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Chicken Injection Recipes And Tips

Have you ever wondered why does restaurant chicken taste so good? People tend to think that kind of taste is unreachable at home, but they are wrong. The key to a delicious chicken is the seasoning and/or marinating. We are all aware of the simple process of rubbing chicken meat with different marinades and gravies, but if you want that restaurant-grade flavor, you will have to go deeper, inside the chicken to be exact.

Meat injection is relatively new among cooking enthusiasts, especially the ones cooking at home. The principle is simple, however, as we all know: great flavor comes from little details. We are going to run through all the important tricks and tips on how to perform chicken meat injection properly. And, after we graduate the injection syringe, some rich and flavorful recipes will be waiting for you! Let’s dive into it!

What Exactly is a Meat Injector?

Many find this piece of cookware unknown, due to lack of practice or experience. But meat injector is nothing more than a large syringe, ending with a needle that has multiple holes. Now, as every piece of kitchen hardware goes, meat injectors also have their good and not so good versions. So, to make things simple, let’s go through the basic parts:

  1. At the bottom part, we have the plunger flange, which is the point you need to apply the pressure to. Meat injector flanges are usually easy to operate, and if it gets hard it can possibly mean that you need to shred the gravy some more. It would be best to find a meat injector that has a flange made of metal, for easier cleaning and durability as well.
  2. The largest part of any meat injector is the barrel. This is the container for the spicy juice you have prepared, and it needs to be big enough so you do not need to refill a lot. An added bonus would be to get an injector with a graded barrel, just so you can make sure how much you are injecting into the meat.
  3. Lastly, we have the needle. This part of the injector is the most important because the whole process relies on the quality of the needle. One thing to keep in mind is the position of holes on the needle. Instinct might tell you that the needle point is where the juices come out, but that’s almost never the case. For practical reasons, meat injector needles have holes only on the sides. This makes the contents spread more evenly, which ultimately leads to juicier chicken meat.

Even though all meat injector models are somewhat similar, there are a few things you should look for before you get one for your kitchen:

  • Look for an injector with steel parts. They are far more durable than plastic models and are easier to clean.
  • Dishwasher friendly meat injectors are great due to the fact that they will always end up extra dirty and messy form various ingredients you use.
  • Different needle sizes. Some models offer needles that are wider, some come with needles with extra holes on the side. Either way, this is an always welcome bonus.

Why We Inject Chicken in The First Place?

Chicken Injection Recipes And Tips – 5 Delicious RecipesEveryone knows the disappointing feeling of biting a dry piece of chicken meat. It is an apatite killer, dry and definitely not healthy. Marinating the surface of the meat is fine, yes, but it can only get so deep. With a proper injector, you should be able to penetrate into the driest part of the chicken and make it savory and juicy, and full of nice spices and oils.

Filled this way, during the grilling process, chicken meat will become more tender, and it will absorb the flavors from within, rather than from the surface. You can achieve ultimate juiciness by combining outer marinating process and marinade injecting, but you have to take into account that meat prepared like this needs to be cooked for a longer period of time. Marinades are often greasy or oily, and that fat source raises the average temperature needed for the meat to be done. There is no need for extra hassle though, just set your timer or digital meat thermometer to a longer cook.

The final reason why we inject meat is control. With a good meat injector, you will have absolute control of how much marinade is going in, and in which part specifically. However, it takes some time and patience to get good at this, so, don’t get demoralized if you do not succeed the first time.

How to Inject Chicken with Chosen Marinade?

Now that we have learned what a meat injector actually is, it is time to address the main topic. There is much more to injecting meat than just “poke with an injector and press the flange” philosophy. Of course, you will have to prepare the marinade (or gravy) you prefer, but we will talk about recipes later.

