A cooked chicken

Rotisserie Chickens to the Rescue

If you’re fresh out of ideas (let alone desire) to make one more home-cooked meal, but even the thought of another take-out or curbside pickup leaves you cold during these days of uncertainty and angst—I invite you to embrace these two words: rotisserie chickens.

A cooked chicken


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 bird. 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.

READ POST: 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).

 READ POST: How to Make Your Own Highly Effective Fruit and Vegetable Wash

How to reheat

Reheating a rotisserie chicken in the oven is a no-brainer, especially if you are unable to consume 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 preheated 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 half a piece 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 breast. The internal temperature should be 165° for the chicken to be done safely. If you’re under, put it back in to cook for another 5 minutes and check it again.
  • Remove from the oven and allow 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. 

●  READ POST: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, updated 6-5-20


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7 replies
  1. Linda Pries says:

    The only problem I have with a whole chicken is what to do with all the white meat. Everyone here wants dark meat. I prefer to stick with buying chicken leg quarters which can be purchased for about .40 a lb.

  2. Serenity says:

    I’ve been buying whole chickens when they are on sale and making my own rotisserie chickens in the instant pot. You just shove some seasoning in the cavity and cook them for about an hour. I’m not too concerned about the crispy outside but you can crisp it in the oven if you want. I use it for a lot of the things you listed above and I use the broth for soup or as chicken broth for another instant pot recipe. If you not too short on time, this is really an easy way to always have chicken on hand for things and a good way to make sure you use all the chicken.

  3. Karen Fellenstein says:

    After I haven eaten my first meal from the chicken, I remove all the remaining meat for another meal. I then put the carcass into a crockpot cooking bag, then I add, celery, onion, carrotts and seasonings to make chicken stock, I just use a twist tie to secure the bag closed until I am ready to cook the stock. Keep it refrigerated until the next day, put it in the slow cooker and add about 3-4 cups of water. Cook on low about 6 hours. I strain the liquid from the vegetables and bones. I then put the stock in cupcake tins and freeze. When I need stock for a recipe, I just use as many of the frozen cups as needed. They are usually about 1/4 cup.

    and bones

  4. Teri Thomsen says:

    You can MAKE Rotisserie Chicken in your CROCK POT using aluminum foil !!
    Make 4 or 5 loose balls of aluminum foil and place in bottom of crock pot.
    Clean chicken inside and out. Spray with olive oil spray.
    Sprinkle generously inside and out with your favorite seasoned salt.
    Put chicken back-side down in crock pot (on top of foil balls).
    Cook on high 4-6 hours. ENJOY !!

    • Teri Thomsen says:

      Forgot — you can put 4 or 5 potatoes washed, forked and wrapped in foil in the bottom of the crock pot instead of the foil balls, but increase time to 6 hours

      • Cathy says:

        Teri, I’ve been making my rotisserie chicken this way for years and it’s wonderful (with and without the potatoes). A friend says it’s “to die for” and she’s right! So delish I could eat the whole chicken. 🙂

  5. Bonnie says:

    I usually buy the whole rotisserie chicken, and get several meals from it. This time, I bought the package of rotisserie chicken meat from Costco. It was more expensive than the whole chicken, but I divided it into 2 cup packs which is enough for a meal for the 2 of us, and got 6 packages (12 servings), so it was pretty economical, and no waste.


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