whole chicken

Injecting your meat

Ever try to cook a large piece of meat and having it come out dry and lacking flavor? This one trick will both add moisture and bountiful flavor to any large piece of protein, vegetable or fruit. When a person thinks injection, they automatically think about a medical term where a patient receives a vaccine or supplements. Meat ready to cook needs flavor supplements as well. 


The contents you use to shoot up your meat can vary depending on the flavor profile you wish to experience. Spices such as paprika and chilies can add fire to the front and back of your mouth. Garlic and onion provide strong accompaniments. Professional caterers and chefs often use beef stock to give a heavier and bold flavor to meats. Personally, my favorite mixes for injection include apple juice, pineapple juice, salt, pepper and paprika. The fruit juices give a nice welcoming aroma while the pepper and paprika provide a spice character. Experiment with different mixes and see what you get at the end of a cook. 

Cuts of meat

For barbecue, injection usually occurs with larger cuts like brisket, pork shoulder and whole chickens. People inject steak and turkey legs as well. The idea to inject large pieces of meat is to protect the protein from drying out during the long cooking process. Pork shoulders and briskets can take up to 12 hours to barbecue. Injecting with your favorite solution protects it from the fire and adds another layer of flavor once you cut into your meat. 

Types of injectors

There are hosts of injectors available on the market from small holed devices to multiple pronged tools to get the job done in a few steps. I personally like this little one because it's small and easy to use. The downside is larger chunks of spice and items in your solution can clog up the hole easily. These stainless steel injectors are more expensive and have larger holes. Larger holes mean you can suck up larger spices and chinks from your solution. It also means the injector will make larger holes in your meat and juices could spill out. 


There is no real rule on how early to inject. I usually inject right before placing the large protein item onto the grill. I do this about the same time as putting on the rub. Injecting the night before allows the solution to further penetrate the meat. 


Make sure to make at least 3-4 cups of solution per 10 pounds of meat. The solution should be cold and not hot. A hot solution will end up cooking your protein early. Shoot up as much solution as you can into your meat before the cook. You can do this right before placing the protein on the grill.