5 Best Turkey and Chicken Injection Recipes (BBQ, Smoking, Grilling)

These best marinade injection recipes will help you get the best out of your smoked turkey and chicken this holiday season. Enrich the flavors of your poultry with herb, spice, and butter marinades with little more than a syringe and your bare hands!

marinade injected turkey on plate

One of the best ways to cook beautiful chicken and turkey is to use a good injection marinade that gets right under the skin of your poultry with a meat injector.

You can apply a BBQ rub to the skin of your bird, or you can try brining it overnight to work in more moisture while it cooks. But one of the best ways is by injecting a good marinade deep into the meat.

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    While rubs, sauces and marinades are great at working flavor in to the outer layers of your meat, injection recipes are better at permeating the flesh in order impart a richer level of taste to it.

    Today we’re looking at using injection marinades to take your turkey and chicken to the next level. We’ll add flavor, aroma and moisture, making the finished meat beautifully tender. These are 5 of the best turkey and chicken injection recipes for you to take your meat prep to the next level.

    marinade smoked chicken

    Be sure to check out my favorite BBQ chicken rub recipe.

    I love injector recipes, but I think a lot of people are put off by the thought of injecting meat. Perhaps they think it’s too much work, or too difficult. The good news is that nothing could be further from the truth!

    Recommended Reading

    Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes

    flavorize marinade help book

    The best meat injectors are affordable (often about $20), and come with enough add-ons to make them easy to use for a variety of different types of marinade.

    Take a look at my review for the Premiala meat injector to see how easy to use and affordable a meat injector can be.

    So if you’re new to injecting meat, this guide is for you. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, and show you what kind of meat and flavor pairings work best for your next injection recipe.

    Here are some quick tips on how to use your marinade injector.

    Line up the holes

    On most injectors, the holes tend to be aligned up the side of the needle, and not at the end (although this isn’t always the case).

    This means you will need to submerge the entire needle when drawing in marinade, so you’ll need to use a deep dish.

    premiala meat injector set with needles and main chamber
    Many meat injectors come with a set of needles for different types of marinade

    This doesn’t mean that you need to produce gallons of the stuff, but try to use a long thin glass so that your needle can get plenty of purchase as you try to withdraw the liquid.

    A glass tumbler should be fine, or if you’re feeling fancy a champagne flute will do the job.

    Get stainless steel

    Your injector is going to be exposed to a lot while you use it. As well as your marinade, it will come into contact with your meat. This means that it’s important that the needles are easy to clean.

    You don’t want to discover pieces of food that are long out of date – particularly meat – inside the chamber of your injector several months down the line.

    Apart from regular cleaning, the next best thing you can do to ensure good food safety is by getting an injector made of stainless steel.

    There’s a good reason why stainless steel is found everywhere in the culinary world. It’s extremely resistant to oxidization and corrosion (source). This means that it will last longer than other materials, and won’t be infected by the lasting effects of exposure to food or moisture.

    My beloved Premiala injector is stainless steel. It’s easy to clean and machine washable, which means it’s easy to disassemble and place in the dishwasher to allow thorough cleaning.

    Go for a choice of different needles

    A lot of modern models of injector have different needles, which gives you a greater choice of the meats and marinades you can use.

    A close-up of one of the Premiala's large needles
    A close-up of one of the Premiala’s large needles

    These needles differ in hole placement and size. This is great as different marinades vary widely in thickness, and some contain herbs or spices. Thinner cuts of meat won’t suit needles that have holes along the side, and will only offer enough depth for needles with single holes at the end.

    Try to distribute evenly

    Once you have loaded the barrel of your injector with marinade, you want to apply it to multiple different points across the surface of the bird.

    How often you do this is up to you, but at the very least make sure that the thickest parts of the bird have been done. This is usually the area most prone to being bland or dry after cooking (Source).

    Keep in mind that we want the marinade to permeate the meat evenly, so try to distribute the holes uniformly. I try to aim for one-inch gaps across the surface in each direction. Plot a grid in your head and try to stick to that, ensuring that you get each breast, thigh, and leg.

    Check out: How to inject meat for smoking

    Pay attention to depth

    This is one of the easiest things to get wrong. If you inject too close to the surface of your bird the marinade will leak right back out.

