The Pork Shoulder Injection Recipe You Need to Try!

September 12, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

This pork shoulder injection recipe will add flavor and moisture to this tough cut of meat!

I was blind to the way of injecting pork shoulder until a pitmaster friend of mine showed me the ropes. Ever since then, I have always injected this cut before smoking it.

In this post, I will reveal the best injection marinade recipe and show you some tips on how to adapt it. Let’s get started!

Pork Shoulder Injection Recipe

Is It Worth Injecting Pork Shoulder?

As you are already reading this post, I am going to go ahead and assume that you appreciate the importance of a pork shoulder injection.

Still, let me reiterate what a good idea it is.

The pork shoulder gets quite a bit of exercise which makes it a tough cut of meat. To add to this, there isn’t nearly as much fat in the shoulder as there is in the pork butt. All of this means that the cut is at a higher risk of drying out when exposed to heat for an extended period of time.

An injection marinade ensures that the meat is packed with enough moisture to prevent it from drying out during the smoking process. If you are making pork roast, then the meat will be cooking at a higher temperature and the injection will definitely come in handy.

An injection gets the moisture right into the deepest parts of the pork shoulder, preventing it from evaporating early on in the cooking process. Furthermore, you can inject pork shoulder right before cooking it, cutting down on the overall prep time.

Pork Roast Meat

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Basic Pork Shoulder Injection Recipe


  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • 2 tbs. of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs. of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs. of sugar
  • 1 tbs. of Worcestershire sauce


Step 1

Combine all the ingredients for the injection in a jug. Stir well until the salt and the sugar has dissolved completely.

Step 2

Pour some of the marinade into a tall, thin container such as glass.

Use your injector to siphon up your desired amount.

Then, inject into the pork shoulder.

Alterations to the Injection Marinade

Here’s the thing – I like to keep my marinade recipe as simple as possible.

This is largely because pork shoulder tends to have a milder flavor. Therefore, by not going overboard with the flavoring, I allow the natural flavor profile of the meat to shine through.

Especially if you are making a pulled pork recipe, you want the rub and then later on the sauce to be the highlight of the dish.

That being said, there are some alterations to this recipe that I would like.

Personally, I find that apple juice goes really well with pork shoulder. If you want to cut down on the sweetness in the marinade, though, then you use broth instead.

I would suggest chicken broth as it has a milder flavor.

Alternatively, you can add a little bit more apple cider vinegar to balance the sweet taste out.

If you want to pump your pork with as much flavor as possible, then you can add herbs and spices. I would suggest using the same ingredients in your dry rub in the marinade as well. This will create a more cohesive taste.

Start by adding a tablespoon of the rub and taste. Then increase the amount according to your desired taste.

Can You Use the Pork Shoulder Injection for Pork Butts?

Yes, you can! Pork butt may have a bit more excess fat than the shoulder but it can still benefit from a marinade.

You will often find that a pork butt injection and a pork shoulder one are identical. Therefore, they can be used interchangeably.

After all, if you have a pork butt recipe, you can substitute this cut with the shoulder instead.

Pork Fillet Tenderloin

Making Your Own Recipe – What Should I Inject a Pork Shoulder With?

You are probably going to want to experiment with your own pork injection and I do highly recommend this. It is important to find a pork shoulder or pork butt injection that is just right for you:

Start with a Liquid Base

The liquids are the most important elements to your shoulder or pork butt injection.

There are a lot of options that you can choose from. Apple juice and apple cider vinegar are the most common options, but as I mentioned, broth or even plain water works well.

Butter can add flavor and fat, but remember that it needs to be melted and then added to the other liquids carefully. Once cooled, melted butter has a tendency to separate.

As for flavorings, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and even BBQ sauce can work.

Adding Seasonings

As I said, I prefer to keep it simple with kosher salt and sugar. However, you can add spices and dried herbs if you like.

Now, the key to adding these flavorings is to make sure that they are tightly ground – practically in powder form.

They need to be small enough to pass through the meat injector syringe. Otherwise, they will simply end up clogging the opening.

Tips for Injecting the Pork Shoulder

Here is what you need to know about getting the shoulder or pork butt injection procedure just right:

Use the Right Right Equipment

First things first, it is important to make sure that you have a good quality meat injector. Keep in mind that pork shoulder – and even pork butt – can be fairly tough.

Thus, you are going to need a strong injector and needle to get all the way into the middle of the cut.

Pour Into a Narrow Container

Always pour the marinade into a tall, narrow container like a glass. This is because it is easier to siphon up the liquid. Trying this in a flat container will suck up too many air bubbles.

Draw a Grid

You have probably wondered:

Where do you inject a pork shoulder?

Well, start by outlining an imaginary grid on the pork butt or shoulder. This will help you to inject the meat in a more organized fashion.

In turn, you can guarantee that every part of the pork butt or shoulder is injected.

Go Deep

Before you press the plunger, make sure that the needle has penetrated several inches into the meat.

If it is too close to the surface, the liquid will simply shoot back out.

Pork Loin Meat Fillet

How Long Before Smoking Should You Inject Pork Shoulder?

The great thing about the injection process is that it works really quickly. This means that you should only need to inject the meat for about 15 minutes to 30 minutes before you smoke it.

Of course, if you want, you can always inject it about an hour before cooking it.

The Impact of Injecting on the Smoking Process

You should be aware that injecting the meat causes the moisture level to rise. In turn, an injected pork butt or shoulder can take longer to cook.

However, you shouldn’t estimate when a pork butt or shoulder is cooked through. Instead, use a meat thermometer to get a clear answer.

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Wrapping It Up

This is an injection recipe that you are going to want to use time and time again. Not only is it easy to whip up but it boosts the flavor in your pork shoulder too!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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