In my previous Texas Brisket School posts, I’ve walked you through step-by-step directions for creating insanely delicious flavor in your backyard briskets.
A part of that process is having a distinction between the brisket rub and the brisket injection…a brisket dry rub is meant to flavor the outside of the brisket and create bark while a brisket injection is used to flavor the inside of the brisket.
The inside of the brisket is so thick that no amount of rub would ever penetrate the depth of that meat so a brisket injection is necessary for adding salt, interest, and flavor to the inside of a large roast, like a whole brisket.
In this post, I’m going to be sharing my favorite tips for brisket injection recipes, as well as some directions on how to create flavor profiles, and where to buy good quality, reusable stainless steel injectors.
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What is a Brisket Injection?
A brisket injection is a flavorful liquid, homemade or store-bought (although of course we strongly prefer homemade), which is injected into the deep parts of a brisket roast to allow flavor, salt, and moisture to season and marinate the thickest parts of a huge piece of meat, like a brisket.
This is necessary because no marinade or rub, no matter how long you leave it on, is really going to penetrate past half an inch into a brisket, or any large cut of meat for that matter.
To create that flavorful injection solution, pitmasters simmer liquid ingredients together like beef broth or beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, butter, various spices, salt, brown sugar, and even whiskey, just briefly over low heat to create a flavorful liquid for injecting into their briskets.
Common ingredients for the injected marinade provide additional flavor and fat, which baste the inside of the brisket throughout cooking.
I even have barbecue friends who save their rendered fat from one brisket, and inject it into their next brisket! It’s all about the personal tastes of the pitmaster and what flavorful concoctions they can brew up that fit inside their meat injector.
A meat injector tool looks like a large version of a shot you receive at the doctor. It will contain a plunger, a large needle, and the syringe to hold it all in place.
Injectors come in many different styles from stainless steel reusable models to disposable plastic injectors, and the form most home cooks will be familiar seeing is Tony Chachere’s turkey injector, which is commonly found at grocery stores throughout the country during the holidays.
If you find that you enjoy using a brisket injection recipe when smoking your brisket, I encourage you to purchase a stainless steel model which will allow for better cleaning and lasts a lifetime, as opposed to a cheap plastic injector which will need to be replaced about every three months or any time that deep gashes in the plastic, would prevent effectively sanitizing your tools between cooks.
Should I Use A Brisket Injection?
A brisket injection is purely optional and done more often in competition barbecue contests than at home. That being said, it is a fun step to do if you wish to experiment with unique flavor combinations or if barbecue is a serious hobby for you.
Thousands of home barbecue families (including ours) make juicy perfect briskets every weekend without using an injection. It’s just a fun process to try and if you ever enter competition barbecue you’ll find it is used often to take your brisket flavor to the next level.
But as I have explained many times in this brisket tutorial series, competition barbecue is one-bite-barbecue. You only get one bite to impress the judges so you want it to be loaded with as much flavor and juice as possible…sometimes that can be too rich and overpowering for home eats. It’s a matter of personal preference and you should give it a try to see what you prefer.
How To Make Your Own Brisket Injection
When choosing ingredients for a brisk injection liquid, I recommend choosing ingredients that achieve a good hearty flavor profile for meat while adding extra salt to bring out the flavors inherently found in good quality beef.
This includes meat-loving ingredients like onion and garlic which enhance the flavor of beef without changing it.
When creating this recipe I reach for secret items that professional chefs use to enhance meat such as roasted beef base, and Maggi flavor enhancer, as well as Parkay butter which is notorious in the competition barbecue community for adding even more buttery flavor than traditional butter. (If you want to use actual butter as opposed to the imitation product, I completely understand; this recipe is flexible, so you can do that with no issues.)
You can fine-tune this recipe and make it your own by adding whatever liquid ingredients that you like and simmering over low heat to let those flavors marry and blend. This brisket injection recipe is even better after it has developed in the refrigerator for one day.
Do I Need to Heat My Brisket Injection?
I heat my meat injection liquid for two reasons.
- The first reason is that the flavors blend and develop under low heat and in the professional kitchen we called this “blooming the spices”. It sort of wakes up flavors and gives them a nice pop. This is a great way to start a flavorful brisket.
