Top 5 Meat Injectors 2019

Introduction

There are lots of meat injectors on the market with lots of different factors to consider, so what may be best for one may not suit another.  To make your decision easier, we’ve bought and used a number of them and summarised our findings in this review.  We found so many important differences to consider we wrote a separate article on ‘Choosing a Meat Injector’ which explains the main criteria you need to consider.

This review’s been a while coming, as we’ve been collecting these injectors bit by bit over the past 12 months via Amazon.  But we’ve finally got them all together to review what’s the best on the market right now.

How we decided

We avoided the plastic injectors because 1) they’re too fragile and flimsy for regular use, and 2) some basic metal versions start at only a few dollars more.  See our Choosing a Meat Injector article for more information.

Amongst the metal versions, our products fell into three distinct camps.

  1. Entry-level – $10-$19.99
  • Aouao Stainless Steel Injector – $11.99 (scratched due to 4 months of inavailability) *
  • Barbestar Marinade Injector – $13.99 (scratched due to 6 months of inavailability) *
  • PBKay Seasoning Injector – $14.99
  • GrillHogs (formerly Mr Grill) Seasoning Injector – $17.78

* We scratched the Barbestar injector and the Aouao injector upfront, as the Amazon Keepa plugin shows they’ve been unavailable since early July and September 2018 respectively. Anyone can run out of stock for a couple of months, but we figure if a product’s been off the market for four to six months it’s possible it may not be back.

  1. Middle of the road – $20-$26.99
  • The Sapores Supreme Marinator Kit – $24.97
  • Lyfestyle Premium Marinade Injector – $24.99
  1. Premium – $27+
  • Premiala Flavor Injector – $27.95
  • Grill Beast Beast Injector – $29.95

 

The bottom ($12-$20) tier of the market is pretty crowded, and with the exception of an add-on or two like a silicon basting brush to pad out the offering the basic product itself is by and large identical.  In this tier you’re looking at plastic blister packaging or, if you’re lucky, a cardboard box with a cheap plastic tray (the Barbestar injector being the exception).  You’ll also find more cheaper metals used in the construction.  Consider these types of products as good disposable units which might last a year or two.

Many offerings in this bracket are from companies which appear to pop up, grab the cheapest generic item available, slap a label on it, and sell it as part of a wide and largely disconnected catalog of products.  They are also often based in China.  There’s nothing altogether wrong with this approach and the product itself may still be good; but in our experience there’s less commitment to consistent, good quality products and customer experience, as there may be from a company who has a smaller range of products and devotes more attention to each one.  Given price is the main driver in this niche, you can be sure cuts to quality have been made wherever possible, so expect most internal components to be from cheap metals (not stainless steel).

We bypassed many products in this tier simply because 1) we couldn’t possibly buy all of them, and 2) having experienced several of them and found they were almost without exception just clones of each other with a different label, we feel we’ve got a good enough feel for what these products have to offer.  We did however look more closely at products which have been around for a while and appear to have a good track record.

The middle of the road camp ($20-$26) may not be fundamentally different, but often comes with a few extra bells and whistles – nicer packaging, extra inclusions which may help the product work better.

In the premium end of the camp ($27+), there are only a couple to choose from, and we looked at both of these.  In both cases you’re getting a better quality product from small companies with highly focused customer service.

Our Top 5 Meat Injectors

At A Glance

Brand Premiala PBKay The Sapores Grill Beast Lyfestyle
Ranking 1 2 3 4 5
Price $27.95 $14.99 $24.97 $29.95 $24.99
Large Needles 2 2 2 2 2
Small Needles 1 1 1 1 0
Spare o-rings for plunger 2 0 4 1 1
Spare o-rings for needles 3 0 5 3 2
Stainless steel for food-touching parts Yes Partly Partly Partly Partly
Spare parts available Yes No No No No
Case Cardboard box, flip-top lid. Foam storage tray with parts cut-outs. Deluxe zippered case available separately. Plastic blister case Cardboard box, slide-out.  Plastic tray. Bundled tote bag Cardboard box, slide-out. Foam storage tray with parts cut-outs. Cardboard box, slide-out. Foam storage tray with parts cut-outs.
Warranty 12 months, lifetime upgrade with VIP club membership Lifetime Not stated Lifetime Not stated
Customer Satisfaction Rating (Amazon) 100% 100% 97% 100% N/A
Product review rating (Amazon) 4.7* 4.5* 4.2* 4.8* 4.6*
First-party Amazon marketplace availability (vs a drop-shipper) USA, CA, UK, DE, FR, ES, IT, AU USA USA USA USA

 

1: Premiala Meat Injector – $27.95

The Premiala Meat Injector takes out first place because it scores the trifecta (plus one) of quality, value for money, customer service and food safety.

