Last minute, weeknight conveniences aside, it’s easy to make a real rotisserie chicken at home. I’ll show you step by step everything from how to season the bird with a simple rotisserie chicken rub to trussing a chicken (to ensure all the appendages stay put) to roasting it on your home rotisserie grill. Plus get a few tips on making sure your spit roast chicken is tender, moist and flavorful every time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a Tuesday-night, last-minute rotisserie chicken from the local market just as much as anyone. They’re tasty and from a convenience standpoint, they really can’t be beat. Rotisserie chicken at home, however, will set you apart from the pack (and making one from scratch is pretty darn simple. Let me just say, that when you pull a bird off the spit in front of friends and family, you’re gonna get more than a few high fives — because your a HERO! This spit roast chicken is LEGIT and it starts with the seasonings, both inside and out. My rotisserie chicken rub has just six ingredients (2 of which are salt and pepper). You got this…
Ingredients for rotisserie chicken rub
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Crushed Fennel
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Minced Garlic
Combine the seasonings in a small dish and set aside.
Aromatics for spit roast chicken
The second layer of seasonings are more subtle than the rotisserie chicken rub… they’re aromatics. Aromatics add moisture and subtle flavor to the bird. I use:
- Fresh Herbs
- Whole Garlic
- Sprinkle of Rotisserie Chicken Rub
When seasoning the fowl, there’s no fancy prep. Sprinkle a little of the chicken seasoning inside the cavity of the bird. Then insert an onion, roughly cut into quarters, lightly mashed garlic cloves (use the side of a chef’s knife by laying it flat over a clove of garlic and giving it a good whack with your fist) and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then coat the bird with the remaining spice rub (front to back and side to side) and gently pat the seasonings into the skin to adhere.
When roasting a chicken in the oven, you don’t necessarily need to truss it. It’s a better presentation, but, it’s not mandatory. However, when you’re roasting fowl on a spit, it’s absolutely essential. If you’ve never trussed a chicken before, just follow these instructions and the step by step photos. (It’s like following instructions for an IKEA bookshelf and it’s easier than you think).
Trussing rotisserie chicken at home
- Cut a piece of kitchen twine to about 20 inches long.
- Tuck the wing tips behind the chicken back (so it looks like he’s just kickin’ back in a recliner).
- Place the center of the twine underneath the large cavity opening at the bottom of the bird. Wrap the twine around the loose flap of fat and skin and the drumsticks,(this is essentially closing up the cavity) make a simple knot.
- Draw the ends of the twine up between the drumsticks and the breast to the neck of the bird. When you do this, it tightens the skin of the chicken (almost like a tummy tuck) and the breast will appear plump and proud.
- Flip the chicken over so that the back is facing up and the neck cavity faces you. Tie a secure knot.
This simple method should keep the spit roast chicken held together on the home rotisserie.
Secure the chicken on the rotisserie
- Prepare the grill for rotisserie cooking according to your manufacturers instructions.
- Heat the grill to medium high heat about 425° to 450°.
- While the grill heats, slide the chicken onto the home rotisserie, so that the shaft goes through the neck and comes out the bottom end.
- Thread the spit fork (the two pointy claws that will hold the fowl, so it doesn’t spin on the spit) onto one end of the spit and secure it to one end of the chicken.
- Thread the other spit fork onto the other end of the spit and secure the other end.
- Make any adjustments to ensure that the bird is firmly held onto the spit by the two spit forks. Tighten the screws on the spit forks securely.
- Place a shallow, heat proof pan onto the grill to catch any drippings from the chicken and prevent flare ups from the rendering fat.
- Transfer the chicken to the prepared grill and turn on the rotisserie.
How long does it need to cook?
Cooking time will depend on the size of your bird and the temperature. Ideally, you want the internal temperature to be 180° when measured at the thickest part of the bird.
I like to use a good instant read thermometer to take the guesswork out of it and my instant read of choice is the Thermoworks Thermapen Mk4. This is the MAC-DADDY of instant read thermometers. I say that because I’ve had several cheaper versions (in the $20-$25 range), none of which lasted a full year before pooping out on me. I’ve had my Thermapen for several years now and it still works like a charm. In fact, I love mine so much, I’m an affiliate for them! Check this >>> link <<< for current special offers.
