Is Rotisserie Chicken Actually Healthy? What Science Says

Costco Rotisserie Chicken

Is Rotisserie Chicken Actually Healthy? What Science Says

Have you ever been to the grocery store and considered buying a rotisserie chicken? They’re golden brown and smell delicious, but is rotisserie chicken actually healthy? Rotisserie chicken is cooked in a rotisserie oven. This means the chicken is turning in place while cooked which allows for the heat from the oven to evenly reach all the sides of the chicken. Oven-roasted chicken is one of the healthiest ways to cook a chicken, and the product is much lower in calories and higher nutrients than deep-fried chicken meat (via La Rosa Chicken).

In this post, we’ll talk a bit about the history of rotisserie chicken. We’ll take a look at the numbers and get a better idea of its nutritional and overall health profile. You’ll get some recipe inspiration, and learn how to make it yourself or incorporate it into other nutritious meals. By the end of this post, we’ll for sure have answered the question of whether rotisserie chicken is actually healthy. So, stick around as we get into the meat of it, pun very much intended!

What Is Rotisserie Chicken?

A rotisserie chicken is a style of chicken that is cooked on a rotating spit in an oven. The idea is that upon direct exposure to the heat source, the chicken is grilled/roasted fully in a controlled environment. They're easy to make, quick to roast, and when seasoned appropriately, quite delicious to the taste. While you may be used to seeing rotisserie chickens in stores, already cooked and ready for action, it is totally possible to make a rotisserie chicken from the comfort of your own home. More on that later.

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The History of Rotisserie Chicken

Chicken has been consumed for a very long time. In fact, fowl is descended from the dinosaurs and was frequently enjoyed by historical leaders like Napoleon Bonaparte (via Smithsonian Magazine). Indeed, spit-roasted chicken has existed in numerous cultures and was a favorite of the French conquerors. He would have them prepared at all hours, even while his armies had nothing to eat. From Medieval times, roasting animals over an open fire was considered one of the safer ways to prepare food. And, over the years all kinds of versions of spitfire chicken made their way to the masses. The Brazilian-style of grilling chicken is known as “churrascarias,” and in Hawaii, it is referred to as “huli huli chicken.”

Grilling whole chickens in rotisserie machine, closeup
Rotisserie chickens became popular in supermarkets around the U.S. during the 1990s.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Rotisserie chicken didn't become a staple of American households until around the 1980s. According to Taste Magazine, a store known as Boston Chicken, which would eventually become Boston Market, started selling already-done rotisserie-style chickens. Americans fed into the idea of dinner ready to go from the store. Since the '90s, Kroger, which opened in the '80s, Walmart, and Costco have much of the rotisserie chicken market on lock. Lots of these wholesale grocers and supermarkets sell these chickens for very cheap and honestly make an absolute killing.

Some of the additives and seasonings in these cheap, store-bought rotisserie chickens, do call into question if rotisserie chicken is actually healthy. A lot of the nutritional profile of rotisserie chicken comes down to how it is prepared. Additives like sodium phosphate, carrageenan, and dextrose in your rotisserie chicken, can be ingredients to consider and research.

Is Rotisserie Chicken Healthy?

So, now that we know there are a few additives to look out for, is rotisserie chicken actually healthy? According to Healthline, a 3-ounce serving of rotisserie chicken (dark and light meat) is high in protein. And it has several nutrients that are great for your overall health. Knowing what chemicals to look out for when buying it from a store can help you to get the nutritional best out of a rotisserie chicken.

For instance, look for preservatives like phosphate and sugars like dextrose. These are often added to prevent bacterial growth and amplify the flavor profile of the chicken. While these are consumed in small amounts while enjoying a rotisserie chicken, if they're an issue, try making your own at home.

Everything is best in moderation. So, if you do decide to get a store-bought rotisserie chicken, let's talk more about the benefits. Armed with more knowledge you can better decide how to eat this chicken.

Calories And Nutritional Profile

The skin adds more calories, but there are around 192 calories in thigh meat and 149 calories in breast meat. Dark meat has around 18 grams of proteins, while breast meat clocks in at 22 grams. You'll find niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium in your rotisserie chicken as well. All of which are good vitamins and minerals. And, this way of cooking chicken is still one of the healthier ways.

Compared to deep-frying which adds unnecessary calories and fat for that crunchy, fried chicken taste, rotisserie chicken also has a nice crisp to it but with leaner protein and healthier fats. It's convenient without being worse for you just because it's quick and easy to make. Healthline also points out that another way to moderate your fat and calorie intake is to select dark meat or light meat cuts from the chicken. The skin also impacts the caloric count, as mentioned above.

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  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
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How To Make Rotisserie Chicken

To make rotisserie chicken at home, you'll need at least a 3-pound chicken, butter, and seasonings of your choice. This All recipes version calls for salt, ground paprika, and ground black pepper, but you can customize it to fit your own flavor needs and preferences.

You'll need an outdoor grill and a rotisserie attachment. Preheat the grill and then get to work seasoning your raw chicken. You're going to tress the chicken; tie the wings to the bird and the legs together. Place the rotisserie spear through the chicken and make sure it's secure. Now you can attach the rotisserie spear and start to roast your chicken for at least 10 minutes.

While it is roasting, make a mixture of butter, your prices, and seasonings, and once that's ready you can baste your roasting chicken with this mixture. Turn down the grill slightly as you do, because the butter with respond to the heat and cook the chicken faster. Continue to grill and baste until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches around 180º Fahrenheit (around 1 to 1.5 hours). Remove the chicken from the grill, and allow it to cool for between 10-15 minutes. Be sure to turn your grill off and enjoy!

Homemade chicken rotisserie with thyme, lemon closeup on a slate board on the table. Horizontal top view from above
Making rotisserie chicken at home means you can have fun with the seasonings and flavors.

©AS Foodstudio/Shutterstock.com

Recipes Involving Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chicken can be eaten whole, but it can also be saved and used in other dishes. Check out these other ways to utilize cooked rotisserie chicken:


Rotisserie chicken is an easy, affordable, and honestly pretty healthy meal option. It's easy to prepare from the container and can be extended to all kinds of other recipes. This makes it a versatile ingredient and a good option. While the storebought variety of rotisserie chicken may have some additives that aren't the best in high quantities, you still get a lot of protein and valuable nutrients from it. They're also not that hard to make at home if you have a grill and the right attachments. So if you're concerned about additives this is a great way to make a rotisserie chicken with seasonings of your choice. The bottom line: rotisserie chickens are a healthy option, a great deal, and they can go a long way in terms of dinners.

Recipe Card

Now that we've taken a deep dive into rotisserie chicken, try out a delicious recipe made with this delicious chicken. Enjoy!

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Smoky Rotisserie Chicken Sandwiches with Cheddar

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  • Author: MomsWhoThink.com
  • Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken, such as rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 4 sandwich rolls (such as hamburger buns)
  • 4 (1-ounce) slices cheddar cheese, mild or sharp


  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Combine the chicken, chili sauce, and liquid smoke in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Arrange the chicken on the bottom half of the rolls and top with cheese.
  5. Place the sandwiches under the broiler and cook for 1 minute, until the cheese melts.
  6. Top with the top half of the rolls and serve.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
The Food Substitutions Bible
  • The must-have convenient reference guide for every home cook!
  • Includes more than 8,000 substitutions for ingredients, cookware, and techniques.
  • Save time and money on by avoiding trips to grab that "missing" ingredient you don't really need.
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
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