The Ingredient Missing From Costco's $5 Rotisserie Chicken

A Costco rotisserie chicken is a lot of things. It's a great bargain at $4.99 for a three-pound bird. It's a reason to keep your Costco card even if you've learned the hard way never to buy mayonnaise there. Plus, it's the winner of grocery store rotisserie chicken taste tests. For many shoppers, a Costco rotisserie chicken is also, quite simply, dinner. The warehouse sold 91 million of them in 2018 alone (per CNN). Food bloggers have found all kinds of creative things to do with the meat of this bird, from putting it on avocado toast, to using it to turn Costco's nearly-as-famous Caesar salad into a chicken Caesar (via Popsugar). But with its tender, savory taste, Costco rotisserie chicken doesn't really need to be added to a recipe — just grab yourself a juicy leg or wing and enjoy.

There's one thing that a Costco rotisserie chicken is not, however: It's not a reason to worry. That's because it's missing a single ingredient that many of us are worried about consuming, or feeding to our family.

There is no MSG in Costco rotisserie chicken

Many grocery store rotisserie chickens contain monosodium glutamate, or MSG, a flavor enhancer that we tend to associate with Chinese food — although a number of Chinese restaurants now offer MSG-free menus (per Medical News Today). The additive, which has been associated with physical symptoms including sweating, swelling, and shortness of breath, is found in a variety of restaurants and processed foods of various cuisines.

But there's no MSG in Costco rotisserie chicken. Zip, nada. Each bird is seasoned in a salty brine containing salt, sodium phosphate, modified food starch, potato dextrin, carrageenan, sugar, dextrose and spice extractives. Note that several of these ingredients indeed are food enhancers and preservatives on this list. Carrageenan, for example, is what keeps the chicken moist as it retains water. Surely, these additives qualify Costco rotisserie chicken as a processed food. If you want rotisserie chicken that's not processed, Whole Foods' birds are organic without these additives (though they're not winning any taste tests). 

If you're mainly concerned about avoiding MSG, though, you can continue to enjoy these big, cheap birds from Costco worry-free!