Is store-bought rotisserie chicken healthy?

Consumer Reports: Store-Bought Chicken
Consumer Reports: Store-Bought Chicken

What’s got an amazing aroma, costs around $5 and is bound to make your life easier? You may be thinking about a fancy cup of coffee, but we’re talking about an irresistible store-made rotisserie chicken!

But as Consumer Reports explains, beneath that golden-brown skin could be sodium -- and a lot of it.

Rotisserie chickens from the grocery store are tasty, convenient, and inexpensive. And chicken is a high-protein, low-saturated-fat meat.

But don’t assume all rotisserie birds are a good choice. Consumer Reports nutritionists say you might be surprised at what goes into some rotisserie chickens.

To keep the birds moist and tasty, they are often injected with a solution that can include sugar, processed ingredients, and unfortunately, a lot of sodium.

Consumer Reports evaluated the nutritional information and ingredients for basic rotisserie chickens from seven supermarkets and warehouse clubs.

Here are some of the highest sodium levels Consumer Reports found. At Sam’s Club, a 3-ounce serving of Member’s Mark Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken has 550 mg of sodium. That’s about nine times more sodium than a chicken roasted without salt, and about a quarter of the maximum amount of sodium adults should have in a day. And Costco’s famous rotisserie chickens aren’t much better. A 3-ounce serving of Kirkland Signature Rotisserie Chicken has 460 mg of sodium.

Lower-sodium options are a 3-ounce serving of Kroger’s Simple Truth Rotisserie Chicken, which has 40 mg; a 3-ounce serving of Wegmans Organic Rotisserie Chicken, which has 95 mg of sodium; and Whole Foods Organic and Nonorganic plain chicken. The organic plain chicken has a healthy 70 mg of sodium in 3 ounces, the nonorganic plain chicken has 120 mg, and the nonorganic classic chicken has 450 mg.

But it’s so easy to roast a chicken at home. CR recommends you don’t wash it, just season it. Then put it in a 350-degree oven until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. It’ll be delicious and have a lot less sodium.

Your chicken will last for up to four days in the fridge or four months in the freezer. Cut it in pieces and wrap them tightly or store in a covered container.

CR says that the best time of day to grab a rotisserie chicken is between about 4 and 7 p.m. Many supermarkets cook up a fresh batch every 2 to 4 hours.

Consumer Reports also answered common questions like why does the meat look pink? Is it cooked all the way through? And what do labels like Natural and Organic really mean? Just click here for their full report.