A manual rotisserie is a piece of equipment that can be used to cook different foods and rotate them while they are heating. This is often designed in a number of ways, such as a hand-operated crank that allows a large skewer to be turned. There are also smaller skewers that can be used as part of a manual rotisserie, to turn individual servings or pieces of meat occasionally over heat. This is in contrast to an automatic or electric rotisserie, which uses a motor to turn a skewer slowly over time, ensuring even cooking along all surfaces and simplifying the process.
The purpose of a manual rotisserie is to allow food to be turned as it is cooking. Rotation provides two basic benefits: heat is applied more evenly to multiple surfaces and sides of the food, and the juices from meat cooking on a rotisserie baste it as it turns. One common way a manual rotisserie can be designed is as a large skewer with a hand crank at one end. Food is placed on the skewer, which is then suspended over heat from a grill or fire pit. Manually operating the crank rotates the skewer and the food.
A much simpler form of manual rotisserie can also be created through the use of smaller skewers that are designed to be easily turned. These usually have a long handle, which extends out away from the heat so that someone can turn it regularly without being burned. Multiple prongs are usually found on this type of skewer to make it function more easily as a manual rotisserie. Skewers with only a single prong work well for some applications, but when turned can often just spin within food rather than turning it. Multiple prongs ensure that turning rotates the food as well as the skewer itself.
While a manual rotisserie is often quite easy to use and usually inexpensive, an automatic or electric rotisserie can be much more convenient. This consists of a long skewer, often designed in much the same way as a hand-crank model, with a motor at one end. The motor usually requires a power source, such as an electrical outlet, and automatically turns the rotisserie skewer slowly. This ensures even cooking as the rotation is provided at regular intervals. An automatic rotisserie can also help prevent injuries that may occur if someone is manually rotating food over a fire during a flare up, which can result in burns to the hand or face.