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The Fastest Way to Season a Roast

By Lan Lam Published

Use this pitmasters’ tool to get flavor deep into meat.

Meat injectors have long been the secret weapon of pit masters and barbecue competition cooks. They use these tools to inject flavorings such as broth, apple juice, beer, wine, or soy sauce deep into cuts like brisket and pork shoulder. Injecting a simple salt solution into a large roast can also be a fast and effective way to season it—and unlike with brining or salting, there’s no need to wait for the salt to penetrate. With enough seasoning solution injected strategically throughout the roast, the salt will diffuse outward from the injection sites over the course of cooking and season the meat from center to edge.

To nail down a method, we bought an inexpensive stainless-steel meat injector and used it to experiment with injecting different concentrations of salt solution into a pork loin. We found that we needed to use less salt than in a brine solution or the roasts turned out too salty. Because injecting liquid into a roast is a bit of a messy business—some of the solution inevitably leaks out—we placed the roast in a large bowl or roasting pan to capture the mess. We also found that it was most efficient to place the salt solution in the bowl or pan with the roast and to draw the liquid into the plunger from there.

We recommend this treatment for roasts and poultry that are more than 2 inches thick.

The Method

MAKE SALT SOLUTION

For medium roasts such as a pork loin, strip roast, or whole turkey breast, whisk 3 tablespoons of table salt into 4 cups of water in a large bowl until dissolved to make the salt solution. 

For large roasts such as whole turkeys, use a roasting pan and double the amount of salt solution.

INJECT ROAST

Place roast in bowl or roasting pan. 

1. Fit injector with needle (if kit comes with fine-gauge needle, use that) and fill with 2 to 3 milliliters of solution.

2. Insert injector into roast, pull out about halfway, then slowly inject solution while continuing to pull out. (Don’t worry if some of the solution leaks out.)

3. Space injections 1 to 1½ inches apart and 1 to 1½ inches from sides of roast.

4. Turn roast in bowl, making sure all surfaces are coated with salt solution to thoroughly season exterior.

5. Cook roast according to recipe. 

HOW-TO Choosing the Right Roast

Choosing the right roast is almost as important as deciding how to cook it.

HOW-TO How to Buy Bone-In Pork Rib Roast

Here's what to look for when you visit the butcher.

HOW-TO 5 Steps to a Great Roast

Beef, pork, and lamb roasts come in a variety of shapes and sizes that can make it challenging to produce well-browned, flavorful, evenly cooked meat.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.