Hint: You’re gonna need a membership.
The grocery store rotisserie chicken is queen in terms of convenience. The cooked bird is cheaper than a whole raw chicken and elevates the simplest meals. Most importantly, it gets the job done. Maybe it’ll feed your family. Maybe you’ll eat the entire thing yourself, sans silverware, over a period of days. Either way, life will be easier and more satisfying with a good rotisserie chicken by your side.
WATCH: How to Make 10 Costco Chicken Dinners
Since there’s so much you can do with rotisserie chicken and it’s easy on the wallet, it’s no surprise that people are devoted to it; and in some cases, that loyalty is so strong it’s cult-like (looking at you, Costco shoppers). Feelings about meat are oftentimes strong feelings, and so we decided to put six plain-flavored rotisserie chickens— from Walmart, Coscto, Publix, Whole Foods, Sam’s Club and Fresh Market— to the test. You’re welcome to try a similar comparison on your own, but let a nauseated staff advise you not to try six rotisserie chickens at the same time, or possibly ever.
We found that the Whole Foods chicken was not cooked and through when we cut in; thus, it was immediately disqualified (note: we’re aware this was likely a fluke). The Fresh Market chicken had tough, bland skin and a dry interior, making it the least favorite of the bunch. While Walmart’s rotisserie chicken offered a captivating aroma and pleasant seasoning on the surface of the bird, the actual flesh disappointed. It wasn’t quite as dry as the Fresh Market chicken, but it wasn’t enjoyable either.
The Middle Ground
Publix’s rotisserie chicken delivered more moisture and flavor. It was tasty for sure, but it definitely wasn’t the best, and a small collection of gelatinous fat under the skin turned off a few tasters. As a standalone item, we wouldn’t name it as your best option, but a Publix rotisserie works well sandwich or salad purposes.
We’ve all heard good things about Costco’s rotisserie chicken, and they hold true. We loved the seasoning, savory flavor, and moisture level, and the skin offered a nice crispiness that didn’t disintegrate when cut.
That said, our taste test had a dark horse: Sam’s Club. This chicken is ridiculously moist (it’s marinated for 48 hours) and packed with flavor. When I took a bite, I was transported to a holiday dinner (usually I eat rotisserie chicken alone, straight out of the bag, so this was nice)—beyond just being a good chicken, Sam’s Club’s rotisserie tastes special. However, the tasters on Team Costco noted that the Sam’s Club chicken had a too potent an aftertaste.
We are torn because Costco and Sam’s Club both have optimal rotisserie chicken. Costco’s is clearly and all-around high quality chicken; you can rely on it whether it’s the main course or an ingredient in another dish. But if you’re looking for a rotisserie chicken that surprises/delights people, you’ll find it at Sam’s Club. Truthfully, you can’t go wrong with either.