Why Inject Your Turkey?
This injectable turkey marinade recipe is a must for anyone who wants to make thoroughly seasoned, irresistibly moist turkey meat. Below are a few reasons why using a turkey injection solution will take your turkey game to the next level.
- Flavor enhancement: This turkey injection recipe is the ultimate way to infuse each bite of turkey meat with expert seasoning. Though delicious, turkey rubs and glazes only flavor the skin of the turkey, which may leave you with bland turkey meat. However, injecting a turkey with a marinade-like mixture ensures every morsel has the same robust, savory taste.
- Moisture and juiciness: Unlike a traditional roasted turkey recipe, there’s no need to frequently baste your meat when you use this marinade injection recipe. The turkey’s skin will trap the moisture within the meat, ensuring your bird comes out as succulent and tender as possible while introducing additional liquid to keep your meat juicy during cooking.
- Even seasoning from within: In addition to being delectable, this turkey syringe seasoning creates an even internal flavor profile by seasoning the bird from within. As a result, you can reduce the amount of extra seasoning that you use to cover the entire surface of the turkey.
- Better browning: No one can resist a turkey dinner with a perfectly golden-brown and crispy exterior. In addition to adding a lot of flavor, injecting turkey with this recipe also ensures your turkey browns better during the cooking process, leading to a gorgeous presentation and even better taste.
- A faster way to marinate: Making a homemade turkey injection is a great way to get the luscious taste of marinated turkey in a fraction of the time. Rather than letting your meat sit in marination juices for hours (if not days), injections will give your turkey the same full-bodied, robust flavor from the moment the marination reaches the meat. With that being said, you can make this turkey injection marinade recipe and inject your turkey for up to 36 hours in advance.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Injectable Turkey Marinade
Now that we covered the equipment, let’s delve into the basic ingredients and explore optional additions and substitutions to craft your own injection flavors for turkey:
- Unsalted butter: Butter is essential to giving this garlic butter turkey injection recipe its iconic rich, savory taste. Though I prefer using unsalted butter to control the meat’s saltiness, you may also use salted butter if you adjust the amount of extra salt accordingly.
- Chicken stock at room temperature: Chicken stock is the key to giving your turkey injection liquid an irresistibly elegant, moist flavor. You can purchase low-sodium chicken stock from the grocery store or make your own homemade chicken stock.
- Lemon juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Seasonings: This flavor injection for turkey achieves its savory, robust profile with just a few simple ingredients, including onion powder, garlic powder, and Kosher salt.
- Turkey: This recipe yields 12 oz. of marinade, ideal for 14-16 pounds of bird. Therefore, feel free to adjust the recipe to accommodate more or less meat. Also, if your turkey is frozen, be sure to fully thaw the meat before beginning your injections.
How to Make Turkey Injection Marinade?
Ready in just ten minutes, this DIY injectable turkey marinade is the easiest way to elevate your turkey to a holiday centerpiece. Follow these two simple steps, and you’ll have everything you need to make an exquisitely juicy, flavorful turkey meal.
- Melt the butter: Place butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until just melted.
- Add the remaining ingredients: Remove the melted butter from the heat and add the chicken stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and Kosher salt. Whisk the ingredients until thoroughly mixed, then let the liquid cool for a few minutes. Though the mixture doesn’t have to be cold, ensure that it reaches close to room temperature before using it to inject the turkey.
How to Inject Turkey With Butter?
Injecting turkey for roasting, smoking, and deep-frying is a piece of cake with these hassle-free instructions.
- Dry the turkey: Before beginning the injection process, place the turkey on a sheet pan or a large enough plate and dry thoroughly on all sides using paper towels. Set it aside.
- Fill the injector: Place the injector tip into the now-slightly cooled butter garlic injection and pull the plunger back until the syringe fills. If the mixture separates, agitate the butter marinade by plunging back and forth until the ingredients re-incorporate and emulsify.
- Inject turkey with seasoning: Insert the tip of the turkey injector into the thickest parts of the turkey meat, starting from the breast and moving down to the thighs. As you are injecting the marinade, be free to go in at least one inch deep at a 45-degree angle, pushing ½ ounce of marinade per site. You may begin pulling the tip out as you slowly inject the liquid but don’t force it. Stop your injection just before reaching the turkey’s skin. If you hit a bone with your injector, pull the needle back slightly and continue the injection process.
- Continue with the remaining turkey: Continue the injection process throughout the turkey, including the wings, breast, thighs, and legs—20-24 times in total. Try not to massage or distribute the liquid after injecting, as the solution will naturally flow into the meat as it rests in the fridge. If any solution drips out of a piercing site, apply gentle pressure to the hole with a finger as you continue injecting the bird in an adjacent area.
- Let the turkey rest: Place the turkey onto a large cooking pan, cover it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and refrigerate it overnight.
When to Inject Turkey?
The ideal time for injecting turkey with butter depends on your goals for preparation and cooking methods. Below, you’ll find just a few tips for ensuring your turkey comes out perfectly succulent, no matter how you cook it.
- For roasting or smoking: If you plan to roast or smoke your bird, I recommend injecting your turkey marinade at least 4-6 hours before cooking, overnight, or for up to 36 hours.
- Deep-frying: When deep-frying a turkey, you only need to inject the turkey seasoning into the bird between thirty minutes and an hour before cooking.
Variations on this Seasoning Injection for Turkey
The best recipe for injecting turkey is one you can make your own, regardless of your ideal flavor profile. The recipe we are using here is a basic one that is ideal for a Thanksgiving turkey. However, you can play with the flavors depending on the occasion and your preference.
