Supermarket rotisserie chicken on serving plate

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue

If you are time-starved but too stubborn to give up home-cooked meals just because life can be chaotic—I invite you to embrace these two words: Rotisserie chickens.


Supermarket rotisserie chicken on serving plate


Not exactly take-out, not completely home-cooked, think of a well seasoned, perfectly cooked rotisserie chicken as your ace in the hole; a kitchen assistant with an extra pair of hands to help you get delicious, home-cooked meals on the table in a flash.

These days, nearly every grocery store or supermarket—even warehouse clubs—offer fully roasted, hot, and ready-to-go rotisserie chickens for around $5. In fact, rotisserie chickens are so readily available, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has issued safety guidelines for selecting and storing* them.

Today, I want to give you basic guidelines for what to do with a rotisserie chicken as soon as you get home. 

Chicken flavors

While some stores are now offering a variety of flavors (barbecue, lemon herb and so on), try to stick with a plain chicken. You will be adding flavorings and seasonings yourself depending on how you end up using the bird.

Buying and storing

You want a chicken that is hot when you buy it. Bacteria become active between 40 F and 140 F., so it should be above that range when you pick it up. It should feel hot to the touch. Either eat, refrigerate, or freeze the chicken within two hours.

Buy two

The USDA recommends consuming rotisserie chickens within three to four days of purchase*. Pick up two chickens and you’ll have enough meat for several meals plus plenty to freeze for later.


The first thing you should do when getting the chicken home is to get all the meat off the bones. All you need here is a feel for where the bones are. Put the chicken on a cutting board, breast side up and pull out your sharp chef’s knife or poultry shears.

Cut off the wings, cut off the legs. Now cut off the thighs. Using your fingers start pulling all the meat from the bones (it will pull off easily as the meat will be tender and juicy). Lay all the white meat on one side of a platter (if you haven’t already eaten all of it while you did that pulling thing), the dark meat on the other. Put the bones, carcass, and skin on another plate.

For the larger pieces of breast meat, either cut into chunks or shred, depending on how you will be using them. Place all the bones, skin and carcass pieces into a container or zip-type bag and freeze. These will be the basis for great chicken stock or soup later.

● Chicken Labeling: Prepare to Be Surprised


Set aside the amount you will need for right now. If there is more than you need, divide it into zip-type bags and either refrigerate or freeze.

Take a few minutes to clean up making sure you use a good disinfectant on your cutting board and other surfaces (the USDA recommends 1 teaspoon liquid bleach to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle as an effective kitchen disinfectant).

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How to reheat

Reheating a rotisserie chicken in the oven is a no-brainer, especially if you are unable to consumer the whole thing in one meal. However, doing that is quite another subject, especially if you want it as fresh, moist and delicious as it was when you picked it up.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Place the rotisserie chicken in a deep baking dish with high sides
  • Add a bit of chicken stock to the baking dish—about 1/4-inch in the baking dish. If you don’t have chicken stock, substitute water.
  • Place the baking dish in the pre-heated oven.
  • Reheat until the liquid is bubbling and the chicken is warmed all the way through.

This method will keep the chicken moist while reheating—as opposed to a microwave or reheating without the added liquid, both of which would dry out the rotisserie chicken.

3-Way Chicken

Whether you buy a whole raw chicken to prepare from scratch or a hot rotisserie chicken from the deli counter, you are looking at three meals from that one bird.

Dinner #1

Roast Chicken

How to roast a raw whole chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • In the meantime, remove everything from the cavity and rinse it inside and out. Dry with paper towels or clean cloth. Season well with salt and pepper. Place a piece half a stalk of celery and half of a whole onion inside the cavity. Set the chicken breast-side-up in a baking dish or roasting pan.
  • Put the chicken into the oven and reduce to 400 F. Set a timer for 1 hour and do not open the oven door.
  • After an hour, check if the chicken is done by inserting an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of its thigh. The internal temperature should be at least 165° for the chicken to be done safely. If you’re under, put it back in to cook for another 5 to 10 minutes and check it again.
  • Let the bird rest for about 15 minutes.
  • Carve and enjoy. 

