What to spray on the ribs while smoking

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Last Updated on: 20th January 2023, 09:48 pm

Spritzing is one of the most controversial topics in the BBQ space.

But you can’t deny the fact that it can help you make the ribs more tender and delicious.

There are endless choices for spritzing ribs, but beginners can get overwhelmed.

So it’s a common question about what to spray on ribs while smoking.

Smoking is a prolonged process which can take several hours to complete especially if we include the resting time.

So it really is a good idea to spritz your ribs to avoid them drying out.

But while doing this, you need to keep in mind to not spray too much, which can put your ribs into stasis.

Best liquid to use when smoking ribs

As a general rule, you can spritz ribs with any liquid of your choice, as long as it can pass through the nozel of the spray bottle. Usually, pitmasters love to use butter, apple juice, water broth, and apple cider vinegar as a common choice for spritzing.

you can also check our guide on What to spray on meat when smoking

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

You can use any liquid that 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, it can affect the quality of the ribs being smoked.
  • Additionally, the liquid should not be flammable.
    Although the ribs 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.
  • 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.

spray bottle

If you want to apply a viscous liquid, then consider using mopping for it.

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

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

These are the most common liquids used for spritzing ribs.


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

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

water drop

Although it does not affect the flavor of ribs , 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 ribs being smoked.

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 ribs while smoking.

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

Apple cider vinegar contributes to the flavor and appearance of smoked ribs.

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 ribs is apple juice.

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

apple juice on table

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

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

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

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

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


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

But butter usually comes in a solid form and you need to make it thin enough to pass through the nozel 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 ribs It is smoked because it can soften the texture of the ribs along with maintaining their moisture.

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


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

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

Spritzing ribs 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 ribs,

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 ribs.

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 the ribs during smoking

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

If you spray too quickly, the ribs will become messy.

Applying too late will be of no use because the ribs will have already dried out.

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

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

You should start applying liquid to your ribs 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 ribs or didn’t track the time for some reason, the bark is another aspect to check while deciding to spritz ribs.

If the bark has developed, then you can start spritzing the ribs 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 ribs , which can make it messy.

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

Why do we spritz ribs while they’re smoking?

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

There are several reasons for spritzing ribs, but the main purpose of spritzing is to maintain the moisture content inside the ribs and avoid them drying out.

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

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

To cope with this situation, ribs are spritzed with different liquids.

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

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

Spritzing also helps in getting a good bark.

The bark is a major factor in properly done ribs and makes their 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 least, spritzing also helps in getting a smoke ring on the surface of the ribs being smoked.

Gases present in the smoke stick to the surface of cold ribs in greater quantities and react with the myoglobin present in the ribs.

This reaction leads to the production of a smoke ring.

Tips for spritzing ribs:

  • First of all, you should keep in mind that, like any other factor, spritzing can also affect the flavor of your ribs if overused.
    You should consider spritzing the ribs every 30 minutes. Even so, you spray in a little amount to avoid washing out the rub.
  • Moreover, you should consider avoiding using too thin a liquid. Using thin liquid can result in the washing out of rub .
    If you want to use thin liquid, then consider mixing it with some additives to help it stick to the ribs .
  • You have to smoke the ribs for 90 minutes to 2 hours without adding spritz. After 2 hours, spritz the ribs with the liquid of your choice.
  • After that, keep spritzing the ribs every 30 minutes to avoid drying out.
  • Lastly, you need to stick with the basics and don’t need to chase perfection. You can use any liquid as long as you are satisfied with its flavor.
    It’s usually best to avoid unusual combinations and stick to simple liquids.


hopefully this guide has solved your misconception about What to spray on the ribs while smoking .

Spritzing ribs is essential for maintaining their tenderness.

You can use several liquids for spraying ribs depending on your personal preference.

Usually, water , apple juice, butter, and apple cider vinegar are the most commonly used products.

if you want to read more than consider checking our guide on what to spray on chicken while smoking

Jakob miller
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