According to an article published earlier this year on, in 2014, Costco sold an estimated 157,000 rotisserie chickens each day, a total of 87 million for the year—up from roughly 60 million in 2013. Chicken is one of the leading protein options purchased by American consumers due to its convenience and versatility, and its perception as being a “healthier choice.” Rotisserie chickens are a staple item in many homes, because they are a quick meal or an addition to nearly any recipe as an easy shortcut. Grabbing a rotisserie chicken on your way home from work or on the road is practically routine for many busy working families, including NBA Head and Assistant Coaches.
In most cases, rotisserie chickens are very affordable per pound compared to other protein options. Rotisserie chickens are available at all major grocery stores and are typically priced between $5 to $9. With any ready-to-eat prepared food product, it is important to be aware of the nutrition information so you can select the healthiest option. Implementing smart purchasing habits such as reading the ingredients list, nutrition facts labels and buying from stores that minimally process their chickens can assist in consuming enough protein without the unnecessary sodium and fillers. Here are several quick ways to ensure you are purchasing and consuming a rotisserie chicken that won’t compromise your health and wellness goals.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is key. When shopping for a rotisserie chicken, select traditional or plain rotisserie chickens and avoid heavily seasoned options such as honey, barbecue, garlic or lemon pepper. Plain rotisserie chicken serves as a versatile base to stretch leftovers into various meal styles. While an unseasoned chicken may sound unappealing, adding your own herbs and spices can enhance flavor without the additives, sodium and other unnecessary ingredients found in seasoned varieties.

Organic vs. Conventional Chicken

If available and it fits within the budget, organic rotisserie chickens are a cleaner option than conventional chicken. A rotisserie chicken with an organic label indicates that the chicken has been raised without antibiotics, GMO derived products, animal by-products and synthetic preservatives in any feed products.However, just because a chicken is organic does not necessarily indicate it is healthy. Consumers should still review the nutrition label and ingredient list of organically labeled chickens to make sure that the chicken is not high in sodium.
From a food safety standpoint, research shows 39% of conventional, non-organic chicken contain salmonella (the bacteria that causes food poisoning in poultry) compared to just 6% in organic. Contrary to popular belief, “all-natural” rotisserie chicken does not equate to organic. By definition, “all-natural” means that the product does not contain artificial ingredients or added colors and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as “no artificial ingredients; minimally processed”). Conventional rotisserie chickens (not organic) are often injected with water, salt and preservatives to increase the moisture and flavor of the meat. This typically results in a significant increase in the sodium content of the product.

Kosher and Amish Chickens: A Healthier Choice, Right?

There has been a significant increase in consumers purchasing kosher chickens with the belief that kosher meats have greater nutrition quality and are less likely to carry food borne pathogens. However, recent studies show kosher chicken may have a higher prevalence of E. coli than non-kosher chicken due to the kosher bird de-feathering technique in lukewarm water rather than traditional scalding hot water, which generally removes bacteria. The term “Kosher” is a slaughtering technique that ensures requirements of Jewish law. This practice is non-cruel killing, immediate blood draining, and utilization of kosher salt to prevent bacterial growth. This process imparts no nutritional difference between kosher chickens and conventionally raised chickens. Without specific labeling, you should not assume that kosher chicken is organic or raised without antibiotics.
Amish chickens have similarly become popular in recent years with claims of no added hormones, antibiotics or pesticides and chickens that are free-range. While this maybe true, there are no regulations regarding Amish chickens. They are defined purely by the definition that they are raised on an Amish field or Amish farm without additives. Due to the misperception that these chickens are a healthier or “cleaner” option, they often have a steeper price tag, but not for a legitimate reason.

Select the Best

Selecting a good looking chicken is very important! When shopping, first take a close look at the actual bird in the package. The chicken should have a nice firm, but not tough-looking texture, tan color (not pale or reddened) and a pleasant aroma. Avoid chickens that appear dried out, have an off-putting odor or have a “slimy” coating on the skin. A plump tanned chicken indicates freshness, good quality and will last longer after it is taken home. A timestamp should be clearly noted on the packaging. Select the date closest to the date and time of purchase for longest shelf life. It is recommended to consume the chicken within 3-4 days of purchase. Most rotisserie chickens are placed into a plastic container after being cooked and then stored on a warming shelf until it is purchased. Look to see if the container is microwaveable or heat safe. Some heated plastics can leak harmful chemicals in the microwave. There is also a negative environmental impact of large plastic containers.
Some stores may offer the option of plastic hot food bags for their rotisserie chickens. Bagging the chicken is a simple option to eliminate large waste brought about by plastic containers. However, hot food bags still pose the risk of leaking chemicals from the plastic to the contained chicken. Another downside is that it is an unsanitary means of storage. In order to refrigerate the chicken, transfer into an air-tight sealed container to ensure lasting quality and to prevent leaks. Unless the chicken is being used for immediate consumption, glass Tupperware or BPA free sealed plastic containers are recommended for storage.

Reheating Options: A proper reheating technique requires all food to reach 165 degrees internally to be considered safe to eat. There are many ways to reheat rotisserie chickens and they will vary based upon how one will use the chicken.

