What is a meat injector? It is an ingenious device that allows you to prepare tender, flavorful, mouthwatering meat. A meat injector is a pump syringe used to infuse marinades and seasonings into your meat. It can be used on a variety of roasts, whole turkey or whole chicken as well as on smaller cuts of meat. This adds a new dimension to your grilling and roasting.
My family’s favorite grilled meat is a marinated beef tri-tip. Tri-tip is a triangular muscle cut from the bottom sirloin. It’s very common in the meat markets of California’s central valley and around cattle country. Less so outside these areas, but I would recommend asking your butcher to bring it in for grilling season. Marinated and grilled, this cut is incredible. My family does enjoy tri-tip grilled with dry rub or dusted with seasoning, but it does not compare in any way to a good infused marinated tri-tip.
Still, regardless of the tools I used, I could not thoroughly marinate the tri-tip and had to return to my meat market to purchase the pre-marinated meat. I had tried a variety of expensive multi-piercing tenderization tools paired with vacuum containers and sealers. This was a messy process and the tools were difficult to clean. I finally asked my butcher how he accomplished marinating meat so beautifully. Why was I failing so miserably? My butcher was kind enough to introduce me to the secret of the meat injector. Of course, his injector is industrial size but fortunately there are smaller units made for our use at home.
Infusing meat with marinades made with fresh ingredients and no added preservatives is not only an enjoyable aspect of preparing food for your family, it is refreshing to know exactly what your family is eating. You can tailor your marinades to your family’s specific tastes, tenderize and flavor any meat you choose knowing it will be a family favorite.
I have researched a variety of injectors and pointed out some of their key differences. I’ve gathered the useful details so that you are able to find a product that will last; one that you find efficient and enjoyable to use.
|Product||Picture||Price||Cleaning Ease||Stainless/Plastic Barrel||#Needles/|
|Chop's Power Injector System 1/2 Gallon||Very High||Yes||Plastic||4/0||1/2 Gal||90 Days|
|The SpitJack Magnum Meat Injector Gun||High||Yes||Plastic Barrel||2/0||2 Oz||1 Yr|
|Grill Beast - 304 Stainless Steel Meat Injector||Mid||Yes||Stainless||2/4||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|Quick Grill 2 Oz Stainless Marinade Injector||Mid||Yes||Stainless||2/0||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|Premiala Professional Flavor Marinade Injector Kit||Mid||Yes||Stainless||3/2||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|PBKay® Seasoning Injector||Mid||Yes||Stainless||2/0||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|Luxe Grill Stainless Steel Meat Injector Kit||Mid||Yes||Stainless||2/0||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|Cuisavour's 2 Oz Stainless Steel Seasoning Injector||Mid||Yes||Stainless||2/0||2 Oz||Lifetime|
|Bayou Classic 5011 2-Ounce Stainless-Steel Seasoning Injector||Low||Yes||Stainless||1/0||2 Oz||30 days|
|Cuisinart CMM-232 Flavor Injector||Low||Yes||Stainless||2/0||1.5 Oz||Unknown|
As experienced cooks and bakers, you can use this tool to inject, not only meat, but also a multitude of baked goods, fruits, vegetables or wherever your creativity takes you. If you have a variety of uses in mind for your injector, I would definitely purchase two. Buy one injector for meat, and to protect against the possibility of cross contamination, buy another for non-meat items.
If price is not an issue and you are roasting a high quantity of meat such as a whole hog or having regular very large cookouts, you will need an injector with a multiple needle syringe and a high volume container. The Chop’s brand offers the ½ Gallon Power Injector System that is made specifically for large volume marinating. You will definitely be the king of the grill with this system.
For the everyday griller, the SpitJack Magnum Meat Injector Gun may entice the grill master who wants to look especially impressive while marinating. This was visually my husband’s first choice of the small capacity units. It looks like a tool with its clever grips and has an incremental dispensing system. The grips may also be a bit more comfortable to use and it may hold up better to the aggressive injector. SpitJack promises it will not break and warranties it for one year.
For the cost conscious consumer who may be preparing a Thanksgiving turkey or regularly preparing meat for the grill, I would recommend The Grill Beast 304 Stainless Meat Injector. It has a stainless steel barrel, is durable and is easy to clean. As there are several similar products available, I choose to recommend this brand due to their money back guarantee and lifetime warranty along with the fact that they include extra “O” rings which can be difficult to replace if they are lost or damaged.
Comparing Meat Injectors
There are numerous meat injectors on the market. I have reviewed some of the more popular brands and styles. There are limited options for high capacity injectors made for the large volume griller.
The mid range injectors had many similarities so differentiating between them was somewhat difficult. I did find, however that the mid range injectors I have listed have lifetime guarantees and will honor replacement if you should have a problem.
The most valuable component of an injector beyond durability and warranty was the ability to clean it thoroughly. If you cannot clean it, you have to dispose of it rather than risking food contamination.
This information can be found on Amazon.
In reviewing the pros and cons of the injectors, there are a few common issues that should be addressed. Like any appliance, the injectors should be washed and inspected prior to use. Check the needles carefully for debris from the manufacturing process prior to using and retain the needle covers for storage. Also, use caution when screwing the needle to the barrel as the threads can be stripped. It may be helpful to dip threaded areas in food grade oil before assembling. Because the smaller injection tools need to be assembled and disassembled with each use in order to clean them thoroughly, keep in mind that there is wear on the threads. They will last much longer if you take care during this process.
