Rotisserie Chicken, Is It A Healthy Option?
By Teresa Wagner, RD, LD
July 21, 2016
We all have busy lives. When greeting our friends and neighbors it seems the answer to the most common question of "How are you?" has switched from "Good" to "Busy!"
Life is busy, and one of the places we often try to save some time is during meal prep. When trying to eat more natural and healthful meals, this can pose a dilemma. How do I feed myself and my family between school and baseball practice, while juggling work, errands, social activities, family obligations, housework, deadlines, doctor appointments, nap schedules, gardening, religious commitments, soccer tournaments, weddings, summer camps, lawn mowing? On and on goes the list of possible time-takers. So what do you do?
One great time-saving, not to mention delicious, food options is rotisserie chicken. Unfortunately, not all rotisserie chickens are created equal. They may all look very similar, but it's what is inside that counts.
To help you know which is which we pulled together an ingredient list of some of the rotisserie chickens offered around the St. Paul and Minneapolis area. If you live outside Minnesota, take note of which chicken we recommend and look for similar offerings near you.
Organic Chicken, plain: organic chicken, sea salt, organic black pepper $14.00
Traditional: chicken, salt, pepper, canola oil $9.00
Rotisserie Chicken: chicken, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper $8.99
Signature Rotisserie Chicken: chicken, salt, sugar, spices, onion powder, garlic powder, natural seasonings, citric acid, lemon peel, turmeric $8.99
Just Bare Chicken: chicken, water, sea salt and chicken broth. $8.99
The Original: chicken, salt, sodium phosphates**, natural flavors, vinegar. Rubbed with: salt, spices, paprika, maltodextrin*, onion powder, extractive of paprika, garlic powder, disodium inosinate**, disodium guanylate** $6.99
Whole Chicken, Savory: chicken, chicken broth, vinegar, sea salt, natural flavor. $5.99
Savory Rotisserie Style Chicken: chicken, water, natural flavors, salt. Rubbed with: salt, brown sugar, spices, dehydrated onion, chicken broth, natural flavor, molasses, paprika, maltodextrin*, natural smoke flavor. $6.49
And The Winner Is?
The best option is the organic chicken with pronounceable and familiar spices from Whole Foods. At $14.00 a chicken it seems expensive but take a moment and think what you spend at the drive-thru. If you have a family, likely it's much more than $14. If you're just feeding yourself a whole rotisserie chicken can feed you for multiple meals.
Mississippi Market, Kowalski's and Cub's Just Bare rotisserie chickens are the next best options and are more affordable at $8.99 each. While these chickens are not organic they are from sources that use humane practices in raising the chickens.
As for the rest of the rotisserie chickens terms like natural seasonings, natural flavors or just spices leave room for some undesirable ingredients. For some people this can be okay but for people who have food sensitivities those ingredients could be a problem. According to the Environmental Working Group added flavoring, both natural and artificial, can contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients!
Most of the locations offer several different flavors of chicken such as garlic herb, Cajun, or lemon; just make sure to read the ingredient list so you don't accidentally eat something you hadn't intended. If you're uncertain about those store made spices, you can easily add those flavors to plain rotisserie chicken. For lemon flavor, just grate some fresh lemon peel and sprinkle with black pepper. For a Cajun seasoning try mixing together salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes then add to chicken to your taste preference.
*Maltodextrin is a food additive derived from corn, potato, rice or wheat. If you have celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or a sensitivity to corn, rice or potatoes, this is an ingredient to avoid.
**Sodium phosphates, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate are chemical flavor enhancers.