What To Inject Chicken With


What to inject chicken with? You might ask this question if you enjoy raising your own chickens. This article is here to help you decide what you should top off those delicious chicken breasts with. Injecting the chicken with broth, beer or rice wine, apple juice, and garlic adds more flavor to it. But, there are ways to inject chicken.

Chicken Injection Recipe: How to Inject a Chicken

Teaches Cooking Techniques I: Vegetables, Pasta, and Eggs

Infuse chicken with a punch of flavor and moisture by using a chicken injection right before cooking. This chicken injection recipe features butter, chicken broth, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.

What Is a Chicken Injection?

A chicken injection is a sauce injected into a whole chicken using a meat injector. Rotisserie chicken, which cooks slowly on a rotating spit, often uses a chicken injection to prevent the meat from drying out during the long cooking time.

Like a marinade or brine, a chicken injection can keep the meat moist and flavorful as it cooks. Brining or marinating can take hours, but you can use a chicken injection just five minutes before cooking.

How to Inject a Chicken

For a juicy and flavorful chicken, follow these step-by-step instructions.

  1. 1. Make the chicken injection marinade. In a small saucepan over low heat, heat your marinade ingredients—usually chicken broth and complementary seasonings—and ensure that they are well combined. Let the marinade cool.
  2. 2. Fill the meat injector. Press the plunger into the marinade injector all the way and dip the needle into your cooled marinade. Extend the plunger on the meat injector so that it sucks up the marinade and fills the chamber.
  3. 3. Inject the chicken. Starting with the breast, place the injector needle into the chicken and press down on the plunger to shoot the marinade into the meat. Repeat the process in several different places on the breast and the thighs. (The breast is one of the drier parts of the chicken, so be sure to inject the area thoroughly.) Massage the injection into the bird until well distributed.
  4. 4. Baste the chicken (optional). If you have any leftover marinade, use it to baste the chicken while cooking. However, avoid using any marinade that has come into contact with the raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination.

3 Chicken Injection Variations

While a standard injection marinade recipe typically consists of chicken broth, melted butter, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, you can tweak the recipe to develop your best chicken injection.

  1. 1. Cajun injection: Add cayenne pepper, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce to a chicken broth and butter base for a Cajun twist.
  2. 2. BBQ injection: Incorporate classic BBQ dry rub flavors with an injection made from brown sugar, apple juice, ketchup, vinegar, and hot sauce before smoking or grilling your chicken.
  3. 3. Asian-inspired injection: Soy sauce, fresh ginger, and rice wine vinegar introduce balanced salty, sweet, and aromatic flavors to the injection marinade.

Classic Chicken Injection Recipe


Enough marinade for 1 5–7 pound whole chicken


5 min


5 min


  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  1. 1In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth, lemon juice, butter, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder until the butter melts and the mixture is well combined.
  2. 2Turn off the heat and add the sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary.
  3. 3Let the sauce cool slightly and remove the herb sprigs before loading the sauce into a flavor injector. Use immediately.

5 Best Turkey And Chicken Injection Recipes (BBQ, Smoking, Grilling)

These best marinade injection recipes will help you get the best out of your smoked turkey and chicken this holiday season. Enrich the flavors of your poultry with herb, spice, and butter marinades with little more than a syringe and your bare hands!

marinade injected turkey on plate

One of the best ways to cook beautiful chicken and turkey is to use a good injection marinade that gets right under the skin of your poultry with a meat injector.

You can apply a BBQ rub to the skin of your bird, or you can try brining it overnight to work in more moisture while it cooks. But one of the best ways is by injecting a good marinade deep into the meat.

While rubs, sauces and marinades are great at working flavor in to the outer layers of your meat, injection recipes are better at permeating the flesh in order impart a richer level of taste to it.

