Rotisserie cooking is a centuries-old practice that you see being used in a lot of cultures. Though it’s perhaps the most popular with the French, who seem to have a rotisserie chicken restaurant on every block in Paris. So, it was only a matter of time before rotisserie chicken made its way to US grocery stores.
Always keen to catch on to a cooking fad, grill manufacturers started scratching their heads trying to come up with some great gas grills that could support a rotisserie grill. This includes grills like the Broil King 988847 Sovereign XLS 90, the Napoleon LEX 605, and the Royal Gourmet GA5403B Premier.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of grills don’t come with a rotisserie, even though they can still support one. Not to be deterred grill accessory manufacturers sharpened their pencils to come up with aftermarket accessories that you can attach to most charcoal and gas grills.
Can I Add a Rotisserie to Any Grill?
You can technically add a rotisserie to just about any grill, so long as you’re willing to use it with the hood open. This can be challenging with kettle grills, and large barrel-style grills as you get a lot of flare-ups and heat control problems.
If you want a grill that can accommodate a rotisserie accessory and still be able to reasonably close the lid, then it needs to have slots in the hood and/or the side walls to allow the spit to pass through.
Grill Rotisserie Components
Grill rotisseries have three critical components. The spit assembly, the rotisserie motor, and the heat source, which in this case is going to be the grill or its rotisserie burner.
The Spit Assembly
A grill rotisserie’s spit assembly is made up of one or more metal bars that the food is skewered with to hold it in place over the heat. Most spit rods can be raised or lowered to give you better control the cooking temperature.
Some aftermarket grill spits come with baskets that hold the food and the basket is then fastened to the spit rod. Though most just have brackets that hold the food in place, making sure it spins with the spit rod.
The most important thing when choosing a spit assembly for your grill rotisserie is to make sure that the spit rod is long enough to pass completely over your grill grates without the base or the rotisserie motor being directly over the flame.
The Rotisserie Motor
The rotisserie motor is a manual device that rotates the spit rod at a slow, consistent speed that helps the food to cook evenly. Most modern-day grill rotisseries have heat-resistant electric motors. Though there are a few like the RiverGrille GR1038-014612 Cowboy that have a manual crank.
With electric rotisserie motors, the power of the motor is critical. You want to make sure that it’s rated to be strong enough to rotate the food you intend to cook. This is typically a broiler-fryer chicken around 3 to 5 pounds.
The Heat Source
When we’re talking about rotisserie grilling, the heat source is usually the gas flame or charcoal fire of the primary grill grates. Though some gas grills have rear infrared burners that let you use the lower grates to make other items or leave them off completely.
If you’re working with a gas grill that has a rear infrared rotisserie burner, you want to target a BTU rating of around 12,000 to 15,000 BTUs.
The Best Aftermarket Grill Rotisserie
Tips for Using a Rotisserie on a Charcoal Grill
When rotisserie grilling with a charcoal grill, it helps to put distance between the meat and the heat to replicate an indirect heating method. The fire shouldn’t be directly under the rotisserie unit to keep the flames from burning or searing it. Yet you still want it close enough to cook the food.
There’s no hard and fast rule for what the distance needs to be between the charcoal and the meat. Though an easy rule of thumb is to hold your hand 10 to 12 inches from the flames. Then count slowly to five. If it hurts so much that you need to move your hand away after 5 seconds, the heat is roughly between 300 to 350 degrees, which is ideal for placing the rotisserie spit.
It’s also a good idea to place a heavy-duty aluminum drip pan under the meat being rotisserie roasted. This will catch the drippings to make clean-up easier. You could even borrow from the French and put red potatoes and vegetables in there to cook in the flavorful drippings.
Tips for Using a Rotisserie on a Gas Grill
Aftermarket rotisserie accessories tend to be easier to use on a gas grill than over charcoal. Especially if your gas grill has a front and rear burner or it has three or more burners arranged in a line.
This allows you to position the rotisserie spit rod in the center or the front of the grill while the rear burner is then used to replicate an indirect heat source.
If you have a gas grill with side-by-side burners it might be a little more difficult to position the spit away from the burners. Though you can simply set burners on low and then place a drip pan over them to act like a heat shield. Though in this setup, you don’t want to put any vegetables in the drip pan, as they would likely burn from the heat of the burner elements.
Modern grill manufacturers have done their level best to create a wide range of high-quality rotisserie grill accessories. Just make sure that the one you choose has a spit rod long enough to span the entire landscape of your grill grates without the motor or the base being near the flames.
The more robust the electric motor the better. It’s always better to have too much weight capacity than not enough. Then be strategic with your heat placement so that the bird, or whatever you’re rotisserie grilling isn’t in direct contact with the flame.