What Makes Costco's Rotisserie Chicken A Step Above The Rest

If you love Costco's rotisserie chicken, you're not alone — the wholesale chain sold 137 million of them in 2023. The fact that Costco's rotisserie chicken stays cheap despite inflation is itself a huge draw for club members, but these birds aren't flying off the shelves based on price alone. Costco customers keep coming back from more because the iconic rotisserie chickens are delicious. Some may attribute this superiority to home-cooked chicken to the elaborate roasting process or some secret ingredient, but the real reason for their unbeatable flavor is surprisingly simple: salt.

Rather than just receiving a sprinkling of salt across the skin — causing a concentrated saltiness on the surface level with the rest remaining bland — Costco rotisserie chickens are injected with a saline solution that permeates the entire interior of the poultry. Salt acts as a flavor booster and even a small amount can effectively increase the taste and aroma of food, thereby making an eating experience more pleasurable. The Costco approach ensures that every morsel of meat is perfectly seasoned all the way through.

How adding saltwater affects chicken

Club members may be aware that Costco's rotisserie chickens have only a two-hour shelf life to guarantee freshness, but how to select one with super tender meat is less common knowledge — the simple trick is to buy the heaviest rotisserie chicken every time. The reasoning behind this is that the weight of a piece of meat corresponds with its juiciness, which is indicative of how fresh and tasty it is. This heaviness is partly due to its natural oils, which are rich in flavorful fats, as well as the infusion of salty water. 

In terms of taste and texture, the saline solution injection is extremely successful in making Costco's rotisserie chickens both delectable and succulent. But when it comes to nutrition, there are some things to consider. As a result of this process, a three-ounce serving of this roasted poultry contains 460 milligrams of sodium. According to the USDA, we should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day since high-salt diets are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, with the potential to cause heart disease or a stroke.

Tips for serving the most delicious chicken

Rotisserie chicken is a nutritious source of protein and a great foundation for a quick, affordable, and balanced meal. For fans of Costco's pre-prepared poultry, a delicious way to match the mouth-watering all-the-way-through saltiness of the meat is to pair it with the sweetness of fruit. Try serving slices of chicken with fresh, cooked, and dried fruits, such as chunks of mango, wedges of braised figs, or a sprinkle of raisins. Make a chicken salad served on apple slices, not crackers — or plate your chicken salad stuffed into avocados.

If you are not a member of Costco or if you are simply interested in attempting to recreate the magic of their rotisserie meat at home, you can mimic the effects of a saline solution injection by brining slices of raw chicken. It doesn't take much effort, but it will require more time. All you need to do is add four tablespoons of salt to one quart of water, and then fully submerge your meat into the liquid and store it in your fridge for at least a half hour.