Que-Tip: How to Inject A Whole Chicken

by Kevin H. on July 3, 2012 · 11 comments

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.

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?

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.

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 cook a whole chicken.  It’s truly fantastic.  AND you can mix up the flavors.  Try butter and lemon.  Terriyaki.  Spice it up with hot sauce.  Make it sweet with some honey and maple.  The possibilities are endless and delicious.  I’ll share my basic chicken injection below.

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!

Que-Tip: How to Inject A Whole Chicken

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Que-Tip: How to Inject A Whole Chicken


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


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

Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Tammy August 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

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?


Kevin August 28, 2017 at 10:37 am

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!


Paulette Cronin July 2, 2017 at 6:53 am

Going to try


jd December 7, 2015 at 10:07 am

can you brine & inject?


Kevin December 9, 2015 at 9:25 am

JD – you sure can! Just be careful with salt. If you brine, be extra safe your injection is NOT salty.


Thomas November 23, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for your help . I’m wanting to cook a hen in the oven will I get the same result. Again Thanks


Kevin H. November 23, 2015 at 10:40 pm

I would think so yes, though i haven’t tried.


Hoseman March 17, 2015 at 12:15 am

Where did you get that large brining instrument.


Kevin H. March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Hi! I got the bringing instrument from this store: http://www.stlbbqstore.com/. You can search for “The Briner”. There are two sizes, a bigger one and a junior one. Hope this helps!


Todd Martin September 15, 2014 at 9:56 am

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 .


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