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Sara Hansen

Cooking On A Rotisserie Grill Or Smoker (Tips & Must-Knows)

Are you wanting to expand your barbecue skills and tackle cooking a large piece of meat? Try your hand at cooking on a rotisserie grill or smoker attachment. This tool opens up the possibilities of what you can cook and makes cooking even entire animals easy.

Sometimes referred to as spit roasting, rotisserie cooking on a grill can be done on gas grills, charcoal kettle grills, or smokers. Many of the grill manufacturers now make rotisserie attachment kits that can be easily mounted to the cooker. So, this type of cooking can be done using propane gas, charcoal, wood, or even infrared as your fuel source. 

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into using a rotisserie grill or smoker and give you some must-know tips on how to use a rotisserie grill, ensuring your rotisserie cooking is successful.


How Does A Rotisserie Grill Work?

The main component of a rotisserie is a long metal rod that sits horizontally across the grill. Your meat goes on this rod and is suspended over the heat source. The rod itself is referred to as either a spit or skewer (or you may even hear “turn spit”). Then, large metal forks or prongs at either end of the food item secures it to the spit so it stays in place. 

Within the closed chamber of the grill or smoker, the spit is turned at a constant speed over the heat, either by an attached motor or by hand, roasting the attached meat. This allows your food to cook evenly at the same degree of heat the entire time it is cooking, which will often be quicker than slow cooking the traditional way directly on the grates.

Because the meat is being turned constantly, it bastes itself through the whole cooking process while it is being slowly roasted. This creates some of the most succulent pieces of meat you’ll cook. The exterior of your food on the spit will sear quickly and lock in all of the natural juices while it cooks to temperature on the interior.

As we mentioned above, rotisseries are generally used for cooking large cuts of meat, entire animals, or even whole fruits. (See more on what you can cook below!) 


parts of a rotisserie attachment | rotisserie grill | rotisserie smoker
Source: Weber Grills


Using the Right Rotisserie

There are a variety of different options when it comes to how to cook on a rotisserie. Most of the time you’ll see the horizontal rotisserie attachments that are made by several different companies to fit into your existing grill or smoker. For example, Char‑Broil offers a universal electric rotisserie attachment that can fit a variety of grill models, from two to six-burner sizes.

But, there are also portable, stand-alone rotisseries that have a battery-powered spit motor. These make for great outdoor cooking while camping or at tailgate get-togethers and similar events.

No matter what type of rotisserie you are using, it is important to make sure the one you get will turn at a constant speed without interruption. This is critical to ensuring that your meat sears properly and is cooked evenly and quickly.


Tips for Rotisserie Cooking on a Grill or Smoker Successfully

Though cooking on a rotisserie grill is fairly easy overall, there are a few tips to keep in mind to help ensure you do it successfully. These include:

  • Keep things equal:

    You want to make sure your food is sized as equal as possible from end to end on the spit rod. This will keep things consistent and even while cooking.

  • Make sure it’s centered and balanced:

    The food should always be centered and balanced on the spit. If it is not, your food won’t cook evenly and it can put excess strain on the spit motor since it won’t turn smoothly. After putting your meat on the spit, roll the spit in your hands before putting it on the grill to check the balance.

  • Tie up the meat:

    Use butcher’s twine to truss (tie up) the meat to prevent any of the meat from falling apart or burnt chicken wings or legs etc. Make sure to trim any excess twine with scissors and do not use cotton twine. The cotton will burn very quickly.

  • Indirect heat is the key:

    Make sure that the food is not directly over the heat source. You want the coals on the other side of the grill or the burners to the side of the meat on.

  • Keep the lid closed:

    The lid of your grill or smoker needs to be kept closed as much as possible during your cook. This allows the convection currents to cook your food evenly.

  • Use a drip pan:

    Make sure to place an aluminum drip pan below the meat with a little bit of water in it to collect drippings and reduce flare-ups. Beer, fruit juice, and even wine can also be added to the pan for extra flavor infusion with the meat. You can even put vegetables (onions, etc.) in the pan and use what’s left in the pan after cooking to make a gravy.

  • Check the speed:

    Some rotisseries allow you to adjust the rotating speed of the spit. A speed setting of 4 to 6 rpm (revolutions per minute) is good for cooking smaller meats like chicken, ribs, etc. A lower speed, from 1 to 3 rpm, is best for larger items like a whole pig.

  • Be careful with sugar:

    Even though the meat is self-basting on a rotisserie, barbecue sauce or rubs can still add any additional flavors you may want. If you go with a sugar-based sauce, wait until the last ten minutes to brush it on. Sugar will char quickly and can cause the exterior of your meat to burn if done too early.

  • Cook to temperature:

    Like when grilling directly on grill grates, the air temperatures, wind, and humidity can affect how long it takes to cook. So, you’ll still want to have a good instant-read meat thermometer on hand. It can be harder to test the temperature of the meat when cooking with a rotisserie. To avoid overcooking, about 15 to 20 minutes before your estimated cook time is up stop the rotisserie motor and test the meat’s internal temperature.

  • Keep the fuel going:

    There is not much checking or flipping needed when rotisserie cooking, so just make sure the fire stays consistent through the whole cook.

  • Let it rest:

    Don’t immediately start carving the meat after you take it off the rotisserie. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the interior juices to settle, keeping the meat tender and making the carving easier.


What Can You Cook on a Rotisserie Grill?


cooking on a rotisserie grill | rotisserie grill | rotisserie smoker

Source: Dad Cooks Dinner


Rotisserie grills make it possible to cook a wide variety of things, even large meats and multiple things at the same time, to a delicious and tender finish. And you can do it without it taking hours and hours. Here are some of the things you can cook on a rotisserie grill or smoker:

  • Whole chicken
  • Whole turkey
  • Ribs
  • Prime rib
  • Pork roast
  • Brisket
  • Whole pineapple
  • Legs of lamb
  • Whole pig


Add a Rotisserie to Your Grilling Toolbox

Using a rotisserie attachment on your grill or smoker (or even getting a dedicated rotisserie cooker) is a great way to expand your outdoor cooking repertoire. As you can see, a rotisserie grill makes cooking large pieces of meat and even whole fruit easy. Follow our tips above to turn out some deliciously tender meat!

Do you cook on a rotisserie? Have a favorite when it comes to cooking on a rotisserie grill? Let us know in the comments below. We want to hear from you!


If you are interested in learning even more outdoor cooking techniques and BBQ secrets straight from the pros, join us here at BBQ Champs Academy. Our one-of-kind online BBQ cooking classes with Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters will show you exactly how to cook everything from a deliciously cooked brisket to a perfectly grilled steak and more.

Make sure and also check out and subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel. You can catch all the latest competition BBQ news and insider info straight from the pros!

* Feature image from SeriousEats.com

Sara Hansen

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