Let’s be entirely honest here, nobody likes a dry barbecue. Spritzing ribs is believed to add more flavors and moisture as well as aiding bark development.
Since you’re wondering what is the best spritz for ribs, we’ve dedicated this post to introducing you to some of the most effective spritz recipes, since they happen to be the most popular options among pitmasters.
To put both these options to the test, we decided to use them while smoking some rich, fatty, and full of flavor Iberico Ribs. The whole point of this post, however, is to determine whether it actually makes a difference to use apple cider vinegar or water since there are so many opinions on this topic.
Why Spritz Ribs at All?
BBQ enthusiasts are of the opinion that spritzing ribs can help to improve the color, tenderness and flavor of the overall meal. However, the theory behind these opinions is that when a cool liquid meets hot meat, it keeps the meat from getting burnt.
Even though it may seem counterintuitive to some, no burn on ribs means that they will have a nice brown barbecue color instead of the dried-out, singed, and dark color we despise.
If you’re wondering why so many well-known barbecue chains prefer to spritz over their ribs, they do so because doing so keeps them moist and adds a lot more moisture into the cooking chamber. All of these factors combined, keep the meat from getting dried out.
Another good reason pitmasters should spritz their meat is because moist meat will ensure that it clings to more smoke during the cooking process. This theory is quite similar to the theory that supports using mop sauce for larger cuts. However, here, we just spray the meat as opposed to mopping it on.
Is the Rib Spritzing Theory True?
Some people believe that spritzing over meat will cool the temperature so that the sugar inside the rub wouldn’t burn. However, what sense does it make to spray pineapple or apple juice mix over the meat? It doesn’t really make sense to spritz sugar water over sugar rub so that you keep the sugar from burning.
The only thing that make sense in this theory is that the more moist you keep the cooking surface, the better it will be able to cling to smoke. By lightly rewetting its surface throughout the cooking process, especially if you don’t plan on using a water pan or foil, you will be able to deliver some smokiness to the flavor of your ribs.
Spritzing vs Not Spritzing Ribs
In our tests, we found that the unspritzed ribs were about 15- to 20-degrees warmer as compared to those that were spritzed over throughout its cooling time. What’s even better, the unspritzed ribs finished an hour before their counterparts, and their meat had a crusty exterior with a pull-of-the-bone tenderness.
We chose to apply an apple cider vinegar and apple juice blend over the other ribs for over 45-minutes of cooking time, and even spritzed over after every half-and-hour.
The longer time it spend on the fire and its moisturized layer of apple juice, make the ribs stickier and darker in color. The exterior of the meat didn’t seem crusty, and the final product didn’t have any trace of apple juice whatsoever (which answers the question of whether you should spritz your meat with water or apple cider vinegar).
Our verdict was that both racks of ribs turned out to have a beautiful color, were tender, and well-smoked. However, if we were to contest each of them, then the spritzed ribs finished ahead regarding texture and taste.
What Professional Pitmasters Say About Spritzing Ribs
Steve Raichlen prefers to spritz his Kansas City style ribs with some beer. Melissa Cookston manages to add moistness and color without spritzing over her meat, although she prefers to wrap it in foil with some apple juice.
Wayne Mueller has told his fans that he only prefers to spritz over his meat in very severe conditions, such as during a gusty day. Lee Ann Whippen prefers to use white grape juice or apple use as on her dry rub. This gives the meat its caramelization and moistness and its crisp mahogany color.
Finally, Tuffy Stone has been known to keep a bottle of apple juice nearby to spritz over his ribs to add moisture and flavor.
While these were some recipes from the professionals, let’s go over a few other popular options for the best spritz for ribs:
- Three cups of apple juice mixed into 2 cups of white wine vinegar and two tablespoons of liquid imitation butter. (This recipe was introduced by Myron Mixon).
- Half a cup of apple juice mixed into half a cup of apple cider vinegar. (This simple recipe translates into a flavor that blends really well with pork and also adds a rich color over the bark).
- One cup of apple cider vinegar mixed into half a cup of Worcestershire, half a cup of water, half a cup of olive oil, and half a cup of soy sauce. (This spritz will add some deep flavor notes over spare ribs)
- A cup of cranberry juice with some olive oil. (This packs a little more punch as compared to apple juice and also adds a little more color onto the ribs).
Our Final Thoughts
Now that we’ve debriefed you about the technicalities of what happens when you spritz over ribs and what ingredients qualify as the best spritz for ribs, it’s time for you to practice what you’ve learned.
Try any of the above mentioned spritz recipes with full confidence or go ahead and use your favorite juice. Psst, if you can’t resist the flavor of some Jack Daniels and Jim Beam in your meat, you can always mix that into your 100% natural juice.