Costco’s rotisserie chicken is a beloved item among shoppers, thanks to its delicious flavor and affordable price. However, many people are unaware that it has a surprisingly short shelf life.
According to the USDA, cooked chicken can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. However, Costco only keeps its rotisserie chickens on the shelf for two hours before removing them and repurposing them for other ready-to-eat items.
In a recent interview with Insider, super fans of the wholesaler David and Susan Schwartz, who are authors of The Joy of Costco: A Treasure Hunt from A to Z, revealed the harsh reality of the rotisserie chicken.
“They time stamp the rotisserie chicken so that it’s only on the shelf for two hours because it doesn’t taste as good after two hours,” David said.
The couple, who has spent seven years shopping at more than 200 Costco stores globally added that workers scrap the remaining chickens after two hours of sitting on a hot shelf to keep it warm.
There are a few reasons for this. First, Costco wants to ensure that its customers are getting the freshest and highest-quality possible product. Second, the chickens are cooked at a high temperature and kept warm on the shelf, which can create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
How to tell if a Costco rotisserie chicken is safe to eat
If you’re purchasing a Costco rotisserie chicken, it’s important to check the time stamp on the label. If the chicken has been on the shelf for more than two hours, it’s best to leave it. You can also check the chicken’s appearance and smell. If it looks slimy or has an off odor, it’s not safe to eat.
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How to store Costco rotisserie chicken safely
If you’re not going to eat your Costco rotisserie chicken right away, be sure to refrigerate it immediately. To do this, remove the chicken from its packaging and place it in a shallow, airtight container or wrap it tightly in foil or plastic wrap. Place the chicken in the coldest part of the refrigerator, such as the back of the top shelf.
If you’re not going to eat the chicken within two days, freeze it. To freeze Costco rotisserie chicken, remove the chicken from its packaging and cut it into pieces. Place the chicken pieces in a freezer-safe bag or container and seal it tightly. Label the bag or container with the date and freeze for up to three months.
How to cook and reheat Costco rotisserie chicken
If you’re cooking Costco rotisserie chicken from frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave on the defrost setting. Once thawed, reheat the chicken in the oven or microwave until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re reheating a cooked Costco rotisserie chicken, simply microwave it until it’s heated through. You can also reheat the chicken in the oven by placing it on a baking sheet and baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, or until it’s heated through.
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Tips for enjoying Costco rotisserie chicken
Here are a few tips for enjoying Costco rotisserie chicken:
- If you’re not going to eat the entire chicken right away, shred the meat and store it in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can use the shredded chicken in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or casseroles.
- You can also use the Costco rotisserie chicken bones to make a delicious broth. Simply place the bones in a pot with water and simmer for 1-2 hours. Strain the broth and use it in soups, stews, or sauces.
- Costco rotisserie chicken is also a great ingredient for pizza. Simply spread the shredded chicken over a pizza crust and top with your favorite toppings. Bake according to the crust package directions.
Costco’s rotisserie chicken is a convenient and affordable meal option, but it’s important to be aware of its short shelf life. By following the tips above, you can safely store and enjoy your Costco rotisserie chicken for days or even weeks to come.