Dinner #2

Chicken pot pie, chicken sandwiches, chicken stir-fry, chicken burritos or chicken salad using the meat you removed from the carcass following Dinner #1.

Dinner #3

Chicken soup made from the carcass of the bird. 

●  How to Use Up Every Last Bit of a Supermarket Rotisserie Chicken (with Recipes!)


*Ready-Prepared Chicken: When purchasing fully cooked rotisserie or fast food chicken, be sure it is hot at the time of purchase. Use it within 2 hours or cut it into several pieces and refrigerate in shallow, covered containers. Eat within 3 to 4 days, either cold or reheated to 165 °F (73.9 °C). It is safe to freeze ready-prepared chicken. For best quality, flavor, and texture, use it within 4 months. —USDA Food Safety Information

First published: 10-17-14; Revised & Expanded and Updated 7-20-19

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6 replies
  1. BethSh says:

    Whole chickens here are about a dollar a pound. Rotisserie 2 dollars a pound. Yes they are super convenient, but I can buy boneless skinless chicken breasts for two dollars a lb.I throw a “family” pack, 6 lbs or so in my cast iron dutch oven and bake it low for an hour or so and have beautiful, tender, moist chicken without bones, skin or anything else, it leaves a bit of broth in the pan, just from the juices from the chicken and it is so much less work than taking skin and bones out of a chicken. I throw the breasts in a bag and take one each day for lunch in my salad at work, and usually make one meal for the family of chicken and (noodles, or rice or alfredo sauce, or chicken enchiladas or whatever one night during the week when I need a quick meal If I want dark meat, I will throw a whole chicken in the dutch oven and it will just fall off the bone when it is done cooking. I love the Rotisserie flavor, but it is not a cheap choice when you can do the same thing at home for half the price. I do this big pot of breasts once a week and get at least 4 lunches and one or two dinners each week without having to prepare the meat, meaning making dinner takes less than 30 minutes.

  2. dholcomb1 says:

    I have boys. Rotisserie chicken isn’t cost effective for family of growing boys, especially those with teens or college-age kids.

  3. Emerald says:

    I went to my local Safeway to buy a RAW chicken, it was $12, I couldn’t believe it! I went to the deli and bought a rotisserie bird with the meal for $9.99. I can’t believe it’s cheaper to buy the bird already cooked!

  4. Laura Olds says:

    I leave a little meat on the carcass & pop it in the freezer. Then you have the base for chicken soup – just cover the frozen bones with water, add bouillon, and you’ve got the starter. We also make a simple Chicken Sonora with the meat:
    2 c shredded meat
    1 can cream soup, either mushroom or chicken
    1 can refried beans or black beans, drained
    1/2 c salsa
    chili powder, garlic powder, chopped onion if desired
    1 c grated cheese
    tortilla chips

    Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl whisk together the soup and milk (one empty soup can full), add beans, salsa and spices/onions. Spray a 9 x 12″ pan with non-stick spray, add one layer of chips. Stack on the chicken, pour 1/2 of the soup mixture over this. Add one more layer of chips, pour the remaining soup mixture on top and then the cheese. Cover loosely with foil. Bake about 20-30 minutes until bubbling, remove foil for 5 minutes to crisp up the cheese. My kids’ favorite for years!

  5. Just Sayin! says:

    If you don’t want to deal with the carcass, Costco now sells packages of the rotisserie chicken meat only – I just repackage into smaller amounts and freeze for use at any time.

  6. DianaB says:

    Yep, rotisserie chickens are delightful and can be used for more than one meal. Yes, great stock can be made from the carcass, as it would from a home-baked chicken or a roast turkey. And it can be made up the same day lightly cooking on the back of the stove and the meat remaining on it separated out along with the stock and frozen for another time or used for tomorrow’s meal. Good advice to buy two and have double the usage and half the work of buying them separately. Rotisserie chickens typically run price-wise (at least at my local Walmart) about the same price as a whole raw bird and they have already done all the work for you. How awesome is that? :))

    I must make a comment about the disinfection of the cutting board. This is cooked poultry, not raw. One does not need to kill every possible contamination contact on a cooked product that is not contaminated or pose any threat of same. Hot water and soap takes care of that, as it would even for raw poultry or any other use of the cutting board.


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