The Surprising Truth Behind Costco's $5 Rotisserie Chicken

It's not uncommon for a "quick trip" to Costco to turn into an hours-long adventure, so it's no big surprise if you've grabbed one of their $5 rotisserie chickens for a quick and healthy dinner. I mean, who has the energy to cook when you've just bought all that food? Plus, they're delicious — and it's a lot better than swinging through the drive-through, right? Well, yes and no. 

Food journalist Mark Schatzker did a little investigating to find out exactly how they make those rotisserie chickens sold at Costco, and he shared his results with Dr. Oz on an episode of The Dr. Oz Show. His shocking findings may have you thinking twice the next time you head toward the rotisserie case. 

The first major revelation from Schatzker is that those "fresh" chickens are actually processed food. That's a hard pill to swallow, I know. Turns out, the chickens are seasoned in a warehouse before being shipped in bulk to Costco. "They arrive at the supermarket so that an employee can put it on the skewer and cook it," said Schatzker. "So because the seasoning's happening at a factory, there's ingredients in there you probably don't expect." 

I bet you thought that by skipping boxed or takeout food and opting for a rotisserie chicken, you were skipping all those unnatural, unpronounceable ingredients. Guess again! He went on to name ingredients like yeast extract, sodium tripolyphosphate, and natural flavoring.

Schatzker's second bombshell may be even more shocking than the first. If you ever find yourself unable to stop snacking on a rotisserie chicken that's on your counter or left on the dinner table, you're not alone — that's by design. He explained that the ingredients used in the seasoning and the marinades are the same ingredients used in other addictive food items — like potato chips. 

But it's not all bad news, rotisserie chicken fans. Schatzker did admit that it's still a fairly healthy option — just not as healthy as you thought. "As far as the processed chicken options go, I think this is a good one. It actually looks like chicken.... But let's not fool ourselves, this is not a pastured, organic chicken — and it's definitely not kale." 

He advised shoppers to look for short lists of ingredients, made up of items you understand, to find a rotisserie chicken that makes the grade.

"At the end of the day, rotisserie chicken is probably one of the healthiest processed foods out there," said Dr. Oz. He suggested removing the skins to avoid some of the additives — and about 170 calories per serving. Schatzker, on the other hand, knows the skin is where its at. He advised leaving the skin on so you don't lose the taste, but serving it with healthy sides for a balanced meal. Sorry Dr. Oz, we're siding with Schatzker on this one.