How to Inject A Whole Chicken [Easy Recipe Included!]

You don’t always have time to brine.  I get that.  Neither do I.  But you still want to smoke or roast that whole chicken.  It’s just so good, and you know you need to do something to make it deliciously juicy.  You can’t go back to ordinary chicken at this point.  So what are you going to do?

You’re going to inject it.

Injecting a whole chicken in the breast

Back in 1999, I was at my boss’ house for a party, and he was frying a turkey for us.  I had never tried that before, so I was excited.  When I got there, he was injecting the turkey with some sort of happy mixture.  Color me intrigued.  Well, flash forward 45 minutes and I enjoyed the best turkey of my life.

That got me thinking…couldn’t I inject a chicken before smoking it?  Wouldn’t the same result happen?  The answer is YES.  Injecting a chicken adds flavor that, to this point, you’ve only dreamed about…well…I’ve dreamed about injecting and smoking a chicken…doesn’t everybody?  Is that weird?

Inject under the skin

SO.  How do you do it?  It’s difficult.  You have to be VERY careful.  You CANNOT pierce the skin of the chicken.  Every hole you put in the skin is a hole precious juices can leak out.  Notice in the above picture how the needle is underneath the skin?  This is how you inject the breasts.  Carefully lift the skin up and push the needle into the meat.  Inject away.

The breasts are the most important part to get a ton of injection into.  They are the most dry and tasteless.  So I usually do at least 2 full injection needles into each breast.

Inject the drumstick from the bottom

For the legs, same basic theory, but much more difficult to pull off.  The skin is tighter around the drummies, so you have to be really careful getting your needle in there and then pushing it into the leg and thigh.  You can see how I do it in the above picture.  Once you make it past that tight entrance, it’s actually pretty easy to then move the needle around, thus moving the injection into different areas of the leg and thigh.

You have to try this next time you smoke a whole chicken.  It’s truly fantastic.

What to Inject Chicken With?

You can really mix up the flavors when you are injecting a bird.  Here is my basic butter and lemon chicken injection below.

Basic Chicken Injection Recipe

1/2 stick melted butter
2 cups apple juice
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs sea salt

The Tony Chachere’s brand of Creole Butter injection is excellent and has the added benefit of coming with a needle and syringe.  It’s nice having a new needle/syringe so you can just throw it away instead of trying to get the inside of the needle clean after use.

I have been seeing the Tony’s injection at Walmart so I am hoping you can find it in your part of the country.

Other flavors you could consider include:

  • Teriyaki, honey and sesame oil
  • Spice it up with hot sauce and butter
  • Make it sweet with some honey and maple.

The possibilities are endless and delicious!

Injections are faster than brines.

So, in summary:

  • When you don’t have time to brine your whole chicken, inject it.
  • When you inject, be very careful.  Do NOT pierce the skin!
  • Try different flavors and have fun with it – you will love the results!

Let me know how it goes.  Leave me a comment or post on my facebook wall.  I can’t wait to hear delicious success stories of whole chickens being injected and enjoyed!


Chicken Injection Recipe

This chicken injection recipe is quick to prepare and is a great substitute for brining.
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 120 kcal


  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 cups apple juice
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs sea salt


  • Combine all ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Let cool to room temperature before injecting the chicken.


Inject the chicken with as much of this liquid as the bird will hold. Inset the needle directly into the meat and do not puncture the skin of the chicken.
Ideally you will let the chicken rest for at least 30 minutes after injecting to allow the liquid to evenly distribute and give the salt time to start tenderizing the meat.
Keyword Chicken Injection Recipe

17 thoughts on “How to Inject A Whole Chicken [Easy Recipe Included!]

    1. Yes, as long as you are following all of the other safe practices for deep frying whole birds. Don’t overfill the container with oil, use a thermometer, etc.

  1. I tried this with 2 cups chicken bone stock low sodium , 1 tbs honey, 1tbs Braggs amino and 1 tbs lemon juice.. very good results.. l look forward to playing around with flavor combos

  2. I have started to smoke on my offset smoker and grilling it also. I am always looking for recipes for chicken.

  3. I’d like to try it with a little honey and maple (like you suggested), but I’m clueless as to how much to use. Suggestions?

    1. Tammy – it’s really to your personal taste! I’d say start with maybe a tablespoon of each…depending on the other ingredients you are using, maybe more…and go from there!

  4. Awesome results , Did three hens in smoker for about 4-4.5 hr. at 225 injected 1 hr. in and again 1 hr. before finish most perfect moist juicy chicken .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating