Why Costco's Rotisserie Chicken Has Such A Cult Following

Anyone who has ever heard of Costco surely knows that the store has a bit of a fervent following, as do some of its most highly-prized items like its food court hot dogs or ready-to-go half-sheet cakes. But perhaps nothing can compare to the crown jewel of the Costco deli section: the rotisserie chicken. What is it about that clamshell of hot poultry, which you can often find tucked away in the back of your local store, that draws customers in so consistently — and so insistently? 

It's not all hype. There are several very good reasons why Costco's rotisserie chicken keeps 'em coming, and which are pretty difficult for other stores to replicate, like cost, flavor, and convenience. The first and most obvious factor is the price. At a mere $4.99, Costco rotisserie chicken is a tremendous bargain. Finding an uncooked whole chicken for that price is already pretty hard, but one that's already been roasted to perfection? The store is practically giving them away, which is why you simply will not find another supermarket with comparable rotisserie chicken prices. 

In fact, those Costco rotisserie chickens have stayed at the same price point for over a decade. What's more, Costco is okay to continue losing money on them, happily accepting rotisserie chicken sales as a loss leader in return for the high number of customers it draws in. Customer loyalty to the store's rotisserie chickens hopefully means that other sales will follow (especially considering how the store is laid out). 

Costco's rotisserie chicken flex

Costco rotisserie chickens put almost all other store chickens to shame. They're not just cheaper, they're significantly bigger than most other offerings (an average of 3 pounds to the 2-pound birds that are typical at most stores), so you're getting a lot more meat for your money. That means you can buy a rotisserie chicken and use it for more than one meal (especially since you can keep it for several days in the fridge). They're pretty healthy, too. While rotisserie chicken can score a bit high on the sodium front, Costco's doesn't rank too badly and is a respectable source of protein.

While a recent Washington Post taste test didn't find Costco's chicken to be as flavorful as others, its performance was solid. If you're eating a rotisserie chicken plain, you might want something with more intense seasoning. But the genius of Costco's way with roasted chicken is its versatility, with just enough salt and spice to avoid blandness, but not enough to keep you from using the meat in whatever recipe your heart desires. The chicken's juiciness (which, admittedly, typically comes at the cost of crispy skin) is key in this regard. Most rotisserie chicken is pretty dry as soon as you buy it, which means it is halfway to jerky the next day.

Not so with Costco's rotisserie chicken. Something about the brine it uses really works to keep its rotisserie chickens tender and delicious even a couple of days after purchase.

This rotisserie chicken is a meal prepper's dream

The tender meat of a Costco rotisserie chicken makes it the perfect starting point for a wide range of recipes (probably why Costco also sells rotisserie chicken meat that's already been pulled off the bones). That multi-meal usefulness is what keeps people coming back for more Costco rotisserie action. Costco chickens are also the perfect combination of food and meal prep in one package. Dinner tonight: check. Dinner in three days: check, check. After all, leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge feels like culinary capital. Having that first step done for you makes the process of dinner feel that much less daunting. It's reaping the benefits of meal prep without actually doing the work (or cleanup).

Rotisserie chicken is great for cold dishes like chicken salad, or for bulking up basic green salads to make them a main dish. You can use it to make chicken pizza (with or without blue cheese and Buffalo sauce). Cooked chicken is also perfect for burritos or enchiladas, gives you a head start in prepping chicken pot pie, and makes chicken soup a breeze. You can make a casserole with chicken and egg noodles, or a pasta sauce with scraps of chicken and vegetables.

You can even add it to leftover rice with soy sauce and veggies for a quick end healthy stir fry. Or you can just eat it, fresh and hot out of the package. The choice is yours, but aren't the options glorious?