15 Secrets About Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie Chickens

If you’ve ever had one of these birds, then you know how tasty they are. But, what you may not know is that there are quite a few secrets behind Costco’s famous rotisserie chicken. Keep reading to discover what they are.

15. It’s Made with a Secret Ingredient

Secret Ingredient
Source: Pixabay

Okay, so it’s not really a secret ingredient. It’s actually just salt. Yep, that’s right. Costco’s rotisserie chickens are injected with a special saline solution. And, it’s this saline solution that boosts their flavor. No wonder they’re so tasty!

A word for the health-conscious crowd: you might want to beware of these chickens, especially if you’re trying to or need to cut back on your sodium intake. Each of these three-pound birds packs a total of 460 milligrams of sodium.

14. It’s Very Popular

Source: Pixabay

The rotisserie chicken is one of Costco’s most popular items — so popular in fact that there’s a Costco Rotisserie Chicken fan page on Facebook with over 17,000 followers and counting. And, if you’ve ever had one of these birds, then you know that they’re very tasty. Costco sells them for only $5, but get this: They sell about 164,383 rotisserie chickens a day! In 2017, they sold 87 million chickens! And, last year, they sold 91 million!

13. It’s Not Profitable to Costco

Source: Pixabay

Yes, Costco sells millions of rotisserie chickens each year — but they don’t make much of a profit off of them. In fact, they lose between $30 and $40 million a year on these chickens because they insist on keeping the price the same: $4.99. They refuse to raise the price because they believe $4.99 is how much a chicken should cost. “That’s us,” the CFO said on a call with analysts, according to Reader’s Digest. “That’s what we do.”

So, why keep selling them if they’re not profitable? Well, selling those tasty birds helps keep foot traffic high at the store, which is profitable in other ways.

12. It’s Kept in the Back of the Store

Costco Food Court
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of high foot traffic, one of the ways Costco ensures that its rotisserie chicken will be profitable in other ways is by putting them in the back of the store. That way, they can get customers deep into the store, browsing the aisles and sometimes picking up items they didn’t even plan on purchasing. If they put them at the front of the store, it’s less likely that people would go any further into the store. This is definitely a smart move on Costco’s part.

11. It’s a Processed Food

Processed Meat
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Now, before you start panicking and thinking that Costco’s rotisserie chickens are super unhealthy, let’s explain what we mean by the word “processed.” These chickens are considered processed foods because they’re seasoned in factories before they’re shipped to Costco, not because they’re packed with lots of unhealthy ingredients. They are actually gluten-free. According to The Daily Meal, Dr. Oz says they may be, “one of the healthiest processed foods out there.”

10. It Doesn’t Contain Any Crazy Ingredients

Ingredients Sign
Source: Pixabay

So, now that we told you these chickens are not unhealthy, the next logical thing is to tell you what’s in them. According to The Daily Meal, the ingredients listed on Costco rotisserie chicken labels include whole chicken, water, and seasonings (salt, sodium phosphate, modified food starch, potato dextrin, carrageenan, sugar, dextrose, spice extractives). And, for those of you wondering just what exactly is carrageenan, it’s just an extract of red seaweed that keeps the chickens from spoiling too soon.

9. It’s Low in Calories

Source: Pixabay

When you consider the fact that there are 430 calories in McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Costco’s 138-calorie-per-serving rotisserie chicken looks like the ultimate health food. So, what is the exact serving size of this bird? It’s 3.5 ounces. In, those 3.5 ounces are also 17 grams of protein and only six grams of fat. Compare that to the McDonald’s Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich, which has a whopping 15 grams of fat (three of which come from saturated fat) and 40 grams of carbs!

8. If You Want a Fresh One, You’ll Need to Listen for the Bell

Source: Pixabay

If you’ve ever heard a bell ring at the Costco deli, it wasn’t a Salvation Army worker. The deli workers were alerting you and other customers that they just put out a new batch of freshly cooked rotisserie chickens. But, don’t worry about missing the bell. If you didn’t get a chance to make your way around to the deli after the first bell, simply wait just a little while longer for the next bell to ring. After all, they sell hundreds of thousands of chickens each day, so there’s no way you wouldn’t be able to get a fresh one.

