Injection vs Brining a Turkey

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ifitsdeadsmokeit

Smoking Fanatic
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Apr 9, 2010
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Hollister Missouri
I have never been convinced that brining added much to cooking a turkey. I have done it in the past for about 4-6 hours and didnt notice any difference from cooking it right out of its packaging. Processed turkeys typically have a significant solution already injected and how much more could they take. I have always mixed up my own injection and used that with great success.

This weekend my daughter wanted smoked turkey. Problem 1 - I didnt have one in the freezer, Problem 2 - finding one at the store, Problem 3 - they are frozen, it is Friday evening and wanting to cook it on Sunday. After a few different store visits, I found a 14 lb butterball and brought it home. I set it on the counter top in a pan for about 3 hours to get a start defrosting and then into the fridge overnight. Saturday it is still very frozen and figured the only way to get it defrosted in time was to put it into the brine bucket. I mixed up a typical brine solution for poultry and put it back into the fridge. Weather was looking bad for Sunday so it got pushed back to Monday. I dont think it would have been ready on Sunday so mother nature helped out for a change even though Sunday turned out to be a perfect day. Took it out on Monday around noon to get it ready for cooking. I was all ready to inject but decided to just smoke it and see how it is after a day and half brining.

Rubbed it up and put it on the Yoder at 275° along with a pellet tube and upped temp to 325° for last hour. Smoked with lumberjack competition pellets. It seemed to come along with temps the same as being injected, just a little longer til done, about 20 minutes. Took a little less than 4.5 hours compared to the 4 I typically see for a bird this size. Took it off the smoker at 157° and let rest for 20 minutes on the cutting board.

The bird was very juicy and delicious. You could taste the brine throughout but it was very subtle compared to the flavor being pronounced with the injection. I would say it was juicier than injecting but the injected version is still juicy. The biggest difference was the skin turns out better with injecting and was tough and not bite through which is bad since I prefer the legs and thighs. I wasnt expecting the results I got and am pleased to say my thoughts on bringing a turkey were false and I just wasnt doing it long enough. I still prefer the injection due to the infusion of more flavor but the brined bird is nothing I would turn down and would do again.

Sorry, I didnt take pictures of the smoke. Only bad thing on the day is my thermapen one decided to stop working and the cardinals lost again. Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!!! My pork sirloin on the spinner and spares on the lang turned out great too. Now have a lot of leftovers to finish up.
 
I brine and then inject day of with Chicken/Turkey Stock, since we make our own, it is very low in sodium, I would be cautious with brining and then injecting with anything that was not low/no sodium.

Thanks for sharing!

- Jason
 
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Reactions: JLeonard
Glad to see you got a different perspective on it. Some things I thought would never work, are the things I use all the time now. 👍
 
I have never been convinced that brining added much to cooking a turkey. I have done it in the past for about 4-6 hours and didnt notice any difference from cooking it right out of its packaging. Processed turkeys typically have a significant solution already injected and how much more could they take. I have always mixed up my own injection and used that with great success.

This weekend my daughter wanted smoked turkey. Problem 1 - I didnt have one in the freezer, Problem 2 - finding one at the store, Problem 3 - they are frozen, it is Friday evening and wanting to cook it on Sunday. After a few different store visits, I found a 14 lb butterball and brought it home. I set it on the counter top in a pan for about 3 hours to get a start defrosting and then into the fridge overnight. Saturday it is still very frozen and figured the only way to get it defrosted in time was to put it into the brine bucket. I mixed up a typical brine solution for poultry and put it back into the fridge. Weather was looking bad for Sunday so it got pushed back to Monday. I dont think it would have been ready on Sunday so mother nature helped out for a change even though Sunday turned out to be a perfect day. Took it out on Monday around noon to get it ready for cooking. I was all ready to inject but decided to just smoke it and see how it is after a day and half brining.

Rubbed it up and put it on the Yoder at 275° along with a pellet tube and upped temp to 325° for last hour. Smoked with lumberjack competition pellets. It seemed to come along with temps the same as being injected, just a little longer til done, about 20 minutes. Took a little less than 4.5 hours compared to the 4 I typically see for a bird this size. Took it off the smoker at 157° and let rest for 20 minutes on the cutting board.

The bird was very juicy and delicious. You could taste the brine throughout but it was very subtle compared to the flavor being pronounced with the injection. I would say it was juicier than injecting but the injected version is still juicy. The biggest difference was the skin turns out better with injecting and was tough and not bite through which is bad since I prefer the legs and thighs. I wasnt expecting the results I got and am pleased to say my thoughts on bringing a turkey were false and I just wasnt doing it long enough. I still prefer the injection due to the infusion of more flavor but the brined bird is nothing I would turn down and would do again.

Sorry, I didnt take pictures of the smoke. Only bad thing on the day is my thermapen one decided to stop working and the cardinals lost again. Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!!! My pork sirloin on the spinner and spares on the lang turned out great too. Now have a lot of leftovers to finish up.
I've never brined a turkey. most packages show a high "water" content added when packaging
 
I have never been convinced that brining added much to cooking a turkey. I have done it in the past for about 4-6 hours and didnt notice any difference from cooking it right out of its packaging. Processed turkeys typically have a significant solution already injected and how much more could they take. I have always mixed up my own injection and used that with great success.

