How to Inject a Smoked Turkey


Introduce a new level of flavor and moistness to smoked turkey when you inject the bird with a mix of water, salt and spices. Use a turkey injector with a big needle from a kitchen supply store to get the liquid evenly distributed through the turkey flesh. The injections will keep smoked turkey from drying out and maintain a delicate texture throughout the long smoking process. Savvy chefs create their own signature mix of spice and flavorings to inject turkey with before smoking.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring cups
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Smoked turkey
  • Towel
  • Turkey injector
  • Mix four cups of water, ½ cup of salt and ¼ cup of sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a spoon to dissolve all the ingredients. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for at least two hours

  • Thaw frozen raw turkey completely. Rinse thawed or fresh turkey under cool running water and pat dry. Set the turkey breast-side down on a towel to prevent it from slipping.

  • Press the plunger of a turkey injector in until the base rests on the bottom of the barrel. Dip the sharp needle end of the injector into the cooled saltwater mixture. Pull the plunger out slowly, sucking the liquid into the injector’s barrel.

  • Hold the injector upside down, needle end up and tap the barrel repeatedly to eliminate air bubbles. Flip the injector over, needle-end down, and tap again.

  • Insert the needle into the turkey flesh, pushing firmly until the needle meets resistance at a bone. Press the plunger of the injector slowly, simultaneously pulling the needle from the turkey flesh to distribute the liquid evenly through the injection site. Repeat the process, inserting the needle at 1-inch intervals across the exposed turkey flesh and the lower side of the legs.

  • Flip the turkey on its side. Insert the turkey injector needle repeatedly at 1-inch intervals into the body flesh and at ½-inch spacing in the bird’s legs, injecting liquid at each site. Turn the bird over with the opposite side up and inject with the same spacing.

  • Turn the turkey over once again so that it rests breast-side up. Refill the turkey injector barrel frequently with liquid. Insert the needle to the bone in 1-inch intervals across the back, breast, wings and top of the legs. Again, withdraw the plunger while pulling the needle slowly from the flesh.

  • Massage the turkey for four to five minutes to distribute the liquid mix through the muscle. Press the fingertips of one hand into the turkey flesh and rotate, holding the turkey in place with the other hand. Rotate the turkey repeatedly to ensure complete coverage of the massage process.

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  • Photo Credit turkey image by Mat Hayward from
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