In our Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy world, it can sometimes feel like it’s not okay to take a shortcut. Psh! I’m all about taking shortcuts when I need them. Especially when there are shortcuts out there that make getting nourishing, delicious food on the dinner table every night easier. And one of my favorite kitchen shortcuts is a good ol’ rotisserie chicken.
Sometimes I have time to roast my own chicken, but when I don’t, a rotisserie chicken is such a great shortcut. It is extremely flexible because you can eat it as is, or—where the magic really comes in—use it as the base for an almost endless number of other dishes.
What should I look for in a rotisserie chicken?
The challenge with grocery store rotisserie chickens is that once they are cooked, they sit under a heat lamp all day, which can dry them out. Check the packaging to see if the cook time is labeled, and get the freshest one you can find. You’ll want to look for a chicken that looks plump and juicy, like it just came out of the oven—skip any that seem dried out or shriveled.
Organic? Free-Range? Natural? How do I know what rotisserie chicken to get?
Many supermarkets now sell both conventionally raised rotisserie chickens and “natural” versions. The problem with the term “natural” is that the USDA only requires something to be free from artificial ingredients or preservatives to snag that label. “Natural” rotisserie chickens are not the happy, free-range chickens pecking at green grass you might be picturing in your head.
If purchasing the highest-quality rotisserie chicken is important to you, in recent years, a few co-ops and larger health food stores have started to carry responsibly raised rotisserie chickens. Look for the labels “organic,” “pastured,” and/or “free-range.” That will get you a lot closer to what you’re looking for.
How do you make store-bought rotisserie chicken taste better?
The fresher your chicken is, the better it will taste. If it isn’t clear when the chicken was cooked, or if everything left looks dry, you may be able to ask the deli clerk when the next batch of chickens will be coming out, and swing back to get one then. And if you do your best to get a good chicken but it still tastes lackluster, add the meat to soups, pasta dishes, enchiladas, or any number of healthy rotisserie chicken recipes (we have a great list below!).
How long does rotisserie chicken last?
In an airtight container in the fridge, you should get 3-4 days out of your chicken—I’ve found that day five can be pushing it in terms of quality and food safety. If you aren’t going to use all your chicken right away, you can freeze it! Cut up or shred your chicken, and freeze it in freezer containers or bags, squeezing out as much air as you can.
How do I make the most of my rotisserie chicken?
What can I use a rotisserie chicken for?
In addition to just eating the meat on its own, you can use rotisserie chicken in pretty much any recipe that calls for cooked or leftover chicken or turkey. Throw it into sandwiches, add it to salads, mix it into soups—the possibilities are endless! Below, we have over 22 healthy rotisserie chicken recipes to get you started. Click on the title to head over to the full post for each recipe:
Still looking for more ideas for healthy rotisserie chicken recipes? Try out some of these from our friends:
- Chicken Tetrazzini from Bless This Mess: A classic casserole made with chicken, cheese, pasta, mushrooms, and a homemade sauce.
- Avocado Corn Chicken Nachos from The Creative Bite: Whether you serve these as an appetizer on game day, or a quick weeknight meal, who doesn’t love nachos?
- Rotisserie Chicken Enchiladas from Fit Foodie Finds: These enchiladas are packed with chicken, beans, and veggies, and topped with a pile of cheese and homemade enchilada sauce.
- Easy Chicken Gyros with Greek Feta Sauce from Peas and Crayons: These gyros come together FAST, making them great for weeknight dinners.
- Southern Chicken and Dumplings from Grandbaby Cakes: If you’re looking for comfort food, look no further than these chicken and dumplings.
- Crispy Baked Chicken Taquitos from Karen’s Kitchen Stories: Even though they are baked instead of fried, these taquitos are as crunchy as the originals.
- Kale Salad with Apples and Chicken from Downshiftology: This fresh salad highlights cold weather produce, making it a great choice for fall or winter meals.
- Cheddar Chicken Quinoa Bake from Running to the Kitchen: An easy, cheesy casserole that the whole family will enjoy.
- Indian Chicken Korma from An Edible Mosaic: Chicken cooked in a rich and creamy spiced sauce, this Indian dish is flavorful and delicious.
- Cheesy BBQ Chicken Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Ambitious Kitchen: When you’re drowning in zucchini this summer, cook these up for dinner!
- Creamy Chicken and Vegetable Baked Pasta from Bless This Mess: This pasta dish has a little bit of everything, making this kid favorite a well-rounded meal.
- Rotisserie Chicken Cobb Salad from Fit Foodie Finds: I love a good meal prep, and this protein-packed lunch is a great one.
- Asian Chicken Salad from Allergy-Free Alaska: Get in several servings of veggies at once with this salad. Bonus: It is easily made paleo!