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Brisket is traditionally cooked at low temperatures for long periods of time. This makes it perfect for the barbecue, and allows the meat to become tender and flavorful. However, the low and slow approach can also lead to the meat drying out.
The key to avoiding dry meat, and making sure your brisket stays moist, is all in the extra steps.
A rub before cooking, wrapping at a certain temperature, and a spritz can keep your brisket perfectly tender. Talented smokers will keep a brisket spray on hand, to regularly douse the meat as it cooks.
Barbecue experts and smoker enthusiasts all have differing opinions on the best way to keep a brisket moist. Finding the right brisket spritz for your favorite cut of meat might involve some trial and error, but the juicy end results are totally worth it.
Take a look at this guide to find the best brisket sprays around, and how to use them.
What Is A Brisket Spritz?
A brisket spritz is a tool used by professional barbecue masters and backyard grillers alike. When you spritz a brisket, you spray the meat with liquid in a speedy burst. A brisket spritz is essentially any liquid that could add a layer of flavoring to a brisket, from apple juice to butter to beer.
Spritzing is done using a food-grade spray bottle, and a mastery of timing.
Why Use A Brisket Spritz?
The first use of the brisket spritz is to increase the humidity in the smoker, and stop the brisket from drying out. By using the brisket spray, it’s easy to control the amount of moisture on the meat.
The second use is all to do with the brisket bark. The bark is the hard outer layer on the brisket, formed by the rub, meat, and fat. Spritzing the brisket can help the rub stick, and prevent it from drying out and becoming chewy. The right spritz can give you a dark and rich bark.
Smoke sticks best to cold and damp surfaces, which are lost during the cooking process. With added moisture from the spritz, more smoke will stick. Some even think using the spritz can give your brisket a better smoke ring.
You can also use a brisket spritz to create different flavors in your barbecue. For example, if you want to make a spicy barbecue sauce, you can add a little bit of hot pepper flakes to the spritz. Or, you can try something with sugar, to help caramelize the rub.
Finally, using a spritz can slow the process if your brisket is cooking too fast. When brisket cooks quickly, the meat goes tough. A slow cook gives the connective tissues a chance to break down, and go tender. This slowing spritz will also help prevent the bark from going chewy.
What To Spritz Brisket With
There are plenty of options for brisket sprays, depending on what effect you hope to achieve. Below are some of our favorites.
Apple juice is one of the most popular brisket sprays because it adds both moisture and flavor. The sweet and sugary apple juice also helps to caramelize the rub, and get it to stick to the surface.
To use, simply mix one part apple juice with one part water. Other fruit juices can also be used as a brisket spray. Try using pear or pineapple, for a tender brisket.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Another option is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, otherwise known as ACV, is inexpensive, and can create a crunchy and tangy bark.
For a simple apple cider vinegar spritz, mix two parts ACV, two parts apple juice, and one part water. Some mix ACV with beer, for a tenderizing brisket spritz.
Other chefs prefer to use red wine vinegar. It has a less powerful tang than ACV.
If you’re looking for a safe brisket spritz, broth is the way to go. It adds liquid, making for a moist brisket, but doesn’t overwhelm the flavors. Broth can be a simple savory flavor, or incredibly complex, so you can have some fun experimenting for an amazing taste.
One of the easiest ways to spice up your brisket is by adding hot sauce. Hot sauces come in many varieties, including Tabasco, Sriracha, and Cholula. They all work well, but we recommend starting mild and building up, because hot sauce adds a punch of flavor. Mix with water for an easier spray.
Make sure to melt it before using, but butter is fantastic as a brisket spray. A tablespoon of melted butter mixed into a half cup of water makes an excellent brisket spritz. It adds richness, without diluting the flavor. Keep the bottle warm, so the butter can’t solidify.
Yes, you can add beer to your brisket. Dark ales are ideal, adding moisture, sugar, and a complexity of flavoring. Beer can be sprayed on as is, or mixed with water, ACV, and a dash of hot sauce.
Mixing olive oil with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder creates a flavorful coating for the brisket. Olive oil isn’t the most popular brisket spray, but it’s a fun one to experiment with.
A classic choice, mix your Worcestershire space with water so it sprays better. Barbecue sauce is another obvious, yet still delicious, choice.
Sometimes, simple is best. Water alone works great as a brisket spritz, adding moisture and nothing else.
Mopping Versus Spritzing
Spritzing applies a mist of liquid to the brisket. The spray has to be thin enough to get through the nozzle on the bottle, and only a light amount will be added each time.
Mopping is applying a liquid using a brush, keeping the rub in place so the bark can form. While a spritz needs to be thin to work properly in your spritzer, a mopping liquid can be a thicker sauce.
Some choose to baste their briskets, but this method will often cause the rub to drip away.
With spritzing, it’s very important that you choose the right spray bottle. It should spray evenly, with an easy-squeeze trigger. It must be made of food-grade materials, and accommodate a slightly thicker spray.
How Often Should You Spritz A Brisket?
You should only spritz the brisket a few times, or you’ll slow down the cooking process, and cause the bark to lose integrity.
When you start cooking, leave the brisket alone for at least 90 minutes, preferably 2 hours. In this time, the smoke will start to penetrate the brisket, and the rub can stick.
Aim to spray your brisket roughly every hour. It might not even need this much! With a really flavorful spritz, every 90 minutes will be enough. In this case, less is often more.
Do You Have To Spritz A Brisket?
Ask any barbecue expert about the brisket spray, and you’re likely to get back some hotly debated opinions. The brisket spray is a controversial topic.
The consensus seems to be that if you want a good bark, then yes, you should spritz. If you don’t want a good bark, there’s no reason to spritz.
Spraying the brisket will slow down the cooking time, as heat is released and the smoke has to combat the added moisture. If you intend to do an overnight smoke, the spritz isn’t really necessary.
While some grill masters such as Aaron Franklin think the brisket spritz is an essential, others have their own chosen method.
Brisket is one of those meats where everyone has their favorite methods. Some prefer to spritz, while others like to mop, and others just cook without anything added.
If you’re new to barbecuing, try out the spritz, and see what it can do for you.