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Looking for the best rotisserie chicken? With so many stores selling these fully cooked, ready-to-eat meals, deciding which ones have the best bang for your buck can be tough.
If you’re among those who’ve eaten the more than 950 million rotisserie chickens sold in the past year, you’re probably wondering: Which rotisserie chicken is the best? And is the Costco rotisserie chicken worth the hype?
We tackled this tasty dilemma and have a lot of juicy — and not so juicy — details to report. We reviewed the seven most popular store-brand rotisserie chickens and scoped out their price, size, quality, and overall value. And we ranked their prices, sizes and more.
While there are rarely coupons on rotisserie chicken, you can use chicken coupons for your home-cooked dishes.
1. Costco rotisserie chicken is one of the cheapest and biggest ready-to-eat options.
Costco rotisserie chicken starts hitting shelves at 10 a.m., and according to the service deli manager at my local warehouse, is in constant production all day long.
Any chicken that’s for sale typically hasn’t been there longer than 30 minutes (and never more than two hours), he said. If for some reason they’re sold out, you’re never more than about 10 minutes away from the next batch being ready.
Costco has sold their rotisserie chicken for $4.99 since 2009, even in the midst of inflation. Depending on your store, these birds go ounce-for-ounce with their closest competitor, Sam’s Club.
While Costco has achieved legendary status among their fans, it’s not without some controversy. Several news outlets have reported on lawsuits alleging inhumane treatment of their chickens at their processing facilities, their overuse of the local water supply, and the impact on local farmers. Despite all of this, customers are loyal and just want their price not to change.
Costco rotisserie chicken price: $4.99 (Rank: 2 of 7)
Costco rotisserie chicken size: 3 lbs (Rank: 1 of 7, tie)
Price per pound: $1.66 (Rank: 1 of 7, tie)
Freshest times: Every 30 mins, starting at 10 a.m.
Three-word description: Big, juicy, fresh
Notes: You can buy a cold rotisserie chicken for just $3.99. You can place a pickup order for your chicken, but they don’t accept make-ahead orders, so you may have to stand in line.
2. Expect to wait in a short line for a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken.
Hot on Costco’s legendary heels is the Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken, which offers nearly identical size, flavor, and price (well, it’s technically a penny cheaper) to their warehouse rivals.
No matter what time of day you buy a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken, you’ll probably see a line of people waiting, since it’s first come, first served. You won’t find any flavor varieties; it’s just plain, gluten-free, pre-seasoned (with Lawry’s seasoning blend) meat here.
On the packaging, you can find the shelf time clearly labeled, along with the nutrition facts, date, unit price, total price, and weight.
Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken price: $4.98 (Rank: 1 of 7)
Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken size: 3 lbs (Rank: 1 of 7, tie)
Price per pound: $1.66 (Rank: 1 of 7, tie)
Freshest times: Every 2 hours (starting at 8 a.m.) until an hour before close
Three words: Marinated, mild, succulent
Notes: The chickens are marinated for 48 hours. Select stores let you buy via Curbside Pickup. Some stores limit your purchase to 10 chickens.
3. Grab Kroger rotisserie chicken for tender, juicy meat.
When I visited my local Kroger-affiliated store (Food 4 Less), I was surprised to find the hot chicken display at the end cap of a grocery aisle. But don’t let that location fool you — the Kroger rotisserie chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, dripping in juices.
My store only had the “savory” option available, and the skin looked well seasoned. Most chickens are 2 lbs, but mine had an extra 3 oz. At nearly $9 for 32 oz, you’ll want to stop by Kroger’s digital coupon page to save money. In the past, I’ve seen $1 off coupons for their rotisserie chicken.
You’ll have to wait until 11 a.m. for Kroger‘s first batch of chickens, but their roast schedule is three times a day. Each bag is labeled with the “fresh from the oven” time. A store representative noted that any unsold chicken was cooled down and given to the store’s cold foods department. In some stores, you can find cold rotisserie chicken and same-day price reductions.
Kroger rotisserie chicken price: $7.99 – $8.99, depending on store (Rank: 7 of 7)
Kroger rotisserie chicken size: 2 lbs (Rank: 4 of 7)
Price per pound: $4.00 – $4.50/lb (Rank: 5 of 7)
Freshest times: Every 3 hours, starting at 11 a.m.
Three words: Spendy, cage-free, plain
Notes: The chicken’s resealable pouch is microwaveable. Chickens are 100% vegetarian fed and raised cage-free. Some stores have garlic and herb, lemon pepper, and mesquite flavors.
4. Shop Albertsons for the best rotisserie chicken flavor selection.
You can find plenty of rotisserie chicken flavors at Albertsons like no salt added, rosemary and garlic, traditional, and lemon pepper. Each resealable pouch has a “hot from the oven” label with the time.
In my experience, their rosemary and garlic option had significantly larger breast meat (an extra 6 oz of meat overall) than their traditional one. Any leftover meat is cooled down and sold as shredded chicken the next day, according to a deli employee at my local store.