The first thing that bothers novice cooks are the holes you make in the chicken itself. People that insist on aesthetics are afraid that too many stabs with the injector may leave the chicken look “old” or “wasted”, but we are happy to tell you that is not the case. Chicken, as well as any other meat, tends to shrink to some degree when heated, and the holes you make follow that rule. Do not take this as an encouragement to play darts with your meat, but do not be afraid to take a few extra pokes also.

With the marinade ready, it would be ideal if you poured it into a tall, thin glass or vase. Why? Well, we did mention that injector needles do not have holes on the needlepoint, and a tall glass will help you draw the marinade into the barrel much easier. Now that the barrel is locked and loaded, it is time to begin.

Plan up front!

You have the chicken on the table in front of you, and the loaded injector in your hand. The first thing beginners do is start poking at random places. So, let us cut that cord early, and learn to divide the chicken into sectors. Every bird will be symmetric by its length, and that’s how you should look at it. In simple terms: as a mirror. If you are inexperienced with meat injecting, start by making 3 injection punctures on each side. You do not need surgical precision, as long as you decide where to puncture in advance.

How to treat each puncture?

After you have made the initial six holes (3 on each side) it is time to treat each puncture. First, insert the needle straight into the meat, and squeeze until you it no longer goes smoothly. After the hole is filled, take the needle out, and insert it in the same hole, but at a tilted angle, repeat the injection with the roughly same amount of marinade. And finally, after that’s done, insert the injection needle at a tilted angle opposite of the previous one. This way you will make sure that the marinade is spread evenly inside. Repeat for each intended spot.

After you do this for a couple of times, you will notice that the learning curve is not that hard and that each time you inject you do it a bit better. When you get the hang of it, increase the number of punctures on each side of the chicken. The reason we insist that you gradually increase the number of injecting spots is purely practical: meat tends to cook slower when marinated from the inside, and you need to adjust the whole cooking process according to that. Moderation is the key!

Injecting older or less tender chicken meat

This is a topic rarely discussed, but this goes out for a cooking time, temperature and injection: age and tenderness of the meat can change how you treat it! If you are dealing with a larger chicken, chances are that it is slightly older or more muscular, hence its meat is stronger and less flexible. In such cases, it would be best to spend a little extra marinade, and ad 10% more salt than you usually do.

The whole beauty of meat injecting is that you get to make delicious chicken, no matter its age or size, so all in all, it has an economic side as well. People do not want to deal with this and end up throwing away perfectly good meat. Familiarize yourself with the meat injection techniques and feel free to experiment a little.

Tips and Tricks on Injecting Chicken Meat with a Meat Injector!

Before we jump to those sweet recipes, we will quickly run through this list of practical tips and tricks that will help you inject the chicken faster, with more precision and less mess around the kitchen.

1. Always wear protection

This goes out to the beginners out there! The learning process of meat injection tends to be messy and “squirty”. Every chicken is different, and in time you will learn how deep to go with the injection needle. Until then, not going deep enough will cause a backsplash and you can stain your clothes easily. After all, marinades and gravies are super-fat and greasy, right?

Get a nice apron, and if needed cover the chicken with some saran wrap if you are afraid of getting the kitchen dirty. Don’t worry though, this squirting will stop once you get the hang of meat injecting and its intricate details.

2. Visual appearance is tasty too

One lesser mentioned thing about using meat injectors is the aesthetic part of the process, and we do not think about the holes this time. If you ever wondered what to put inside the marinade to give it a nice visual side too, the rule of thumb is to go with the same color as the meat you are injecting. Yes, it is that simple sometimes.

For example, if you want to inject marinade into a darker, juicier part of the chicken, feel free to use soy sauce or some darker ingredient as main. This way, after the chicken is done and cut, you won’t have to worry about it looking disproportionately colored. That is why, in restaurants, you will always see a harmony of color on your plate.

3. Amount of marinade you should use

The general rule is to go with about .1 ounce of marinade per pound of meat. Of course, this depends on the type of marinade you make, on the tenderness of the meat, and ultimately it depends on your injecting skill. It is always recommended to go with fewer amounts, and adjust as you learn.

