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How to inject a turkey with marinade

One effective way to season your turkey prior to cooking is by injecting it with a marinade. The result is a juicy and flavorful meal! Keep reading to learn more about how to inject a turkey with marinade, and why you should try it.

Why You Should Inject Your Turkey with Marinade

When you rub seasonings on your turkey, you flavor only the skin. If you want your seasonings to penetrate deep into the turkey meat for an extra succulent and tasty meal, you should try injecting your turkey with a marinade. If you’ve never tried this before, below are some of the benefits you can expect from seasoning your turkey with this technique:

  • Save Time: Brining is a technique that involves soaking your turkey in a brining solution until the meat absorbs the brining liquid. The process can leave you with juicy and tasty meat but takes 12 to 24 hours. Injecting a turkey with marinade can help you achieve similar results within minutes. After injecting your turkey with the marinade, you can immediately cook it and avoid the hassle of spending hours brining your turkey.
  • Deeper Flavor Penetration: Rubbing a marinade or dry rub on a turkey will only flavor the exterior. Even if you let the seasoning sit on the turkey for hours, it will not penetrate as deeply as injecting the turkey with a marinade. The deep penetration of an injected marinade makes it ideal for seasoning thick cuts of meat like turkey breasts.
  • Increased Moisture: Your turkey will retain most of the injected marinade during cooking, leaving you with a moist and delicious meal.
  • Convenient: Besides being an effective technique, injecting a turkey is convenient in comparison to brining your turkey, since you do not need to clear out your fridge to store the turkey submerged in a brining liquid. Also, the cleanup required after injecting your turkey is minimal.

What Should You Marinate Your Turkey With

You can inject your turkey with any mix of herbs and spices you believe will enhance the flavor. However, since you cannot inject a turkey with dry ingredients, you will need to blend your spices and mix them into oil, broth, or another flavorful liquid.

Some cooks prefer mixing their herbs and spices into melted butter or duck fat, which are excellent for achieving a succulent turkey. After combining your seasonings with the liquid, you can pull the mixture into your syringe, then inject it into all parts of your turkey.

How to Inject a Turkey with Marinade

What You’ll Need

  • Meat Injector: A meat injector has a large syringe and a thick needle. You will pull your marinade into the syringe and evenly inject it into all parts of your turkey.
  • Whole Turkey or Turkey Breast: Fresh or frozen whole turkeys or turkey breasts are best for marinade injections. That’s because the meat is thick enough to hold the injected marinade. However, if you have a frozen turkey, you must thaw it before injecting your marinade.
  • Ingredients for Marinade Injection: The marinade that will go into your injection must be smooth and not overly thick, as a too-thick marinade will clog the needle. Any marinade of your desired flavor profile will do, but if you’re looking for inspiration check out our Spicy Grilled Turkey recipe for a marinade recommendation.


Here’s how to inject a turkey with marinade to enhance its flavor:

Step 1

Thaw your frozen turkey by leaving it in your refrigerator for several days. If you don’t have that much time to thaw your turkey, you can defrost it in a cold water bath. Alternatively, buy a fresh turkey so you can skip the thawing process and move to the next step.

Step 2

For the most flavorful turkey, season the exterior of your turkey by dry brining it. You can dry brine your turkey by evenly coating it with salt, black pepper, and dried herbs and letting the turkey rest in your fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Besides dry brining, you can season the outside of your turkey with a wet rub or mop sauce.

Step 3

Prepare your injection marinade by grinding your preferred herbs and spices into a fine powder. Avoid using spices or seasonings that may overpower the natural flavor of your turkey. Instead, opt for spices that will enhance your turkey’s flavor. Seasonings commonly added to injection marinades include salt, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and black pepper.

Combine your blended spices with a liquid, like seasoned oil, vinegar, wine, chicken stock, melted butter, or duck fat. The liquid will be the vehicle that distributes your spice blend throughout the turkey after injecting it. Besides flavoring your meat, the liquid will enhance its moistness and succulence as it cooks. Check out a delicious turkey injection marinade recipe here.

Step 4

If you had to heat your marinade to make it, allow it to cool before putting it into your meat injector. After pulling the marinade into your meat injector, set it aside.

Step 5

After the dry brine, brush the excess rub off your turkey and let the turkey cool to room temperature. Once at room temperature, begin injecting your turkey with the marinade.

Inject the turkey with about two teaspoons of the marinade in as many places possible, especially the breasts, thighs, and other thick parts of the turkey. The more evenly you distribute the injection placement, the more likely that every bite of turkey will be juicy and delicious.

Step 6

After injecting your turkey, you can immediately begin cooking it with your oven, grill, smoker, or another cooking method. Alternatively, you can wait a few hours to let the injected marinade seep deeper into the meat before cooking. If you choose to wait, store your injected turkey in the fridge for no more than 36 hours before cooking.

Cooking an Injected Turkey

You can cook your injected turkey with any method you prefer. Try something new and delicious by cooking your injected turkey with one of the Shady Brook Farms cooking guides below:

Turkey Injection FAQs

Where is the best place to inject a turkey?

The best places to inject a marinade are the thickest parts of the turkey, such as the breasts and thighs. You can also ensure that every bite is moist and delicious by spreading your injection pattern and injecting every part of the turkey your needle can penetrate.

Do not forget to aim for the center of the meat when injecting your marinade. If you do not inject deep enough, the marinade will only squirt back out, and if you penetrate too deeply, your flavoring liquid will come out on the other side.

How long before cooking should I inject a turkey?

You can start cooking your turkey immediately after injecting it with your marinade. However, you can achieve superior flavor by letting your injected turkey rest for a few hours before cooking it. If you choose to wait before cooking your injected turkey, store it in the fridge but do not wait longer than 36 hours before cooking.

Is it better to brine or inject your turkey?

Brining and injecting your turkey are different techniques with unique advantages for developing delicious and moist meat. However, injecting a turkey takes less time and effort to fill a turkey with flavor. You can enjoy the best of both worlds by using a dry brine to flavor the exterior of your turkey before using an injection to send seasonings deep into the meat.

Try an Injection on One of Our Turkey Recipes

Now that you know how to inject a turkey to improve its moistness and deliciousness, use the technique to bring to life one of these delightful turkey recipes:

  • Brown Butter Sage Roasted Turkey: This flavorful recipe will give you a deeply browned turkey bursting with bright flavors. Inject the turkey with melted butter seasoned with salt, ground black pepper, and ground rosemary to achieve the moistest meat.
  • Cranberry BBQ Glazed Whole Turkey: This glazed turkey is heavenly, but you can make it even better by injecting it with your cranberry BBQ glaze before cooking.
  • Fresh Smoked Turkey: This recipe combines a dry rub and butter injection to deliver a turkey with a crispy outside and succulent inside.

Get the perfect Shady Brook Farms frozen or fresh turkey for your next meal from a grocer near you.

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