Soaking Vs. Injecting - Which Marination Method Is Best?

We can expound on the benefits of marinating meat until the cows come home (or at least bits of them), but should you soak or inject?

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We can expound on the benefits of marinating meat until the cows come home (or at least bits of them), but should you soak or inject? Is there a difference? Which marination method delivers the best results? You're about to find out in this great grill debate... But first, let us introduce you to our own GrillBeast.com brand barbecue meat marinade injector, the Beast Injector - top quality, made to last, affordable with a lifetime warranty!

Soaking Your Meat in Marinade

Pros:

  • Coating the outer layer of your meat in a marinade will give it a delicious surface bursting with flavor.
  • You don't have to worry about large pieces of spices or other ingredients clogging your injector.


Cons:

  • The salt content of your marinade can seep relatively deep into a cut of meat, but larger flavor molecules, such as those found in herbs and spices, won't penetrate much deeper than 1/4" beneath the surface.
  • Soaking is a time-consuming process and can take hours or even days to produce desirable results.
  • Tenderizing acids and enzymes in marinade ingredients break down connective tissues, negatively influencing your meat's ability to hold juices. Therefore, soaking meat for long periods can result in a drier piece of protein.
  • The muscle structure only changes on the surface during soaking, which can result in an unaffected center and mushy exterior if you leave it for too long.


Injecting Your Meat with Marinade

Pros:

  • An injector lets you penetrate deeper so you can infuse your favorite flavors throughout a cut of meat or whole animal.
  • The chemical reaction that takes place during tenderization can only take place if there is direct contact with the tenderizing agents in the marinade. The injection method expands the area of direct contact, allowing for optimal results.
  • The injection expedites the marination process. Therefore, you can inject hours or minutes beforehand, depending on what you're injecting.


Cons:

  • Injecting techniques require practice so that you avoid streaks, pockets of marinade, and uneven liquid dispersion.
  • You're puncturing meat, which increases the risk of bacteria being transferred from the external layer to internal layers. This increases concern over the danger zone, especially when you're smoking big chunks of injected meat like brisket or pork butt. A good rule of thumb is to get the internal temperature of your meat from 40°F to 140ºF in 4 hours. This means smoking at a slightly higher temperature than usual.  
  • While you can use both liquid and chunky marinades in an injector, you'll still need to blend ingredients until they're fine enough to fit through the needle you're using.


The Verdict

Every bite should be full of flavor, so we're meat marinade injection fans hands down. Of course, there will be cuts that make injecting impossible, but this marination method is effective, easy, and super quick. As a bonus, you can pour the remaining marinade over your meat so that you don't lose your delicious surface of flavor—it's truly the best of both worlds.  Now that we've covered the differences between soaking vs. injecting, take a look at the differences between using Lump Charcoal Vs. Briquettes.  

Do you have friends and family who love seasoning their meats and aren't afraid to experiment? Be sure to share this post with them. You may just give them interesting food for thought and change the way they marinate their proteins!