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Pork butt is one of my favorite meats to smoke. It’s easy, makes a lot of food, and tastes great; however, the problem I have found with pork butt, as many others have described as well, is that all the flavor is contained to the surface of the meat.
There is no way for the rub and smoke to penetrate into the middle of your pork butt. The meat inside your pork butt is left untouched, and while plenty juicy, is usually pretty bland.
So, the question remains. How can we get more flavor into the middle of our pork butts? Pork butt injections! Pork butt injections add flavor and moisture into the meat giving the otherwise untouched meat a bit of seasoning.
In this article we will look at what pork butt injections are, what they do, as well as how to use them!
What Is A Pork Butt Injection?
A pork butt injection is a liquid that in injected into the pork butt beneath the surface of the meat using a syringe or meat injector. Pork butt injections typically contain spices and sugars dissolved in a liquid which helps add flavor and moisture to interior meat.
As touched on above, pork butts are rather large and thick chunks of meat. When smoking pork butt, the rub and smoke combine to form a bark on the surface of the meat. This bark is the holy grail of smoked meat as it contains so much flavor.
The problem with pork butt, is that the bark only forms on the surface of the meat. The meat inside the pork butt, which accounts for most of the meat, is left untouched and unseasoned.
While the flavorful meat on the outside will get mixed in with the meat inside when you shred it, there is so much interior meat that it can leave your taste buds wanting more flavor.
While some people like to have the flavor of the pork itself show more, I prefer to have more flavor from the spices. Pork butt injections are a great way to add some extra flavor to that interior meat.
Pros To Pork Butt Injections
Adds Flavor To Meat Where Rub Can’t Reach
I think this goes without saying, but the main reason you inject pork butt is to add flavor to the interior of the meat that is otherwise left untouched and rather bland. You wouldn’t throw a steak on the grill without seasoning it would you?
Adds More Moisture To Meat
Contrary to popular belief, pork butt, and smoked meat in general, gets its juiciness from the rendering of intramuscular fat. Pork butt has a large amount of this intramuscular fat and therefore tends to be rather juicy.
However, as Myron Mixon says, meat can never have too much moisture. Nobody likes to eat dry food. Using a pork butt injection helps add more moisture to the meat which prevents it from drying out.
You can also capture that moisture as it cooks out by wrapping your pork butt and pour it over the meat when you shred it for added juiciness and flavor.
Cons Of Pork Butt Injections
Adds Cooking Time
When using pork butt injections, you should plan for your pork butt to take 30 minutes to an hour longer to cook. This is because we are adding moisture to the meat which in turn is going to lengthen “the stall”.
Meat is naturally comprised of 75% water, that when cooked is pushed to the surface of the meat before evaporating. Just as sweat cools us down, this moisture on the surface of the meat cools it down. This causes the meat to stall in the cooking process.
By adding more moisture to your pork butt, you are prolonging your cooking process.
Extra Work For Not Much Added Flavor
While it doesn’t take that long to inject your pork butt, it does add extra time to the prep portion of the process. Many people find that there are easier ways to achieve the same results (more on this below) so why take the extra time to inject your pork butt.
Pork Butt Injection Poll
As with most things when it comes to smoking meat, it all comes down to personal preference. Pork butt injections can help add some extra flavor and allow you to experiment with different flavor profiles. Others will say that it’s not necessary.
I conducted a poll within the meat smoking community to figure out how many people were injecting their pork butts. I found that
I personally don’t inject my pork butts. Pork butts have so much fat that when rendered down gives them plenty of juice. I do agree that the pork can turn out a little bland, but I can fix that easily with this pitmaster’s pro tip below.
What Do You Inject Pork Butt With?
When it comes to what to inject your pork butt with, there are many different options and combinations. This is your chance to get creative and try new things!
Pork butt injections are typically a combination of spices dissolved in water or some other type of liquid. Below are some popular pork butt injection recipes for you to try; however, if you don’t want to mess with making your own, there are plenty of premade options out there for you.
This pork butt injection from Kosmos on Amazon is a great choice. It adds a good mix of sweet and smoky flavor to your meat, plus its gluten free! Simply mix it with water and its ready to go!
Basic Pork Butt Injection:
This is a simple pork butt injection from https://www.derrickriches.com/basic-pork-injection-marinade/.
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons rub (the same rub you will use on your pork butt)
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Whiskey And Coke Pork Butt Injection
Here is a creative pork butt injection using whiskey and coke from https://thatguywhogrills.com/jack-daniels-and-coca-cola-smoked-pork-shoulder-roast/.
- 12 Oz Can Coca Cola
- 1/2 Cup Jack Daniels (or any whiskey)
- 1⁄2 Cup Sugar
- 3 Tbsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
Liquid Pork Butt Injections
Liquids also make for great pork butt injections. Liquids that are acidic, spicy, or liquids like soda that have a high sugar content make for great injections. This liquid injection from Butcher BBQ on Amazon is another a great choice.
Other popular liquids used for pork butt injections are:
- Hot sauce
- Cherry coke
- Root beer
- Orange juice
- Apple juice
How To Inject Your Pork Butt
1. Prepare your injection
To get your injection ready, you simply need to mix all the ingredients together in a container or shaker. It is important to note that when making your own injection use finely ground spices so it won’t clog up your injector needle. If you are using a premade injection, there will be instructions on the liquid to seasoning ratio for you to use.
2. Grab a pan to capture spillage
Pork butt injections can get a little messy so it is best to inject your pork in a pan to capture the injection that spills out.
3. Grab and fill up your meat injector
The most common meat injectors are your syringe ones; however, I have found that using a pistol grip injector like this one on amazon is much easier and more comfortable to hold and control.
4. Inject your pork butt about every 1-2 inches
As Malcom describes in the video below, is best to inject your pork butt from the side as you won’t lose as much injection. Don’t worry about over injecting your pork butt as they can take a lot of injection. Make sure your needle is penetrating the meat at least 2-3 inches.
5. Now you are ready for your rub!
How Long Before Smoking Should You Inject Pork Butt?
It is recommended that you inject your pork butt at least an hour before placing your pork butt on the smoker. This allows the injection enough time to spread throughout the pork and helps to infuse the meat with flavor. If you are short on time, you can inject your pork butt right before placing it on the smoker.
Can You Inject Meat While Smoking?
It is recommended that you inject your pork butt before placing it on the smoker. Injecting your meat while smoking is not only challenging but will further delay the cooking process. You also will not receive the full benefits of the injection.
Pro Tip On Adding Flavor Without Injecting.
What if I told you there was an easier way to add flavor to the meat without having to inject it? This is a tip I have learned from several pitmasters who do this in competitions and it’s super simple. It’s called a finishing dust.
When you pull your pork, simply take the rub you used and sprinkle a light layer over your shredded pork and mix it in. This allows you to flavor the inside meat without having to inject your pork butt.