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What Is a Horizontal Rotisserie?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 16, 2024
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A horizontal rotisserie is a specific kind of equipment that allows for cooking meat by slowly turning it on a revolving cylinder called a spit. The modern rotisserie oven has been developed from more primitive cooking techniques involving turning a stick over a fire. Today’s rotisserie ovens involve high-level engineering for even cooking. Buyers of these types of ovens can find them in various sizes to accommodate home or commercial use, with features like timers to further assist in optimized cooking for a piece of meat.

One of the benefits of the horizontal rotisserie is that it can be used to roast whole animals while keeping much of the internal juices in the meat. As the meat revolves on a spit, assuming that the animal is whole and the skin is still preserved, the internal juices will generally circulate throughout the meat. This version of slow cooking is popular for many kinds of birds, especially chicken, where whole chickens are often cooked in this way for use in restaurants or for resale. Restaurants using a horizontal rotisserie can sell whole birds direct from the spit, or pieces of chicken packaged to go. Remaining meat can be used in other culinary preparations.

This cooking technique is often contrasted with another type of rotisserie called a vertical rotisserie. The vertical rotisserie is known by many different names, but typically involves large pieces of meat that are put together from a chipped or sliced meat base. These portions of meat are then placed on a vertical spit. Cooks will typically shave off smaller pieces of the meat in order to make sandwiches and other restaurant menu items.

The horizontal rotisserie also contributes to a certain crispness of the extra skin, which gets seared as the meat cooks. The combination of crisp outer layers of skin and juicy interior meat is one thing that has made the horizontal rotisserie so popular, and so much a part of the visual presentations in a range of restaurants. Nearly any kind of restaurant in some areas of the world will feature a horizontal rotisserie oven, from street food or fast food franchises to elegant upscale restaurants. Though some cooks or other members of the high-class culinary world may consider this cooking style “pastoral,” it’s still seen by many as a superior way to cook a whole bird or animal.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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