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What To Consider Before Buying Rotisserie Chicken At The Grocery Store

food, what to consider before buying rotisserie chicken at the grocery store

rotisserie chickens on a spit

Any chef or home cook worth their salt has a favorite method for the perfect roasted chicken. Yet, in such a fast-paced world, even the best rely on at least a few kitchen hacks. Take Emma Feigenbaum, a New York City food stylist and recipe developer, for example. She told Taste Cooking that “it’s a no-brainer” to use store-bought rotisserie chicken for a recipe calling for shredded chicken. “It’s not a better or worse product than what you roast at home, just a more convenient one,” she said.

In fact, the National Chicken Council reported that 900 million were sold within the food industry during 2018 alone, according to Cooking Light. Not quite fast food, this favored quick fix is still so convenient and affordable. It’s the best of both worlds that avoids both the drive-thru and the effort of cooking and shredding your chicken at home. But, before you set the table, here’s the skinny on store-bought rotisserie chicken.

Is It Worth The Extra Salt?

food, what to consider before buying rotisserie chicken at the grocery store

Salt falling out of a salt shaker

Salt is a major factor if you’re considering rotisserie chicken. After assessing 16 different samples from seven popular grocery stores, Consumer Reports ranked Sam’s Club Member’s Mark Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken as one of the saltiest with a whopping 550 milligrams of sodium per 3-ounce serving. But, this isn’t from just the shaker. In order to achieve such a succulent masterpiece, brine is often injected into the chicken not only to plump the meat up but also for optimal flavor.

Then there’s the chicken’s skin, which has been rubbed with a generous helping of “natural flavors” as often noted on the package’s ingredient list — like the one Eat This, Not That found at Kroger. Still, there’s no need to get your feathers ruffled over the extra salt. Rotisserie chicken is still a generally healthy option, according to Healthline, which suggests removing the chicken’s skin prior to consuming if you’re watching your sodium. You can always repurpose those skins for your salt-loving dinner guests with a “waste not, want not” attitude.

The Bird’s A Bonus

food, what to consider before buying rotisserie chicken at the grocery store

A shopper selecting a cooked chicken

Stores actually lose money on rotisserie chickens by discounting their price and hoping you’ll grab something else to go with it — like a bottle of wine or salad greens for that last-minute dinner. “It is a way of the store giving you a discount on a very highly prominent item and then making up the money on some of the other items in the store,” Ernest Baskin, an associate professor of food marketing at Saint Joseph’s University, told NPR. But because of that, you know you’re getting a good deal!

When shopping for fresh meat, sell-by-dates are meant to help you pick the best quality food and are not meant to be an expiration date, according to the Cooking Light. And, while we’re not talking straight-from-the-coop freshness where grocery store rotisserie chicken is concerned, this same rule of thumb applies.

Any time you purchase cooked chicken, rotisserie chickens included, make sure it is nice and hot when you get it. After that, it should be used within 2 hours or properly chilled to a safe cold temperature (via the USDA). It’s best practice to eat a rotisserie chicken within a few days of purchasing or within 4 months of freezing — for best quality and texture. And, on the rare occasion that you do have extra, there are many delicious ways to heat up leftover chicken. You can even get the absolute most out of your purchase by using the carcass for soup!

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