How Long Can You Keep A Costco Rotisserie Chicken In The Fridge?

When it comes to grocery store rotisserie chickens, shoppers know that Costco's $5 rotisserie chicken is at the top of the list. In addition to staying so cheap amid the 2022 food inflation crisis, Costco's rotisserie chicken is well-seasoned, easy to repurpose in other dishes, and downright addictive. In fact, according to PopSugar, the rotisserie seasonings include MSG, sugar, and salt, which together provoke the same cravings as potato chips. Yum.

Unfortunately, as delicious and life-changing as Costco's rotisserie chickens are, they are not immune to the effects of time. In other words, these chickens still have an expiration date, and you'd best heed that date unless you want to risk illness. Personally, we advise against taking that risk, so we've put together a few good rules of thumb for how you should be storing your Costco rotisserie chicken for optimized flavor and texture, and how long you can keep it around.

Don't let a Costco chicken overstay its welcome

We get it; sometimes you're busy and you can't get around to eating everything in your fridge before it expires. However, while products like cheese, eggs, and certain juices can be kept past their expiration dates, meat should not.

According to The Rusty Spoon, you can keep a Costco rotisserie chicken in your fridge for up to four days. If you've stored your chicken properly, you can potentially keep it for a fifth day, but no longer. Proper storage involves airtight containers or tight sealing in foil or cling wrap.

Another key piece of storing your rotisserie chicken — as well as any other foods, really — is to store it above raw meats in your refrigerator. Raw meats should always be stored in leak-proof containers on the bottom shelf so they don't drip onto other foods and cause foodborne illnesses. If raw meat juices drip onto your Costco rotisserie chicken, you should throw it out immediately, regardless of its expiration date.

Don't leave it out of the fridge too long either

If you want to keep your Costco rotisserie chicken for a few days after you've bought it, it's important not to leave it out on your counter. Bacteria grow quickly on food left at room temperature (they flourish anywhere between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Still Tasty), so if you leave your chicken out it will become unsafe very quickly. Two hours is generally considered the length of time you can keep food out before it starts to get risky. If you want the chicken to stay warm, you can keep it in a low oven (200 degrees) to maintain the temperature without making it unsafe or drying it out. 

Planning to bring your rotisserie chicken to a summer picnic? Then you'll need to dial that "safe zone" back an hour. Bacteria multiply especially fast when temperatures soar over 90 (the numbers aren't pretty, or healthy, per the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Sciences) so you'll need to eat fast. It's sad to see a beautiful rotisserie chicken's shelf life cut so tragically short, but there is no way around it. 

If you know from the get-go that you don't plan to eat your meat right away, your best bet is to put the chicken in the refrigerator right after you unpack your groceries. That way, the time in your Costco cart plus travel time still doesn't hit the two-hour mark. 

Consider freezing it to further prolong its life

To really buy yourself some time with your rotisserie chicken, colder temperatures are your ally. Your fridge is perfect for short-term storage, but if you don't think you'll be consuming your chicken within the next few days — or just don't want the pressure of knowing you must finish it in that time frame — you can simply freeze the chicken (per Still Tasty). 

Rotisserie chicken that's been frozen will last up to three months, so it's a great way of providing yourself with some backup dinner options. To freeze a rotisserie chicken, you'll want to be especially careful to use an airtight container, which both prevents freezer burn and preserves its juicy flavor (via Baking Ginger).  To minimize the amount of space the chicken takes up in your freezer,  you can cut up or shred the chicken first, and store it in freezer Ziploc bags for convenience. Cutting up or shredding the chicken also makes it easy to use the chicken in other dishes, but it's totally fine to freeze the chicken whole if that's the way you want to eat it. To defrost frozen rotisserie chicken, simply leave it in the refrigerator overnight. If you'd like it hot, 30 minutes in a medium oven (350 degrees) should do the trick for a whole chicken.

Once it's defrosted, a rotisserie chicken's shelf life is pretty much the same as a chicken kept in the fridge. So if you want some chicken for now and later, you can buy two and keep one in the freezer; it's an easy way of having your chicken and eating it, too.