  • The best way to reheat a rotisserie chicken to retain moisture, flavor and freshness is to
  • reheat in the oven. Spray lightly with olive oil and season to your liking for added flavor.
  • Place chicken in a high-sided baking dish with ~¼ inch chicken stock or water at bottom of the dish. Heat at 400 degrees until the liquid boils and the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees.
  • Rotisserie chicken can also be prepared by wrapping in aluminum foil with a stock of gravy and placed on a baking sheet. This will help retain moisture and flavor of the original product. Place in oven and set to 375 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes to crisp skin for better texture.
  • Rotisserie chicken can also be grilled or sautéed stovetop in sauces to create new profiles
  • such as BBQ chicken or chicken in tomato sauce. Simply portion strips of chicken and
  • place on a well-oiled pan. Cooked until flavors have transferred between sauce and
  • chicken, stirring frequently.
  • In a time crunch, microwaving is another option. If you are microwaving the chicken in its original plastic clam open the cover slightly to let steam out. The duration varies by microwave and settings. Alternatively, place chicken on a microwave safe dish covered in plastic wrap and heat for ~3 minutes.

Be On The Lookout For Unnecessary Additives

Grocery store chickens are often infused with an additive-filled saline solution and rubbed with herbs or spices to retain moisture and enhance flavor before roasting. Seasoning blends contain many food additives that can contradict selecting chicken for a lean, healthy protein option. This results in increased sodium content, unnecessary food flavorings, additives and a decreased nutrition profile. Ingredients are the first determinants to decide which rotisserie chicken is the best option. The rule of thumb is the less ingredients the better. Look for an ingredient list that is short and lacks scary additives such as monosodium glutamate (aka MSG), carrageenan, colored dyes (such as caramel color) sugar, sodium and artificial flavors. MSG is a common food additive used to enhance savory or meaty flavor. Many people are sensitive to MSG and it is best to limit consumption, especially in those that are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. Carrageenan is also added to rotisserie chickens for its texturizing and stabilizing purposes. It is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), however limited studies suggest it may cause digestive related issues like bloating and inflammation and possibly cancer.Lastly, beware of added sugars and sodium, especially in chickens flavored with honey and barbecue sauces.

Decode the Nutrition Label/Serving Size

After selecting an attractive and healthy rotisserie chicken, it is important to be cognizant of portion sizes. Rotisserie chickens tend to be overeaten, because they are quick, easy and convenient. Many people also think that because they are “healthy” and packed with protein that moderation can be thrown out the window. Not the case! Review the nutrition label and take note of the serving size listed. Often rotisserie chickens are unnecessarily high in fat and sodium. The American Heart Association recommends consuming a maximum of 1,500 mg sodium per day. An average serving of rotisserie chicken has approximately 460 mg sodium-that is nearly a third of the suggested daily intake in one 3-ounce serving.
To ensure the proper portion is consumed, the chicken should be carved and plated, rather than directly eaten. Plating will make you more mindful of how much you are actually consuming. Be mindful of the product you select and remember grocery stores can vary widely in their nutrition content. Find the brand that best fits a nutrition profile that does not compromise health. Overall, when selecting a rotisserie chicken, the key takeaway messages are:
  • Select a reputable grocery store to purchase your chicken from;
  • Select a chicken with a short and simple ingredient list;
  • Read the nutrition facts label;
  • Opt for organic when possible and;
  • Make sure the chicken looks and smells great!

Think Outside The Box

Rotisserie chicken can be added to soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos and more for additional protein. If rotisserie chicken has become a redundant staple for meals, go further with other chicken options. Crockpot cooked chicken is another idea that mimics the ease of rotisserie chicken. Combine chicken in broth, vegetables, sauces and other favorite ingredients to make a flavorful, fuss-free meal.

Get Creative: Savorfull Approved Ways To Use Your Rotisserie Chicken

BBQ Nachos:

Add a low sugar BBQ sauce to traditional rotisserie chicken in a skillet. Combine the BBQ chicken with black beans, cheese (or non dairy cheese), avocado, diced tomatoes and a dollop of Greek yogurt on top of Beanfields Black Bean & Sea Salt chips.

Hearty Chicken Soup

Season chicken with herbs and spices to taste. Add to noodles (use bean based noodles or zucchini noodles in place of regular noodles), low sodium chicken broth, roasted carrots and other vegetables available/in season.

Mediterranean Salad

Toss together a bed of greens with grilled onions, roasted broccolini, julienned carrots, sliced cucumber, roasted beets and Roasted Crunchy Lentils in Mediterranean flavor for an added crunch. Top with rotisserie chicken and dress with balsamic vinaigrette.

Chicken Pesto Pizza

Use pulled rotisserie chicken to top rolled out whole wheat, sprouted grain or cauliflower pizza crust with pesto sauce, tomato, and a mixture of Swiss, Gruyere and Romano cheeses (or non dairy cheese alternatives such as Daiya or Kite Hill) Bake 425°F for 7 minutes.

Stuffed Peppers

Cut 2 organic bell peppers side up in half, and remove seeds. Place open side up on baking sheet and spray generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add shredded rotisserie chicken to large skillet with onion and garlic. Divide chicken mixture between pepper halved and top with cheese. Cook in oven at 400°F for ~20 minutes until crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with low fat ranch dressing or salsa.


Rotisserie chicken has the potential to serve as a healthy quick on-the-go meal. However, it is extremely important to follow the proper steps to ensure that you select the healthiest rotisserie chicken.
  • Select a reputable grocery store to purchase your chicken from;
  • Select a chicken with a short and simple ingredient list;
  • Read the nutrition facts label–avoid chicken high in sodium;
  • Opt for organic when possible and;
  • Make sure the chicken looks and smells great!



*Nutritional tips written by Stacy Goldberg, and the Savorfull Team. Stacy Goldberg is the Official Health and Wellness/Nutritional Consultant for the National Basketball Coaches Association.
Stacy Goldberg–MPH, RN, BSN
CEO & Founder Savorfull
Office Phone: 313-875-3733
Cell Phone: 248-563-2920