Have you ever come across a recipe or tutorial that called for injecting your brisket and wondered why?
Or maybe you’ve wondered why award winning barbecue competition teams hold their injection recipes so close to the chest.
In the barbecue world, injecting is one surefire way to add flavor and moisture to low and slow smoked meats.
Injecting your brisket is a way of marinating your meat from the inside out, enhancing not only the taste but the texture of your meat as well.
Let’s see why this method is especially good with whole beef briskets and how to achieve the best flavor when using it.
Should you inject brisket?
Beef brisket is best cooked low and slow. During this process, the meat, especially the flat, will lose a lot of moisture.
Injecting not only adds moisture but flavor as well.
The use of a marinade or dry rub will only flavor the surface of the beef, leaving most of the brisket without added flavoring.
Most experts agree that injecting beef brisket is one of the easiest and most time effective ways of adding moisture and flavor throughout a whole brisket.
The added flavor and moisture are injected well below the beef’s surface. Using only an injecting tool and some simple ingredients you can produce more tender brisket with a more complex flavor profile.
Want to know about injecting other types of meat? Check out our guide to injecting meat for smoking.
Brisket injection recipes
There are lots of recipes out there you can experiment with. Let’s run through a few basics, and then we’ll go over the best options for store-bought and home made injections.
Injection recipes can vary from a thin liquid to a thick mixture with a ton of spices and herbs.
Some of the most common ingredients include:
- Brown Sugar
- Beef Stock or Broth
- Apple Juice
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Garlic and Herbs
The trick here is to keep it simple. You don’t want to overpower the flavor of the meat, but rather enhance it.
Commercial brisket injections
If you don’t want to follow a recipe or try experimenting with some of the ingredients above, you can buy powder-based injection formulas.
Simply mix the powder with water in a shaker bottle, then inject into the beef.
This video from Harry Soo has a good overview of some of the most popular brisket injections.
You should be able to find these in your barbecue supplies store, or via Amazon.
Here are a few popular options you can pick up on Amazon.
- Kosmos Q Reserve Blend Barbecue Brisket Injection
- Kosmos Q Original Barbecue Beef Brisket Injection
- Butcher BBQ Prime Barbuece Brisket Injection
Homemade brisket injection recipes
You definitely don’t have to splash out on store-bought injections. Here are a few of our favorite recipes to try.
1. Malcolm Reeds Beef Brisket Injection
We’ve tried out loads of Maclom’s recipes and they are always fantastic. This is a simple injection you can make from ingredients you should have in the pantry.
- Beef Base
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Soy Sauce
You can check out the full recipe here.
2. Amazing Ribs Beef Injection
It doesn’t get much more simple than this beef or venison brine injection.
- Kosher salt
- Beef stock
Get the full recipe and lots of other injection ideas over at amazingribs.com
1. Meat injector
You’ve got three main types of meat injector to choose from:
- Plastic injector – The cheapest option, can absorb flavor over time
- Stainless steel injector – Slightly more expensive and easier to keep clean
- Injector Gun – The most expensive option with more features like the ability to dispense a specific amount of liquid with each pull.
For most people a good stainless steel injector will be the best option. Look for one that comes in a kit with a few different injector tips and extra seals.
The size of the tip you should use is determined by the thickness of the injecting liquid.
If you will be injecting a lot, then you can’t look past the SpitJack Magnum Injector Gun.
It’s definitely overkill if you’re only going to be injecting the occasional brisket or pork butt, but if you like to have the best tool for the job, or need to work with volume it’s the best option.
2. Deep pan or cooking tray
Injecting the liquid into the beef gets quite messy, so you’ll want a deep pan to collect the excess liquid.
I like to use an oven tray as it’s big enough to hold even a full packer brisket.
3. Tall glass or mixing bowl
Most injecting tips have holes up the side of the needle, so a tall glass makes it easier to draw the liquid into the injector.
Should you inject the night before?
Some people claim that injecting brisket the night before smoking it helps develop more flavor.
There doesn’t seem to be much consensus on this issue though, as plenty of folks prefer to inject an hour before cooking.
It’s most likely that timing isn’t a very important factor to worry about.
Step by step guide to injecting brisket
1. Prepare your brisket
- Trim the brisket are you normally would, removing some of the fat from both sides of the beef to your desired liking.
- Place the brisket in a deep pan, tray, or even the sink if you don’t have one.
2. Prepare the Injection Liquid
- Mix together your injection liquid recipe (about 1 ounce per pound) in a tall glass or mixing bowl.
- If using an injector with a trigger and tensioner, set the tensioner so that it injects about 5 CC’s of liquid with each pull of the trigger.
- Next, fill the syringe with the liquid by inserting the tip into the glass and pulling back on the plunger.
- Make sure all the holes along the side of the needle are fully submerged in the liquid when filling the syringe to avoid spraying.
3. Choose a direction
- The direction you inject the beef is up to you. Some experts say they only inject beef with the grain of the meat as injecting against will result in added punctures and could result in noticeable rings of your injection liquid in the beef.
- Others say it doesn’t really matter as long as you inject it evenly throughout.
- The direction will not affect the taste of the brisket, only it’s appearance.
4. Inject the beef
- Once you’ve decided on the direction, insert the needle into the beef and as you pull it out press the plunger (or pull the trigger) to release the liquid.
- It’s a good idea to cover the top of the needle as you inject, to catch any spray.
- Repeat by inserting the needle every 1-2 inches in a grid pattern until the beef will not take any more liquid. You may need to use the excess liquid in the pan to fill the syringe the last few times.
- Collect and discard any remaining liquid in the pan. It’s also a good idea to soak up any excess liquid on top of the beef so it’s ready for a rub, if using one.
- Congratulations, your beef brisket is now packed full of flavor and moisture!
What do the experts recommend?
Injecting brisket is definitely not compulsory. Like everything with barbecue, there is plenty of disagreement between the experts.
Meathead Goldwyn the author of Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling is a fan of injecting, saying:
“I almost always inject briskets with beef broth. This meat takes so long to cook that the extra moisture helps keep it from dehydrating, and the salt helps the meat hold onto moisture and enhances flavor. Use broth only. No need to add spices, juices or other flavorings. All we want here is moisture. We don’t want the fluid to mask the flavor of the meat.”
Steven Raichlen from the Barbecue Bible is also pro of injecting.
“As many barbecue pros know, injecting is the most efficient way to add flavor and moisture to smoked, barbecued, or grilled food.”
However, not everyone uses the injection method.
Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue uses an offset smoker with the addition of a water pan and spritzes the brisket with a liquid.
He says this keeps the cooking environment moist and humid, boosting the flavor of smoke into the meat.
So should you shoot up your brisket?
Now that you know why and how to inject beef brisket the best option is to go ahead and give it a try and find out for yourself.
With just a few extra tools you can start enhancing the taste and texture of your brisket from the inside out.
Just try to keep the injecting liquid simple by following a recipe, trying some of the most popular ingredients, or buying a ready to mix powder. Remember the idea is to enhance the meat flavor, not overpower it.
Let us know in the comments what you think about injecting beef brisket, have you ever tried it? If so, what’s your favorite injection recipe? And as always, please share if you liked this article.