Chicken is well-known for its health benefits, offering plenty of protein and various important nutrients, all in a versatile ingredient that can be used in thousands of different meals. Roast chicken is one of the easiest ways to get all the benefits of chicken and rotisserie chicken makes things easier still. But is rotisserie chicken good for you?
You can even pick up a rotisserie chicken from a local store, giving you a hot and delicious meal that requires barely any effort. You might even be paying less than for a raw chicken from the same store. But, is rotisserie chicken good for you?
Surely something so easy and inexpensive can’t also be healthy. Just look at all the issues with fast food. There are some types of healthy fast food, true, but you need to hunt around to find them. Many still aren’t that great for you. Let’s see what the story is for rotisserie chicken then. Is it an ingredient to rely on or something to avoid instead?
Is Rotisserie Chicken Good For You?
- How Are Rotisserie Chickens Cooked?
- Benefits Of Rotisserie Chicken
- How Rotisserie Chicken Could Be Harmful
- Can You Eat The Skin Of The Chicken?
- Why Are Rotisserie Chickens So Cheap?
- What About Making Your Own Rotisserie Chicken?
- Final Thoughts
How Are Rotisserie Chickens Cooked?
The term rotisserie chicken refers to the form of cooking. The chickens are roasted, much like you roast them at home. But, instead of sitting in a pan while they are being cooked, rotisserie chickens are turned on a spit.
Turning the chicken like this allows it to cook more evenly. It also helps to keep the chicken tender and packed with flavor. If you make rotisserie chicken at home, then you’re probably cooking a single chicken in a relatively small rotisserie oven and seasoning it yourself.
Grocery stores take a different approach, often using a large oven where they can cook many chickens at once, along with steps to quickly season the chickens and make sure they always taste amazing. The large ovens also allow the fat from chickens to drop onto chickens below, basting them, an effect that you don’t get when cooking rotisserie chicken at home.
The basting effect means that store bought rotisserie chickens, when cooked well, end up being incredibly tender.
Benefits Of Rotisserie Chicken
Rich In Protein And Nutrients
Rotisserie chicken has many of the same benefits as regular chicken, including being an excellent source of protein and nutrients.
For example, chicken provides a variety of B vitamins, such as vitamin B12. These vitamins are important for energy metabolism, helping to keep you alert and energized. You’re getting some iron too, along with potassium, zinc, and copper.
Don’t forget about the protein either. Protein is important for muscle development. This makes it highly relevant if you’re working hard at the gym. Protein also helps to reduce the risk of age-related muscle loss and keeps you feeling satisfied.
Can Promote Health Just Like Home Cooked Chicken
The nutrients and protein in chicken can lead to many health benefits.
For example, getting enough protein helps to keep you full for longer, making it excellent when you’re trying to lose weight. Chicken breast is particularly good here, as it’s high in protein and low in calories.
Eating chicken instead of red meat could also help to help to decrease your saturated fat intake. That effect could lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Rotisserie Cooking Is Low In Fat
Rotisserie chicken is fantastic as a low fat way to prepare chicken. Often the only fat used comes from the chicken itself (and sometimes other chickens). This is much better than cooking methods that involve cooking the chicken in lots of oil or butter.
Chicken itself is also a relatively lean type of meat, particularly if you’re focusing on chicken breast rather than dark chicken meat. This makes chicken one of the best types of meat if you’re following a low fat diet.
Low In Carbs
Chicken and red meat feature heavily on keto diets, as they’re naturally free from carbs. The same is true for rotisserie chicken, making it one of the fastest and easiest keto dinners that you’ll ever come across.
There is a chance that there will be some carbs on the skin of the chicken, as some products do include sugar as part of their seasoning mix. Thankfully, the number of carbs should be small. You can always avoid the chicken skin to get around this issue.
A Fast, Easy Ingredient
For most of us, convenience is the main reason for buying rotisserie chicken. When else can you get a fully cooked source of protein like this at such a low price? Turning the chicken into a meal is as simple as grabbing some bread rolls or perhaps cooking some rice for the side.
This feature is particularly important at the end of a busy day, when you don’t have the time or the energy to prepare a healthy meal. Most of us have turned to a rotisserie chicken instead of preparing something ourselves. And, why not?
Sometimes you might carve the chicken and serve it with sides like mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Other times you might get more creative and use shredded chicken meat as part of a meal, like a protein bowl or tacos.
There’s no shortage of options because chicken itself is versatile. The mild flavor of the meat means you can serve it alongside almost any set of ingredients.
Much Healthier Than Other Fast Hot Foods
Easy food has never been more accessible. There are now countless options to choose from, including all the different types of fast food and frozen dinners, not to mention snacks from 7-11 and similar locations.
Yet, most such foods aren’t good for you at all. They’re highly processed and are often high in fat, salt, and calories.
Rotisserie chicken is different. The main ingredient is simply a whole chicken. There may be some seasonings and additives (we’ll talk about these shortly), but they’re mostly on the skin. And, even then, the chicken itself isn’t processed. It’s a delicious type of whole food.
