Are Supermarket Rotisserie Chickens Healthy?

When you are trying to eat a healthy diet, there is a tendency to cook everything from scratch. It makes sense. If you are cooking everything yourself, you know exactly what’s going into your dish. Our team goes through that! There is nothing worse than thinking you’re eating something healthy and then looking at the label and realizing you’ve been misled. But sometimes we want an easy meal. And that got us thinking, how healthy are the rotisserie chickens that are cooked at the store?

Store-cooked rotisserie chickens are so attractive. They are always placed in a convenient location. They’re hot and ready. They’re often cheaper than a raw chicken. And they smell amazing. But we always wonder if they are too good to be true.

It turns out, a lot of stores might be losing money on those cooked chickens. For instance, Costco loses money on them knowing that they are such a large draw to customers. So, you don’t have to worry that their low-cost denotes low quality. The store uses them as bait to get you in when you might go someplace else.

Another worry many of us have is their safety. Yes, the chickens are hot and ready. But how long have they been that way? Cooked poultry sitting around under a heat lamp or in a warming cabinet can grow bacteria or go dry. They may have a sticker on them to show when they were put out, or you can ask the manager.

You want to be sure you’re choosing chickens that are fresh and that they haven’t been spinning around on those rotisseries for hours,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN. “If they’re already displayed in a fridge [or warming tray] ... you can check with a [store] manager to see when they were put out. People in stores like Costco line up to wait for those chickens to get done.”

Just like any other food, a store-cooked chicken should have a list of ingredients. Check it out! They are usually just salt and spices. It might contain food starch to make the skin crisper and help seasons adhere better. That won’t make much difference nutritionally — unless someone in your household is intolerant to gluten.

But, all of this brings us to our final point, if you are concerned about how healthy a rotisserie chicken is, simply remove the skin. The chickens are often marinated in salt solutions to protect them from bacterial growth and keep them moist while they cook. That salt and other additives mostly stay on the skin. If you remove that, you might as well have cooked it in your own kitchen!

Hopefully, this alleviates all your worries about store-cooked rotisserie chickens! If you remove the skin, it’s just like a chicken you made in your own oven, but it saved you time, and it might have saved you money. Just make sure it’s fresh and enjoy your meal!
February 11, 2021
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