You might be asking why and how it is done if you have watched a barbecue competition or read a recipe that calls for injecting the brisket before low and slow smoking it.
A beef brisket injection is frequently used to provide moisture to meat pieces that have been low and slow smoked, barbecued, or grilled, as well as to ensure that the desired flavor of the brisket is enhanced.
It is similar to marinating the meat but is done internally – from the inside out rather than the other way around.
A beef brisket injection will not only help enhance the flavors of the meat but will tenderize its texture.
While injections can be used for preparing all types of meat and poultry, this method is especially suitable for beef brisket.
Read on to find out more about the idea behind the beef brisket injection, what it contains, and how to inject your beef brisket before cooking it.
Why should you inject the beef brisket?
Most of us will agree that the best way to prepare whole beef brisket is through low and slow cooking. But while this cooking method is suitable for brisket preparation, it does cause the meat to lose most of its moisture.
With the help of an injection, you can help add moisture and compensate for the one lost during the cooking. The brisket injection will also allow you to add the flavors of your choice both to the outside and to the inside of the meat.
With dry rubbing or with a marinade, the flavor is applied on the surface of the brisket, and this can leave the inside of the meat lacking the flavor you want it to have.
The easiest and most efficient way to add more flavor and moisture to a whole beef brisket is with the help of an injection. The injection can be combined with a dry rub or marinade for the outside of the meat.
All you need for this is an injection tool for meat and some simple ingredients of your choice.
The result will be a better-tasting and even tenderer brisket.
Recipes for beef brisket injections
There is a wide variety of recipes for brisket injections that you can try out. Most of them include the most common ingredients, such as:
- Beef broth or stock
- Brown sugar
- Soy sauce
- Apple juice
- Worcestershire sauce
The brisket injection mixes can be thin and water-like or thick.
There are some great ready-made commercial injections as well as recipes for homemade ones available.
When employing this technique for the first time to tenderize and flavor the meat, it is advised that you keep things straightforward. This will aid in preventing the pork’s naturally wonderful flavor from being overpowered. Instead, the intention is to improve the flavor of the hog brisket.
More about store-bought brisket injections
If you are not confident enough or don’t have the time to experiment with homemade brisket injection recipes, you are in luck because there are some excellent commercial brisket injections you can buy on the market.
They are usually powder-based, and all you will need to do is to mix them well with water or broth, as per the instructions of the manufacturer, and then inject them into the beef.
There are many ready-made brisket injections you can order online, including:
The best homemade brisket injection recipes
If you don’t want to spend too much money on ready-made brisket injections or prefer to make your own homemade injection for the meat, then you can try out some of the following excellent beef brisket injection recipes:
Derrick Riches brisket injection recipe
- Beef broth – 1 cup
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 ½ tablespoon
- Whiskey – 1 tablespoon
- Brown sugar – 2 teaspoons (optional)
- Soy sauce – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – ½ teaspoon
- Ground black pepper – ½ teaspoon
- Onion powder – ½ teaspoon
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes before use to allow the sugar and salt to dissolve completely
- Inject the brisket by laying it down flat and injecting it to the center at every 2 inches
Basic brisket injection by Amazing Ribs
- Coarse kosher salt – 2 tablespoons
- Sugar – 1 tablespoon
- Worcestershire sauce – 1 tablespoon
- Rice vinegar – 2 tablespoons
- Apple juice (or beef, chicken, or pork stock) – 1 cup
- Water – 3 cups
- Herbs and spices, like garlic or pepper
- Umami – 1/1 teaspoon
- Canola or corn oil or warm butter
- Mix the ingredients together in a shaker or bottle vigorously
- Pour the mixture in a narrow container for easy tucking into the needle
- Insert the needle to the center of the brisket and press the plunger slowly
- Repeat at 1.5 inches apart
- Let the meat rest for an hour or more before cooking it
The tools required for a beef brisket injection
There are various meat injectors you can choose from on the market, including:
- Plastic meat injectors – these are cheap but are not as durable and can absorb the smells and tastes over time
- Stainless steel meat injectors – they are easy to keep clean but are more expensive than the plastic ones
- Injector guns – these are the most expensive types of meat injectors and allow for adjusting the exact amount of liquid to be dispensed per pull, and other features
The best option for most people is a good-quality stainless steel meat injector. It is durable, easy to wash and use, and won’t absorb flavors and smells.
Most of them come in useful kits which include different tips and more seals. You should pick the tip type and size, depending on the thickness of the liquid you will be using.
If you are planning on using the injector a lot, then you may want to invest in the premium SpitJack Magnum Meat Injector Gun Kit.
A cooking tray or a deep pan
If you don’t have one, which can fit the brisket, then it is a good idea to buy a cooking tray or a deep pan which can fit the whole brisket. This will ensure that you don’t make a mess on your counter when injecting the liquid inside the meat.
A tall and narrow mixing bowl or tall glass
A narrow and tall container will make filling the syringe much easier and less messy.
A step-by-step guide for injecting the beef brisket
- Prepare the brisket by trimming it and removing excess fat to your liking, and place it in a deep pan or cooking tray
- Prepare the liquid for the injection by mixing together the ingredients or mixing the ready-made injection with water or broth as per the instructions of the manufacturer in a mixing bowl or tall glass
- Fill the syringe by dipping the tip with all holes in the glass or bowl and pulling on the trigger, or pulling the plunger
- Pick the direction you will be injecting the meat in – some people prefer to inject the meat with the grain, and others are against it
- Insert the needle to the center of the meat and press the plunger or pull the trigger as you pull it out
- Inject the liquid evenly by moving to 1.5-2 inches in a grid-like pattern to inject as much of the brisket as you can
- Use the excess liquid from the pan to continue injecting the meat
- Soak up any excess liquid from the exterior of the brisket to get it ready for the rub
- Some people suggest leaving the brisket to stay for an hour or even overnight before cooking it, but there is no clear answer to whether this is better than cooking it right away
Do you really need to inject the brisket?
As with most barbecue-related recipes and methods, there is a lack of agreement among pitmasters and other barbecue experts regarding whether the brisket should always be injected or not.
Steven Raichlen, who wrote the Barbecue Bible, is a fan of injecting the brisket as being the most efficient way to add moisture and flavor to smoked, grilled, or barbecued food.
Meathead Goldwyn, who wrote the book Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, is another fan of using the injection method for briskets. He says that he always injects briskets with beef broth to keep the meat from drying up during the long cooking and at the same time to help the meat preserve the moisture and flavor. He isn’t a proponent of adding other ingredients such as apple juice, spices, or others to the brisket injection, though.
But not all barbecue experts use the injection method when cooking brisket.
Aaron Franklin uses an offset smoker and a water pan which he uses to spritz the meat instead.
Should you cook brisket with the fatty side up or down? Learn which is the right way!
Hopefully, now you know more about the purpose of injecting beef brisket and how it is done. Whether or not you will use it and which type of injection you choose is a matter of personal preference.
Still, whichever type of injection you use for your brisket, remember that the idea of this food prep method is to help protect the meat from drying and enhance its delicious flavor rather than overpower it with too many spices and other intense flavors.