How much is too much, you might ask. Well, with using over .1 oz per pounds, you risk losing the taste (and sometimes even structure) of the chicken meat. What this usually means is that the marinade will dissolve way too quickly, and tear the meat fibers too far apart. Just try not to over-marinade.

4. Work slowly with the injector

There’s no doubt about it: haste makes waste! Regardless of what motion is at hand, extracting the marinade form the tall glass or injecting the meat, you should never rush it. If you go too fast, not only will you split the marinade all over yourself and your kitchen, but you will also waste a lot of the sauce you made. Not to mention the clogging of the injector, which is a nightmare to deal with. Take it nice and easy, and never try to inject more than the syringe allows you to.

5. Combine marinating techniques for ultimate flavor

By marinating techniques, we are referring to the inner and outer treatment of the chicken meat. If you delve into meat injecting, this doesn’t mean that you are forbidden to marinate from the outside. When it comes to marinating, you can be generous with the amount you spend. The question is: Do I use the same ingredients for both? The safest bet would be to go with the same one, and if you do decide to try out different recipes, make sure they complement each other. A great example is a combination of the sweet/sour flavor of cherries with the mild/salty taste of garlic marinades.

6. Chop chop!

Last but not least, we urge you to take good care of the meat injector you are using. Get used to chopping ingredients to really small, ground-like quality, bits. Using a chopper is recommended, not only for the size of the bits and pieces but for making a homogenous mesh as well.

Once the injector needle gets clogged, you cannot advance any further a halt is in order, for cleaning purposes. This can eat up a lot of precious time, so just put some elbow grease in and chop chop chop!

5 Delicious Chicken Injection Marinade Recipes

It is time to get to the bottom of things and go through five popular, and ultra-flavorful, meat injecting recipes. There are various flavor combinations in them, and we hope that you find some that fit your taste buds in the best possible way. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

1. Good old butter garlic standard

There is no mistake in going with tradition as a marinade choice. All around the world this marinade is considered flavorful and rich, despite its simplicity. The combination of zesty garlic flavor and a sweet touch of butter and apple juice will bring out the best out of the driest meat.

Things you’ll need

  • Garlic powder – 1 Tsp
  • A large stick of butter
  • Apple juice – 1/2 cup
  • Brown sugar – 2 Tsp
  • Powdered onion

How to prepare it?

The process is quite simple and straightforward. Melt the butter in a small metal pot, but be careful to boil it because it can turn a bit sour. After the whole stick of butter liquifies, mix every listed ingredient and stir until they are evenly spread around. Pour the newly-made marinade into a tall glass or narrow pitcher and use the injector to fill the barrel. Now it is ready to be injected.

If everything goes well, you will have some leftovers, which you can use to rub on the surface of the chicken, preferably the parts with little to no skin. By doing this, you ensure that the meat stays crisp and flavorful both inside and out.

2. Butter-lemon herbal marinade

If you are a fan of savory flavors, this recipe will blow your mind, and make your taste buds ever-grateful! Using lemon juice as a flavor enhancer has been here for centuries, but we have only begun to fully exploit it since meat injecting became widely-spread. This injection recipe will require you to make a separate marinade rub to treat the outside of the chicken, and it compliments it perfectly.

Things you’ll need

  • Chicken broth – ¾ cup
  • Lemon juice – ½ cup, if you want things to be more or less sour, adjust the amount using a teaspoon
  • Butter – ½ stick
  • Garlic powder – 1 Tsp
  • Fine minced fresh ginger – 1 tsp, or less depending on your preferences

*Rub ingredients: ½ butter stick, 2 sprigs chopped rosemary, 2 sprigs chopped thyme, 2 cloves crushed garlic, sea salt

How to prepare it?

The marinade is prepared by mixing all the ingredients into a pan and simmering for 3-5 minutes. After the mix is homogenized, pour into a tall glass and suck with a meat injector. Inject the marinade as explained in the sections above, and prepare the rub.