Below are a few variations with unique combinations of rich, sweet, and spicy ingredients. Feel free to try them as you make your own injection marinade. However, as we mentioned earlier, if you choose to use spices, make sure to run them through a spice grinder so that they won’t clog the injection needle.
- Beer and butter poultry injection: Beer can add incomparably tender, aromatic, and deep flavor to your turkey injections. If you want to go for it, omit the lemon juice and chicken stock and, instead, add six ounces of beer (brown ale or lager). If you prefer, you can also add a teaspoon of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to give your injection a kick of heat.
- Honey butter injection for turkey: For a slightly sweeter injection, melt a teaspoon of honey in the hot butter mixture. This honeyed blend balances out this recipe’s bolder, savory flavors, giving you a mild, caramelized-like taste.
- Creole or Cajun turkey injection recipe: Few main dishes are as robustly seasoned, fiery, or delectable as authentic Creole cuisine. You, too, can transform your injectable marinade into a classic Creole injection for turkey by omitting this recipe’s Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder. Instead, add one tablespoon of ground blackening seasoning and a pinch (or more!) of cayenne pepper.
To inject turkey before roasting or smoking, I highly recommend injecting your turkey overnight (or up to 36 hours!), ensuring the flavors have time to distribute evenly throughout the bird. However, if you plan on deep-frying your turkey, you may insert the injectable butter marinade for the turkey thirty minutes before cooking.
Yes! The additional liquids, oils, and fats common in injector marinades will keep your turkey from becoming dry, with an even distribution of succulent, moist texture throughout the bird.
I don’t recommend trying to internally marinate a turkey without a turkey injector. However, if you don’t have an injector, you may create knife pockets or slits in the turkey meat using a sharp knife. Then, use a spoon to pour the marinade into these pockets. Though the mixture won’t distribute as evenly as it would with an injector, it’ll still introduce some flavor and moisture to the turkey meat.
Absolutely! The flavors from the infused turkey will help enhance the gravy, lending it all the rich, savory undertones of the injection marinade.
You can definitely use this turkey injector recipe on butterball turkey! This succulent addition adds tender juiciness to your meat, and you can also use it on leaner poultry, such as heritage turkey or chicken.
Other Turkey Marinades and Rubs You Might Also Like
Do you love to make your own turkey injection marinade? Then these other five-star flavoring recipes will astound you with their simple, decadent, and lively profiles.
If you try this injection recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It is a great help to others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
Turkey Injection Recipe
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter One 4 oz. stick
- 1 cup chicken stock at room temperature (or turkey stock)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 Turkey 14-16 pounds – fully thawed if frozen, cleaned and dried with paper towel
- Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until just melted. Do not let it turn brown.
- Off the heat, add the chicken stock, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, and Kosher salt. Whisk until everything is incorporated. Let it cool for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be cold, but rather just close to room temperature.
- Place the injector tip into the butter mixture and pull the plunger back to fill the syringe. If the mixture separates, you can “agitate” the butter solution by plunging back and forth a couple of times to emulsify and incorporate all the ingredients.
- Prior to injecting the bird, make sure that any air pockets in the syringe are removed. To do so, point the syringe upwards and gently push the plunger until all the air is extracte.
- Using the injector, insert the tip at a 45-degree angle, distributing ¼ ounce per site at least 1 inch deep. You can start to pull the tip out as you slowly inject but do not force it. Stop the injection just before you reach the skin.
- Continue this process throughout several areas of the turkey, including the wings, breast, thighs, and legs, for a total of 20 to 24 times. Don’t be tempted to massage or distribute the liquid because once it is injected, the solution will self-absorb as it rests in the fridge. If you see the solution escaping from a different pierced area, you should apply slight pressure using your finger so that the solution does not ooze out while you are injecting it into an adjacent area.
- Cover it with stretch film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight or up to 36 hours.
- Yields: This recipe yields 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of injection fluid, which is ideal for a turkey that is between 14-16 pounds. The nutritional values below do not include turkey, and they are for the whole injector recipe.
- Make Ahead: You can technically make this recipe ahead of time, but if you do, you still have to warm it up on the stove. Therefore, we do not recommend making it ahead.
- Storage: If you decide not to use the whole marinade, we recommend discarding it to prevent contamination.
- Move quickly to avoid butter solidification: As you inject the bird, we recommend moving quickly as butter tends to solidify as it sits. Towards the end of the injection process, as the butter cools down, it may clog the needle. If that happens, an easy solution is to run the syringe (and the needle tip) under hot tap water for 15-20 seconds.
- Don’t pierce the bird’s cavity: When injecting your bird, try not to penetrate beyond the meat and into the turkey’s inner cavity, as the marinade won’t infuse the meat unless the needle lands within its fibers.
- Brining and injecting: You can both brine and inject a turkey with marinade before roasting. However, keep in mind that the two methods should complement each other in terms of flavor, and the amount of salt used. If you choose to use both preparation methods, I recommend brining the meat first for 12-24 hours, then rinsing off the bird and pat-drying it with a paper towel. Then, you can inject the meat with the injection marinade. However, when preparing the injection solution, omit using salt to prevent your turkey from being overly salty.
- Use any of your favorite turkey recipes: You can use any of your favorite turkey recipes once the marinating time is complete. However, make sure to adjust the amount of salt used if you are using other seasonings to flavor your turkey.
- You can use this injection marinade recipe for chicken as well. However, be sure to adjust the recipe according to the size of your chicken.