How Rotisserie Chicken Could Be Harmful
Additives May Be Used For Flavoring
Some rotisserie chickens rely just on herbs and spices in their seasoning mix. Others include additional ingredients, like maltodextrin, natural flavors, and MSG.
Such additives have been researched and are technically considered safe. However, their health effects are debatable. They certainly won’t improve your health and could easily be harmful.
Avoiding such additives tends to be the healthiest option.
What does this mean for your rotisserie chicken? Well, you could ask about the ingredients that the company uses and look for chickens that just rely on herbs and spices.
Or, you might decide that the additives are okay every once in a while. After all, you’re probably not eating rotisserie chicken every day. If you don’t rely heavily on processed food, then your diet may not contain many additives and having a small amount every so often shouldn’t matter.
Thankfully, the seasoning mix generally just goes on the skin, so you can avoid most of these additives by not eating the skin.
Some Products May Be High In Sodium
The chickens used for rotisserie are often injected with sodium solutions or marinated in them to reduce bacterial growth. This practice means that the chicken ends up being higher in sodium than you’d expect, which can be a problem.
Sodium is an important electrolyte, it’s true, yet few of us need more sodium in our diet. We often need to decrease sodium intake instead. We already get plenty of it and too much sodium can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease.
And, honestly, the best tasting rotisserie chickens are often the ones that use a decent amount of salt. This means that if you need to be very cautious with sodium intake, rotisserie chickens mightn’t be the right ingredient for you.
You Don’t Know The Ingredients Or Processes
When you make chicken at home, you know all the ingredients that are used and every part of the process. This isn’t true for store bought chicken at all.
Instead, you need to trust that the company is using ingredients and processes that you’re happy with. As we mentioned before, this mightn’t always be the case.
There Is Some Risk Of Food Poisoning
Rotisserie chicken should be fully cooked, kept in an appropriate environment, and temperature checked regularly. Most stores are good at doing this, as their reputation is the line.
However, mistakes are sometimes made, so there is some risk of food poisoning. You can reduce your risk by making sure that any chicken you buy is hot, not just warm. You can also ask staff about their temperature checking processes.
Pay attention to your experiences as well. If you get a couple of chickens that are under-cooked or over-cooked from a given store, it might be time to shop somewhere else.
Can You Eat The Skin Of The Chicken?
Chicken skin is delicious, but it’s not incredibly healthy. The skin is particularly high in saturated fat, which could increase your risk of heart disease.
Skip the skin and you’re eating a much lower fat meal, one that’s much better for your health. You can sometimes find skinless rotisserie chickens. Don’t worry if you can’t, as you get the same benefits by simply removing the skin before you eat the chicken.
Plus, if there are additives in your rotisserie chicken, many of them will be on the skin. Avoiding the skin is an easy way to cut your additive intake down as well.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to avoid the skin every single time. Sometimes it’s nice to have a delicious treat. If chicken skin is that treat for you, then go ahead, and indulge every so often.
Why Are Rotisserie Chickens So Cheap?
There are two stories behind the price of rotisserie chickens. One is that grocery stores often use them as a loss leader. This means the chickens are intentionally priced lower than they should be, in order to draw people in and get them spending. Sometimes the chickens are so cheap that companies lose money when they make a sale.
This approach can be surprisingly powerful, as rotisserie chicken isn’t normally eaten on its own. Many customers will buy some extra items at the same time, like some coleslaw, bread rolls, or perhaps a bottle of wine.
The second story is less appealing – that grocery stores are selling old chickens, ones near or even at their sell by date.
This story may be true too, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The sell by dates on chickens are lenient anyway and companies are careful, so no one’s health is at risk. Instead, the approach helps to minimize food waste.
Even if the quality of your chicken is slightly lower than a fresh one, it will still be packed with nutrients and is incredibly good for you.
What About Making Your Own Rotisserie Chicken?
If you have a rotisserie oven, you can make rotisserie chicken at home without too much hassle. Doing so gives you most of the benefits of a store bought chicken, while providing more control over the processes and ingredients used.
You end up with a delicious chicken that’s hasn’t been sitting around in a heated cabinet and doesn’t use any additives.
Of course, making your own rotisserie chicken (or roast chicken) takes time. Rotisserie chicken from the store, on the other hand, is already cooked and ready to be eaten as-is or quickly turned into a delicious meal. Plus, the version from the store may taste better because of the large rotisserie ovens used and the way that the chickens essentially baste one another.
You’ll need to decide which is more important – an easy convenient meal or complete control over what you’re eating.
Store bought rotisserie chicken is one of the few foods that is hot, fast, and also good for you. It’s certainly much healthier than deep fried chicken or a greasy burger.
There are some limitations, true, including additives and a slim chance of food poisoning. However, if you buy the chicken from a reliable store, you can minimize both of those risks.
Besides, rotisserie chicken isn’t something you’ll be eating every night. Most of us only buy the chicken every so often, when we need fast healthy food. And honestly, why not? The issues with the chicken are minor and there are plenty of benefits.
Perhaps the most helpful thing is to shop around. Look at your local stores to see which rotisserie chickens taste the best, are consistently well-cooked, and don’t use concerning additives. Then, once you know which stores are best, you can come back to them time and time again.