What is a chicken injector?
A chicken injector is a tool that can be used to inject marinades into the meat of a whole or cut-up chicken. This is an alternative to traditional methods of basting and rubbing the meat with marinades.
Chicken injectors are useful for adding flavor and moisture to otherwise bland cuts of chicken. This technique is often associated with barbecue cooking as it helps keep the meat moist and tender during long periods of cooking time on low heat.
Using different marinades flavored with herbs, butter, and spices, it is possible to prepare moist and delicious chicken that will welcome any barbecue.
You can always add flavor to your poultry by covering it with a BBQ rub, souse, or some homemade mix of spices. The flavors of the herbs, spices, and liquids from the marinades will be absorbed by the chicken as it cooks. Yet, these flavors will work only on the outer layers of the meat.
It is impossible to reach the inner parts of the chicken without cutting it into pieces. This is when an injector comes in handy! With its help, you can add flavor much faster by putting some marinade right into the middle of each piece, ensuring that all parts are well-flavored and juicy.
Benefits of using chicken injections
Almost all chicken injectors can be used for both poultry and roasts, such as beef or pork.
It takes just a few simple steps to prepare meat with marinade using an injector. Inserted right before roasting or grilling, these injections will make the meat super moist with wonderful flavor coming from the spices and herbs used in preparing the injection.
You can always add your favorite BBQ rub on the meat for extra flavor. This might not be necessary, though, since marinades can do wonders when it comes to making meat flavorful and moist.
Using an injector is not a culinary rule – you can always follow your own taste preferences to prepare some injections and rubs that suit your taste and try them out on the cut of chicken you’re working on.
Many good-quality meat injectors are not expensive, so investing in one is a good idea.
This guide is for everyone interested in making the most out of their poultry or roasts! Following the step-by-step instructions in this guide, you will be able to prepare juicy, well-flavored chicken using an injector.
How to use the chicken injector
Even if it is not always the case, most meat injectors have holes aligned on the side of the needle. The side alignment also allows for better accuracy and spreading of the marinade. That’s why you need to use a deep dish when draining the marinade.
The next step is to pull the plunger out of the injector. You will need to load it with marinade, so have your dish ready. The easiest way to load the injector is to take a deep dish and pull the plunger while inserting it into the liquid. Using a thin and long glass will make the process easier.
Go for stainless steel
Cleaning an injecting needle is crucial for food safety. To prevent or reduce the risk of contaminating meat with harmful bacteria, it is recommended by health authorities that all parts of a meat injector be cleaned before and after use.
Using a stainless steel needle is the best way to ensure thorough clean-up. Stainless steel is also corrosion and oxidation-resistant.
Choosing stainless steel also eliminates fears of harmful chemicals seeping out into the meat. Food-grade plastic is often used to make parts of some injectors, but this can be difficult to clean and can cause contamination if not cleaned thoroughly.
A meat injector that is easy to clean and suitable for washing machine use is a better choice. As with any device, it’s important to read the manufacturer’s directions for use and cleaning before using a meat injector. Knowing how to make sure all parts are clean will help maintain food safety, resulting in a safer product from your kitchen.
It is better to have different needles
Nowadays, most meat injectors come with a set of needles of different sizes and holes placement. Each needle serves a different purpose.
When you use different needles, it is easier to inject liquids deep into the center of large cuts of meat. For example, the needles with side holes are designed for thick cuts of meat. Needles with a single hole are best for thin cuts.
The different sizes of needles will allow you to inject or marinate any meat with ease. The difference in sizes also allows you to get the right spices and sauce into the meat.
The right amount of marinade
Here the rule of thumb is to use about .1 ounce per pound of chicken. The amount of marinade directly depends on the type of marinade, the tenderness of the meat, and at most, it depends on your skill with the injector.
Adding more than .1 ounce of marinade could destroy the structure of the meat and loss of taste.
You do not want to mask or erase the taste of your product with marinades; you want to enhance the flavor.
If you are a newbie, try to follow the exact recipes and proportions of marinade until you get the hang of it.
Do your best to distribute evenly
Once loaded, insert the injector into your chicken and press slowly until you see the chicken start to swell. Inject 1-2 seconds worth of marinade and move to a new spot. Repeat this process until you have used all the marinade.
Aiming at the thickest parts of the meat is always a good idea. These parts are prone to be dry or undercooked.
Distributing the marinade evenly into the meat is key. If you don’t, you will have some parts that are well marinated and others that are not. Try to draw a map in your mind with spots with one-inch gaps and inject it according to the map.
Do not inject too much at once! Doing this can cause your marinade to pool and result in a loss of flavor. The goal is for each bite of chicken to be properly flavored throughout.
Be careful with the depth
It may seem like it’s a simple process; just grab an injector and fill it up. However, they’re not as easy as they seem.
If you inject the meat close to the surface, the marinade will leak back from the hole before the meat even starts to cook.
Injecting too deep could penetrate the meat from the other side and again cause a marinade to leak.
For best results, gently apply the first dose of the marinade, assess the depth, and, if needed, make some corrections. Proceed with the injecting when you are sure the marinade is at the right depth.
Learn to treat each puncture
A good way to reduce the number of holes on the meat is by using the same puncture and insert the needle at different angles. Here’s how to do this.
First, insert the needle straight into the meat and press the plunger down until it goes smoothly. Then, change the angle of penetration by about 45 degrees and repeat the same process. Next, think where you need more injection, for example, around the thighs or back, then just change the angle of penetration again so that the full length of the needle is injected into this part of the meat.
Using this technique will not only reduce the number of holes but will also help to spread the marinade evenly across the meat.
In the beginning, this process may seem a bit tricky, but with a little bit of practice, it will become second nature. Remember that meat that is injected with marinade tends to cook slowly. This is why we suggest you start with a small amount of marinades. Each increase in the marinade quantity will lead to adjusting the whole cooking process.
3 favorite chicken injection recipes
Butter and Garlic Marinade
This classic marinade is considered a staple for its simplicity and deliciousness.
A tasty marinade, perfect for pairing with chicken on the grill or the oven. This mix of butter, garlic, and apple juice will make your chicken tender and delicious.
Butter and Garlic Marinade:
- 1 stick of butter (½ cup)
- 3/4 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/4 tablespoon onion
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
Put the butter in a metal pot and melt it. When the whole piece of butter is fully melted, mix it with the other ingredients. Stir until everything is mixed evenly and then take it out from the heat.
Move the warm marinade into a glass or any narrow dish and fill up your meat injector. If they are any marinade remaining after the injecting, use it to rub the surface of the poultry—this way, you ensure to have moist and flavourful meat inside and crispy and well-cooked meat outside.
Hot Chilly Marinade
We definitely need to include a hot marinade for all spicy food enthusiasts. Yet make sure that everyone eating this spicy chicken is on the same wave as you. Once you inject the poultry, there is no going back!
Hot Chilli marinade:
- your favorite hot sauce (be careful with the quantity)
- 1/4 cup teaspoons hot chili powder (add more if you like more heat)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of onion powder
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1/3 cup of chicken broth
Mix all the ingredients and place them on low to medium heat for a couple of minutes. Leave it to cool a bit for a few minutes and inject the meat. Protect your eyes and wash your hands after handling this marinade.
A Mediterranean-style marinade is usually mild and very aromatic. The next time you grill out, try this recipe as a change from the usual!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves (grated or chopped)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1 tablespoon basil
- salt and pepper to taste
No heat is required here. Grind or sieve each ingredient and mix it with lemon juice and olive oil. Fill up the meat injector and inject the marinade evenly into the meat.