If your unit includes only one needle, it is most likely for thin liquid marinade. Several of the 2-ounce injectors include 2 or more needles. One is open on the end and is used for the thicker liquids. If it is a large gage needle, it may be compatible with marinades that include spices. The second needle usually has a closed end with multiple holes along the side to distribute a thin marinade quickly over a larger area. The closed tip may collect meat and marinade debris. Good soaking and a very fine bottle brush may help with cleaning this needle.
Using any meat injector requires a little preparation and planning. I have compiled the following list of valuable user’s suggestions and techniques for you. This type of meat preparation is so much easier when we know the secrets.
- Keep the skin and cavity of whole poultry intact. Keeping the skin intact will help keep the marinade in place after injecting. Instead of poking through the skin, lift the skin a little and inject from underneath. Piercing through the cavity will cause the marinade to leak.
- Use a sharp knife to score or pierce the point of injection on tough skins or tough cuts of meat prior to inserting the needle. This is to avoid stress where the needle attaches to the barrel and will save wear on the needle.
- Keep a small amount of suction in the plunger after filling so the liquid doesn’t pour out of the multiple holed needles immediately. Know exactly where you are going to inject and be prepared to move quickly as the thin marinade can flood out of the needle.
- Prepare for squirts. Once you have the needle injected, rest your hand around it to protect yourself from squirts. Pull the injector back slowly as you carefully inject the marinade. Press the entry point after removing the needle to stop any flow.
- Inject with the grain of the tougher cuts of meat if possible.
- Avoid injecting through the bottom or the sides of the meat. Your marinade will flow out.
- Avoid injecting close to or toward bones.
- In tender meat, you can use one entry point to inject in several directions.
- Submerge all needle openings into the meat before injecting the marinade.
- Dip the plunger “O” ring into food grade oil to prevent resistance when applying pressure. If you have an issue with leakage, oiling the “O” rings may also help create a better seal.
- Protect the “O” rings! The small “O” ring on the needle attachment can be found in some hardware stores. The large “O” ring on the plunger is more difficult to replace.
The less expensive plastic injectors seemed to have the most problems with cracked barrels and breaking easily. All of the injectors had breakage issues of some sort when used aggressively. So, regardless of which injector you choose, they all need to be used with care. By nature of the product, understanding the possible issues and safety concerns will help you maintain your injector for long term use.
Some people prefer the plastic injectors. Assuming they will go through several injectors while preparing a roast or turkey, they will purchase two and gladly toss them when they’re done rather than worry about cleaning. But, with extra care in using plastic injectors and careful cleaning, you can maintain them as well.
Best Product If Budget Is not an Issue
If budget is not an issue, I recommend going whole hog and purchasing the Chop’s ½ Gallon Power Injector System made by Barbeque Kansas City LLC. This is a popular investment for the serious griller. It is a four-needle injector and is made specifically for the person preparing for large gatherings who would like to efficiently marinate large quantities of meat such as whole hogs or several large roasts. This company produces larger units for competition grilles as well as the smaller units.
The Chop’s injector holds up to ½ gallon of marinade but will work with as little as 1 quart. It arrives with 4 needles including needle covers. Also included are 3 plugs allowing you to reduce the number of needles for smaller cuts of meat. Barbeque Kansas City LLC offers replacement supplies including a variety of needles for various marinades. This unit is definitely made for quick and easy marinating.
Barbeque Kansas City LLC will guarantee this unit for 90 days so it is wise to watch all of their videos on YouTube prior to operation and read all directions carefully. As with any injector, having a clear idea of how to go about efficiently operating the unit and knowing where the problems can arise will save you time and money. They are also very responsive to email should you have questions.
This unit is made entirely of food grade material and requires meticulous cleaning. It arrives fully assembled and does not have to be completely disassembled to clean. The specific cleaning directions are included.
I like the efficiency of this machine, the quick cleaning ability and the availability of replacement supplies. The only drawback is the 90-day warranty, which is a reminder to review all directions prior to application. All in all, this is an efficient machine.
The Best Product on a Budget
If budget were an issue, I would recommend the Grill Beast 304 Stainless injector. As I mentioned earlier, the mid level injectors are made for many repeated uses and are all very similar. It is a nice kitchen tool to have in your drawer. There are several good choices in this range and you may have similar experience with any one of them.
The fact that the Grill Beast 304 Stainless injector includes the hard to find “O” rings made it very appealing. Most companies will cover and replace any factory defect item. Beyond that, Grill Beast does offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee as well as lifetime warranty.
Because this injector is smaller and simpler than the larger unit I recommended, it is also more versatile. As I mentioned earlier, you could store several of these gadgets in your kitchen to accomplish a variety of tasks. One could be used specifically for meat and one for other uses.
This 2-ounce injector can be used to fill small cakes with ganache. Or, for example, inject small amounts of filling into strawberries, raspberries or tomatoes. The small open-ended needle is perfect for small delicate work. Be sure to use a filling that has a bit of substance to it so it doesn’t just flow out uncontrollably. Pudding like liquids which are just fluid enough to inject but set up nicely after sitting or refrigeration are a perfect substance to use in this injector. If you are very careful, you can even inject a bit of champagne into strawberries.
The Grill Beast meat injector will take your grilling and meat preparation to a whole new level. It is a nice cost saving product that allows you to infuse the blend of ingredients and flavor combinations that appeal to you. You also have confidence in the quality ingredients you choose. It takes preparation and, possibly, little practice but is well worth the time invested.
Do you have questions? Please ask us. Do you have a meat injector? We would love to hear from you! Share the secrets to your success or your personal experiences with us.