Photo by Jerry Huddleston
Photo by Jerry Huddleston

There are many good things about rotisserie cooking. Meat cooked on a rotisserie can be juicier since they are slow roasted. There is one basic difference between grilling and rotisserie cooking that is important. While grilling is done over high heat, low heat is needed for the rotisserie.


The secret to superb rotisserie cooking is the low roasting temperature, whether using a charcoal or gas grill. Low heat is when a hand can be placed where the roast will be put for the count of three. Keep the temperature low, unless searing the meat. If searing it, start with high heat for about 15 minutes and then lower it. If using charcoal, bank the embers close to the meat for about 15 minutes, then move them away.

Spitting the meat

Getting the spit through the meat is the hardest part about putting a whole roast on a rotisserie. The first step is to take a good look at the meat. It should be evenly balanced on the spit for the best results. Put the skewer through the longest part of roast lengthwise while getting it as centered as possible. Once it’s determined where the spit will go in and out of the roast, use something long and sharp to make a hole at each end. A fillet knife will work well for this. Push the spit through the roast and hold it down tight with forks. Insure the meat is tightly secured.


Seasoning should be done to personal taste. Since the turning action of a rotisserie holds in moisture, there is no need to marinate or baste the meat. By using simple seasoning, the flavor of the meat will stand out.


It’s also important to use a drip pan to catch the flavor of the meat as it cooks. Not only does this keep the grill clean, but gives the makings for gravy. To keep the drippings from drying out and burning, add water to the drip pan. The drippings from the meat combined with the seasonings, slowly roasted together are delightful.

On a charcoal grill

Using indirect heat on a charcoal grill with a rotisserie means the charcoal should be laid and lit on the side or in a ring around where the meat will be positioned. None of the hot embers should be place immediately under the spit. A drip pan can be placed under the spit serves to catch the meat drippings and keep the grill clean. Because a rotisserie is cooked using low heat, more charcoal will need to be added every 30 to 40 minutes to help maintain the proper cooking temperature.

With a Gas Grill

Rotisseries work best on gas grills with front and back burners or ones with three burners in a line, front to back. The grill needs to be preheated before the meat is put on the rotisserie. Once the heat level is brought up to where it needs to be, all the burners except the rear one are shut off. It prevents the meat from being exposed to direct heat, the spit is put over the first or second burner. If there are only two side by side burners on the grill, they should both be turned on low. The drip pan placed on the grate will serve the dual purpose of catching the meat drippings and shielding the meat from direct heat.


Always use a meat thermometer to test the roast for doneness rather than relying on a cooking time. The meat thermometer must be pushed through the thickest part of the meat and away from any bones to accurately check the temperature.

The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for roasts and steaks, 165 degrees for poultry and 160 degrees for pork.

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