What to spray on meat when smoking

Last Updated on: 29th May 2023, 09:51 am

Smoking meat is a prolonged process which can take several hours to several days to complete.

But the moisture present inside the meat can evaporate out after some time, which can lead to the meat’s drying out.

To avoid drying, meat is usually sprayed with different liquids.

But these liquids need to contain specific qualities to make sure they enhance the flavor of meat, or at least don’t affect the actual flavor.

So a lot of pitmasters wonder what to spritz on meat while smoking.

In this article we are going to discuss it in detail.

As per general rule, meat is spritzed during smoking to maintain the moisture, so you can use several liquids or combinations of liquids for spraying.

Usually, water, broth, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and butter are used to spritz meat.

these can also be used to spray ribs while smoking

So you don’t need to panic at the thought of selecting a liquid for spraying on your meat.

You can get overwhelmed by choices, but basically you can use any liquid as long as it’s food grade and can pass through the nozzle of a spray bottle.

Best liquids to use when smoking meat

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

You can use any liquid that contains these three qualities.

  1. 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, it can affect the quality of the smoked meat being smoked.
  2. Additionally, the liquid should not be flammable.
    Although the meat will not come in direct contact with fire while smoking, the temperature might overshoot sometimes or there can be sudden flare ups in the smoker.
    So the liquid used for spraying should be non-flammable.
  3. Lastly, it should be thin enough to pass through the nozel of the spray bottle.
    It is also important because viscous liquids cannot be used for spritzing due to not being able to pass through spray bottles.
    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 meat to avoid it drying out during smoking.

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

These are the most common liquids used for spritzing meat.


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

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

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

water drop

Water is the 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 meat while smoking.

It is usually used when you want to enhance the flavor of meat while also maintaining the moisture during the smoking process.

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

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

Apple juice

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

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

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

apple juice on table

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

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

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

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


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

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

To use the butter for spritzing, you first need to decrease its viscosity. To do this , you first have to melt the butter so that it becomes liquid.

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

But butter is a great addition to the meat Being smoked is important because it can soften the texture of the meat along with maintaining its moisture.

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


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

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

Spritzing meat during smoking can be overwhelming at first 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 meat,

But using broth for spritzing is a safe bet for new pitmasters because it is a neutral-flavored liquid and does not affect the flavor or appearance of meat.

But you need to check its composition before using it.

It is typically made of apple cider and salt, but it may also contain other ingredients.

When to spritz meat during smoking

In addition to selecting the ideal liquid to spray on the meat while smoking, you will also have to decide when to apply it.
If you spray too quickly, the meat will become messy.
However, applying too late will be of no use because the meat will have already dried out.
As a general rule, you should start spraying liquid onto the meat after smoking for 90 minutes and bark has developed.

After that, you should keep spritzing the meat every 30–45 minutes throughout the smoking process to keep the meat soft.

You should start applying liquid onto your meat after 90 minutes to 2 hours have passed.
Usually, after 2 hours, most of the internal moisture will have evaporated, and spritzing will help it to avoid drying out.

If you are smoking soft meat or didn’t track the time for some reason, the bark is another aspect to check while deciding to spritz meat.
If the bark has developed, then you can start spritzing the meat to avoid the hardening or darkening of the bark.
After you have started spritzing, you should consider spraying the liquid again after 30–45 minutes.

It is a good way to avoid over-spraying meat , which can make it messy.
Moreover, opening the lid too often can also result in heat loss.

Why do we spritz meat during smoking?

Spraying liquid over smoked meat has been done for centuries.
There are various reasons for spritzing meat, but the major one is to keep the fluid content within the flesh from drying out.

Smoking is a time-consuming activity that might take many hours to accomplish.
During the first several hours, the moisture content of the meat evaporates, causing it to stiffen and dry.

Meat is spritzed with various liquids to deal with this problem.
Another advantage of spritzing meat is that it aids in the adhesion of smoke to the surface of the meat.
If the surface of the meat remains wet and cold , then it will allow the meat to absorb more smoke, which will help in getting a good smokey flavor.
Spritzing also helps produce a beautiful bark.
The bark is a crucial component of well-cooked meat and adds to its pleasing appearance.
Spritzing may help with the absorption of more smoke and the breakdown of spices in rubs, resulting in excellent bark.

Last but not least, spritzing helps to generate a smoke ring on the surface of smoked meat.
The gases present inside the smoke cling to the surface of cold meat more firmly and react with the myoglobin found in meat.
A smoke ring is formed as a consequence of this process.


There are several liquids available to be used for spraying meat during smoking, but you should choose one depending on flavor.

Usually, water, apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and broth are the most common liquids used for spritzing.

Hopefully, this article has helped you choose the ideal liquid for spritzing your meat. if you want to read more than consider checking our guide on what to spray on chicken while smoking

Jakob miller