This type of herbal rub is easy to make. Put everything into a small bowl and mix until evenly-spread. Use a spatula (or your hands if you like getting a bit dirty) to rub it onto the surface of the chicken. After everything is applied, the chicken is ready for cooking.

3. Red hot chili chicken

For fiery food enthusiasts out there, trying a hot chili marinade is a must. Now, being that this is an injection recipe, make sure that everyone around the table is up for hot food. Once the marinade is in, there is no turning back.

Things you’ll need

  • Chicken broth – ½ cup
  • Hot sauce of your choice – ¼ cup
  • Ground chili pepper – 1 or 2 tbsp
  • Sea salt – 1 Tsp
  • Garlic powder – 1 Tsp
  • Onion powder – 1 Tsp

How to prepare it?

As any other marinade is prepared: dissolve the solid ingredients into the chicken broth and stir on low-medium heat for a couple of minutes. You can ensure equal mixing by adding the chili in increments during the stirring. Let it cool off for a minute or two, and start injecting. Make sure to wash your hands immediately after, and at any cost do not touch your eyes. The chili bites!

4. The Mediterranean chicken marinade

If you want to surprise your taste buds and add something slightly fancy to your party buffet, this European delight will surely fit the job! Greeks are known for using a lot of strong herbal spices which, when mixed together, bring out the best out of any meat.

Things you’ll need

  • Olive oil – ½ cup
  • Lemon juice – ½ cup
  • Garlic – 2 tsp or 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • Parsley – chopped 2 Tsp
  • Oregano – 1 tsp
  • Rosemary – 1 tsp
  • Thyme – 1 tsp
  • Basil – 1 Tsp

How to prepare it?

As you can see from the ingredient list, there’s a lot of herbs involved. Because we need everything to go through the injection needle, make sure to thoroughly chop and grind every spice (especially if you use garlic cloves instead of powder) to a fine mix. After that’s taken care of, just mix everything with olive oil and lemon juice, no heat required. Use the instruction from above and start injecting.

5. Sweet and spicy chicken

Lastly, we have a treat for you sweet-tooth people out there. This combination is becoming more popular by the day, because of its pleasant flavor combination.

Things you’ll need

  • Honey – 1 cup
  • Butter – 1 stick
  • Chili powder – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt and pepper – mix a tsp; base the salt-to-pepper ration based on your preferences

How to prepare it?

This marinade takes a while to make. Melt the butter in a pan and mix every ingredient in except honey. Lower the heat and start adding honey in small increments over a period of 15 minutes with stirring after every time you add it. Once you’ve poured the honey in, stir until homogenized. Wait for the marinade to cool down and start injecting. Keep in mind that there will be leftovers, and you can use them to glaze the outer surface of the chicken. Be extra careful with the heat while cooking the chicken, and remember to wear some protection if you do not want to leave everything sticky.

A Final Thought

Meat injecting is an art of its own kind. It is not something to be done every day, however, the results you will feel will shine right after the first bite. Chicken and poultry tend to be quite dry, despite their health benefits, so why not make everything more palatable.

Enjoy your restaurant-quality food at home anytime you want! GrillnSkill team wishes good luck!

About Michael Wise

Michael Wise has been a chef for a long time. Preparing all sorts of foods enabled him to gather experience in meat prep, and by extension – cookware and cooking equipment in general. He decided to sum it all up in blogs and guides, hoping to pass his knowledge to people who decided to take the matter in their own hands and start grilling by themselves.

2 thoughts on “Chicken Injection Recipes And Tips”

  1. I would like to know the recipe for just a saline solution that I can inject into the chicken leg quarters. I used to buy already cooked Purdue chicken leg quarters from shoprite. They have stopped selling them and the chicken they sell for the public to cook at home is not injected with the saline solution. I just want a simple recipe for getting that salty taste inside the meat.


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