Alexander Leidinger

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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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