Today we’re looking at using injection marinades to take your turkey and chicken to the next level. We’ll add flavor, aroma and moisture, making the finished meat beautifully tender. These are 5 of the best turkey and chicken injection recipes for you to take your meat prep to the next level.

marinade smoked chicken

I love injector recipes, but I think a lot of people are put off by the thought of injecting meat. Perhaps they think it’s too much work, or too difficult. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth!

The best meat injectors are affordable (often about $20), and come with enough add-ons to make them easy to use for a variety of different types of marinade.

Take a look at my review for the Premiala meat injector to see how easy to use and affordable a meat injector can be.

So if you’re new to injecting meat, this guide is for you. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, and show you what kind of meat and flavor pairings work best for your next injection recipe.

Here are some quick tips on how to use your marinade injector.

Line up the holes

On most injectors, the holes tend to be aligned up the side of the needle, and not at the end (although this isn’t always the case).

This means you will need to submerge the entire needle when drawing in marinade, so you’ll need to use a deep dish.

premiala meat injector set with needles and main chamber
Many meat injectors come with a set of needles for different types of marinade

This doesn’t mean that you need to produce gallons of the stuff, but try to use a long thin glass so that your needle can get plenty of purchase as you try to withdraw the liquid.

A glass tumbler should be fine, or if you’re feeling fancy a champagne flute will do the job.

Get stainless steel

Your injector is going to be exposed to a lot while you use it. As well as your marinade, it will come into contact with your meat. This means that it’s important that the needles are easy to clean.

You don’t want to discover pieces of food that are long out of date – particularly meat – inside the chamber of your injector several months down the line.

Apart from regular cleaning, the next best thing you can do to ensure good food safety is by getting an injector made of stainless steel.

There’s a good reason why stainless steel is found everywhere in the culinary world. It’s extremely resistant to oxidization and corrosion . This means that it will last longer than other materials, and won’t be infected by the lasting effects of exposure to food or moisture.

Go for a choice of different needles

A lot of modern models of injector have different needles, which gives you a greater choice of the meats and marinades you can use.

A close-up of one of the Premiala's large needles
A close-up of one of the Premiala’s large needles

These needles differ in hole placement and size. This is great as different marinades vary widely in thickness, and some contain herbs or spices. Thinner cuts of meat won’t suit needles that have holes along the side, and will only offer enough depth for needles with single holes at the end.

Try to distribute evenly

Once you have loaded the barrel of your injector with marinade, you want to apply it to multiple different points across the surface of the bird.

How often you do this is up to you, but at the very least make sure that the thickest parts of the bird have been done. This is usually the area most prone to being bland or dry after cooking .

Keep in mind that we want the marinade to permeate the meat evenly, so try to distribute the holes uniformly. I try to aim for one-inch gaps across the surface in each direction. Plot a grid in your head and try to stick to that, ensuring that you get each breast, thigh, and leg.

Pay attention to depth

This is one of the easiest things to get wrong. If you inject too close to the surface of your bird the marinade will leak right back out.

On the other hand, if you go too deep your needle risks going out the other end.

When you apply your first bit of marinade, pay attention to depth and once you find that sweet spot, apply that across the whole of the bird.

Butter-Based Poultry Injection Sauce

Butter-based poultry injection sauce in a bowl; turkey on a baking sheet and an injector

Prep:10 mins

Cook:2 mins

Marinate:3 hrs

Total:3 hrs 12 mins

Servings:12 servings

Yield:3/4 cup

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)SAVE RECIPE

Although it’s most common for home cooks to brine the turkey before roasting it, there are certain advantages when you directly inject the meat with a delicious marinade. Drier meats like turkey greatly benefit from this technique, as the injection sauce keeps the bird juicy and adds flavor deep within the meat. Our recipe for an easy injection sauce keeps it simple with ingredients you’re likely to have in your pantry. Use an injection sauce whether you plan to roast, smoke, or deep-fry your poultry.

