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Costco rotisserie chicken...why is it so good?

One of the only reason i shop at costco is because of the rotisserie chicken, not because its cheap, not because its convenient, simply because its the best spit roasted chicken.
Just wondering if anyone has any idea why the costco chicken is that much better? is it the chicken, the the special seasoning, the special plastic container it comes in? any input or thoughts would be appreciated, and if you know if another place to get great tasting rotisserie chicken or meats- please share on this thread...thank you and to great eating.

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  1. I'm not a huge fan, but will pick them up from time to time because they are plump, cheap and convenient for making potpies or enchiladas or the like. They are definitely injecting them in some kind of solution that I would probably prefer not know about.

    As for my fave, it can be found at Inka's.

    Inkas Restaurant
    3299 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1. Which other rotisserie chickens are you comparing them to?

      Costco's are probably better than most supermarket chickens because the turn over is quicker and you are not getting a bird that has been sitting around for hours. I think they also use somewhat larger birds. It has been a while since I have had one. They definitely inject them with some kind of seasoning. I personally find them overly seasoned and salty.

      For a delicious roast chicken try the Roli Roti trucks, which are at various farmers' markets around the Bay Area. Very good quality chickens, simply seasoned and cooked perfectly.

      Roli Roti
      , Hayward, CA

      3 Replies
      1. re: pamf

        Agree with pamf, roli roti uses quality fulton ranch chickens and does not oversalt their brine the way costco does. I just got tired of how salty the costo chickens are, though i still buy them from time to time. Roli roti also has fingerling roasted potatoes.

        1. re: chuckl

          I agree on both points. Costco's chickens are so salty as to be inedible to me.

          1. re: artemis

            Head-to-head, I don't think there's a comparison - Roli Roti's chickens are definitely superior tastewise. But you can't really beat the convenience of the Costco chickens when you're already there loading up on Charmin and gigantic blocks of Cheddar - plus, they cost, what? Half of what the Roli Roti birds do? Economical as hell, which is no small consideration in this day and age.

      2. Civil Bear is close to the right answer. They come in brine from the source and I do not think you do not want to know what is in the brine.

        I was did see the ingredient list and it has a lot on it, but if you are interested in seeing the list just ask.

        But I love the chicken for making Chinese Chicken Salad.

        1. Definitely brined. I find it a bit salty, but not too much.

          Ingredients: whole chicken,water,salt,sodium phosphate, modified food starch, sugar,carrageenan,soy lecithin,flavorings and xanthan gum.

          "No Preservatives,MSG, Gluten, Artificial Flavors or colors."

          3 Replies
          1. re: Joel

            is this the ingredient list straight from the package?

            1. re: riceisnice2011

              When I asked the cook at Costco he went inside and pulled off the tub the chickens came in. Not sure if it on the package the chicken comes in.

              But if you ask he will show you.

            2. re: Joel

              Ingredients list is a bit different in Canada

              Chicken, Water, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Modified Tapioca Starch, Modified Potato Starch (Potato Dextrin), Sugar, Dextrose, Spices, Flavour

            3. Brined and a bit too salty if you ask me. I don't particularly care for them but that's just preference. Good for second meal uses, as mentioned.

              1. Because you are accustomed to a lot of salt in your diet.

                I find them very salty and unpalatable but I tend to eat much less salt than the average person.

                1. The reason it's so good is the reason people complain about it--there's a lot of salt in the brine. But any chicken that keeps its breast meat juicy even when it's cold is good. If I make a Costco run, a chicken's coming home with me.

                  1. I, too, purchase the odd chicken from costco and enjoy the flavour very much - but it is so tasty and good that I have often wondered about the additives, as well. My home-cooked turkeys bear a tremendous resemblance to these chickens and I place them in a briney solution for 12 hours prior to cooking. There is definately salt added to costco chickens! My biggest concern about costco chicken is whether or not they are fed growth-hormones, which is illegal in Canada. Are they imported from the USA and thus get around regulations here?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: foodflubs

                      what type of briney solution do you use, i would like to try it.

