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To many, beef brisket is the ultimate choice when it comes to cuts of meat to smoke. But, it can take some strategy and technique to do it properly. Using a brisket injection before smoking the meat is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the beef moist and tender and enhance the flavor.

Of course, you could use a pre-made brisket injection marinade mix (like Butcher BBQ's Prime Brisket Injection from David Bouska, one of the Champion Pitmasters here at BBQ Champs Academy). But, it can be fun to experiment with different flavor combinations by making your own homemade beef brisket injection. 

In this article, we’ve outlined why you should be using an injection to begin with, some tips on making a homemade beef brisket injection, and a brisket injection recipe you can start with.

 

Why You Should Use a Brisket Injection

The key to good smoked meat is adequate moisture retention. But, with it being smoked slowly at warm temperatures, it can be especially vulnerable to drying out. This is especially true for a super lean cut of meat like beef brisket. 

When smoking a brisket, the meat can quickly start to lose moisture. Injecting the meat can help compensate for this. Using a brisket injection helps get extra moisture and flavor deep into the inner layers of the meat quickly. It is actually a very easy process that won’t leave much cleanup at all.

Check out our article on how to inject brisket to learn more about the benefits of using a brisket injection and exactly how to do it the right way.

 

injecting brisket | brisket injection | homemade brisket injection
Source: Derrick Riches

 

Tips for Making a Homemade Brisket Injection

Brisket injections can range from a very thin, water-like mixture to a thicker, heavier almost sauce-like consistency. No matter what kind of injection you are using, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep things simple.

You don’t want to lose the delicious natural taste of the beef. So, you only want to use ingredients and flavors that will complement the brisket. Some of the most commonly used ingredients in homemade beef brisket injections include things like:

  • Beef stock/broth/base
  • Olive oil
  • Brine (saltwater)
  • Alcohol (like bourbon or beer)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Vinegar

Some brisket injection recipes also start to work in more creative ingredients like:

  • Apple juice
  • Pineapple juice
  • Brown sugar
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic
  • Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, etc.)

 

Along with keeping the ingredients simple, there are some additional tips to keep in mind when it comes to making a good homemade brisket injection that will yield good results. Here are a few things to remember:

 

You don’t want to clog up your injector! - 

Remember, your injection is going to have to pass through some small holes at the end of the needle of your meat injector. So, keep the injection thin enough to easily pass through without clogging things up.

 

Don’t go too salty - 

Try and keep your injection between 1% and 2% salt content. Then it will still help tenderize the meat without being overly salty.

 

Avoid using liquid smoke -

If you are going to smoke the brisket using wood as a fuel source (whether as the main fuel source or a flavoring source), DO NOT use liquid smoke in your brisket injection mixture. Doing so will result in an overly smoky, bitter flavor that could ruin your whole brisket. If you are using an electric or gas smoker and not heating up any wood chips in it, you may be able to get away with just a little bit of liquid smoke to add that flavor.

 

The injection should complement the rub (and vice versa) -

If you are also using a dry rub on the exterior of the brisket, make an injection that either has the same flavor profile or a complementary flavor profile of your rub. You don’t want to create a situation where there are too many flavors competing with each other in/on your brisket.

 

brisket injection recipe | brisket injection | homemade brisket injection

 

Grind any solid ingredients - 

If you decide to use any solids as ingredients in your mixture, try and grind them as much as possible (ideally, into a fine powder) to reduce the chances of your injector clogging.

 

Heat the liquid, but don’t boil it - 

Heat your water or both (usually 2 cups of liquid is plenty) in a small saucepan over medium heat. But it’s very important not to let it boil, or even simmer. You just want it warm enough to easily dissolve the other ingredients. Allowing your injection mixture to boil can significantly change the flavor profile of certain ingredients.

 

Let the injection stand before using - 

After heating the liquid and mixing the ingredients, transfer it to a mixing bowl or tall glass. Then, put it in the fridge for several hours before you are ready to use it. Make sure to give it one last good stir right before you start injecting. Letting the injection stand before using it will ensure all of the ingredients are dissolved properly and thoroughly mixed.

 

Make sure all the ingredients are fully dissolved -

Be patient and make sure any powdered or paste-like ingredients are fully dissolved into the liquid before you start trying to inject your brisket. The last thing you want to do is clog your injector or shoot a chunk of concentrated flavor into just one spot of the meat.

