Should You Spritz Pork Butt? Say It, Don’t Spray It

November 4, 2022

Have you heard about some people spritzing their meat while it is smoking and want to know how to spritz pork butt? Well, you are in the right place.

As a professional chef and a long time BBQ enthusiast, I don’t believe in spritzing. That being said, I know that a lot of people do which is why I have done my research to show you the best way to spritz meat and still get great results.

Here is what you need to know!

Spritz pork butt

A Note About Spritzing

Now, I have to admit that I am not a fan of spritzing, despite the fact that some pitmasters swear by this method.

The reality is that there is no real upside when you spritz pork shoulder, pork butt, or any meat really.

Yes, I know it is supposed to keep the pork shoulder and pork butt moist during the smoking process by adding liquid into the mix. Therefore, people spray the pork in hopes of avoiding dehydrated meat.

The reality, though, is that this isn’t what happens when you spritz pork shoulder or pork butt.

See, the amount of liquid that you spritz pork shoulder or pork butt with isn’t enough to have the desired effect. Even when smoking pork, the temperature is pretty high.

Therefore, the liquid simply evaporates just as you spray it onto the smoked pork butt or pork shoulder. So, the liquid doesn’t do all that much to keep meat moist.

To add to this, whenever you spray pork butts or pork shoulders, you are actually prolonging the cook time.

As mentioned, when you spritz pork shoulder or pork butt, the liquid evaporates, causing the temperature around the smoked meat to drop. Therefore, the smoked pork shoulder or pork butt doesn’t cook as quickly.

However, I would say that my main issue with spritzing smoked pork shoulder or pork butt is that it can cause the spice rub on the meat to dissolve and slide off. In turn, this messes with the bark!

If I haven’t managed to convince you not to spray the pork shoulder or pork butt as the meat cooks, that is OK.

I have created a few guidelines below that will ensure that you can use to spritz smoked pork shoulder and pork butt while still maintaining the flavor.

First, though, let’s answer an important question:

What Do You Spray Boston Butt With?

Before you can start spritzing, you have to first answer:

What do you spray on pork shoulder when smoking?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is arguably one of the most popular spritzes around. To start with, it is quite cheap. Another thing is that it has tenderizing properties.

I should let you know that the amount that you are spritzing on the pork shoulder and butt isn’t going to be enough to tenderize the meat, but it still something that you can use.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Fresh Red Apples

Apple Juice

Apple juice is just as popular. This is because apples and pork go so well together. Therefore, the sweetness of apple juice is a nice accompaniment when you smoke pork shoulder.

Once again, the taste of the apple juice isn’t going to be noticeable so you don’t have to worry about this too much. If you do want a nice balance of flavors, though, you should consider mixing an equal amount of apple juice with apple cider vinegar as a spritz.

Fresh Apple Juice and Sliced Apples

Soda

Yes, believe it or not, soda can make a good spritzing liquid. This is due to the sugar in the drink. The sugary spritz causes the sugars to caramelize on the surface of the pork shoulder and the pork butt.

This gives it a nicer crust. You do have to be careful, though, as a little bit of soda goes a long way when smoking pork butt. Spritz too much and you could end up with a dark and burnt mess.

You can use cola or Dr. Pepper as the liquid.

Gurarana Traditional Brazilian soft drink

Bourbon

Last, but certainly not least, you have bourbon! Like with soda, the alcohol has sugar in it that can lend to a nice caramelized layer on top.

Since bourbon is pricey and most of the alcohol is likely to evaporate in the smoker, I would consider using the cheapest bourbon that you can find.

Bourbon with ice in glass

What Should I Spritz My Pulled Pork With?

This is another question that I get asked a lot. And, I have to remind people that you shouldn’t be spritzing anything on your pork once it has been shredded.

Instead, you should only spritz liquid as the meat is cooking. Once it is done and has time to rest, then you shred it. Make sure that you don’t deviate from this method.

So:

What can I spray on pulled pork to keep it moist?

Well, before the meat is shredded, you can spray it with apple cider vinegar, apple juice, soda, and bourbon.

How to Spritz Pork?

Here are the guidelines to ensure that you spritz the meat while maintaining flavor and texture:

Wait Until the Bark Has Set

Never spray the pork too early in the cook. At this point, the bark on the surface of the meat hasn’t set. As such, the spice rub can easily be washed off the pork shoulders.

To prevent this from happening, wait until you are closer to the end of the cook.

Personally, I would wait until the internal temperature of the pork registers at around 170 degrees F or even higher. Use a meat thermometer to keep track of the temperature to ensure that you aren’t spraying the meat too early.

You can also use visual cues to check if it is the right time. Make sure that the bark is nice and dark and set in place before adding the liquid into the mix.

Use a Spray Bottle

Always pour the spritzing liquid into a food safe spray bottle before proceeding. See, containers like this create a fine mist and disperse the liquid more evenly.

As a result, you are less likely to mess with the bark in any way.

Spray Lightly

When you spritz the meat, make sure to do so very lightly. A single spray in each section should be enough to do the trick.

Hold the bottle close enough so that you can be sure that the liquid is landing on the meat and not evaporating around it.

At the same time, make sure that you aren’t holding it too close or spraying too much in one section.

Hand Ready To Pull The Trigger On An Aluminum Spray Bottle

Minimize the Number of Sprays

Ideally, you should only spray smoked meats once towards the end of the cook. If you feel like this isn’t enough, though, you can consider spraying once more about 15 minutes before taking the meat off the heat.

I really don’t recommend spritzing more than this. Even if the bark has set in, you run the risk of softening it up. You will then not get that delicious crunch to the meat.

Wrapping Meat? Spritz Then

If you are cooking a larger portion of pork shoulder or butt, then you will likely need to wrap the meat. This is to overcome the stall and get the meat to start cooking again.

If this is something that you have to do, then consider spritzing at the wrapping stage. Place the pork in the butcher paper, spritz, wrap, and then place in the smoker again.

Track the Temperature of the Cooking Chamber

There is a chance that when you spray the meat, that you will lower the temperature of the smoking chamber. When this happens, your meat will take longer to cook.

Now, some smokers already have hood thermometers or other features to track the temp of the cooking chamber. For those that don’t have this function, I always advise them to invest in a hood thermometer.

In general, it makes your cook a lot more accurate and guarantees a far better end result.

After spritzing, watch the hood thermometer closely to make sure that there is no change in the temp inside the chamber. If there is, then you may need to let the pork smoke for a little longer – I don’t advise increasing the temperature as you may end up cooking the meat too fast.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there is a right way and wrong way to spritz pork cuts. Now that you know all the guidelines, you will be able to get this process just right. So, go ahead and try these tips out for yourself!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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