If you find that a marinade has too many chunks to pass easily through your injector, run it through a food processor until it's smoother.
If you find that a marinade has too many chunks to pass easily through your injector, run it through a food processor until it's smoother.

If you enjoy cooking or grilling, you know the right marinade can make any piece of steak, chicken, lamb, pork, or even fish delicious. But sometimes you can't marinate your meat the required amount of time it takes for the flavor to penetrate. That's why a marinade injector can be such a handy tool for your kitchen. It injects your favorite marinades deeper into the meat, so you don't have to wait hours to ensure that the flavor spreads evenly through the entire piece. You can also use a marinade injector to infuse vegetables before roasting and grilling or add filling to cream puffs and other pastries.

Our shopping guide has all the information necessary to help you choose the best marinade injector for your kitchen. We've also included some specific injector recommendations, including our top pick, the Premiala Meat Injector with Three Needles, which is made of food-grade 304 stainless steel and includes brushes to make cleaning the needles easier.

Considerations when choosing marinade injectors

Material

Plenty of cuts of meat are thick and difficult to penetrate, so you want to choose a marinade injector that's made of durable materials. While plastic injectors are affordable, they don't offer the same durability that stainless steel injectors do. Some plastic injectors can snap when you try to drive them into a particularly tough piece of meat. You may pay more for a stainless steel model, but you'll likely receive many years of use out of it, making it a better long-term value.

If you do opt for a plastic injector, be sure that it's made from BPA-free food-grade plastic. Metal models should be made from 304-, 316-, or 430-grade stainless steel.

Capacity

The capacity of a meat injector's barrel determines how much liquid or marinade it can hold. Most injectors can hold one to two ounces. A one-ounce injector can work well if you mainly cook for small groups and are usually injecting smaller cuts of meat. You'll have more versatility from a two-ounce injector because you can use it to inject larger cuts of meat or fill it halfway to inject smaller pieces.

If you routinely marinade extra-large cuts of meat, look for an injector that can hold more than two ounces.

Features

Needles

You'll typically receive at least two needles with a marinade injector. The needle is the portion of the injector that pierces the meat to shoot the marinade and seasonings inside. Some injector needles have holes along their sides, while others do not. A needle with holes can handle thicker marinades that contain small chunks, but a solid needle is meant solely for liquid marinades.

Pay attention to the thickness of the needles, too. A narrow three-inch needle can handle liquids, but if you want to use a marinade with minced herbs or garlic, you'll need a six-inch needle to prevent clogs. Some injectors include needles in a few sizes to ensure you have the right option for every recipe.

Measuring window

Some marinade injectors feature a solid barrel that doesn't allow you to see the marinade inside. Others are clear or have a small window section that lets you see how full the barrel is. In many cases, the window has measurement markings, so you're able to tell how much marinade you're injecting each time you press on the injector.

Seal

Any injector you choose should have a durable seal between the plunger and the barrel to keep the tool from leaking. The best injectors have a silicone O-ring that sits between the two to create a tight seal.

O-rings are replaceable, so you can swap in a new one if the existing one starts to break down. Some injectors even include replacement rings to help keep your injector in working order even easier.

Accessories

Marinade injectors may include accessories to make using or cleaning the tool easier. Some accessories you may be interested in include:

Storage box

Basting brush

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Cleaning brushes for the needles

Recipe booklet

Ease of cleaning

Cleaning oily marinades out of all the components of a marinade injector can be tricky. For the easiest cleaning, opt for a dishwasher-safe model.

Price

Marinade injectors typically cost between $5 and $55. You can usually find a plastic injector for $5 to $15, but you can expect to pay $15 to $40 for a high-quality stainless steel model that holds one to two ounces.

FAQ

Q. Do you have to prepare the meat before using a marinade injector?

A. For most cuts of meat, you don't have to do anything special — just insert the needle, press the plunger, and slowly pull it back out. If you're injecting meat that has a thick skin like chicken, you may want to use a knife to make holes in the surface first, so it's easier to push the needle through.

Q. Should I inject the marinade in certain areas of the meat?

A. There aren't really any rules about where to inject, but there are some general guidelines. You should avoid hitting any bones. If the meat has a bone, aim the injector, so it's parallel to the bone. If you're injecting a thinner cut of meat, insert the injector horizontally to avoid piercing all the way through the meat.

Marinade injectors we recommend

Best of the best: Premiala's Meat Injector with Three Needles

Our take: An ideal option for anyone new to marinade injectors because it includes multiple needles and a downloadable marinating instruction guide to help you start.

What we like: Made of durable 304-grade stainless steel that's safe for use with food. Instructional manual is incredibly detailed. Includes three needles and cleaning brushes for the needles. Comes with a storage or gift box.

What we dislike: Plunger can sometimes become stuck and require oiling. Needles can often make tears in the meat.

Best bang for your buck: PBKay's Stainless Steel Two-Ounce Seasoning Injector

Our take: A durable stainless steel model that can be difficult to clean but is easy to use and has a comfortable feel in the hand.

What we like: Stainless steel construction provides significant durability. Needles are extremely long and sharp, so they can reach into most cuts of meat easily. Can work with chunky marinades.

What we dislike: Can be difficult to clean even though it's dishwasher-safe. All components aren't necessarily 100% stainless steel. Some buyers have had the needles snap off.

Choice 3: Bayou Classic's Two-Ounce Seasoning Injector with Marinade Needles

Our take: An extremely sturdy injector that can handle tough cuts of meat like wild game.

What we like: Features strong stainless steel needles that pierce through meat with ease. Sturdy silicone O-rings effectively prevent any leaks. Can be used for both wet and dry marinades. Dishwasher-safe.

What we dislike: Plunger can be difficult to push. O-rings don't always tolerate high temperatures. Some chunky ingredients can become stuck inside.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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