What Is The Best Thing To Inject A Turkey With Easy Butter-Based Injection Sauce for Your Turkey

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Prep:
10 mins

Cook:
2 mins

Marinate:
3 hrs

Total:
3 hrs 12 mins

Servings:
12 servings

Yield:
3/4 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
23 Calories
2g Fat
0g Carbs
1g Protein

Show Full Nutrition Label

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 23
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 8mg 3%
Sodium 68mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 2mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 12mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Although it’s most common for home cooks to brine the turkey before roasting it, there are certain advantages when you directly inject the meat with a delicious marinade. Drier meats like turkey greatly benefit from this technique, as the injection sauce keeps the bird juicy and adds flavor deep within the meat. Our recipe for an easy injection sauce keeps it simple with ingredients you’re likely to have in your pantry. Use an injection sauce whether you plan to roast, smoke, or deep-fry your poultry.

You should plan on using this injection marinade several hours before you start cooking. If you have the time, inject the bird the night before roasting. While you can brine your turkey, that process mostly adds salt rather than additional flavors—plus it also takes more time.

You will need a meat injector for this recipe. This large syringe is available at most kitchen stores, well-stocked supermarkets, or online. It can be unwieldy at first, so you may want to practice manipulating it a bit with water before you use your butter injection sauce. Some injection experts recommend placing the bird in a brining bag while injecting the marinade, as the pressurized liquid can splatter out through any opening in the bird, causing a big mess.

0:50

Click Play to See This Butter-Based Poultry Injection Sauce Recipe Come Together

“This sauce was excellent. I injected and roasted a small chicken (about 4 pounds), and it came out tender and juicy. If you plan to baste the chicken as it cooks, you could easily make another batch. It only takes a few minutes to make the sauce.” —Diana Rattray

Butter-based poultry injection sauce in a jar with injector and turkey in the background
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Injection:

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Turkey:

  • 1 (15- to 20-pound) turkey

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Butter-based poultry injection sauce ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  2. Add the chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, and white pepper in a small saucepan. Mix well until the butter is completely melted.

    Chicken broth, butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, black pepper, and white pepper simmering in a saucepan with a wooden spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  3. Add salt and taste test. Add more salt if needed, but keep in mind the mixture needs a good but not overpowering flavor. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool until just warm for 8 minutes.

    Butter-based injection sauce for turkey in a saucepan removed from the heat

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  4. Load the marinade into a meat injector and slowly and carefully inject it into various spots in the bird. The breast meat really benefits from this mixture—the best approach is to go for a dozen spots and add about 2 teaspoons per site, or less if you see the fluid oozing out.

    Turkey in a roasting pan being injected with butter-based sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  5. Massage around all of the injection sites to distribute the mixture throughout the bird.

    Turkey in a roasting pan being massaged so the butter sauce is evenly distributed

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  6. Cover the bird and let rest in the fridge for several hours (overnight if possible) before cooking. If you have any leftover mixture that came in contact with the syringe, discard it. If you would like to have some for basting the turkey as it roasts, make another clean batch of the marinade. If keeping the bird in the fridge overnight, keep the mix in a closed container and melt before using it to baste.

    Turkey covered with plastic wrap in a roasting pan and butter sauce in a plastic container

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  7. Roast the turkey in a 325 F oven for 15 to 20 minutes per pound of weight. Baste with the extra marinade, if using.

    Turkey in a roasting pan basted with marinade

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  8. Check for doneness with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat away from the bone until it reads a minimum of 165 F.

    Roasted turkey in a roasting pan with a meat thermometer testing for doneness

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


  9. Allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

    Roasted turkey resting in a roasting pan

    The Spruce Eats / Eric Kleinberg


Master the Injection Technique

Here are a few important tips to help you master this helpful technique:

  • The injection mix must be completely smooth and clear of any bits that could clog the meat injector. Fully melted butter and finely ground spices are key. Fresh herbs or lemon seeds from the juice can clog the needle. If you still want herby flavors, add herbs under the skin or use a poultry rub, and for a spicier version, use any spicy element in liquid form, like Tabasco or Sriracha.
  • If you brine your turkey and still want to inject it, omit the salt from the injection sauce and use low-sodium chicken broth. Otherwise, your bird may end up too salty.
  • Remember to discard any unused mix. Dipping the needle into the sauce once it has been inside the bird will transmit bacteria such as salmonella to the rest of the injection, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

How Do You Properly Clean the Injector?

Some injectors come with brushes for cleaning. If yours doesn’t, clean the parts in soapy water:

  • Fill a bowl or pan with hot, soapy water.
  • Insert the tip of the injector into the soapy water and pull back the plunger to fill the injector cylinder.
  • Push the plunger down to force the soapy water through the needle. Do this several times until it is thoroughly clean, aiming away from you into the kitchen sink.
  • Rinse with clear hot water, aiming away from you.
  • Clean any splatter of liquid with disinfectant as it can contain raw poultry bits.

Helpful Links

  • How to Inject Marinades
  • The Best Marinade Injectors
  • How to Brine Poultry, Fish, and Meat

Video about What Is The Best Thing To Inject A Turkey With

Should You Inject Or Brine Your Thanksgiving Turkey

With Thanksgiving right around the corner its time to ask the age old question, should I brine or inject my turkey. Both methods can be great ways to get extra flavor and moisture down into your Thanksgiving turkey, or any protein for that matter. However, there are some differences In them that we’ll go over today. To begin with the biggest difference is if you brine you will need a significant amount of time to perform that process. The brine solution in a turkey for instance will need about an hour’s worth of soak time to penetrate deep into the protein. It does this through a process called reverse osmosis in which the salt in the brine draws out moisture from the protein, then as the protein draws the moisture back in it brings the salt molecules with it. This causes added flavor and moisture deep in the meat. Injections on the other hand can be done right before the protein goes on the cooker if you would like. This is due to the fact that most commercial injections have sodium phosphates in them. These phosphates will latch on to moisture and protein and help hold it there.

The other big difference between injections and brines is with a brine method, the only molecule small enough the penetrate the cells of the protein is salt. This means contrary to popular belief all of the extra ingredients like peppercorns, citrus and the like do not get down into the protein. They will be on the outside of the protein and their aroma will probably influence your taste, but as far as soaking into the protein, that won’t happen. If you have specific flavors you want to get deep into the protein then injection is what you want to do. Because we are manually putting those flavors into the protein with a needle we are guaranteeing that they will be there in our final product.

All in all I think both methods are great and have their place, but here’s how I would decide which method to go with. If you have the time and want a full proof super moist turkey, I would brine. If you have specific flavors you want deep in that protein or maybe you don’t have 12 hours to brine your bird, I’d go with the injection. I hope all this helps and till next time, y’all take it easy

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