7. There’s a Method for Choosing the Best One

Source: Pixabay

According to Bon Appétit, senior food editor Rick Martinez says a simple technique you can use to choose the best rotisserie chicken (not just at Costco, but anywhere) is to pick the heaviest one. That’s because the juices in the meat of heavier birds don’t evaporate out when they sit in their plastic containers under the heat lamp. And, the only way to tell which one is the heaviest is to lift up every single chicken and feel for yourself. “It’s going to annoy everyone around you, but it works,” Martinez said in an article posted on the magazine’s website. “You’ll feel a noticeable difference between the birds that just came out of the oven and ones that have been sitting there all day.”

6. It Might Never Weigh More Than Three Pounds

Food Scale
Source: Wikimedia Commons By PCHS-NJROTC [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

As we mentioned before, Costco’s rotisserie chickens weigh three pounds each. And, although, the warehouse club has lately been looking for birds weighing six pounds, they haven’t had much success. “We were having trouble getting the size bird we wanted on a consistent basis,” Jeff Lyons, senior vice president of fresh foods at Costco, told CNN. “We couldn’t take a seven-pound bird or an eight-pound bird and make it work. They’re too big. They wouldn’t even fit on our rotisserie line.”

5. It’s Better Than the Rotisserie Chicken Sold at Sam’s Club

Sams Club
Source: Wikimedia Commons

At least that’s the conclusion The Kitchn came to, anyway. In a taste test they conducted last year, The Kitchn pitted Costco’s rotisserie chicken against the one from Sam’s Club and reported that both were good, but the one from Costco was better. “The skin was crispier and the meat was juicier, for sure. And those are really the only two things that matter in a rotisserie chicken,” The Kitchn wrote in an article posted on its website.

4. Its Cooks are Paid Well

Source: Pexels

Compared to other retail industry jobs, Costco’s deli workers are paid quite well. In fact, according to Indeed.com, the average hourly pay for a Costco deli associate is $14.91. That’s 35 percent above the national average! And, $14.91 is what these workers earn on average. On the higher end of the scale, some Costco deli associates can make up to $23.20 an hour. Not only that, but hourly workers at Costco are also eligible to receive health insurance as well.

3. You Can Squeeze Multiple Meals Out of Just One Costco Chicken

Caesar Chicken Salad
Source: Pixabay

Anyone who has ever been on a budget knows how important it is to be able to make your groceries stretch. Well, with just one Costco rotisserie chicken, it’s possible to get several meals out of it. In fact, you can make sandwiches, soups, salads, and wraps with your leftover rotisserie chicken. Here are a few more ideas from The Daily Meal:

-Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

-Savory Crescent Chicken Squares

-Chicken Tacos

-Chicken Tortilla Soup

-Chicken Ramen Noodle Salad

-Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pies

2. It Has Its Own Facility

Chicken Farm
Source: Wikimedia Commons By jlastras [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

In 2018, Costco began building a farm-to-table production facility to ensure a steady supply of their rotisserie chickens. The nearly 400,000 square-foot facility in Fremont, Nebraska, a farming town near the Iowa border, will process about 100 million chickens annually once it gets up to speed. And, Costco will process around two million chickens a week to supply stores on the West Coast. “All of our barns in Nebraska and Iowa collectively will supply about 40 percent of Costco’s needs,” Jessica Kolterman, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Premium Poultry, the company started by Costco to build and manage the project, told NPR.

1. Its New Facility is Receiving Some Backlash

Source: Pixabay

Costco has a reputation for being socially-conscious. But lately, it’s had to defend its reputation against local critics who oppose the company’s Nebraska operation. According to an article published by CNN, “its poultry farm ambitions have sparked backlash among environmentalists and farmers’ advocates in the Fremont area. Opponents of the plant in Fremont like Randy Ruppert, a local activist, worry about the environmental impact of the plant and poultry barns, such as water contamination from runoff, ammonia from chicken feces, and other health risks.”


Do you have any secrets to share about Costco’s rotisserie chicken? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!