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Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

Add a little spiced smokiness to your barbecued pork butt with this smoke and spice pork injection marinade, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

There are few things more delicious than a properly smoked pork roast. Pork butts, or shoulders, are great cuts for low and slow cooking. However, there is always a chance that the meat will dry out; this is especially true for novice backyard cooks. Don’t worry, though; there is a solution—a literal solution in the form of this smoke and spice pork injection marinade.

A pork injection marinade will help keep the meat moist on the inside while imparting a bit of extra flavor and maintaining an equal balance of moisture throughout. The key to a good marinade is to start with a bit of the rub you’re using on the pork roast, then add a liquid to it. Make sure that any herbs used in the rub are not too bulky. This could impede the injection process. If possible, crush them up with a mortar and pestle before adding to the marinade. This smoke and spice pork injection rub does not require the use of herbs as it contains powdered spices for its flavor base.

Smoke and Spice Pork Injection Ingredients:

  • Apple juice
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Dry rub
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Smoked paprika
  • Cayenne 
  • Liquid smoke (optional)
  • Butter
Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

Making Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

  • Simmer all injection marinade ingredients, except butter, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
  • Remove mixture from heat, stir in butter, and let the marinade cool completely before using.
  • Inject the pork roast and slowly release the marinade. Repeat the process throughout.
  • Wrap pork in plastic wrap and place into your refrigerator for 2-8 hours.
  • If preparing ahead of time, store marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Do not save any injection marinade that has come into contact with raw meat.

Smoke and Spice Pork Injection Tips:

  • Acids: There are two forms of acid in this pork injection recipe: lemon juice and apple juice. If you don’t have any of them on hand, replace them with 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, OR replace the lemon juice with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. I like to use apple juice to produce a light fruit base without overpowering the marinade.
  • Rub: If the rub you are using has a lot of dried herbs or larger ingredients. Grind the rub in a mortar and pestle before adding it to the injection marinade. This way, the injector doesn’t clog up.
  • Liquid smoke: Some folks are vehemently opposed to using liquid smoke. It is an optional ingredient in this smoke and spice pork injection. The smoky flavor is quite subtle and recommended for pulled pork prepared in a crockpot. You can omit this ingredient if using a smoker to cook your pulled pork
  • Make-Ahead: Have a big cookout planned a day or two from now? Mix up this Smoke and Spice Pork Injection marinade and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Set it out for 30 minutes at room temperature before using. If the mixture has separated, give it a good shake before filling the syringe.
  • Food safety: Remember that once the injector makes contact with both the marinade and meat, any leftover marinade must be discarded, as it will become contaminated with bacteria, and could lead to a foodborne illness.
    The Injector: You’ll need a good quality meat injector for the job. There are many on the market, and I would like to share my recommendations. See below for details.
Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

Smoke and Spice Pork Injection

Forget those store bought meat injections, try this smoke and spice pork injection instead. I'm a firms believer in knowing what goes into our food. This way, you can control the ingredients, and mix and match them to suit your palate. This recipe is a starting point, so get as creative as you'd like.
4.58 from 7 votes
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Course: Marinades/Brines
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: pork injection
Prep Time: 6 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1.25 Cups
Calories: 118kcal
Author: Derrick Riches

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rub mixture used on meat
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne use less if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke optional
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions

  • Simmer all injection marinade ingredients, except butter, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
    Remove mixture from heat, stir in butter, and let the marinade cool for completely before using.
    Inject the pork roast and slowly release the marinade. Repeat the process throughout.
    Wrap pork in plastic wrap and place into your refrigerator for 2-8 hours.
  • If preparing ahead of time, store marinade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
    Do not save any injection marinade that has come into contact with raw meat.

Notes

Things to think about with this recipe:
Acid: There are two forms of acid in this recipe. The lemon juice and apple juice. If you don’t have any of them on hand, replace with 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, OR replace the lemon juice with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. I like to use apple juice, as it produces a light fruit base, without overpowering the marinade.
Rub: If the rub you are using has a lot of dried herbs or larger ingredients. Grind the needed amounts down before adding to the injection marinade. This way the injector doesn’t get all clogged up.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 289mg | Potassium: 468mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 1240IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 2mg

Meat Injectors

You can’t use a pork injection if you don’t have an injector. It is merely a syringe, often available at a decent price. However, you will need a good one. Below I have listed three models that are different in design. If you are doing a lot of injecting, then you want something with a pump action, versus the regular syringe style. When buying a meat injector, look for something easy to use, that fits comfortably in your hand, and can handle the volume you need.

Ofargo Marinade Injector

Ofargo Marinade Injector

The Ofargo Marinade Injector is a classic-style syringe. The marinade is sucked up through the needle and then pushed back into the meat. The needle on this model is large enough that it shouldn’t clog. Still, make sure that your marinade is near water-thin. It is an inexpensive unit that you can purchase for around $10. It is dishwasher safe and durable enough to last for several years. The volume on this injector is small, but it will handle most jobs for a single family.

Oklahoma Joe's Trigger Meat Injector

Oklahoma Joe’s Trigger Meat Injector

The Oklahoma Joe’s Trigger Meat Injector is more of a marinade pump than a syringe. Dip the hose end into a container with your marinade, and the trigger mechanism pumps the solution into the meat on both strokes. This will make for faster injecting and is excellent for those that are doing more than a single, small roast. At around $30, you pay a little more, but it can handle a lot more injecting. It will save your hands if you have a lot to do.

Chop's Power Injection System

Chop’s Power Injection System

Do you need to inject a dozen whole pork shoulders? Then this is the system you need. The tank holds a gallon of injection solution. Pump up the pressure and start injecting. It is the system used by caterers and BBQ competition cooks. Easy on the hands, it will allow you to inject at lightning speed. Of course, it costs around $160, so this is really for those who make money on barbecue.

Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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