- For those of you who like to use salt or sugar in your brisket injection liquid, heating the liquid activates a chemical process that melts the sugar or salt into the solution just like when making simple syrup. This way you won’t have to deal with big chunks of salt or sugar in your injection. It will be as close to a smooth liquid base as you can achieve and this extra step in the cooking process increases the quality of your product, with very little effort.
How Much Brisket Injection Do I Need for One Brisket?
The total volume of a brisket injection is about 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups so keep that in mind if you tweak this recipe, or go about creating your own. If you have any leftovers they can be used as a brisket spray or discarded.
After creating the broth that you plan on injecting into the brisket, you will need to chill this mixture as hot liquid should never be injected into a raw brisket.
I like to chill my brisket injection liquid in the refrigerator until it is about room temperature or the same temperature as the brisket I am injecting it into.
(For those of you using melted butter in your recipe, you can’t inject the formula ice cold either or you’ll have tiny chunks of butter separate from fluid and clog your syringe needle. You will need to maintain it at about room temperature (60-70 degrees) so the butter stays in liquid form.)
When Do I Inject a Brisket?
You have two choices here and both options take place after you trim your brisket.
1. Injecting the brisket, wrapping it, and letting it sit overnight in the refrigerator (before adding the rub and beginning your smoke the next day)
2. Injecting the brisket 1-2 hours before you place it on the smoker.
Both methods enhance the flavor of the brisket meat in the final cook and you should experiment with both techniques to see what you like best in your own method.
In both methods, I choose to add my rub after I have injected it, especially if you enjoy using a slather of mustard or some other medium for adhering the brisket rub to the brisket. (I don’t use this method but I know many people do which is why I mention it.)
You do not want the injection (which will leak out of the injection holes a little bit) to wash all your good work away.
How to Inject A Brisket With A Meat Injector
When the brisket is trimmed, and the brisket injection liquid is simmered and then cooled to at least the temperature of the brisket, we can assemble our brisket injection syringe and prepare to inject the brisket.
If your kitchen syringe has multiple sizes of needles, chose the largest needle size when working with large pieces of meat.
Dip the needle into the brisket injection fluid and pull back on the handle filling the base with injection fluid.
I prefer the brisket fat side down for the injecting process, but I smoke my brisket fat side down because I get some radiant heat from below and fat side down produces better results for my setup. My instinct is that you would want your injection holes inserted on whatever side is your “up” and/or inject from the sides of the brisket.
Starting with the brisket point (which is the thickest part of the brisket) insert the needle into the meat and press down the plunger as you gently pull the syringe back towards you.
This will ensure a stream of brisket injection fluid in a line deep within the brisket roast.
When looking at brisket meat you can see thin lines in the meat comprised of muscle fibers. We call this the grain of the meat. Be aware that the liquid will gather within the boundaries of these natural lines. So it’s best to inject “along the grain” or following the natural lines of the meat.
Inject about half of your solution into the point of the brisket and then move over to the flat of the brisket and continue injecting liquid throughout the flat. The flat is leaner and thinner than the point so it really enhances this side.
Be aware that when you pull out the injection needle a bit of excess liquid will leak out and that is normal. There will still be plenty inside the brisket for smoking. For best results, dry it with a paper towel as you go.
When finished, dry well and either wrap in aluminum foil for the night or begin your brisket rub application.
Here are some additional recipes and techniques I’ve shared on our Texas-style brisket process…
Have questions? Need help? Have an addition or a suggestion to a recipe? Drop me a comment below!
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Our beef brisket injection is the very best recipe among Texas championship barbecue enthusiasts. Inject into a whole brisket before smoking, to flavor and season the deep meat within a large brisket roast.
- ½ c. Parkay butter (see note)
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
- 2 T onion powder
- 1 T. Maggi Seasoning Liquid
- 1 T Better than Bouillon (Roasted Beef Flavor)
- 1 c. water
- 1 Full packer brisket
Heat all of the ingredients gently over low heat in a small saucepan. Cool to at least room temperature. Strain out the garlic pieces, place into a meat injector and inject the brisket injection marinade throughout the brisket. The best way is with the grain of the muscle fiber. (Demonstrated in the photos in this post.)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 46Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 138mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
This nutritional information is provided as a courtesy as an estimate only. Consult with a dietician for precise estimates. This website makes no claims that the nutritional values listed are accurate.