Premiala Meat Injector
Premiala Meat Injector

Package Contents:

  • Injector body
  • 2x large 6” needles (12-hole and open-ended)
  • 1x small 3” needle
  • 2x spare plunger o-rings
  • 3x spare needle o-rings
  • 2x needle cleaning brushes
  • Flip-top cardboard case containing custom foam storage cut-outs

 

Out of all the injectors we evaluated, Premiala’s is the only one which uses stainless steel for every part of the injector which touches the food or the marinade.  This means it will last longer than its competitors, which use cheaper materials for some parts, and is also the only one guaranteed to be food-safe.  This discovery was surprising, because all metal injectors advertised themselves as ‘stainless steel’ and one assumes that means everything (some even said “100% stainless steel”).  While all injectors indeed used stainless steel for the injector barrel and needles, on closer inspection we found the other suppliers used cheaper, softer and non-food safe materials like chrome-plated aluminium or brass for smaller components like the needle threads, the thread on the end of the barrel and the plunger inside the barrel.

Plunger disc from Premiala. Very difficult to drill through as it's stainless steel.
Plunger disc from Premiala. Very difficult to drill through as it’s stainless steel.

Plunger disc on most meat injectors. Very easy to drill through as it’s from a soft cheap metal such as Kirsite or chrome-plated aluminum

The packaging is nice, without being exceptional.  It’s a cardboard box like most others with a custom foam tray, however the box has a flip-top lid for easier access than the slide-out boxes used by Grill Beast and Lyfestyle.  As a cardboard box, it’s not as good as the Barbestar storage box with a magnetic latch, however Premiala does offer a separate deluxe zippered storage case which is a lot better that both – definitely worth it if you travel with your injector for BBQ competitions.

Premiala’s customer service is excellent.  They comment on all customer reviews and seller feedback, and the comments are specific to what the customer has written, as opposed to boilerplate text as on the Grillhogs offering.  If something does go wrong they appear to be active and keen to resolve it in your favour.  Their product line is small and they seem to focus on getting a few products right.  The bundled e-book was a useful 13 page document which includes a lot of information about marinating, resting meat and cleaning, as well as about a dozen different types of recipes; although the Grill Beast e-book looks slightly more professional.

Premiala’s philosophy on good-quality, long-lasting products (rather than disposables) and attention to detail is seen in various other areas:

  • They are the only manufacturer to sell spare parts for their product, meaning you can top up any worn or lost parts when needed rather than having to replace the entire injector. They also include 5 spare o-rings with each injector (2x large and 3x small) so you shouldn’t need to buy spares for a while, and are one of the very few to include needle-cleaning brushes to ensure all old meat and marinade can be safely removed from the needle.
  • Premiala places both holes on the small needle right at the end, where most others have one hole about ¼ of the way up the needle. With the other units the marinade will just come squirting out the higher hole once it’s out of the meat so you can’t inject any more marinade through the lower hole. Premiala appears to have created their needle themselves to get around this problem, where others seem to pick the same off-the-shelf needle.
  • Premiala sells this product themselves on Amazon USA, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Australia. All others are only available in Amazon USA (except through third party drop shippers), so its ubiquity makes it a great choice wherever you are in the world.
  • Consistent with the previous point, they include a colour insert which has all the operation instructions translated into French, German, Italian and Spanish – and from the opinion of a Spanish-speaking friend it’s a professional translation, not just Google Translate! They’ve also translated all 14 pages of their e-book into those same languages.

Some of these points may not matter to you; but it does give an insight into the type of company you’re dealing with.

Premiala’s meat injector comes with a 12 month warranty which you can upgrade to a lifetime warranty by joining their VIP customer club.  This is a bit ho-hum given others offer a lifetime warranty, but I guess they’re just trying to capture email addresses for future promotions.

At $27.95, the Premiala unit is priced at the upper end of the pack, but the reasons are obvious and worth it. Purchase from Amazon.

2. PBKay – $14.99

If you’re after a basic serviceable meat injector and don’t want to pay top dollar, you could do worse than the PBKay injector.  It’s a basic kit but it’s probably the pick of the bunch if price is your main consideration.

PBKay Seasoning Injector
PBKay Seasoning Injector

Package Contents:

  • Injector body
  • 2x large 6” needles (12-hole and open-ended)
  • 1x small 3” needle (not pictured)
  • Plastic blister case

The PBKay injector sits in the bottom tier of metal injectors ($12-$20) and is representative of many of the injectors at this end of the metal meat injector market.