This weekend my daughter wanted smoked turkey. Problem 1 - I didnt have one in the freezer, Problem 2 - finding one at the store, Problem 3 - they are frozen, it is Friday evening and wanting to cook it on Sunday. After a few different store visits, I found a 14 lb butterball and brought it home. I set it on the counter top in a pan for about 3 hours to get a start defrosting and then into the fridge overnight. Saturday it is still very frozen and figured the only way to get it defrosted in time was to put it into the brine bucket. I mixed up a typical brine solution for poultry and put it back into the fridge. Weather was looking bad for Sunday so it got pushed back to Monday. I dont think it would have been ready on Sunday so mother nature helped out for a change even though Sunday turned out to be a perfect day. Took it out on Monday around noon to get it ready for cooking. I was all ready to inject but decided to just smoke it and see how it is after a day and half brining.

Rubbed it up and put it on the Yoder at 275° along with a pellet tube and upped temp to 325° for last hour. Smoked with lumberjack competition pellets. It seemed to come along with temps the same as being injected, just a little longer til done, about 20 minutes. Took a little less than 4.5 hours compared to the 4 I typically see for a bird this size. Took it off the smoker at 157° and let rest for 20 minutes on the cutting board.

The bird was very juicy and delicious. You could taste the brine throughout but it was very subtle compared to the flavor being pronounced with the injection. I would say it was juicier than injecting but the injected version is still juicy. The biggest difference was the skin turns out better with injecting and was tough and not bite through which is bad since I prefer the legs and thighs. I wasnt expecting the results I got and am pleased to say my thoughts on bringing a turkey were false and I just wasnt doing it long enough. I still prefer the injection due to the infusion of more flavor but the brined bird is nothing I would turn down and would do again.

Sorry, I didnt take pictures of the smoke. Only bad thing on the day is my thermapen one decided to stop working and the cardinals lost again. Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!!! My pork sirloin on the spinner and spares on the lang turned out great too. Now have a lot of leftovers to finish up.
Nice post!
We learn stuff while smoking all the time aye :D

I'm a huge fan of brining. I find it makes the best turkeys. I do an equilibrium brine at 1.65% salt and never have a dry or bad tasting bird.
I brine for about 48hours or so BUT I also inject the brine solution all over and into the bird so it speeds things up. Especially when I'm using cure#1. This gives me the best turkey ever!

As for the skin, yeah thats a poultry thing. I find just cooking at a hot enough temp (325F) solves the skin issue. There are some alternative things that can be done to help the skin out but I don't take the time or bother with it when I can just crank up the heat :D

Welcome to the brine club and if you ever get interested in doing an equilibrium brine/cure so that you can always guarantee juiciness, flavor, and never bet too salty, just reach out and plenty here can help. It's a game changer, especially when you want to cure something like a pork butt to make a simple and inexpensive holiday ham :D
 
I have never been convinced that brining added much to cooking a turkey. I have done it in the past for about 4-6 hours and didnt notice any difference from cooking it right out of its packaging. Processed turkeys typically have a significant solution already injected and how much more could they take. I have always mixed up my own injection and used that with great success.

This weekend my daughter wanted smoked turkey. Problem 1 - I didnt have one in the freezer, Problem 2 - finding one at the store, Problem 3 - they are frozen, it is Friday evening and wanting to cook it on Sunday. After a few different store visits, I found a 14 lb butterball and brought it home. I set it on the counter top in a pan for about 3 hours to get a start defrosting and then into the fridge overnight. Saturday it is still very frozen and figured the only way to get it defrosted in time was to put it into the brine bucket. I mixed up a typical brine solution for poultry and put it back into the fridge. Weather was looking bad for Sunday so it got pushed back to Monday. I dont think it would have been ready on Sunday so mother nature helped out for a change even though Sunday turned out to be a perfect day. Took it out on Monday around noon to get it ready for cooking. I was all ready to inject but decided to just smoke it and see how it is after a day and half brining.

Rubbed it up and put it on the Yoder at 275° along with a pellet tube and upped temp to 325° for last hour. Smoked with lumberjack competition pellets. It seemed to come along with temps the same as being injected, just a little longer til done, about 20 minutes. Took a little less than 4.5 hours compared to the 4 I typically see for a bird this size. Took it off the smoker at 157° and let rest for 20 minutes on the cutting board.

The bird was very juicy and delicious. You could taste the brine throughout but it was very subtle compared to the flavor being pronounced with the injection. I would say it was juicier than injecting but the injected version is still juicy. The biggest difference was the skin turns out better with injecting and was tough and not bite through which is bad since I prefer the legs and thighs. I wasnt expecting the results I got and am pleased to say my thoughts on bringing a turkey were false and I just wasnt doing it long enough. I still prefer the injection due to the infusion of more flavor but the brined bird is nothing I would turn down and would do again.

Sorry, I didnt take pictures of the smoke. Only bad thing on the day is my thermapen one decided to stop working and the cardinals lost again. Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend!!! My pork sirloin on the spinner and spares on the lang turned out great too. Now have a lot of leftovers to finish up.
I suggest watching some old school Alton Brown videos about brining to better learn the chemistry behind it. First off, you need more than 4-6 hours for a full turkey and second brining isn't about just get water/fluid into the bird. You brine a turkey to get salt into the bird for more flavorful meat. It does increase the moisture content as well to make it juicy but you need the salt there to keep the water in the meat while it cooks.

Injection can still be done to add additional or other flavors into the meat before cooking.
 
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