Pork Butt Injection Without Apple Juice: Substitution Ideas

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pork butt injection without apple juice

Is it possible to make a pork butt injection without apple juice? The short answer is yes, but you’ll need more guidance than that. Let’s take a closer look at this preparation method and the best apple juice substitutions.

Pork Butt Injection Without Apple Juice

Instead of apple juice, try injecting pork butt with chicken or vegetable stock, a soda such as cola or root beer, or a combination of grape jelly and butter. You can even use plain water as an injection ingredient, but you’ll probably want to include other seasonings as well.

About Pork Butt Injection

When you inject pork butt—or any large cut—you’re inserting a liquid mixture right into the meat. This has the effect of providing moisture to lean cuts, especially when the meat requires a slow-cooking procedure in order to achieve the right texture.

The injection method differs from marinade in one important respect: You can decide to inject the meat shortly before adding it to the smoker. With marinade, you need to plan ahead by several hours, sometimes more. Therefore, injection is a more carefree option.

Injection is also more effective than mopping or spritzing. The moisture is held inside the meat itself, so it will last longer than liquid that’s applied to the outside. As a bonus, you won’t need to keep opening the smoker, as you would with the spritz method.

Do You Need To Inject Pork Butt?

Although the injection technique has its advocates, we should point out that it isn’t necessary when it comes to pork butt.

pork butt injection without apple juice

This is a rich and fatty cut that has plenty of flavor and moisture on its own. In addition to the impressive marbling, it has a solid fat cap that should keep the pork from drying out, even after hours of cooking.

Pork shoulder, on the other hand, might benefit from the extra moisture. The cut isn’t as well-marbled as the butt, even though the two are cut from the same area. Skin-on pork shoulder might be juicier, but it’s better to remove the skin before making pulled pork.

Pork Butt Injection Without Apple Juice: What To Use Instead

Apple juice is a popular ingredient in injection recipes, especially the ones intended for cuts of pork. That’s because pork and apples are a classic combination.

You might be seeking a pork butt injection without apple juice included in the recipe because you ran out of apple juice. Or perhaps a member of your party has an allergy or sensitivity to apple-based ingredients.

Whatever the reason, you have plenty of alternatives. Let’s go over the most common ones. Be aware that you can combine some of these ingredients to create new flavor combinations, as we’ve demonstrated in the recipe below.

Chicken or Vegetable Stock

Stock opens up a new flavor dimension without overpowering the natural sweetness of the pork. It’s also easy to come by, even if you don’t generally make your own. Store-bought stocks or broths will do nicely in this case.

Cola or Root Beer

Soda in a pork butt injection? Why not? While these ingredients contain a lot of sugar, the same is true of apple juice. In fact, some juice brands have more grams of sugar per liter than regular Coca-Cola.


Melted butter is another possibility. Make sure to inject the pork before the butter has a chance to re-solidify, or you’ll need to melt it all over again. If you’d like, you can add garlic powder or other spices to the butter before filling your injector.

Grape Jelly

It might sound odd, but grape jelly is a winning alternative to apple juice. The flavor profiles are similar, with their tart sweetness and light acidity.

Tip: It might be necessary to heat the jelly in a saucepan until it’s loose enough to move through the injector. Also, note that some grape jellies include apple in their recipes; be sure to check the ingredient list if you have an allergy issue.


Plain water is a good last resort when your primary goal is to provide moisture to the pork butt. It won’t add any flavor on its own, but you can always mix in some of your dry rub ingredients or whatever spices you prefer.

Apple-Free Pork Butt Injection Recipe


  • 1 pork butt (8-10 pounds)

For The Injection:

  • 1/2 cup Welch’s grape jelly
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup seasoning rub
pork butt injection without apple juice


1. Combine all injection ingredients in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Heat until the mixture achieves a pourable consistency.

2. Trim the pork shoulder, if desired, taking care to leave at least 1/4 inch of the fat cap in place. If you trim the pork too closely, the meat will turn out dry.

3. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and set it in a disposable aluminum pan.

4. Set your injector gun to dispense 5 cubic centimeters per pull.

5. Insert the injector tip into the injection mixture, making sure to immerse it so that all the holes are covered.

6. Pull back on the plunger slowly until the syringe has been filled.

7. Use the tip of the injector gun to insert fluid into the pork butt, repeating the process every 1 to 2 inches to form a grid pattern.

8. When the fluid begins to seep out of the meat as you attempt to inject it, the pork butt has taken on enough injection. Season and cook the pork as desired.

Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar in Pork Butt Injection?

You can, but we wouldn’t recommend using it as a direct substitute. Vinegar is much more sour than apple juice, and too much of it could have an adverse effect on the flavor of your pork. Its high acidity could also give the meat a mushy texture.

If you’re out of apple juice and want to use cider vinegar in your injection instead, try using a ratio of 3 parts stock or water to 1 part vinegar. You can boost the sweetness factor by adding brown sugar or molasses to the recipe as well.

The Bottom Line

While apple juice is a key ingredient in many injection recipes, it’s not irreplaceable. You can experiment with this technique even if you don’t have any apple juice on hand—or if you can’t use it for some other reason.

Best of luck, and happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar


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