In comparison to the Premiala and Grill Beast injectors, which sit at the premium end of the injector market, it’s easy to see where the money’s saved at this end of the world.  The PBKay injector is supplied in a plastic blister case, rather than a foam storage case.  The case is basically useless for storage as it doesn’t reseal once you’ve cut it open to extract the product (see our earlier comments about blister packaging).  Its small needle is like many cheaper units – it has two holes, and one is about ¼ of the way up the side of the needle away from the tip.  This means you can’t inject marinade once the upper hole is clear of the meat because marinade will just spurt out of the open hole.

Like the Grill Beast injector, PBKay’s isn’t 100% stainless steel – the plunger disc and barrel nosing are from chrome-plated aluminium.  It also doesn’t come with any spare o-rings so you’re on your own if you lose one of these, and spare parts aren’t available; but for under $15 these are compromises you’re probably willing to make.

PBKay gets the nod here ahead of the others for a few reasons:

  • the price is better than the competition for the basic product
  • they’ve been around for a while so they’re more likely to look after you than some of the other fly-by-night companies which have poorer customer service ratings to boot, and
  • they don’t have a million products in their storefront, so they’re more likely to care about the quality of each of their products rather than each just being a generic profit center. This is borne out by their 100% customer satisfaction rating.

The only negative we’d note about PBKay’s offering is that they don’t comment on customer reviews and some reviewers have noted they’ve had no response when emailing the manufacturer.

3. The Sapores Supreme Marinator Set – $24.97

If you’re after a kit with lots of add-ons, The Sapores’ kit is worth a look.

The Sapores Supreme Marinater Kit
The Sapores Supreme Marinater Kit

Contents:

  • Injector body
  • 2x large 6” needles (12-hole and open-ended)
  • 1x small 3” needle
  • 4x spare plunger o-rings
  • 5x spare needle o-rings
  • 1x needle cleaning brush (large needles only)
  • 1x injector cleaning brush
  • 1x silicon basting brush
  • Slide-out cardboard case containing plastic clam-shell storage tray
  • Plastic carry-bag

The big plus of the Sapores’ kit is all the extra bits it comes with.  You’re probably not going to buy this kit if your core interest is a high quality injector, because the unit itself is no better than the cheapies; but there’s a ton of extra stuff they include which you just might need.  They’ve done well to get as many bits and pieces into their kit.

As with most others, the barrel nosing and plunger disc of this injector are chrome-plated something.  Rather than provide a premium storage solution, The Sapores include a (rather cheap) woven plastic storage bag (a bit like thin school bag material) to store all the bits and pieces.  It’s not elegant but it does the job.

As a middle of the road offering, it beats the pants off the Lyfestyle product which is basically the same price – both injectors are physically identical but the Sapores unit comes with many more inclusions.  The only benefit of the Lyfestyle product is the foam storage tray vs the plastic bag of the Sapores.

The Sapores’ product is only rated at 4.2 stars which doesn’t instil a great amount of confidence, and The Sapores hasn’t commented on product reviews since mid 2018, so it’s hard to know what the customer service is going to be like if you have a problem.  Nonetheless it’s not a bad option if you don’t care too much about food safety but want something more comprehensive than PBKay’s offering.

4. Grill Beast – $29.95

Grill Beast is a very popular product on Amazon and has a strong following.  Like the Premiala injector it sits in the premium tier of the metal meat injector market.  It also has the most reviews out of any meat injector on Amazon USA, and with a 4.8* satisfaction rating you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Grill Beast Beast Injector
Grill Beast Beast Injector

Package Contents:

  • Injector body
  • 2x large 6” needles (12-hole and open-ended)
  • 1x small 3” needle (not pictured)
  • 1x spare plunger o-ring
  • 3x spare needle o-rings
  • Flip-top cardboard case containing custom foam storage cut-outs

Grill Beast’s injector comes in a nice matte cardboard box and has a consistent marketing feel throughout.  The kit includes three needles which are housed in a custom cut foam storage tray which slides out from the box.  It’s not quite as easy to access as the flip-top box on Premiala or the zippered case of Spitjack’s products.  The kit also comes with a very professional e-book which is on par or even slightly ahead of the Premiala e-book.

The Grill Beast injector is a very nicely put together package.  All the parts seem to fit together well and it’s easy to use.  However while it’s advertised as ‘stainless steel’, like some of the others we looked at it doesn’t use stainless steel for everything that touches the marinade – the barrel nosing and plunger discs are chrome-plated (see Choosing. material  It also doesn’t include needle cleaning brushes, and while it comes with one spare o-ring for each part there are no extra spares available if you lose a needle or an o-ring.  At this price these are unfortunate omissions, especially since Premiala has managed to tick all these boxes without pushing the price through the roof.