 

You won’t need a ton of injection -

As a gauge for how much brisket injection you’ll need, you should have 1 ounce of liquid per 1 pound of meat. Remember, the meat/muscle is already close to 85% water, so it won’t take a lot of liquid injection.

 

Be careful with acidic injections - 

If you are using a brisket injection that contains apple juice, pineapple juice, vinegar, or another ingredient that has high acidity, do not let your brisket sit for longer than 3 hours after it is injected before you cook it. Doing so can over-tenderize the meat and you’ll end up with a soggy, mushy hunk of meat.

 

apple juice for brisket injection | brisket injection recipe

 

Simple Beef Brisket Injection Recipe

If you are looking for a place to start when it comes to how to make a brisket injection,  check out this simple, easy-to-make brisket injection recipe that perfectly complements the natural flavor of the meat with delicious umami:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Tsp Beef Base
  • 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt

Once you’ve tried a simple recipe like this, then you can make adjustments and additions of new flavors based on your taste. For example, adding ground thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf for an elevated savory profile. Or add brown sugar for a sweet and savory combo.

 

Use a Good Injection to Elevate Your Brisket Today!

Now that you’ve got a good idea on how to make a homemade brisket injection you can use, go ahead and grab your meat injector and get going. Using an injection will help you achieve that juicy, tender, and deliciously-flavored slow-smoked brisket that you are after.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different recipes and combinations of ingredients to find your favorite.

Do you have some more tips when it comes to making a homemade brisket injection? Did you recently try injecting a brisket for the first time? If so, leave a comment below and tell us about it. We want to hear from you!

 

Do you want to learn valuable insider tips and techniques, including how to make a great homemade brisket injection, straight from Champion Pitmasters and master meat-smoking? Then check out the tell-all online barbecue classes here at BBQ Champs Academy. To get the full inside look, grab your All-Access pass today!

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel for the latest videos packed full of insider info, tips, and barbecue competition news straight from the pros!

Slow-smoked brisket is undoubtedly one of the kings of the BBQ meat world. Perfectly cooked brisket results in tender, juicy, and flavorful bites. This can quickly make it easy to forget that this cut of meat actually comes from one of the most muscular, weight-bearing areas of the cattle. This lower chest area is responsible for carrying roughly 60% of a steer’s total weight. Thus making it a challenge to slow cook it properly without drying it out. Preparation of the meat is key and keeping it moist is critical. One way to do this is by injecting brisket. 

Many competition pitmasters swear by using injections when it comes to cooking great BBQ brisket. The process of how to inject brisket is easier than you may think. It will help ensure you end up tender, juicy meat that is packed with flavor.

In this article, we’ll go over why you should try injecting brisket, and some tips on how to do it the right way.

 

Why Inject Brisket?

When a marinade or rub is used on meat, it will only impart flavor to the surface of the meat and just below the surface. No matter how long you let it sit. This will leave a nice, delicious bark on the outside. But, the inner part of the meat won’t have the same level of flavor from the seasonings.

Injecting brisket (or any other large meat) is the method of delivering salt, fats, seasonings, and other flavors straight into the core of the meat, well below the surface. This is the only way to get any additional flavor and liquid deep into the meat. 

The mixture that is injected also helps to moisten the meat throughout and keeps it from drying out while it is cooking low and slow for long periods. This is why brisket injection is so effective. With brisket being a more muscular, tough cut, injecting it with fats, oils, and other ingredients helps to tenderize the meat and keep moisture locked in.

 

Essential Tips For Injecting Brisket

 

how to inject brisket | brisket injection | injecting beef brisketImage from Corey Mikes' Brisket class in BBQ Champs Academy

 

Injecting brisket properly is not overly complicated or difficult. But there are some essential tips when it comes to learning how to inject brisket, straight from the pros, to make sure it is done effectively:

 

Opt for the proper injector

When it comes to doing barbecue right, ensuring you have the proper tools is just as important as the actual cooking process. For injecting meat, there are a couple of things to look for in an injector. A stainless steel injector is going to be your best bet as far as material. It will hold up longer, is easier to clean, and won’t hold smells or oils like plastic can. 

Also, make sure your needle size is big enough to handle your injection of choice. If you plan on using a thicker injection or one with some herbs or spices mixed in you have to be able to push it through the needle effectively. Most quality injector needles will come with two or more holes on the sides of it as well to help distribute the injection evenly.