                      1. re: riceisnice2011

                        I use a very clean 5-gallon plastic bucket - fill half-full of cold water & stir-in a cup of salt, be it regular, pickling or sea-salt. Submerge the turkey into the brine & add enough water to fully cobrined birdver. Place some kind of a weight on the bird to keep it fully submerged. Leave for approx. 12 hours then remove and rinse thoroughly. Prepare the bird as usual adding stuffing, etc. Enjoy a delightful brined-bird, :-)

                        1. re: foodflubs

                          Definitely the way to do it. Works well with big Boston butts/pork shoulders before you slow cook them on the smoker. I usually do a 24 hour soak with the pork.

                      2. re: foodflubs

                        The USDA prohibits giving hormones or steroids to chickens so all US chicken in hormone free.

                      3. I don't think it's the best tasting roasted chicken but wow they sure are big for chickens. I try to avoid it.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Monica

                          Good point, Monica. These roasted chickens from Costco are the largest of any sold in my area. I can pay more money for a much smaller bird at other stores with half the flavour? As far as eating quantity, I guess we'll have to leave that to the discretion of the buyers? Thank you for your interest. :-)

                          1. re: foodflubs

                            They are a great value, I often use them for pot pies and when I'm partially done eating one in the coinventional style, I use the remaining parts to make a broth. I guess if they weren't as flavorful people would say they're tastless! Oh well...

                            1. re: cstr

                              I buy a chicken from Costco every week for my dog..
                              I render down the carcass for stock for a good risotto base..
                              Just got one today..and my dog can't wait for dinner!

                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  Sure wish I was Kona!!, that pooch has the life!

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    I thought we were the only ones who did that. Mrs. G. will buy one, eat the wings and legs. The rest is for the dog, who lets me take a piece of skin and breastmeat.

                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                      It's the best bang for the buck over quality kibble..
                                      Mrs. G has got it going on!

                                    2. re: Beach Chick

                                      My idiot SIL buys a Costco chicken evry other day for her dog. BUT she won't give the dog dark meat. SIL doesn't like dark meat, so she won't cut it off the carcas and feed the dog.
                                      My dogs get the dark meat delivered the next morning and love it.

                                2. re: Monica

                                  Bigger is better when it comes to chickens. More meat, they let them grow another week or two. I'm so tired of 2 and 3 lb chickens. Why would you avoid it??

                                3. Let's not overlook their fabulous baby-back ribs, also. Messy and juicy but fall-off-the bone delicious; best ribs in the area.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    I'll pick the ribs over the chicken any day. The mesquite wings however are hit and miss.

                                  2. Salt, salt, salt. Probably way more than you should be ingesting. Tasty? Yes. Healthful? No. Much better to roast your own.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                      Seriously, salt is the magic ingredient. My friend got the 'secret' recipe to KFC chicken. It had TONS of salt.

                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                        Salt! SALT! SAAAALLLLLTTT!

                                        Does everyone on this board have high blood pressure?

                                        Yes, the chicken has a lot of salt in it, so no, you wouldn't want to eat it every day.

                                        1. re: pdxgastro

                                          One KFC OR Drumstick = 310mg sodium
                                          3 ozs of Costco rotisserie chicken = 460mg sodium

                                          One KFC OR Drumstick = 7 Grams of fat 1.5 Grams saturated fat
                                          3 ozs of Costco rotisserie chicken = 7 Grams of fat 2.5 Grams saturated fat

                                          Many people are under the impression that Costco's rotisserie chicken is better for you than friend chicken when in fact it has more sodium, the same amount of fat and more saturated fat.

                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                            I think there's less chicken meat on a KFC leg than 3 oz of boneless meat. Either way, prepared foods have flavor for a reason. Want a real salt shock, look at the label on a tomato juice container.

                                            1. re: RetiredChef

                                              Retired Chef - I find it mildly amusing that you have turned into the food police regarding salt in Costco chicken ("I find them very salty and unpalatable but I tend to eat much less salt than the average person"), when in another Costco-related thread you tout the wonderfulness of buying assorted cheeses, bacon and hot dogs there at great prices.

