As the first mass produced barbecue spritz in the market, we get one question more than the rest — “what the hell is a barbecue spritz?” Glad they asked. Simply put, a barbecue spritz is liquid that you spray on what you’re cooking to achieve better tasting – and better looking results. Let’s dive in to how.
Flavor. Meat Sweats Spritzes are packed with flavor from the get-go. But, unless you marinade the meat with them beforehand, they won’t add flavor right out of the gate. When you first put your meat on the grill or smoker, it already has plenty of moisture. To add flavor with a spritz, you need to wait til there’s a surface level “bark” so you can build up layers of flavor for the duration of your smoke. This usually happens about an hour or two in, depending on the meat. The flavors of our spritzes were created to perfectly complement each protein.
Texture. It’s easy to look at a big smoky piece of meat and think that the bark is crispy, but that is not the objective. You want a dark bark sure, but crispy? No way. That means you’ve likely burned the outside. That might work for steaks, but for barbecue you want a big, but tender bark. The bark turns brown from the Maillard reaction and caramelization. Spritzing the meat will keep the bark from drying out and lend moisture, hydrating the bark and creating an amazing, complex, rich flavor.
Less Shrinkage. When we add moisture to the outside of the meat, it allows the protein you’re smoking to retain more of its interior moisture. This means your meat will stay juicy, plump and shrink less throughout the cook.
More Smoke. Smoke adheres better to wet surfaces than dry ones. So when we spritz, not only is the flavor of the spritz building on your meat, but so is the complexity of the smoke itself. It makes the wood you choose a much bigger part of the equation because a well-spritzed piece of meat will capture that flavor so much more than a dried out cut will. This can be the difference between “okay” and phenomenal barbecue.
The Smoke Ring. We’ve already established what spritzing can do for your bark and your bite, but how about for your ego? Everybody wants that beautiful pinkish-red halo on the interior of the meat known as the smoke ring. It makes your barbecue look even more appetizing and will make the jaw of any guest you’re serving drop to the ground. When you spritz your meat, you let the sodium nitrite in the smoke melt on the surface and combine with the myoglobin in the meat to create the smoke ring.
Better Rest. You’ve spritzed and smoked your meat to perfection. But now you’ve got to let it rest so all its interior juice distributes evenly and every bite tastes amazing. Spritzing the butcher paper and the meat one more time as you wrap and rest will keep your meat from drying out as it rests, and combined with its natural juices, will create its own sauce. Which brings us to…
No Sauce Required. Look, if you like sauce, knock yourself out and add sauce. But if you like barbecue, your goal should be for your barbecue not to need sauce. And if you season it well, smoke it well, and spritz it well, you’re juicy smoked meat isn’t going to need a sauce.
It’s the most fun part of the ritual of backyard barbecue. So yeah, there’s a lot of science involved in why we spritz. But beyond that, there’s some primal, soul-fulfilling phenomenon tied to spritzing. You hear the hiss of the grill grates. You get the instant gratification of seeing your meat advance in color and bark. You smell the vinegary goodness intertwined with the cooking meat and you know with the certainty of a digital meat thermometer that perfect barbecue is so very close.