Pork, Beef and Poultry Injection Brines Get Flavor Deep Into the Meat

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Here are several quick brine recipes customized for different types of meat.

First of all, mix your injection in a non-reactive container.

When I inject I shoot for a brine that is about 2 to 4% salt by weight. I use  Morton Coarse Kosher Salt. Remember, it is a different salinity than table salt or most other salts, even other kosher salts. It will diffuse to a lower concentration within the meat, enough to enhance flavor and bind water, but not enough to give the meat a cured flavor. Here is the math:

Morton Coarse Kosher Salt weighs 15 grams/Tablespoon. The recipes below call for 2 Tablespoons Morton Coarse Kosher Salt or 30 grams total. 1 quart of water weighs 944 grams. 30/944 = 3.2%. Note that the Worcestershire has salt in it, so the final injection is probably closer to 3.5%.

If I add flavor, I try not to go crazy. You can add oils, herbs, spices, sweeteners, syrups, sauces, stocks, broths, colorings, pretty much anything. Fresh papaya or pineapple juice (not canned or bottled) have enzymes that tenderize. But be thoughtful. Do you really want your turkey to taste like Dr. Pepper? If you use herbs or spices, grind them fine. Don't use dark liquids like soy sauce or Worcestershire on light colored meats like chicken or turkey. Don't go crazy with sweeteners. Here are the recipes I use.

Course. Sauces and Condiments.

Cuisine. American.

Makes. About 1 quart

Serves. This makes enough to inject about 30 pounds of meat

Prep Time. 10 minutes

Pork Brine Injection

2 tablespoons Mortons Coarse Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 cup apple juice or low sodium pork, chicken, or beef stock

3 cups water

Beef or Venison Brine Injection

2 tablespoons  Mortons Coarse Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire

4 cups water or low sodium beef stock, or a mix of both

Poultry Brine Injection

2 tablespoons  Mortons Coarse Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon sugar

4 cups water or low sodium chicken stock, or a mix of both


Add umami. You can add 1/2 teaspoon of MSG such as Ac'cent.

Add herbs and spices. You can add herbs and spices such as garlic and pepper, but they can overwhelm the meat's natural flavor.

Add oil. After you have used a brine injection, if you want you can go back and inject a small amount of oil. You can't mix the oil with the brine since it floats to the top. If you don't have canola you can use another neutral flavored oil like corn oil. Olive oil can be strong flavored. You can try warm butter, but it tends to clog the needle when and form blobs in the bird when it hits the cold meat. The blobs disperse somewhat during cooking, however.


1) Mix all the ingredients in a bottle and shake vigorously before injecting. Pour into a narrow container so you can suck fluid in through the needle. In a wide bowl it is hard to get the holes below the water line and you then need to unscrew the top, pour it into the syrings, spill it everywhere, screw on the top, inject, and repeat. I bought a V-shaped flower vase for the job.

2) Insert the needle and go all the way to the center. Press the plunger slowly and ease the needle out. Insert the needle about every 1.5" apart and leave behind about 1 ounce per pound. A little liquid will follow the needle out of the hole, but if it comes spurting out, use less pressure. We want to avoid pockets of liquid.

3) You can cook right away, but if you let the meat rest for an hour or more, even overnight, the injection will disperse more evenly through the meat. Then dry the surface with a paper towel and apply your rub and cook.

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.




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