What Is an Outdoor Rotisserie?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
A chicken before being rotisseried.
A chicken before being rotisseried.

Campers are not the only ones who get enjoyment from cooking outdoors. Starting a fire in a fire pit in the backyard can open up culinary opportunities as well; with the use of an outdoor rotisserie, it is possible to cook meats and vegetables evenly while maintaining moisture and preventing burning. The outdoor rotisserie is a device designed to work in conjunction with a cooking fire or other heat source; meats and other food items are placed on a long metal rod known as a spit, and this spit is then connected to a vertical support arm. The spit will extend horizontally over the fire or heat source.

This design essentially suspends the foods above the heat source, and the user of the outdoor rotisserie can adjust the height of the spit above the fire to ensure the most appropriate cooking speed. The spit does not remain stationary, however: a motorized unit attached to the vertical support arm will rotate the spit, thereby rotating the foods mounted on the outdoor rotisserie. The rotating motion ensures the foods will be cooked evenly on all sides, thereby also decreasing cooking times and preventing burning of one side of the food that would otherwise constantly be exposed to the heat source directly.

The motor on the outdoor rotisserie will usually run off of batteries that can provide many hours of rotation. This means no other power source is necessary, and the unit will therefore be fairly lightweight and packable. The spit is likely to be made from stainless steel, since this metal is generally resistant to corrosion and heat damage, and it will not contaminate the food attached to it. The vertical support arm may also be made from stainless steel, though other types of metal may be used as well.

Most outdoor rotisserie models are generally intended for use with various types of meats, though some will feature optional attachments that can accommodate vegetables. A vegetable basket is likely to be attached to the spit, thereby containing the vegetables inside the basket and preventing them from falling into the fire. The compatibility of such an attachment can vary depending on how much weight the spit is rated to handle. Larger models are usually capable of handling both meat and vegetable baskets at the same time, while smaller models may only be able to accommodate meat or vegetables at one time.

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    • A chicken before being rotisseried.
      A chicken before being rotisseried.