Grilling Guide

How to Use a Meat Marinade Injector

Take your meat’s flavor to the next level with a meat injector. This method is fairly straight forward: instead of flavoring the surface of the meat, with marinades and rubs, inject flavor via a large, food-grade syringe and needle designed to penetrate muscle fibers, delivering flavor and tenderizing meat in a matter of minutes.

Deciding what to put in your meat marinade injector is a matter of personal preference. You can use all types of herbs, spices, sauces, and seasonings that will boost that delicious BBQ flavor from the inside out. Read below and learn how to use a meat injector. Get ready to bring more flavor to your next backyard or tailgate grilling session!

Why Use a Meat Injector?

Traditional meat marination works for thinner portions, but larger cuts with more substance can end up with flavorless centers. By injecting flavorful ingredients deep inside the meat, you can create delicious meals in just a few minutes. Meat marinade injectors are common around the holidays when turkeys and chickens need a tasty lift, but they work well on every type of meat. Other good candidates include whole hogs, hams, pork shoulders, and briskets. You should still season the outside of your meat as usual; the injections ensure your food packs flavor in every bite. Here are some marinade ideas for different types of meat:

  • Pork: Since pork is (generally) lean, your goal is to lock in moisture. Apple and pork are a natural match, so include apple juice or apple cider vinegar and stock in your mix.
  • Chicken/Turkey: Since the flavor is inherently mild, experiment with different flavor combinations like lemon juice, fresh herbs, minced garlic, melted butter, and beer.
  • Beef:  Since the protein is the star, brines and marinades should be more subdued. Such as beef stock, butter and kosher salt.

Making Meat-Injection Marinade

Liquid marinade for meat injections can include virtually any ingredient. The major players are broth or stock, melted butter, herbs, and seasonings. Worcestershire sauce is also a popular pick for its liquid umami flavoring. Experiment based off your personal tastes or use any of the easy injection marinade recipes listed below. The basic process for making the mixture is as follows:

  1. Mix the ingredients. If you need to do any prep work like mincing, now’s the time for that as well.
  2. Whisk, blend, or simmer to combine. Fully incorporate the flavors while also breaking down any non-liquid ingredients.
  3. Let the liquid marinade cool. Give the flavors time to meld at room temperature for a more robust mixture.
  4. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or coffee filter. This eliminates any remaining chunks or gel that would clog the injector during use. This would require disassembly and cleaning.

Injecting Meat Marinade

Fully depress the plunger: Insert needle in the injector sauce. Pull the plunger back to fill the syringe with liquid. Work over a rimmed baking sheet or other container with sides.

Pick a starting spot: Plunge the needle deep in the meat, then depress the plunger slowly and steadily to deliver flavorful marinade to those hard-to-reach spots. As a rule of thumb, inject one ounce of brine or marinade per pound of meat.

Draw the plunger back: Do this slowly to prevent air from infiltrating the injector and messing with the mixture.

Pull the needle out slowly: Do not completely remove it from the meat; angle the needle in two or three directions using the same entry hole. Continue injecting until the liquid begins leaking from the holes, indicating the meat cannot hold any more. Reposition and repeat a few times before moving to another part of the meat.

Work your way across the meat. This will create pockets of flavor at a variety of depths and areas. Make sure not to hit the bone. When injecting a turkey or chicken with skin, puncture the skin as few times as possible.

For thinner slices of meat. Pork chops or chicken breasts, inject horizontally to disperse more marinade throughout. Complete your meat injection at least a few hours before cooking. The marinade will act as an internal brine; resting the food overnight is optimal.

Easy Flavor Injection Recipes

Try one of the following recipes to experiment with your meat injector. Get creative based on your personal preferences. You can incorporate wine, cognac or whiskey, hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce or soy sauce. If you can combine it and squeeze it through a meat injector, then let it ride!

Turkey Marinade Injection Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes Rest Time: 2 – 8 hours


Whole turkey, 12-16 pounds


For the Marinade:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Marsala wine

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup butter (melted, cooled)

Zest of an orange

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon dry rubbed sage

1 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon black pepper

1 Tablespoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon thyme

1 Tablespoon rosemary

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon honey

Combine all herbs, spices and orange zest (dry goods) into a coffee grinder and blend until they reach a powder consistency.

In a separate container, blend your butter and liquid ingredients together, then incorporate powdered herbs into the mixture. Whisk to combine.

Place the needle of meat injector syringe into the mixture and slowly pull back on the plunger, careful not to get air into your mixture.

Start by injecting around the center of the breast, and slowly push down on the plunger to release 1½ – 2 ounces of marinade into each breast, thigh, leg and wing.

Cover turkey and place in refrigerator for 2-8 hours.

Remove from refrigerator 45 minutes before you’re ready to cook. Cover generously with olive oil and poultry seasoning.

Citrus Poultry Marinade Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour Serves: 4


1 whole chicken or small turkey, defrosted


For the marinade:

¾ cup unsalted butter

3 tablespoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper

1½ tablespoons crushed red pepper

1 Tablespoon dried thyme

1 Tablespoon dried rosemary

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

1 Tablespoon orange zest

Chop your butter into cubes and let sit out at room temperature for an hour to soften.

Combine all marinade ingredients well into a small mixing bowl.

Before marinating, make sure meat is fully defrosted and thoroughly dried. With room temperature marinade, apply generous portions under the skin and onto the meat. Gently lift the skin to separate it from the breast meat, trying your best to leave it completely intact while spreading the marinade as far as you can reach. When finished, apply the rest of the marinade to the exterior of your chicken or turkey.

After applying the marinade inside and out, sprinkle a light layer of kosher salt and black pepper to the poultry’s exterior. Refrigerate uncovered overnight so it can further air-dry.

When ready to cook, take the bird out of the fridge while preheating your cooker. If oven-roasting, preheat to 350° F then bake for roughly 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Let it rest for 10–20 minutes, then carve and enjoy!