have started spritzing, you should consider spraying the liquid after 30-45 minutes.

It is a good way to avoid over spraying chicken , which can make it messy.

Moreover opening lid too often can also result in heat loss.

Why we spritz chicken during smoking

Spraying liquid onto chicken while smoking has been around for ages.

There are several reasons for spritzing chicken but the main purpose of spritzing is maintain the moisture content inside the chicken and avoid it’s drying out.

Smoking is a tedious task which can take several hours to complete.

The moisture content of chicken evaporates during the first couple hours, which can result in hardening and drying of chicken.

To cope with this situation, chicken is spritzed with different liquids.

Another benefit of spritzing chicken is that it helps smoke to stick to the surface of chicken.

If the surface of chicken remains wet and cold , then it will allow chicken to absorb more smoke which will help in getting a good smokey flavor.

Spritzing also helps in getting a good bark.

Bark is major factor of properly done chicken and makes its appearance mouth watering .

Spritzing can help in absorbing more smoke and breakdown of spices present in rubs , which helps in getting good bark.

Last but not the least, spritzing also helps in getting a smoke ring on the surface of chicken being smoked.

Gases present inside the smoke stick in higher amount to the surface of Cold chicken and react to the myoglobin present in chicken.

This reaction leads to the production of smoke ring.


You can several liquids for spritzing chicken but the most prominent of them are water, butter, apple cider vinegar and apple juice.

While choosing a liquid to spritz chicken, you should make sure it is food grade and non flammable.

if you want to read more than consider checking our guide on What to spray on the ribs while smoking

Jakob miller
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