How Long to Cook Various Meats When Spit Roasting

Spit roasting, a culinary tradition steeped in history, offers a unique blend of simplicity and sophistication in cooking. This technique, which involves roasting meat on a long rod or spit over an open flame or in a modern oven, has been celebrated for centuries across various cultures for its ability to produce exceptionally flavourful and evenly cooked meals. The gentle rotation allows the meat to baste in its own juices, resulting in a succulent feast imbued with a distinctive smoky aroma and a perfectly caramelised exterior.

The allure of spit roasting lies not just in its flavourful outcomes but also in the communal experience it fosters. Gathering around a sizzling roast, the crackle of the fire, and the mouthwatering aroma that fills the air make for an unforgettable culinary event. Whether it's a festive gathering, a family reunion, or a casual weekend BBQ, spit roasting has a way of turning a meal into a celebration.

Spit Roasting Times for Chicken

A staple in many households, chicken is both versatile and forgiving when it comes to spit roasting. For a whole chicken, aim for a cooking time of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours at a temperature of around 180°C (356°F). The key to a succulent spit-roasted chicken lies in its preparation; ensure it's thoroughly seasoned and, if possible, marinated for several hours before roasting to enhance its flavours.

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Spit Roasting Times for Lamb

Lamb, with its rich flavour and tender meat, is ideal for spit roasting, particularly for larger gatherings. A whole lamb can take between 4 to 6 hours to roast properly on a spit. The cooking time can vary depending on the size of the lamb and the desired level of doneness. Medium-rare, which is often preferred for lamb, requires an internal temperature of 60°C (140°F), so it's advisable to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Spit Roasting Times for Pork

When it comes to outdoor events, nothing quite matches the spectacle and allure of a whole pig slowly turning on a spit. This method of cooking pork is not just about feeding a crowd; it's a celebratory act, a nod to culinary traditions that have brought communities together for centuries. Spit-roasting pork, especially when undertaken with a whole pig, is an endeavour that combines patience, skill, and a touch of theatrics.

Preparing the Pork

The journey to a perfect spit-roasted pork begins long before the fire is lit. Selecting the right pig is crucial; it should be fresh and of a size that suits your gathering. Preparation involves a series of careful steps, starting with scoring the skin. This not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also ensures that the heat penetrates the meat evenly, allowing the fat to render properly and the skin to puff up into the much-desired crispy crackling.

A light brushing of oil followed by a generous seasoning with salt not only seasons the meat but also aids in the crisping of the skin. For those inclined to infuse the pork with more nuanced flavours, a rub of herbs and spices, or even a marinade, can add layers of depth to the meat's natural flavours.

The Art of Slow Cooking

The essence of spit-roasting pork lies in the slow, gentle cooking process. The pig is mounted on the spit and exposed to a low, consistent heat, which allows the meat to cook evenly from all sides. This method does more than just cook the meat; it renders the fat slowly, basting the pork in its own juices, and creating an outer layer of skin that crackles and pops to reveal the tender, succulent meat beneath.

This process, typically spanning 6 to 8 hours, requires constant vigilance. The spit must be turned at a steady pace, ensuring that every part of the pig receives equal attention from the heat. This is where the communal aspect often comes into play, with friends and family taking turns at the spit, making the cooking process a part of the event's enjoyment.

Achieving the Perfect Crackling

The pinnacle of a spit-roasted pork is undoubtedly its crackling. Achieving that perfect, shatteringly crisp skin is a combination of art and science. The initial scoring and seasoning play their part, but it's the consistent heat and the basting process that truly transform the skin. As the pork cooks, occasional basting with a mixture of the pork's own rendered fat and perhaps a splash of cider or beer can add additional flavour and aid in the crisping process.

Pork Cooking on the Spit

Pork Roast Spit Times
Pork Roast Spit Times
Pork Roast Spit Times

Spit Cooking Times for Turkey

Turkey isn't just for Christmas; it's a great option for any large gathering. Spit-roasting a turkey can take around 2.5 to 3 hours for a bird weighing approximately 5kg (11 lbs). The low and slow approach is best, maintaining a temperature of about 180°C (356°F). To enhance the flavour and moisture, consider brining the turkey beforehand and ensure it is fully thawed if previously frozen.

Spit Cooking Times for Vegetables

While meats are the traditional fare for spit roasting, don't overlook vegetables. Corn, peppers, onions, and even potatoes can be cooked on a spit. Depending on the vegetable, cooking times can vary from 20 minutes to an hour. Vegetables are best roasted around the edges of the spit where the heat is less intense.

Tips for Perfect Spit Roasting

  • Marinate: For added flavour, marinate meats for several hours or even overnight before roasting. See our range of marinades here.
  • Keep it turning: Ensure the spit is constantly rotating for even cooking and browning.
  • Baste to taste: Basting meats during cooking can prevent drying out, adding flavour and moisture.
  • Rest your roast: Allow your meat to rest before carving to ensure it retains its juices.

Whether you're hosting a grand outdoor feast or a cosy family dinner, mastering the spit roasting times and techniques for these common meats can elevate your culinary creations. Remember, patience is key – good things come to those who wait, especially when it comes to the art of spit roasting.

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