A flavor injector or marinade injector is essentially a syringe with a long metal needle that allows you to push marinade or sauce into uncooked meat, or even vegetables. This can impart tremendous flavor to your dish after it is cooked, and you can use a variety of different marinades for the injection process. Occasionally you’ll find a pre-filled flavor injector that comes with a certain type of meat, but more often, you’ll need to prepare your own light sauce or marinade to inject into meat.
Like most syringes, the flavor injector has a plunger, which when depressed sends liquid into meats. It also has a long needle, sometimes ones that are replaceable if you can’t sufficiently clean the needle you use. The container part of the injector may have measurements along the side, which tell you measure precisely how much liquid has gone into the meat. This can be helpful if you’re following recipes that suggest a specific amount of flavor injection in different parts of a large roast, or whole animal like a chicken or turkey.
When using a flavor injector, you need to insert the needle well into the middle of the meat in order to get in the most marinade. For instance in meat cooked in its skin, like turkey, you want to make sure you’re a good way into the meat, or the flavor may only get as far as the layer between the skin and the meat. You also have to choose a relatively thin sauce or marinade since the meat only allows for a certain amount of additional liquid to be injected.
You can choose a variety of different types of things to inject into meat. Soy sauce or tempura-based sauces are popular. Hot sauces, like those made with chili oil can give your meat lots of Cajun style. Some prefer a simple salt-water mix, and others add finely minced herbs to vinegar and oil sauces. Injecting meat with acidic ingredients like vinegar, wine or lemon juice helps tenderize the meat and partially cook it. This means your meat may cook more quickly, and you’ll need to carefully follow the cooking instructions when using acidic based ingredients with your flavor injector.
The flavor injector can come in a variety of styles. A common style is a stainless steel one with a glass or plastic window that allows you to measure amounts injected. Another type is heavy clear plastic or glass. Most have removable plungers for washing out the syringe area completely, and many can be purchases with needles of different lengths. Expect to pay about $10-20 US dollars (USD) for a good quality flavor injector.