This instant read isn’t cheap, but I think it’s worth it… for these reasons.
Why I love my Thermapen Mk4
- 2-3 second readings – no waiting.
- High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C) because every degree matters.
- Foldaway thermocouple probe, so you don’t stab yourself with the probe when you’re hunting for it in the kitchen drawer.
- Patented auto-rotating display, no matter which way you stick the meat, the display automatically rotates right-side-up so you can read it in any position—in either hand, straight up or down.
- Motion-sensing sleep & wake mode – it knows when you want to use it, so you don’t run through the battery life too quickly.
- Intelligent backlight – perfect when you’re grilling in the dark.
- Waterproof to IP67 – you shouldn’t submerge it in water, but if it does get wet, it won’t be the end of the world.
- 3,000 hour battery life (AAA Battery) – I love that this instant read uses a normal battery and not some obscure, hard-to-find, special order one.
- 10 colors – ’cause variety is the spice of life.
- Display temps in °C or °F.
The best part is…
In about 45-minutes to an hour, your home cooked rotisserie chicken will be tender, juicy and ready-to-eat. Oh-ma-GAWD! The way this goes at my house is my husband uses his “Pitt Mitts) to lift the shaft from the rotisserie unit and deposits the bird (shaft and all) onto the cutting board… to carry it inside to carve. All the while, he’s receiving applause, anticipatory tummy rumbles and quite a few shout-outs to the grill master for achieving a PERFECT spit roasted chicken. He revels in it. So will you.
What to serve with your bird:
- Kale and Butternut Squash Gratin
- Pickled Cherry Cold Rice Salad
- Spring Pesto Green Beans
- Yellow Rice with Pignoli
What to do with the leftovers:
Unless you’ve got a big crowd, you’ll likely have leftovers from this spit roasted chicken. Here’s how to use them.
- Curried Chicken Salad
- Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Stock
- Tropical Mango Chutney Chicken Salad
- Easy Chicken Fried Rice
- Tex Mex Chicken Chile Rellenos
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Rotisserie Chicken From Scratch
- Rotisserie attachment for gas grill or charcoal grill
FOR HERB SPICE RUB
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 pound whole chicken
- 1 small onion quartered
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, fennel and crushed red pepper. Mix to combine and set aside.
- Remove the giblets and neck from the chicken. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry on the inside and outside. Sprinkle a teaspoon of seasoning mix inside the chicken cavity. Fill the chicken cavity with the onion, garlic and fresh thyme.
TRUSS THE CHICKEN:
- Cut a piece of kitchen twine about 30" long. Tuck the ends of the wings back behind the chicken (like you were putting your hands behind your neck) until they stay put.
- Bring the string under the tail of the chicken and over the drumsticks, drawing them together and tying tightly (but not in a knot). Hook the string under the tip of the breast bone and pull the string up along the sides of the breast bone between the legs and the body, along the breast toward the neck.
- Turn the chicken over so the bback side is up and draw the string over the elbow joints of the wings to the back of the chicken. Pull the string snugly and tie in a knot. Tuck any hanging neck skin under the string to hold it in place.
- Let the chicken rest for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours or overnight with the rub before cooking.
SETTING UP THE ROTISSERIE:
- Set up your rotisserie according to the manufacturers instructions. For a GAS GRILL, remove the grill grates and set a drip pan above the burners to catch any drippings.
- Heat the grill to 425°-450°.
- Slide one spit fork onto the rotisserie shaft and tighten. Thread the chicken onto the spit and secure it in the center of the tines of the spit fork. Ensure that the chicken is securely held. Slide the second spit fork onto the rotissierie shaft and secure the bottom end of the chicken with the tines.
- Arrange the shaft on the rotisserie mechanism according to manufacturers instructions. Start the rotisserie and cook for 45 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer to gauge the doneness. You want to cook the chicken until it reads 180°F in the thickest part of the chicken – usually the thigh (without touching bone). Make any adjustments to heat or drip pan and continue to cook the rotisserie for an additional 15-20 minutes or until you reach the desired temperature.
- Use grill mitts to remove the rotisserie from the grill and transfer to a cutting board.
- Remove the spit forks and shaft and let the chicken cool for 10-15 minutes before carving.