Finally, make sure your injector holds 2 ounces or more. This will save you a lot of time from having to constantly refill it.

Using a deep container or tall glass to hold your injection will allow you to fill your injector easily without damaging the needle.

 

Distribute the injection evenly

It is important to make sure you distribute the injection evenly throughout the meat. To do this, insert the needle at a slight angle (not perpendicular to the meat) in a checkerboard pattern every 1-2 inches across the brisket. You want to insert the needle and then slowly depress the plunger as you are pulling the needle out each time. This will help ensure you are getting the injection between the muscle fibers and bundles.

 

Focus on the Flat when injecting brisket

All parts of a good quality full packer brisket will benefit from the injection, but the Flat is where you want to focus your attention most. The Flat section of brisket is the leanest part of the cut. Which means it’s the most likely section to dry out during slow cooking. Making sure that most of your injection is adequately throughout the flat will help retain moisture and keep it tender. 

Since the Point (aka Deckle) section of brisket has a higher fat content, the injection will be more for flavor throughout this section versus moisture retention.

 

how to inject brisket | brisket injection | injecting beef brisketSource: Northwest Edible Life

 

Don’t overpower with flavor

When injecting brisket, the goal is to add enough complimentary flavor to elevate the meat without overpowering the delicious beefy taste. So don’t load up on a big combination of heavy flavors like garlic, pepper, or bold herbs. You still want your beef to taste like beef. Go for ingredients like butter, beef stock, saltwater (brine), vinegar, and flavors that complement the brisket. Keep in mind that you want to aim for 1-2% salt content in your injection so that it helps tenderize the meat without being too salty.

You can get creative and put together great homemade injections with complementary flavors at home. Or, you can even try a competition-winning pre-made injection mix like Butcher BBQ Brisket Injection from David Bouska, one of our Champion Pitmasters.

 

Be careful not to end up tenderizing the meat too much

When using an injection on brisket, it is still up for debate on how long to let the meat sit with the injection before cooking. Some let it sit for several hours, while some inject just an hour before cooking. But, one certain thing is that you have to be careful letting your brisket sit too long with an injection that has a high acidic, vinegar, or citrus level. 

The acid in an injection that has a good amount of vinegar, apple juice, or pineapple juice will quickly break down the collagen and tenderize the meat. This is great for a couple of hours, but anything longer than that can quickly ruin your meat and turn it into mush.

 

How much injection for brisket

The muscle in beef brisket is 75% water, so you won’t need a ton of injection. There’s not a whole lot of room for a lot more liquid. The injection will go between the muscle fibers and bundles, not within the fibers.

A common rule of thumb is 1 liquid ounce of injection per 1 lb of meat.

 

how to inject brisket | brisket injection | injecting beef brisketImage from Corey Mikes’ Brisket class in BBQ Champs Academy

 

Have paper towels ready

It will be inevitable that you will end up with the injection mixture across the surface of the brisket as well. Leaving it on the exterior will make it difficult if you plan on using a rub as well. It will just cause your rub to cook into a light crust that won’t stick to the surface effectively and flakes right off.

So, make sure to have paper towels ready and use them to pat dry the exterior of your brisket after injecting it. This will help give your rub a better surface to stick to.

 

Keep Meat Deliciously Tender With A Brisket Injection

Now you should have a good idea of where to start when it comes to how to inject brisket. Injecting brisket is an effective, easy, and fast way to deliver moisture and flavor deep into a tough and lean cut of meat. 

It is a great method that is used by many of the top Pitmasters to cook tender, juicy brisket every time. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your injection ingredients and flavors, whether it’s a homemade recipe or pre-made mix.

But, by following the tips above, you can ensure you are properly injecting your brisket and setting yourself up for BBQ success.

Want to learn more insider tips and info, as well as proven techniques and competition barbecue secrets? You can get the inside scoop from David Bouska, Mark Lambert, Robby Royal, and more Champion Pitmasters and Grillmasters here in the BBQ Champs Academy online barbecue classes. To get the full inside look, check out the All-Access pass now!

Also, check out our YouTube channel for the latest videos packed full of tips and insider info straight from the pros, as well as the latest BBQ news. Hit “Subscribe” on our channel to catch all the latest from BBQ Champs Academy!

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