                                              1. re: fragnet

                                                LOL I can't believe that you are accusing me of being the food police because I say salt should be used in moderation. Will you accuse me of being a neo-prohibitionist if I say alcohol should be used in moderation too? ;-)

                                                The fact is:

                                                Salt is good in moderation
                                                Cheese is good in moderation
                                                Bacon is good in moderation
                                                Hot Dogs are good to in moderation.

                                                If my diet consisted of three hot-dog's with two sliced of bacon on each dog and slathered in cheese for every meal then I think we can all agree that is not healthy.

                                          2. re: pikawicca

                                            OK here is my frustration with the entire salt deal. Some Dr back in the 70's or even late 60's was asked by some head government something why Americans seemed to be a lot heavier than other countries. So this Dr sits down and compares diets of other countries and thinks he finds the reason, salt and animal fat. (from what he read in other countries they did not use as much as we did in some of our recipes) No scientific testing on it, just his word based on that. (that is fact not something I pulled out of my hiney)
                                            Here is my peve and question, if salt is so bad for you, why does your body crave it when it is dehydrated? Sure you may have a sweet tooth, but your body does not crave sugar. I honestly do not think salt is the devil it has been made out to be. Same with fat, they are actually going back to lard in some cooking because they are finding it is better for you then anything hydo etc. Our grandparents ate salt and fat and it did not kill them. But all the additives and sugar we are using IS killing us and our kids. My personal answer is to try to go back to they old ways of doing things as much as I can when it comes to food. Pain in the hiney yes, but I really believe better in the long run.
                                            SORRY FOR THE SOAP BOX...this is one persons opinion except about the Dr. without the study to back it up. And when it comes to the old way vs the new ways I have example after example if anyone cares to hear anymore.

                                          3. I don't find these good. I bought one once, and was not impressed. Too salty and artificial tasting. In fact, most rotisserie chickens taste that way to me. I've had a Whole Foods bird or two, and they taste to me slightly better.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              I think they're very good compared to most super markets that charge more for less, in weight, for a bird. As for flavor, I think they're the better of the super market offerings. I usually get at least 2 complete meals out of one chicken and have enough left over to start a pot of stock with the remaining meat and bones. Not bad for $4.99!

                                              1. re: cstr

                                                It isn't a bargain, though, if you don't like it. I forgot to mention that it, like other rotisserie chickens I've had, is awfully oily/greasy. And it sorta tastes like lunchmeat.

                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                  I can say the same for liver, it can be free but, if I don't like liver it isn't going to be better cuz I bought it at Costco of WF. So, if you don't like their chicken, no one is twisting your arm to buy it.

                                              2. re: sueatmo

                                                I was starting to think I was the only one. I think they're terrible. I don't mind salty at all. Hell, I could sit down and eat a pound of bacon, but I think they have a chemical-ly undertaste that's very unpleasant.

                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                  It may be that Costco chickens taste better to some because the local stuff is poor. I don't know but it all tastes comparable to me. As I said before, WF chickens are slightly better, IMO. But as you said, there is an additive flavor that I just don't like.

                                                2. re: sueatmo

                                                  I don't like them either. I've tried then a couple times over the years and didn't actually find them salty. In fact, I found them to be flavorless. Perhaps their chickens originate from different suppliers depending on the region? If they tasted more chickeny, that'd be a step forward. The other issue I have is the texture. They seem really mushy and pasty. Kind of like play-doh. The flabby skin isn't very exciting either. In all fairness to Costco, I find these same faults in supermarket rotisserie chickens as well. The only readily available takeout rotisserie chicken I really care for is from Boston Market.

                                                3. The fact that you get a three-pound bird for $4.99 improves the flavor considerably. Esp. when a 1.75-lb bird from the local supermarket costs more.

                                                  While there is no question that Costco's birds are really salty, there is a ton of meat on them. We use them in all sorts of dishes, and there's always plenty of scraps for the the dog.

