Need some dinner inspiration? One of our classically favorite meals is rotisserie chicken. Do you know how to make rotisserie chicken? The recipe is below, including what to do if you don’t have a rotisserie!

Our Rotisserie Chicken Inspiration

Personally, we love our outdoor grill with the rotisserie attachment, and we were recently inspired to make it ourselves after seeing these delicious birds in the mobile trucks at the Pleasanton Farmer’s Market:

Rotisserie Chicken at the Pleasanton Farmer's Market

Rotisserie Chicken at the Pleasanton Farmer’s Market

Curious how much one of those goes for? $15 dollars a bird!

The good news is that for about half the price you can make rotisserie chicken at home (of course, an organic whole chicken costs more, so if you go that route, make sure you plan accordingly). The end result is worth it: a moist, juicy and well-browned chicken!

How to Make Rotisserie Chicken

Here's our rotisserie chicken.

Here’s our rotisserie chicken.

To make the rotisserie chicken, we started with this recipe from Rick Bayless:

NOTE: If you don’t have a rotisserie, you can use the same approach with 2 vertical roasters (the ones that emulate “beer can” chicken roasting). Because the chicken is brined, there’s no need to sprinkle it with salt after you carve it. But it’s delicious with a sprinkling of roughly chopped or torn fresh herbs. And roasted tomato salsa!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (10 ounces) fine-ground sea salt
  • 4 ounces (1 medium cone or 2 small cones) piloncillo (Mexican unrefined sugar), roughly chopped OR 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure powdered ancho chile
  • 1 whole, unpeeled head of garlic, cut in half around the equator
  • 1 12-ounce bottle dark Mexican beer (Negra Modelo is perfect here)
  • 2 whole chickens (“roasters” that are about 4 pounds each), giblets removed if there are any
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Directions:

Flavors like these can really make your rotisserie chicken taste delicious.

Flavors like these can really make your rotisserie chicken taste delicious.

1. The brine. Measure 1 quart of water into a large saucepan, stir in the salt, sugar and powdered chile. Add the garlic and set the pan over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, take it off the heat and stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into a vessel large enough to hold the two chickens: a 12-quart stockpot, a clean dishpan, a deep vegetable or meat drawer from your refrigerator. Add the beer and 2½ quarts cold water. Slip the chickens into the brine; if necessary weight them down with a heavy plate on top to keep them submerged. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.

2. Prepare the spit and grill. Turn on a gas grill to medium, or light a charcoal grill and let the coals burn until medium hot and covered with grey ash. Remove the chickens from the brine and pat them dry—inside and out—with paper towels. Tie their legs together and twist the wing tips (the final wing joint) up and over to the bird’s back, to keep the wings securely in place. Skewer one bird on the spit through the cavity and then the breast. Skewer the second bird in reverse: through the breast and out through the cavity. The birds should fit neatly together, butt-to-butt, one with breast facing up, the other’s breast facing down. Secure the birds firmly in place with the spit forks (mine fit neatly over the breasts of most birds without piercing them).

3. Spit-roasting. If you’re using a charcoal fire, bank the coals to the sides, so that they’re not directly under the spit. If it’s possible on your grill, turn off the gas that’s directly under the spit. Otherwise, you’ll want to check the chickens frequently while they’re cooking, lowering the temperature as needed so that the chickens cook slowly to a perfect doneness.

Connect the spit, start the spinning and cover the grill (if that’s possible on your grill). As the chickens cook, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, stir for a minute or so, until it begins to turn golden, then remove the pan from the heat. Every ten minutes use a brush to baste the birds with the garlic butter. When the temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 150 to 160 degrees (depending on the degree of doneness you like), the chickens are ready—that will take about 45 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill.

4. Carving the chickens. Cut each chicken into serving pieces: Cut the leg-and-thigh portions from each side, slicing down through the joint that connects them to the backbone. Then slice through the joint that connects the legs to the thighs. Transfer to a warm serving platter. With the remaining chicken breast-side up on cutting board, slide your knife inside the cavity and cut straight down through the tiny ribs on each side to the backbone. Remove the backbone (it doesn’t have a lot meat on it). Cut right down through the breast (once the chicken is cooked, this is easier than it sounds), then cut each breast portion in half. Pile everything on the platter, sprinkle with herbs and serve with salsa.

The Dinner Diva’s Notes:

  1. Many recipes requiring brining ask you to heat the liquid to dissolve the sugar/salt, than wait till it cools before adding the chicken. What I do is use 1/2 the water to dissolve the sugar/salt, than add the other 1/2 in ice. I add all this into a small cooler; it is a great way to brine, especially when your refrigerator is as full as ours!
  2. Be sure you plan ahead, because it takes 4 hours of brining and a rotisserie for even cooking. For added flavor, we basted the bird with butter (or you can use duck fat) and let the juices run onto cut-up potatoes. They are even better with a rosemary salt, made with the herbs we dried from our garden.
  3. If you prepare your potatoes under your rotisserie chicken like I did, turn the burner under the drip pan on to help cook the potatoes to ensure they are done at the same time. This was done in about in just under an hour (my chicken was closer to 5 lbs).

Download and print the recipe here.

Do you like rotisserie chicken as much as we do? What sides do you like to serve it with?

Mary Hathaway, Owner of Dinner Diva, has been a personal chef since 2002. She cooks regularly for clients who have special dietary needs, value healthy cooking by using organic products where possible and those who want healthy family meals but have no time to cook. Whether it’s a dinner for 4, a holiday party for 20, or a set of meals for the week, all of the recipes are customized to her client’s needs or lifestyle. Go to: Dinner-Diva.com for more info.