Albertsons rotisserie chicken price: $6.99 (Rank: 4 of 7)
Albertsons rotisserie chicken size: 1.75 lbs (Rank: 5 of 7, tie)
Price per pound: $3.99/lb (Rank: 4 of 7)
Freshest times: Every 3 – 4 hours, starting between 8 and 8:30 a.m.
Three words: Variety, seasoned, versatile
Notes: Evening rush starts about 4 p.m.
5. Buy organic or conventional Whole Foods rotisserie chicken for a significantly higher price but better flavor.
You can find Whole Foods’ rotisserie chicken in their Deli Department near the other hot food, but they’re not cheap… at all. I opted for the classic rotisserie (just over $9 with tax), which actually weighed an extra 13 oz than labeled. Yay!
Even after a few hours, the meat was still juicy. A new batch of Whole Foods rotisserie chicken is brought out every four hours, with the first set delivered between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. You’ll find a time sticker on each bag so you don’t have to guess.
Whole Foods rotisserie chicken price: $8.49, without a Prime discount (Rank: 6 of 7)
Whole Foods rotisserie chicken size: 1.75 lbs (Rank: 5 of 7, tie)
Price per pound: $4.85 (Rank: 6 of 7)
Freshest times: Every 4 hours, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Three words: Exclusive, quality, healthy
Notes: Chickens are vegetarian fed and antibiotic free. Stores also sell organic classic rotisserie for $12.49 for 1 pound, 12 oz. You can reserve a hot or cold chicken for up to 24 hours by calling your local store.
6. Pick up Publix rotisserie chicken for special flavors like mojo.
The Publix rotisserie chicken comes in original, lemon pepper, and mojo. There’s a faint difference in terms of seasoning, but the mojo is juicer. Normally, the Publix rotisserie chicken has decent breast sizes, skin is good but not super crispy.
If you’re looking for the freshest batch from Publix, the first round of chicken is ready by 11 a.m. and remains under the warmer for roughly three hours. The time and date sticker is prominently displayed on the pouch.
You typically won’t find a Publix coupon for rotisserie chicken — which is a bummer because it has the highest cost per pound of all of these chickens — but I’ve seen digital coupons for other ready-to-eat chicken meals.
Publix rotisserie chicken price: $7.39 (Rank: 5 of 7)
Publix rotisserie chicken size: 1.5 lbs (Rank: 7 of 7)
Price per pound: $4.93 (Rank: 7 of 7)
Freshest times: Every 3 hours, starting at 11 a.m.
Three words: Small, flavored, expensive
Notes: Publix sells pre-cut rotisserie chicken breasts in their hot section for about $3.50 (may vary by store).
7. Keep Walmart rotisserie chicken in mind for a last-minute dinner idea but not for size.
I was really hoping to like the Walmart rotisserie chicken, but it was simply underwhelming in terms of flavor, size, and overall value. Maybe it was because it was the last one in the warmer, but out of all of the samples, Walmart rotisserie chicken was the scrawniest in terms of size.
My local Walmart only offered the traditional seasoning, but the website says lemon pepper is an option too. You can expect their first fresh batch between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. daily, and there’s sometimes an evening rush but that varies on weekends and holidays. After three hours, new chickens are put under the warmer, which is clearly labeled with a time on the “made fresh” sticker.
Walmart rotisserie chicken price: $6.97 (Rank: 3 of 7)
Walmart rotisserie chicken size: 2.25 lbs (Rank: 3 of 7)
Price per pound: $3.09 (Rank: 3 of 7)
Freshest times: Every 3 hours, starting at 10:30 a.m.
Three words: Underwhelming, mid-priced, scrawny
Notes: Chickens are raised with no antibiotics and with no added hormones or steroids. Some stores sell cold, whole rotisserie chickens for $5.97 for up to three days.
So, since you’re going to have leftovers. . .
The Best Way to Reheat Rotisserie Chicken
If you don’t want to eat your leftover rotisserie chicken cold (you should definitely refrigerate it), stick it in the microwave for 2 – 3 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Go ahead and eat your chicken cold (think: midnight snack in the light of the frig) or reheat it to 165°F.
- You can also microwave it on a microwave-safe dish for 2 to 3 minutes, in 30-second increments, until it reaches 165°F.
How Long is Rotisserie Chicken Good For?
- Eat cooked chicken within 3 to 4 days. Not only will the freshness factor be lost, but the USDA designates that timeframe as the safe zone.
- Use the 2/4 Rule: Never leave rotisserie chicken out for over 2 hours. If it’s been over 4 hours, throw it away.
- Monitor time and temperature: For ready-to-eat foods like rotisserie chicken, bacteria like to grow in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 140°F. Bacteria can even double every 20 minutes!
Can You Freeze Rotisserie Chicken?
- You can absolutely freeze cooked rotisserie chicken. After cutting it into separate pieces and cooling it down, store it in a freezer Ziploc bag, an airtight container, or tightly wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil (like Reynolds).
- Remember to remove any excess air to avoid freezer burn.
- Defrost and eat within four months.