As a grill chef with over 8 years of experience, a meat injector is a holy grail tool for all my delicious and flavourful meat fixes. And even though it's a famous tool in my kitchen, not everyone knows how to use it correctly.
Today I'll share a step-by-step guide on using a meat injector and give you the best marinades you can inject into your meats for a burst of flavor in every bite.
Let's get started.
Summary of the Key Findings
- A meat injector is a syringe tool used to infuse liquid marinades into meat.
- Stainless steel marinade injectors are easy to clean and safe when it comes to avoiding bacteria in meat.
- The meat injector needle size varies depending on the meat size.
- Letting your marinated meat sit for longer accentuates the flavor.
What Is A Meat Injector?
A meat injector is a needle syringe-like tool used to infuse flavor-holding spices and moisture into the meat. You can use a meat injector on meat cuts like pork chops, steak, poultry, and even whole hogs.
The best meat injector has a large syringe that can hold up to 2 ounces of liquid and a strong needle that can penetrate thick meat of around 5.6 inches.
Always go for the ones with 304 stainless steel frames and needles that are easy to clean (dishwasher safe) and it's anti-bacterial (keep bacteria away from meat) .
6 Steps to Use a Meat Injector
Here are the steps you should follow when using a meat injector:
- Prepare your liquid marinade by mixing all your favorite ingredients in a bowl.
- Place your needle injector into the marinade and make sure it's completely submerged. Pull up the syringe and plunger to suck the marinade.
- Insert your marinade-fill injector into your meat deep until you feel the bone. Gradually press down the plunge to infuse the marinade into the meat.
- Inject several areas of the meat to give an even marinade distribution. Because meat is made up of tissues and fibers, it has lots of marbling and cavities. The cavities provide plenty of room for the marinade to penetrate and absorb the meat.
- Now, if you see some bubbles coming out of the incision hole, this means you've poked around the marbling areas, and the marinade is not penetrating that particular area. It would be best to try a different place.
- Let your cuts of meat rest and cook them on high heat.
"Your cooking surface should be very hot to quickly and evenly sear the meat edges and lock in the marinade juice."
- Sage Lau, Chef
4 Benefits Of Injecting Your Meat
Injecting your meat with different marinades comes with many benefits, such as:
- More Flavor: Injecting meat definitely adds more flavor as the marinades are made up of different spices that blend well to build up meat flavor.
- Juicer Meat: Meat injectors ensure liquid marinades penetrate deep into the meat cuts. This gives you a juicer, softer meat when cooked.
- Crispy Exterior: The sugars and protein in the marinade give your meat that crisp surface when you grill it on a hot pan.
- Tender Meat: Most liquids like vinegar, wine, lemon, or apple juice used in creating marinades are acidic, meaning they help tenderize tough meats.
Best Marinades to Inject into Your Meat
A classic marinade has an acid base, oil, and flavor (spices). Here are my top recommended marinades to take your meat flavor to the next level.
1. Rosemary Worcestershire Marinade
This one is easy to make. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, beef stock, and black pepper to a bowl. Whisk everything together, and you're good to go.
2. Sweet-Spicy Habanero Garlic Marinade
Add melted butter, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, ground habanero powder, and light brown sugar to a shallow bowl and mix well. Add garlic and dijon mustard to keep the liquids emulsified.
Sprinkle some red chili flakes for extra heat. Even with the intense heat, the sugar brings a little sweetness to balance it.
3. White Wine Basil Marinade
Add white wine, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and basil seasoning to a blender and blend everything. The wine acts as a tenderizer for the meat. This marinade has solid ingredients that go well with steak.
4. Lemon Garlic Marinade
Add lemon juice, garlic, fish sauce, and olive oil to a bowl and mix. Sprinkle some salt, ground pepper, and paprika for smokiness. After injecting your meat and cooking it, garnish with lemon zest when serving.
5 Tips For Using A Meat Injector
Here are 5 great additional tips for using a marinade injector:
For a smooth injecting experience, I recommend that you lubricate the tool with a bit of vegetable oil. This removes any friction in the stainless steel frames of the meat injector kit and allows you to inject your marinades easily.
2. Needle Size
Needle size varies depending on the type and size of meat cuts. Use larger needle and syringe sizes when handling thicker and tougher meats like double thick pork chops and beef brisket. If you're prepping lean cuts, smaller needles will work perfectly.
I also recommend using a thicker needle injector to make your life easier if your marinade has garlic to allow the garlic particles to pass through to the meat without blocking the needle.
3. Resting Time
As far as resting the meat is concerned, the longer it sits with the marinade, the better. Although, resting time varies depending on your meat type and prep time. You can let the meat rest for 20-45 minutes before grilling.
But for the ultimate flavor, I recommend leaving your meat refrigerated overnight to allow the marinade to infuse and distribute evenly throughout the meat.
4. Have Enough Marinade
Ensure you have enough marinade to inject throughout the meat to distribute the spices evenly.
Also, when cooking poultry meat like chicken and turkey, these ones tend to dry up fast when cooked on high heat.
So it would help to have an extra marinade that you can inject as the meats cook to keep them moist and juicy during the cooking process.
5. Barbecue Spritz
Sometimes you could end up with a lot more leftover marinade; pour it into a pan and bring it to a boil under medium-high heat to cook the ingredients and spices.
After about 4 minutes, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Pour it into a spray bottle and spritz on your barbecue meats for more flavor.
Is a Meat Injector Worth It?
Yes, a meat injector is worth it if you want to get rich flavor and moisture into your meat.
What Do You Use a Marinade Injector for?
You use a marinade injector to infuse moisture and spices into different meat cuts.
How Long Before Cooking Do You Inject Meat?
You inject meat anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes before cooking.
What Do You Use For Meat Injections?
You use spicy and herby liquid marinades for meat injectors.
Does Injected Meat Take Longer to Smoke?
No, injected meat doesn't take long to smoke. Injected meat has more flavor than bland meat, but cooking time is pretty much the same.
Should I Inject Pork Butt Overnight?
Yes, you should inject pork butt overnight if you're looking for extra explosive flavors on your pork.
Should You Start Using a Meat Injector?
Any well-done mouth-watering meat begins with good prepping and the spice marinade used. And using a meat injector is the best way to get extra flavor deep into your meat cuts.
While prepping the meat is essential, the cooking temperature is more important to ensure things stay moist and succulent. If you don't want to end up with a dry, tough meat bite, make sure to check out our list of best meat thermometers.
These wireless thermometers help you monitor the internal and external temperature of the meat to give you drool-worthy, perfectly done meat.