 

Grill Beast’s customer service is excellent.  They comment on all customer reviews and seller feedback, and the comments are specific to what the customer has written, as opposed to boilerplate text on the Grillhogs offering. They have a small line of products and really seem to care about customer satisfaction.  They seem to have a similar philosophy to Premiala in terms of customer support, so on this score you probably can’t go wrong with either of them.

The main reason it loses points in this comparison isn’t through anything that’s fundamentally wrong with it. It’s simply that, for the price, it’s a less compelling offering than the Premiala injector – the box isn’t as good, it doesn’t come with needle cleaning brushes, it comes with one less included o-ring, it still uses some cheaper metals inside and there are no spare parts available.  It’s $5 more than The Sapores’ kit which has more inclusions, but the basic injector is identical in both cases, and it doesn’t offer anything particularly different to justify the premium apart from the superior customer service, and perhaps a more premium appearance to the kit.

If you want an injector which has a strong following, is going to perform well and has good customer service to boot, then this is a good one to consider. Just understand it doesn’t present the same bang for buck as some of the competition.

5. Lyfestyle – $24.99

To be honest, this really should be a Top 4 review.  After scratching Barbestar and Aouao, it only leaves six injectors at the gate, and the last two aren’t anything to get excited about.

Lyfestyle Marinade Injector
Lyfestyle Marinade Injector

 

Lyfestyle is priced as a mid-range product, but it doesn’t offer anything compelling to justify the price over products half the price other than a pretty box and a foam storage tray.  GrillHogs is $3 more than PBKay but similarly only offers a foam storage tray to justify the extra money.  Neither supplier regularly comments on product reviews so it’s hard to know what support you’ll get if there’s a problem.  In the case of GrillHogs, when they did respond to negative comments, the response was exactly the same boilerplate text every time about it being a ‘rare fault and please contact us for a refund’ even when it was a simple fault like the customer not oiling the o-ring, and they didn’t address any of the concerns the customer raised in their review.  This all indicates a company that doesn’t seem to take much of an interest in customer service.  Both have a 4.6* rating, so neither are bad products; it’s just that in both cases there are better choices for the same money.

For the record, we bought Aouao as their photo looked as though they used stainless steel for all components.  When we got it we found the same telltale signs of shiny chrome barrel nosing and plunger disc.

For our money, we’d pick PBKay over GrillHogs if we were after a cheapie, and The Sapores over Lyfestyle if we wanted a few extra toys in the box.

Honourable Mention: Spitjack Meat Injector Gun Kit – $129

The Spitjack kit is a big step up in price so it’s hard for most to justify, but it’s different in design to most others. Most obviously, the plunger is pushed through a trigger action, rather than a thumb-operated syringe as used by others.  This makes it an extremely comfortable product to use, especially if you’re injecting large volumes or have arthritic hands!  Another obvious difference is that it has a clear plastic barrel, rather than solid stainless steel.  This makes it very easy to see how much marinade is in the barrel; however our concerns mentioned earlier about the durability of plastic apply here – there is a seal where the sides of the barrel join the front of the barrel, and we’d be concerned about this failing or the threaded portion breaking off over time.

Another difference about Spitjack’s offering is its patented dose adjustment.  This means you can easily adjust how much marinade it injects with each pull of the trigger, so you don’t over-inject. This is a very nice touch! It’s very easy when using syringe-type injectors for the plunger to encounter some resistance against the meat fibers, and when this resistance lets go it’s easy to suddenly pump a lot of marinade into one part of the meat. The dosed feature of Spitjack’s offering prevents that, and allows for more even marinating.

The rest of the offering is perhaps a little underwhelming, especially for the price.

  • The kit only comes with two needles out of the box, which is standard fare for injectors which cost 1/5th of the price, although Spitjack offer two other needles at extra cost (a large opening needle for chunkier marinades, and a thin open-ended needle for smaller cuts of meat – we preferred the side-hole needles as used on other injectors, as they don’t get clogged as easily as end-open needles).
  • Like Premiala’s injector, Spitjack’s kit also comes with needle cleaning brushes
  • Spitjack guarantees their injector for 12 months, which is also about standard for most injectors.
  • The case for the injector is different to the competition – rather than having foam cut-outs, it’s a folio-case style of unit with elastic straps for the different components. However it’s not necessarily better – it doesn’t offer as much protection for the injector as the foam cut-out cases as used by Premiala and Grill Beast, which could be an issue given the barrel is only plastic.

This is a good choice if you have arthritic hands or want very precise control over dosing, but at $129 it’s so much more expensive it’s hard to recommend unless you have very specific needs.

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