The local BBQ style: “Schwen­ken”

Whenever I show our local (= my re­gion) BBQ gear to “out­siders” (all people which did not grow up in our re­gion and never went to a local BBQ), people are im­pressed. So I thought, let me ex­port this great in­ven­tion out in the world. Maybe someone out there is in­ter­ested enough to build the simple solu­tion which has a lot of fea­tures.

The Schwen­ker

As a pic­ture tells more than a lot of words, let me first let you look at it.

The typical BBQ device in my region.

The BBQ device which I show you here is called a “Schwen­ker”. The op­er­a­tion of grilling some­thing on a Schwen­ker is called “schwen­ken” (the dir­ect trans­la­tion of schwen­ken is “swinging around” or “to swing”). As you may guess, this is be­cause you swing around the meat (or ve­get­ables or fish or cake (I have read that one win­ner of the na­tional BBQ-​competition had a Black-​Forrest-​Cherry-​cake on the grill) or whatever people may want to put there) over the fire. The meat which is very of­ten pre­pared on the Schwen­ker is called “Schwen­ker” (we are ef­fi­cient with words in our re­gion…). Ba­sic­ally this is the meat of a pork which re­laxed a day or two in oil, onions and paprika (add pep­per, salt and herbs to your own lik­ing, other vari­ations are with gar­lic and green herbs). While the Schwen­ker is on the Schwen­ker, you can put a little bit of beer on it to add a little bit of taste (this is op­tional). It ex­ists a small Wiki­pe­dia entry about Schwen­ker, there you can even read about other mean­ings of the words Schwenker/​Schwenken (all re­lated to what you see/​read here).


So, how to build one? Its easy. Take a metal plate (best is a tri­angle where the edges are bend a little bit), at­tach 3 metal poles (they need to be strong enough to carry the grill and the meat) to it in a way that you can at­tach a metal roll between them (like a hoist, it is there to lift the grill) and that the metal poles form a tri­pod. You get bo­nus points if the roll can be ro­tated where it is at­tached, but is is enough if it is aligned with one of the poles. Now take a grill (round) and at­tach 3 little chains to it (in the pic­ture above, those chains are not so little, but it is a big grill, you can feed at least 10 people at once) so that the grill is leveled when you at­tach those 3 chains to a single point. The 3 chains need to be at­tached to a long chain, and this chain needs to put on the roll which is at­tached on the tri­pod. Now at­tach a hook on one of poles in a con­veni­ent po­s­i­tion (if you stand in front of the tri­pod you need to be able to ac­cess the hook eas­ily) and at­tach the chain which is con­nec­ted to the grill and the roll. It looks a little bit more high-​tech if you use a winch in­stead of a hook, but then you need to use a metal rope in­stead of a chain.


  • vari­able heat in­tens­ity (lift or lower the grill by at­tach­ing a dif­fer­ent part of the chain to the hook)
  • ecologic/​equal heat­ing (swing and/​or ro­tate the grill over the fire, you can cover a lot of grill area with a small fire, all meat gets about the same heat­ing without the need to move the meat it­self on the grill a lot)
  • keep some meat hot while eat­ing (lift or lower the grill)
  • food safety (you need to cre­ate more fire but you already have some meat on the grill: move the tri­pod to the side; you want to move the fire in the fire­place: the chain is not as hot as the grill, use it to move the grill a little bit to the side while mov­ing the fire in the fire­place)

Tips & Tricks

The fire­place in the pic­ture is a part of the bar­rel of a wash­ing ma­chine (some­where between a half and a third of a bar­rel). I got mine for free from a local white-​ware shop (from a broken wash­ing ma­chine, off course).

If you cre­ate the grill your­self, take care that a saus­age can not fall through. The metal needs to be of high qual­ity, ideally stain­less steel. Make a little bor­der around the grill, this way you can pre­vent ac­ci­dents where a saus­age lands in the fire or on the floor.

In­stead of 3 metal poles you can use 6. At­tach 2 to­gether in a way that they do not sep­ar­ate if you lift the tri­pod, but al­lows to sep­ar­ate them if needed (this al­lows to take the tri­pod with you). In the Schwen­ker in the above pic­ture the metal poles are con­nec­ted with screws to the metal tri­angle, I did not use any tools to at­tach it hard, I at­tached the screws by hand. This al­lows me to de­tach everything without any tools. Each of the 3 metal poles con­sists of 2 small ones. They are con­nec­ted by tap­ping a thread into one, and at­tach­ing a tube with a cor­res­pond­ing thread to the other one.

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