How to Balance a Lamb on a Spit Roaster

The Best way to Balance a Lamb on a Spit Roaster


The most important aspect of cooking on a spit is to make sure that the load is balanced. If you're cooking chickens or boneless meat where it is easy to pass the spit roast skewer through the centre of the meat, balancing is quite easy. If however, you're cooking a piece of meat that has a bone in it such as a leg of lamb or a whole animal, balancing the meat correctly can be a bit tricky. 




Why a balanced load is important

If the meat is not balanced correctly, the meat will turn unevenly on the skewer. Some of you may have seen this before when the rotisserie motor will appear to struggle on the upswing, temporarily jolt at the top, and then drop on the downswing. This will occur each rotation. So why should you care?

  1. Your meat will cook unevenly, the constant change in speed will lead to your meat cooking unevenly

  2. The jolting and wobbling may cause your meat to work free and fall off

  3. You'll be putting extra strain on your motor and will eventually strip the gearbox if the force and uneven loads are too great. 

This image shows a perfectly balanced lamb on the spit


The image on the right shows the result of not using a black brace and not balancing your meat. The uneven load caused a problem that stopped the lamb from turning and then caught on fire. This lamb was actually skewered by a butcher so it's best to have some basic knowledge on how to balance a lamb for spit roasting. 



So how do you know whether the load is balanced?

Skewer and prong your meat and test it is balanced BEFORE you put it over the fire!

Once your meat is rigged up to the skewer and pronged, you can test whether the load is balanced in one of two ways. 

  • If you are by yourself, the easiest way is to put the skewer onto the spit roaster (without the motor) and see whether you can turn the skewer gradually by hand. When turning the skewer by hand, you should be able to let go of the skewer and the skewer should not move. If it naturally falls to the heavy side, this is a giveaway that the load isn't balanced. 


  • If you've already lit the fire in your spit roaster and can't check the balancing method mentioned above, another way is to elicit the help of someone else and for you to both hold either end of the skewer in the palms of your hand. You should be able to gradually turn the skewer by hand without the load falling to a heavy side.




How to fix an unbalanced load on a spit roast?

There are two options to balance an unbalanced load. 

  1. Take the skewer and prongs out and give it another crack. By repositioning where the skewer and prongs are inserted into the meat, you may be able to get it better balanced. 

  2. Use a counter balance weight.


What is a counterweight used for on a spit?

A counterweight consists of 4 parts.

  • Collar - the part which slides over your rotisserie skewer.

  • Weight - the part which offsets the imbalance in the meat

  • Lever - the part which allows you to slide the weight closer or further away

  • Locking nut - the part which attaches the weight to the leaver


Counterbalance weights - an insurance policy for your rotisserie motor 

A counterbalance weight adds extra weight to the lighter side of your meat. 

As the below video shows, once you have the counterbalance weight assembled, you slide the collar over the skewer at the pointy end of the skewer. Depending on how out of balance your load is, you slide the weight along the lever to add more or less weight. The closer the weight is to the skewer, the less weight is added. As you slide the counterweight along the lever and the weight moves further away from your skewer, physics kicks in and adds more weight. 




Do you need a balance weight for your rotisserie or not?

I'm quite often asked by customers whether I'd recommend they buy a counterbalance weight with their spit purchase. As a general rule, my answer is ABSOLUTELY if you're cooking a whole animal, but not necessarily if you're just cooking pieces of meat without the bone. That said, think of it as an insurance policy for your rotisserie motor. If you're spending a few hundred dollars on a new spit motor or complete rotisserie set-up, $35-$45 is a small price to pay to ensure everything runs smoothly. 

Read our previous blog post about how to put a whole animal on a spit roaster properly

Looking for a delicious whole lamb recipe? We've prepared a great recipe to get you started



by: Rhiannon Peterson