                                                  1. The Costco in Austin used to carry vacuum packed deboned rotisserie chicken meat. It was fantastic and perfect for a variety of dishes. It's been gone for about a year. Has anyone else seen it?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: achtungpv

                                                      Some store have it in the back in the meat prep area and you have to ask for the bulk prepared chicken - haven't checked in a few months though.

                                                    2. Costco rotisserie chickens are injected with bacon fat. That's what makes them taste so darned good. Bacon!

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: VBHres

                                                        Hmmm. I sometimes coat my turkey/chicken with duck fat, now here's an economical alternative. I always have a few jars around.

                                                      2. The chickens are most likely injected with salt based flavorings similar to all frozen turkeys. Usually there is a 20% solution meaning that 1/5 of the weight of the bird before cooking is the injected solution. Of course, a lot of the moisture cooks off, but a some of the moisture remains and the salt helps keep the natural moisture of the meat. You will also see pork tenderloins injected the same way. The ingredient listed in one post has Carageenen. This is just a binder derived for seaweed that helps the meat hold moisture. Same for modified food starch. That is usually a potato powder or nonfat dry milk. Both are in there to hold moisture. With water being the second ingredient after the chicken, the rest of the ingredients are mostly to keep that water from being cooked out. If you ever see the birds before they're cooked, they are rather plump for the average bird you buy in the supermarket. You would be very surprised at the meat that is pumped with flavorings, water and sodium that you would not think should be. Check your labels. If you see the words sodium, salt or water, it's injected. Hence the word, "Processed".

                                                        Bottom line is, the salt content is not too bad. The worst part of the chicken is still the skin. They taste good and like anything else, consumed in moderation is just fine.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: awm922

                                                          20% percent solution? Impossible. Please don't make up numbers just to prove a point

                                                          1. re: timothysliao

                                                            I do recant and correct.

                                                            20% is for Pork. 3% is the max for Poultry.

                                                            You can check the USDA-FSIS. Those figures are not made up.

                                                            1. re: awm922

                                                              I think average cheap supermarket chicken such as Tyson is up to 12 or so percent solution and says so on the package.

                                                              I have had 2% that I got from a high end restaurant purveyor friend which actually tastes like chicken. Not the same as supermarket chicken.

                                                              If you doubt the 12% solution, cut the breasts off the bone and grind it. Your bowl will be filled with soggy grindings. I do it all the time to make chicken burgers and have to drain the grindings in a colander to get the water out prior to making the burgers.

                                                        2. Tastes like Swiss Chalet here in Canada and its yummy and do not get how you can buy a whole bird cheaper that one that is uncooked

                                                          1. Best roasted chicken you'will ever taste; get a 3-4 lbs kosher chicken, pat it dry with paper towels...put a good amount of salt and pepper..roasted it in 450 for about an hour or hour and 10 min...depending on size...don't do anything to it.
                                                            You will fall off the chair because it's so good.

                                                            To me, roasted chicken from Costco tastes a bit artificial.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Monica

                                                              Kosher chickens don't need much salt!

                                                            2. It is not very good. It is way too salty and artificial tasting.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sushimi

                                                                They are so pumped full of solution they could never get off the ground :-)

                                                              2. I posted my slight liking for these in 2011. I have found lately that if I bring one home, I can place it in an oven proof pan and roast it in my oven for better taste. I think most rotisserie chickens are microwaved and finished fast in an oven. If you roast it a little longer it tastes more like actual roast chicken.

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                  Every grocery rotisserie chicken I've seen is cooking in a rotisserie oven, right where you can see it, unless Costco is different?

                                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                                    You can see them loading up obviously raw chickens by the spit several times daily. No MW.

                                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                                      Volume helps. 3 chickens in a rotisserie are ok. Several dozen creates more steam and more fat dripping down onto the other chickens.
                                                                      They may be juiced up before hand, but so are most rotisserie chickens. At least Costco leftover chickens are easily repurposed for week long meals.
                                                                      And, fwiw, I find the rotisserie chickens at BJ'S unbearably salty. Costco is just fine.

