Get Flavor Deep Into The Meat With An Injector

There are a number of injection gizmos on the market ranging from simple hypodermics to pumps that look like something used by the Orkin man.

For home use, a good sturdy specialty meat injector hypodermic will do. The needles for this purpose are different than normal hypodermics. They aren't open at the tip because a large opening at the tip gets clogged easily. Meat injectors have holes in the sides of the needles, and the tip is a sharp point.

When you inject it is important that the tip go all the way through the meat until it almost pops out. If the needle isn't long enough then go halfway through, flip it over and inject from the other side. Inject every inch or two an, this is important, as you withdraw the needle, continue to push down on the plunger so injection is dispersed from top to bottom.

A good injector has a really sharp tip, and a sturdy connection between the needle and the body of the syringe, but the needle should be easy to remove. The plunger should have a sturdy connection to the body and a good tight gasket between it and the interior of the syringe. I prefer a silicone gasket. It should be easy to break down and clean, and you should be able to store the needle inside the syringe so it is compact and you don't lose the needle. It should have a capacity of at least two ounces and be made of stainless steel. The inexpensive plastic syringes I've owned eventually cracked with age or burst under pressure. Brass, copper, and aluminum are not good for this purpose, since they can react with the salt. Look for stainless steel.

A trick

The problem everyone has with injectors is filling them. Most of us mix the injection and stick the needle into it and suck it up. But the position of the holes in the needle prevents you from getting it all, and this can be aggravating when you are using just a half stick of butter for a turkey breast.


My friend, social media consultant Alex Hambrick, of Ngage Inc. (a barbecue competitor and a very inventive problem solver), sent me this solution: Make the injection mixture and pour it into a plastic water bottle. Shake it all up to mix it. Take a lighter, heat up the end of the injector needle, and slide it through the cap of the water bottle to make a hole. Pull the needle out, then pull the plunger on the injector all the way back so the injector is filled with air. Put a piece of electrical tape over the hole in the bottle cap and poke the needle through the tape into the hole. The tape acts like a gasket. Push the plunger down injecting air into the bottle. This pressurizes the bottle slightly and counteracts the vacuum effect, making it much easier to withdraw liquid. Now turn it upside down, and withdraw the liquid, just like the nurse did when she withdrew a blood sample from your arm. This bit of cleverness lets you pull all the fluid out.

Premiala Meat Injector Kit
This heavy 304 grade stainless steel injector (most others are plastic or a cheaper metal with a chrome coat) holds 2 ounces of fluid and comes with three needles, an 8 cm (3") for thin cuts of meat, and two 15 cm (6") needles for thicker cuts. read more
The Pork Injector
The Pork Injector is a motorized "Auto Pump Injector System" that is state of the art and can really save you time and hand cramps if you have to inject a lot of meat. read more
Spitjack Injector Gun
This injector is a serious tool for competition barbecue. You can order it with 1, 2, or 3 needles. It's a step up from basic stainless models in that you can dial in the amount of injection liquid being injected and you don't have to pull out slowly as you inject like you do with other models. read more
NoCents Deluxe Pro 1 gallon Meat Injector
Many competition cooks and caterers use big pumps like this one. A single needle and a gallon jug allow you to inject lots of food fast. read more
Chop's Power Injection System
If you are a BBQ caterer or restaurateur or a competitor, or even a weekend warrior who cooks for a crowd, you need this injector! read more

injector needle

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

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