Spritzing is an important step in the smoking process for pork butt. It helps to keep the meat moist, slows down the cook time, and adds a smoky flavor. In this article, we will delve into the best practices for spritzing pork butt, including the timing, frequency, and types of liquids to use.
The best time to spritz is after the rub has dried on the surface of the meat, and it should be done every 30-45 minutes until it’s time to wrap the pork butt in foil or butcher paper. Common liquids for spritzing include apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and beer. Alternatively, the pork butt can be kept moist by mopping. Wrapping the pork butt helps to retain moisture and break down fatty tissue, and it is important to use a meat thermometer to ensure the pork butt is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
|When to spritz||After the rub has dried on the surface of the meat, usually after a few hours|
|Frequency||Every 30-45 minutes until it’s time to wrap the pork butt|
|Liquids for spritzing||Apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and beer|
|Alternatives to spritzing||Mopping|
|Importance of spritzing||Keeps pork butt moist, slows down cook time, adds smoky flavor|
|Wrapping pork butt||Helps retain moisture and break down fatty tissue|
|Importance of meat thermometer||Ensures pork butt is cooked to a safe internal temperature|
During The First Few Hours
During the first few hours of the cook, it’s best to just leave your pork butt alone. Don’t open the lid, don’t spritz, just let it sit on the grill and absorb the smoke. The first stage of the cook is all about getting a nice crispy bark on the outer layer of your pork butt. And the best way to do this is to just leave it alone.
When To Begin Spritzing
It could take three, four or even five hours before the pork is ready to be spritzed. Once the bark shows signs of cracking, it’s getting close to spritz. Another sign is when the rub no longer sticks to your finger when you touch it. Then you’re getting close to spritzing time.
What Happens If You Spritz Too Soon?
If you spritz the pork butt too soon, the rub will wash off. To test the pork, touch it with your finger, and if no rub sticks to your finger, then it’s time to spritz. You will also see cracks emerging in the bark. This is a sure sign that it’s just about ready to spritz.
There’s no definitive time when these signs occur because every pork butt is different, and cooking temperatures vary. For you, this may occur two or three hours into the cook, but for others it may be five or six hours. This only comes with experience as you learn to recognize the signs.
Spritzing will keep the pork butt moist and prevent it from drying out. Also, the liquid will attract more smoke to the pork bath, giving it more of a smoky flavor. The greatest benefit of spritzing is it slows down the cook, which allows more time for the fatty connective tissue to break down. Pork butt is a tough cut of meat, so it needs time at low temperatures to become tender.
There are several liquids that you can use to spritz your pork butt. The most common liquids for spritzing pork are apple cider vinegar, apple juice, or beer.
Spritzing can help the bark set by helping the spices fuse to the meat. The bark is a combination of dehydrated meat, barbecue rub, and smoke.
Once spritzing has begun, repeat every 30 to 45 minutes, then continue until you reach the wrapping stage. After the pork butt is wrapped, give it one final spritz to create more steam. You no longer need to spritz the pork butt after it’s wrapped in foil because it will get enough moisture from the steam and juices that will be held in.
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Mopping Pork Butt
If you don’t want to spritz your pork butt, you could mop your meat. Mopping is very common and involves making a mop source and brushing the meat with a little mop brush. There are dozens of mop sauce recipes online, and you can buy the miniature mop and bucket from Amazon or your barbecue store. However, I find mopping can affect the bark a little if you’re not careful. When brushing your pork, just be careful not to brush off the rub.
Best Rub For Pork Butt
There are dozens of rubs on the market, and there are some great products that I use all the time. However, if you want full control over all your ingredients, I highly recommend making your own rub. I can make a basic barbecue rub from simple ingredients found in most pantries. I usually make up a big batch of rub and store it in large containers. Often, rubs that you buy online or in stores contain a lot of salt. Personally, I like to have full control over the salt content because if I’m brining the meat separately; I don’t want to give my pork another dose of salt with a store-bought barbecue rub.
Standard Barbecue Rub
I found this great rub recipe through How To BBQ Right. I use this recipe and alter it slightly depending on what I'm cooking. Made by the guys at Townsend Spice & Supply: https://townsendspice.com/
- - ½ Cup Paprika
- - ½ Cup Salt
- - ½ Cup Sugar
- - ½ Cup Granulated Garlic
- - ¼ Cup Granulated Onion
- - ¼ Cup Chili
- - ¼ Cup Cumin
- - 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
- - 2 Tablespoons Dry Mustard
- - 1 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
- Combine all the spices together in a large mixing bowl
- Store rub in rub shakers
When To Wrap Pork Butt
Wrap the pork butt once the bark has firmly set. If you wrap the pork too soon, you will not have a crispy bark. Even if you have a hard bark before wrapping, it’s going to soften in the wrapping. Therefore, it’s best not to wrap until the back is firm, so that by the time it comes out of the wrapping, it’s not completely soggy. As your pork butt moves past 150° F range, begin touching and looking at your pork every 30 to 40 minutes as you spritz. Once you are happy with the texture of the bark, that is when you should wrap.
When Is Pork Butt Done
We should cook pork butt to an internal temperature of about 200° F. Any sooner than this, the meat may taste chewy. Also, test the meat for probe tenderness rather than just looking at the internal temperature. When you insert the thermometer probe into the pork, it should feel as if you’re poking a stick of butter. Take a toothpick and insert it into the pork, and it should offer no resistance. Train yourself to know what the perfectly cooked pork but should feel like. Temperature is only a guide.
Paper or Butcher Paper
You can either wrap your pork butt with foil or butcher paper. Foil is more common, but butcher paper will allow the meat to breathe and preserve the bark. The downside of wrapping is it creates steam, which softens the bark. Butcher paper will keep the bark firm.
Best Spritz for Pork Butt
There are several liquids you can use to spritz your pork. The most common are acidic or contain sugar. A sugary liquid will contribute to the browning of the meat. Be careful using spices in your spritz liquid because they may block the nozzle of your spray bottle. Common spritz liquids:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Apple juice
Can You Skip the Spritz?
Many pitmasters smoke brisket or pork butts without wrapping or spritzing. Although this method will put your pork butt at risk of drying out, you will get a better bark. Before attempting to smoke a butt without spritzing or wrapping, ensure that you do everything else right. Select a pork butt with a lot of fatty meat because this will help keep the meat moist. You can also dry brine the pork butt prior to smoking. The salt from the brine will help the meat retain moisture, as well as adding flavor.
- Spritzing pork butt during the smoking process is important for keeping the meat moist and slowing down the cook time.
- The best time to spritz is after the rub has dried on the surface of the meat, usually after a few hours.
- Spritz every 30-45 minutes until it’s time to wrap the pork butt in foil or butcher paper.
- Liquids commonly used for spritzing include apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and beer.
- Mopping is another method for keeping the pork butt moist, but it can affect the bark if not done carefully.
- A good rub for pork butt should be made from pantry ingredients and can be adjusted to control the salt content.
- Wrapping the pork butt in foil or butcher paper during the cooking process helps to retain moisture and break down the fatty tissue.
- It is important to use a meat thermometer to ensure the pork butt is cooked to a safe internal temperature.
My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools
Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.
Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.
Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.
Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.
Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.
Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.