Is juicy, delicious, store-bought rotisserie chicken bad for you?

Illustration for article titled Is juicy, delicious, store-bought rotisserie chicken bad for you?
Photo: David Silverman / Staff (Getty Images)

For my birthday, my fiancée bought me an air fryer to replace the one I broke a few years ago. Our previous one was pretty small, so for this go-around, I asked her for a big one, and the first thing I did in it was roast a whole chicken. Yeah, I can’t believe it fit in there either. It took less than five minutes of prep work, and in about an hour we had dinner. It was a thing of beauty, with perfectly crisp skin and juicy breast meat (dry chicken breast is my mortal enemy).

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However, when I feel like even this is too much work for me, I happily lean on store-bought rotisserie chicken. It’s consistent, reliable, and delicious. But I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion in my mind that even though it’s chicken and spit-roasted, that it has some sort of dark secret that makes it too good to be true. News4Jax in Jacksonville, Florida, looked into it and found out that rotisserie chicken does in fact, have some pitfalls.

The short story is that the main problem with rotisserie chicken is its sodium content. In order to keep the chickens juicy, and flavorful, they’re typically injected with a solution that’s full of salt, sugar, and processed ingredients. I know there are some people who scoff at the sodium thing, but as someone with high blood pressure, sneaky salt is not good for me. I know, I know, I’m not here to nag you, just to inform.

Here are some of the highest sodium levels Consumer Reports found. At Sam’s Club, a 3-ounce serving of Member’s Mark Seasoned Rotisserie Chicken has 550 mg of sodium. That’s about nine times more sodium than a chicken roasted without salt, and about a quarter of the maximum amount of sodium adults should have in a day. And Costco’s famous rotisserie chickens aren’t much better. A 3-ounce serving of Kirkland Signature Rotisserie Chicken has 460 mg of sodium.

Lower-sodium options are a 3-ounce serving of Kroger’s Simple Truth Rotisserie Chicken, which has 40 mg; a 3-ounce serving of Wegmans Organic Rotisserie Chicken, which has 95 mg of sodium; and Whole Foods Organic and Nonorganic plain chicken. The organic plain chicken has a healthy 70 mg of sodium in 3 ounces, the nonorganic plain chicken has 120 mg, and the nonorganic classic chicken has 450 mg.

This means that in the end, it’s way better for me to just roast a chicken at home. Thankfully, it’s barely any work, and the end product is still delicious and juicy. While I’m currently hooked on my air fryer, my favorite oven roasted chicken recipe is just as easy, and all you really need is chicken, salt, and high heat.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

Having eaten a lot of it during lean times, I can attest that roast chicken is bland as motherfucking fuck if you don’t salt/sugar/sauce the living shit out of it, so I’m not surprised to learn that the brines they use in the supermarket variety are full to the brim of salt and/or sugar.

Like most “healthy” foods, roast chicken is best with a bunch of stuff that’s unhealthy (I like to brine mine then serve with applesauce or barbecue sauce. That’s good eatin’.)