    On the other hand, if you go too deep your needle risks going out the other end.

    When you apply your first bit of marinade, pay attention to depth and once you find that sweet spot, apply that across the whole of the bird.

    Now on to the recipes

    Here are 5 of the best chicken and turkey injector recipes for turning your smoked bird into a tender and moist serving of delicious meat.

    These can more or less be used interchangeably between chicken and turkey. The only difference is that turkey requires slightly more marinade than chicken, thanks to how easily it can dry out.

    Let’s get onto the recipes!

    Beer n’ Butter Poultry Injection

    beer butter poultry marinade recipe
    Photo: Countryside Cravings

    This injector recipe is great for getting right in deep into the flesh of the bird, and goes perfectly with turkey.


    ½ lb butter
    ½ can beer
    2 tbsp salt
    2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    2 tbsp Tabasco
    1 tbsp soy sauce
    2 tsp garlic powder
    2 tsp onion powder

    How to make it

    It’s important that this injection mix is kept warm, otherwise the butter content won’t stay liquid-like for long enough to merge with the other ingredients. Prepare it in a saucepan over a low heat.

    Stir over heat until the sauce is runny and combined well, and the salt has completely dissolved. Inject while warm, but not too hot.

    Savory Turkey Injection Marinade

    herb marinade

    This recipe makes great use of herbs and Worcestershire sauce to create a savory marinade that remains rich in flavor. If you’re looking for the best turkey injection recipe this is it.


    1/4 cup light oil
    1/4 cup water
    3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 tbsp salt
    2 tsp garlic powder
    2 tsp onion powder
    1 tsp ground bay leaf
    1 tsp ground thyme
    1 tsp ground sage
    1 tsp finely ground black pepper

    How to make it

    Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir continuously until well combined, and allow to simmer. Once combined, fill the barrel of your injector with it and you’re good to go!

    Cajun Turkey Injection

    cajun bayou chicken
    Photo: Frontier Co-Op

    I love Cajun favors and spices so putting this recipe on this list was a no brainer. I add Tabasco to pretty much everything, so any marinade containing that has my vote.

    The ingredients listed are sometimes used for rubs, but what’s great with an injection marinade is that the ingredients won’t be at risk of washing off.


    1 cup lemon juice
    1/2 cup liquid crab boil
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    2 tbsp onion powder
    2 tbsp garlic powder
    2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
    1 tsp Tabasco
    1 tsp cayenne pepper

    How to make it

    Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, and heat until the butter has melted and combined. Inject while still warm and while the melted butter is a liquid, but not too hot.

    Hot and Spicy Injection

    marinated chicken

    I love taking the opportunity to add any level of heat to BBQ, and this recipe is perfect for doing just that. It lets you add spice under the skin of your bird, meaning your poultry retains heat better than it would with a rub.


    1 cup chicken broth
    4 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
    3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    1 tbsp garlic powder
    1 tbsp salt
    1 tbsp cayenne pepper

    How to make it

    Heat the chicken broth to a low heat. Add all ingredients and stir in thoroughly.

    Italian Herb Injection

    italian herb marinade

    I couldn’t possibly have a list of marinades without some sort of Italian influence in it. This recipe brings a mass of beautiful herbs together, giving you a flavor-rich marinade.


    3/4 cup olive oil
    3/4 cup red wine
    1 tbsp Italian Seasonings
    2 tbsp dried basil
    2 tbsp dried oregano
    2 tbsp dried rosemary
    2 tbsp dried thyme
    2 tbsp dried sage
    2 tbsp dried marjoram
    2 tbsp savory
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tsp black pepper

    How to make it

    The trick with this one is to make sure that your herbs are finely ground, so that they can fit through your injector needle without a problem. A herb mill or spice grinder can work well for this.

    Another thing to be aware of is that the marinade will settle, and the herbs might gather at the top or bottom of it. To try to avoid this, mix the marinade well between uses.

    These recipes are a great introduction for meat injecting for newcomers, as well as something to try for seasoned smoking veterans.

    If you have a recipe that I haven’t covered here then be sure to let me know!

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