You should plan on using this injection marinade several hours before you start cooking. If you have the time, inject the bird the night before roasting. While you can brine your turkey, that process mostly adds salt rather than additional flavors—plus it also takes more time.

You will need a meat injector for this recipe. This large syringe is available at most kitchen stores, well-stocked supermarkets, or online. It can be unwieldy at first, so you may want to practice manipulating it a bit with water before you use your butter injection sauce. Some injection experts recommend placing the bird in a brining bag while injecting the marinade, as the pressurized liquid can splatter out through any opening in the bird, causing a big mess.

Click Play to See This Butter-Based Poultry Injection Sauce Recipe Come Together

“This sauce was excellent. I injected and roasted a small chicken (about 4 pounds), and it came out tender and juicy. If you plan to baste the chicken as it cooks, you could easily make another batch. It only takes a few minutes to make the sauce.

Butter-based poultry injection sauce in a jar with injector and turkey in the background


For the Injection:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Turkey:

  • 1 (15- to 20-pound) turkey

Steps to Make It


  1. Gather the ingredients.Butter-based poultry injection sauce ingredients gathered
  2. Add the chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, and white pepper in a small saucepan. Mix well until the butter is completely melted.Chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, and white pepper simmering in a saucepan with a wooden spoon
  3. Add salt and taste test. Add more salt if needed, but keep in mind the mixture needs a good but not overpowering flavor. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool until just warm for 8 minutes.Butter-based injection sauce for turkey in a saucepan removed from the heat
  4. Load the marinade into a meat injector and slowly and carefully inject it into various spots in the bird. The breast meat really benefits from this mixture—the best approach is to go for a dozen spots and add about 2 teaspoons per site, or less if you see the fluid oozing out.Turkey in a roasting pan being injected with butter-based sauce
  5. Massage around all of the injection sites to distribute the mixture throughout the bird.Turkey in a roasting pan being massaged so the butter sauce is evenly distributed
  6. Cover the bird and let rest in the fridge for several hours (overnight if possible) before cooking. If you have any leftover mixture that came in contact with the syringe, discard it. If you would like to have some for basting the turkey as it roasts, make another clean batch of the marinade. If keeping the bird in the fridge overnight, keep the mix in a closed container and melt before using it to baste.Turkey covered with plastic wrap in a roasting pan and butter sauce in a plastic container
  7. Roast the turkey in a 325 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes per pound of weight. Baste with the extra marinade, if using.Turkey in a roasting pan basted with marinade
  8. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat away from the bone until it reads a minimum of 165 F.Roasted turkey in a roasting pan with a meat thermometer testing for doneness
  9. Allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes before carving.Roasted turkey resting in a roasting pan

Master the Injection Technique

Here are a few important tips to help you master this helpful technique:

  • The injection mix must be completely smooth and clear of any bits that could clog the meat injector. Fully melted butter and finely ground spices are key. Fresh herbs or lemon seeds from the juice can clog the needle. If you still want herby flavors, add herbs under the skin or use a poultry rub, and for a spicier version, use any spicy element in liquid form, like Tabasco or Sriracha.
  • If you brine your turkey and still want to inject it, omit the salt from the injection sauce and use low-sodium chicken broth. Otherwise, your bird may end up too salty.
  • Remember to discard any unused mix. Dipping the needle into the sauce once it has been inside the bird will transmit bacteria such as salmonella to the rest of the injection, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

How Do You Properly Clean the Injector?

Some injectors come with brushes for cleaning. If yours doesn’t, clean the parts in soapy water:

  • Fill a bowl or pan with hot, soapy water.
  • Insert the tip of the injector into the soapy water and pull back the plunger to fill the injector cylinder.
  • Push the plunger down to force the soapy water through the needle. Do this several times until it is thoroughly clean, aiming away from you into the kitchen sink.
  • Rinse with clear hot water, aiming away from you.
  • Clean any splatter of liquid with disinfectant as it can contain raw poultry bits.

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