Injections From A to Z (or Why and How to Inject)
Injecting is pretty solid.
Whether you’ve ever injected food or not, it’s never too late to start. It can be intimidating for a beginner, but trust me, there’s no going back once you get the hang of it. 😜
If you want to know more about injections, you’ve come to the right place because I’m disclosing EVERYTHING here. I’m telling you all my tips, all my secrets, so you can become an injection pro. 🤘
Let’s get started!
What is the difference between brining, marinating and injecting?
A brine can be dry or liquid and is used to preserve foods longer or to change their texture. For example, ham, prosciutto, or bacon can be brined to achieve a different texture, a result of the nitrite content in this kind of processing.
Generally, brining food is a long process. In fact, if it’s dry, you coat the food with the brine and let it soak in, and if it’s liquid, you let the food steep in it. It can take up to 10 days if you so choose.
A brine is also rather salty, compared to a marinade, which is usually on the sweet side.
Moreover, unlike brine, a marinade—when we marinate food—is always liquid. A marinade is a mixture of herbs and spices in which we soak our food (vegetables, fish, poultry or meat) before cooking it. Marinating is usually more about flavoring the food with oil and sugar than it is about prolonging its shelf life.
Personally, I’m not a fan of liquid marinades. I’m more of a dry rub person, which has less oil, sugar and alcohol, and burns less. (If you want to know more about why I don’t use them, I recommend reading my article here).
And then there are the injections. Injecting food is like brining or marinating it, but you inject the mixture directly into the flesh instead. You can inject almost any liquid: beer, whiskey, juice… You can even combine liquids or liquids with solids (water with spices, for example) to make your mixture! Yup, there are even products specifically designed to inject food that keep meats juicier and boost their flavors.
Injection is my favorite method because you can really get the flavor into the center of the meat instantly. It’s a fast, effective and proven technique, since all professionals inject. Simply put, it’s the bomb!
What can I inject?
It’s pretty straightforward—think of any kind of meat: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, duck… They can all be injected! Even a snake can get injected! (Huh, I wonder what it tastes like… 🤔)
A lean piece of meat, such as a filet mignon or wild game, injected with a fatty substance like butter, duck fat or, better yet, a mix of butter and cognac (😍!!!) always yields an incredible result!
Fruit can also benefit pretty darn well from being injected. Just think of the infamous vodka-injected watermelon slices to remember that this is a good mix! (Oh, to be young again… 🤪)
There are many reasons why someone might be tempted to inject their food. First and foremost is flavor (because, let’s face it, it’s all about flavor!).
Injecting meat allows it to retain its basic flavor—that is, to retain its flavor and moisture—while enhancing it. Whatever mixture you inject inside, the meat will become juicier and, most likely, fattier, making it even more delicious. Yum! 🤤
Second, it’s also a time-saver. Injecting meat takes much less time than brining or marinating it.
The best flavor combinations
It all depends on what you want to inject. At House of BBQ Experts, we have plenty of injection mixtures that will make your taste buds go wild.
The premade injection mixtures from Butcher BBQ, Kosmos Q, and those from What the Pork? and Sugar Daddy Bacon, among others, are pretty outstanding.
Otherwise, if you want to get more in depth, I recommend the following:
- For brisket: Butcher BBQ’s Liquid Beef Injection Marinade
- For a whole pig: Butcher BBQ’s Pork Injection (powdered) or Butcher BBQ’s Liquid Pork Injection
- For chicken: Kosmos Q’s Original Chicken Injection
- For turkey: Oakridge’s Game Changer All Purpose Brine
Naturally, the wonderful thing about injecting is that you can use whatever you want as a “liquid”: water, juice, beer, Coke, butter, maple syrup, beef broth, soy sauce, herbs, melted cheese, even Gatorade if you want—I’m not judging! 😜
So, carrying on with my recommendations, I would add:
- For duck breast: duck fat
- For filet mignon: butter
- For pork loin: apple juice
- For roast beef: bourbon
- For a rack of lamb: lager
You get the idea. 😉
When it comes to fruit, you can get good results by mixing the following:
- Maple syrup in an apple
- Rum in a pineapple
If I can clarify one thing, though, it’s that if you’re taking a premade injection mix, you should always follow the dosing on the packaging. (And, by the way, when it says a cup, it’s not a coffee cup but a measuring cup! 😜)
Consistency of the injection mixture
Remember that when it comes to injecting, you don’t want your mixture to congeal in your syringe. So, you want your mixture to be liquid, with no big lumps of spices, for example (you need the seasoning to go through the needle!), and ideally warm (this is optional, but if it’s not, I’d just advise against injecting outside at say -20°C because then it’s likely to get clogged! 🤪).
You also want your mixture to be homogeneous to be sure you’re injecting the same thing throughout.
You don’t need much to inject. All you need is:
- An injector
- An aluminum pan (or other container), to hold any excess injection mixture
- A bowl, to mix the injection mixture
As far as injectors go, there are different models that may interest you:
- The House of BBQ Experts Marinade Injector: an inexpensive injector ($9.99) with a plastic body and removable needle. (This is the basic injector to get if you don’t already own one).
- The House of BBQ Experts Injectorminator: a stainless steel injector that comes with 3 different professional needles. Depending on the needle you choose, you will be able to inject between 1 and 5 ml of liquid into your food. For $34.99, you really get what you pay for.
- The House of BBQ Experts Competition BBQ Injector: the perfect workhorse injector for total control over the amount of liquid you inject. To fill it, you simply place the tube directly into your injection mixture. Gone are the days when you always had to manually “draw” the liquid! A great buy for $34.99.
What’s especially important with an injector, though, is using the right needle. It should be the right size and have the right number of holes for what you want to do. (The more holes, the more liquid will disperse inside the food).
Once you’ve chosen your combo of “food + injection mixture”, it’s time to get started!
The key is to inject the mixture in every inch of food to make sure there is plenty of it throughout. To make it easier, picture a grid on the piece of meat (for example) you’re working with. In each “square”, insert the needle into the animal’s flesh.
After inserting the needle into the meat, press down on top of the injector, wiggling it back and forth to allow the mixture to penetrate the meat without creating an “injection pocket.”
And… that’s it. You simply repeat these steps until your food is properly plumped up. For the sake of cleanliness, be sure to work in a foil pan (or other container) to keep the juices from dripping onto your work station.
How do you know if there’s enough injection mixture?
Knowing if the food holds the right amount of injection mixture is hard to say because it depends on what your injection mixture is made of. Generally, you don’t want to put too much in… But it really depends on the mix. Some you can inject in very small amounts and get enough, but others you inject until the meat doubles in size to make it really tasty. One trick I can offer, though, is to watch videos and/or follow the dosing on the injection mix packaging and measure out your mix accordingly.
Lastly, once you’ve finished injecting, you need to give the food time to rest. Obviously, it all depends on what was injected, but generally, you can grill it straight away. Certain products, however, recommend waiting a minimum of 4 hours before doing anything with the food—like the Butcher BBQ injection mixes, whose packaging specifies this to ensure the mixes work properly. When it comes to fruit, though, you’re in luck. You don’t have to wait to bite into it! 😉
And… that’s it! You now know everything there is to know about injections. I hope I’ve inspired you to enjoy mouthwatering pieces of meat or funky injected fruit. 😎
Happy grilling! 🔥