                                                                      1. re: acgold7

                                                                        OK, I stand corrected. To me they don't taste roasted. But I have a confession to make. I confused Costco chickens with Whole Foods chickens. It is the latter that I occasionally buy and roast further. I think I've had a Costco chicken a few years ago, and decided it was too salty.

                                                                      2. re: sueatmo

                                                                        I've seen the guy loading the oven racks at Costco, they're raw not microwaved.

                                                                        1. re: treb

                                                                          As I said in an earlier post, mea culpa. I was mistaken.

                                                                      3. This thread cracked me up. The chickens from Costco are so salty that I have to keep one in the passenger seat when driving home. Here's a tip: keep a roll of paper towels handy for wiping off the steering wheel. Speaking of salt, I'm a little concerned about all the people giving this chicken meat to their dogs.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: MuddyMP

                                                                          I'm confused. Please explain why you "need to keep one in the passenger seat" and what does salty have to do with that?

                                                                          1. re: puzzler

                                                                            To tear at and munch on it on the way home! The smell is too tempting to wait. As for dogs, the sodium content is too high for humans, much less for dogs. Google it.

                                                                            1. re: MuddyMP

                                                                              I have nibbled on a few french fries on the way home with takeout but tearing apart a rotisserie Chicken? Not in my car :-)

                                                                              1. re: MuddyMP

                                                                                The sodium content would be too high for dogs if it was their only source of food.
                                                                                I cook fresh meat on the grill for my dogs 5-7 days per week and cut it into their Blue Buffalo Healthy Diet Kibble.
                                                                                If I don't have time or it's too damn rainy (as it was today) I will use a Costco chicken mixed in the kibble. One Costco chicken yields enough meat for our four dogs for two days.
                                                                                I've checked with out vet (who is very nutrition conscious) and she says as long as I don't feed them more than 10 meals per months including Costco chicken (as opposed to fresh grilled meat without added salt) the sodium is not an issue.

                                                                                Dogs are 14, 6 1/2, 3 1/2 and 2 years old and have had this diet for many years. All are in excellent health.

                                                                                For dogs as well as humans, its all about moderation. Don't look at the sodium content in one particular food, meal or day, but what does it balance out to over a 30 day period? Then you get a better picture...............

                                                                                1. re: bagelman01


                                                                                  Same situation here and my VMD of 50 years thinks the same way.

                                                                                  PS would you please email me (profile) I am not new to a diet like this for dogs and cats but a grilling tip or two from you would be much appreciated.
                                                                                  Thank You

                                                                                  1. re: lcool

                                                                                    sent email to your gmail account

                                                                                  2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                    We (DH, I and 3 dogs) enjoy supplementing our diet with Costco chickens.
                                                                                    I also cook other proteins just for the dogs to add to their wet and dry food.

                                                                                    Tomorrow, I'll be making a nice stew of (sale, as usual) beef and veggies in the pressure cooker for the pups.

                                                                            2. Too bad most of the posters here did not live in "farm country" in the 1940's/1950's. I recall driving with my parents to farms outside of our town, and buying a "fryer' or a "roaster", for around 50 cents. Fryers were "springers", Roasters were generally worn out hens.
                                                                              Put then in a sack, bring home, and out to the chopping block. Ever see a "chicken running around with its' head cut off?" Then into a pot of boiling water to pluck the feathers, and then to gut the chicken before Mom finish the cleaning of the "inards", and then either fry the fryers, or roast the Roasters.

                                                                              Now, damissus and I will pick up a Costco chicken maybe every other month. Three meals for the two of us. Great Value, and tasty. Sure beats the old fashioned way.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: AZGrandpa

                                                                                Believe it or not, my husband's mom/grandmom did the same procedure with the live hens back in the day, right here in good old Brooklyn NYC. All the neighbors did, and he likes to tell the story of the son of one who thought he'd do his mom a favor and cut the head off for her in the kitchen (for ease of prep I guess). The chicken literally ran around with its head cut off, spraying blood all over the kitchen ceiling. Glad I wasn't there!

                                                                              2. I don't like it. It's not just salty; it has a weird aftertaste and is kind of slimy. It's a great buy, but I don't even like it in other dishes, so I don't buy it.