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Rotisserie chicken is a chicken dish that is cooked on a rotisserie, using direct heat in which the chicken is placed next to the heat source. Electric- or gas-powered heating elements may be used, which use adjustable infrared heat. [Wikepedia] Found in most supermarkets, from the original recipe to lemon-herb, and even Thai seasoned, rotisserie chicken is an easy go-to dinner. This is especially true for busy parents getting out of work late with little time to prepare a nutritious hot meal. It is easy to stop by the supermarket on your way home and be tempted as you pass by one of those golden birds under the heat lamps. It smells great! Let’s face it, the time between cooking and eating is running out! This seems to be the answer to your dinner prayers. As you pick up your favorite bird with the crispy golden brown skin, you feel a twinge of guilt knowing you didn’t slave over the oven cooking the bird, and second because you wonder if this bird you are about to feed your family is really all that nutritious!
To take the guilt out of the rotisserie chicken, I invited Toby Amidor, one of the top experts in culinary nutrition, food safety, and media communications to answer your top 5 questions about rotisserie chicken. Toby is nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com and founding contributor to their Healthy Eats Blog and author of 6 cookbooks, of which her most recent is The Best Rotisserie Chicken Cookbook (Robert Rose, 2020)
The Top 5 Answers to Your Questions About Store Bought Rotisserie Chicken
Q. How much sodium is in one serving of store-bought rotisserie chicken? I see so many different flavor options, such as lemon or Thai. How are they seasoned? (Is it injected with anything to stay juicy?)
A. The amount of sodium can vary from chicken to chicken depending on the flavor solution that is injected into the bird. On average, 3-ounces of rotisserie chicken has an average of 300 milligrams sodium. A seasoned bird is typically injected with a special saline solution which add flavor and sodium. Read the label and that will tell you all the ingredients in the bird, so you can decide if it is right for you. You can also find unseasoned (unflavored) rotisserie chicken, which I recommend since you will be flavoring it.
Q. How many 3-ounce servings does the average supermarket rotisserie bird feed?
A. A typical rotisserie chicken has on average 4 cups of shredded chicken, which makes 4 servings. I found that a Costco bird has more like 7 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken since they allow their chickens to grow for a few more weeks.
Q. What is the difference when the label says “organic” or “all-natural,” and is it better for me to buy a bird without added antibiotics or this label?
A. ORGANIC: The “USDA Certified Organic” seal is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The seal means that the bird has only been fed certified organic feed, made with corn and soybeans. The chicken must also be “free-range” (have outdoor-access) and not been given antibiotics. Organic chicken may have been vaccinated against common diseases. It should be noted that the organic label does not mean that the safety, quality, or nutrient composition is better or higher than conventionally raised chicken.
NATURAL: According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, a chicken labeled as “natural” has no artificial ingredients, coloring ingredients, or chemical preservatives.
I have never seen the term “regular” bird for rotisserie chicken and it is not defined by the USDA.
ANTIBIOTICS: Farmers are continuously trying to find new innovations to allow the chicken to be raised without the use of antibiotics, The use of antibiotics is strictly regulated by the FDA and used as a tool to keep chickens healthy. Other tools used to keep chickens healthy include individualized nutrition plans, the use of vaccines and probiotics, barns with good air circulation and temperature control, and training and educating programs for farmers and farmworkers.
However, on occasion chickens do become sick for various reasons and treating sick animals is part of humane animal care. Antibiotics are deemed to be necessary after the chicken is seen by animal health experts and veterinarians. If a chicken is given antibiotics within its life to treat or prevent disease, the bird must go through withdrawal before leaving the farm in order for the antibiotics to pass through its system. Both the FDA and USDA monitor and test chickens that go into grocery stores to ensure that they do not contain harmful antibiotic residue.
A label of “No Antibiotics Ever” or “Raised Without Antibiotics” means that the chicken was never treated in its life with antibiotics.
Q. How long will it last in the fridge? Can I freeze the leftovers?
Refrigerated rotisserie chicken should be eaten within 3 to 4 days, either cold or reheated to 165-degrees Fahrenheit. You can also freeze rotisserie chicken. For the best quality, texture, and flavor, use frozen rotisserie chicken within four months. Dishes made from rotisserie chicken and then frozen should be used within two months.
Q. Is it better to buy the chicken when they are warm under those heat lamps or buy cold and heat in my oven?
Either way is perfectly safe. The heat lamps and/or heated shelves ensure that the rotisserie chicken is held at or above 135-degrees Fahrenheit. Cold chicken is cooled and then refrigerated at 41-degrees Fahrenheit or below. The most important thing to remember is getting your bird home quickly and either eating it or preparing it right away,, or placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Never leave the chicken out at room temperatures for more than 2 hours, and on a hot day when the temperature is 90-degrees Fahrenheit or above, it should not be kept out for over 1 hour.
Toby Amidor's Chicken, Kale and White Bean Salad
- 1/4 cup raw walnuts chopped
- 4 cups baby kale
- 1 1/2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
- 14- to 19-oz can reduced-sodium cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- 1 tsp lemon zest grated
- 3 lemons juice of
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
- Heat the walnuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the walnuts are lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- In a large bowl, add the kale, chicken, beans and walnuts. Drizzle with the Lemon Herb Vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat.
For the Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, brown sugar, parsley, salt and pepper. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the oil until combined. *Note: the vinaigrette makes ¾ cup.
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