You'll never end up with a dried-out chicken again.
rotisserie chicken
Lauri Patterson
| Credit: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

Just the sight of a rotisserie chicken in my refrigerator makes me feel secure. Like my other favorite pantry staples (canned beans, pasta), I can always pull together a tasty supper if I have a pre-cooked chicken on hand. Rotisserie chicken and buttered noodles makes a no-fail, no-fuss dinner for my two-year-old, but I also use shredded chicken to bulk up soups, chilis, quesadillas, and pasta. And any leftovers can be turned into a quick and easy lunch of everyone's favorite: chicken salad.

A rotisserie chicken might not be quite as delicious as a made-from-scratch roast chicken from my own oven, but it also took zero effort. And rotisserie chicken usually costs less than a raw chicken and all the ingredients it takes to prepare that chicken. (Why is that, you ask? Well, many supermarkets transfer close-to-be-expired raw chickens to the rotisserie, cutting down on food waste and cooking up a tasty, completely safe to eat product. Win-win.)

For all of these reasons (and the aforementioned two-year-old), I have jumped on the rotisserie chicken bandwagon and stopped roasting whole chickens, unless I'm cooking for a special occasion or really, really in the mood for crispy, fresh-from-the-oven chicken skin. After buying a rotisserie chicken every week for several years now, you could say I've become something of an expert.

Watch: How to Make Chicken Salad

The next time you find yourself in your supermarket's deli section staring down a case of plump little birds in their plastic containers, remember these pointers.

Look for a rotisserie

This might seem painfully obvious, but you want a freshly cooked chicken. A chicken that has been sitting under a heat lamp for an hour or so isn't as plump and juicy as one that has just come off the rotisserie. Rotisserie chickens are best at supermarkets with high demand. The rotisserie should look like a ferris wheel at a county fair—spinning constantly. If you don't see an actual rotisserie on site, ask a deli employee when the chickens were cooked. Or check the package for a time-stamp.

The heavier, the better

A freshly cooked chicken is a bit heavier than one that has been sitting around, drying out under a heat lamp. Take a minute to weigh the chicken containers in your hands and choose the heaviest one.

Choose a plain chicken

While it may be tempting to go for the "honey barbecue" or "lemon-ghost pepper-rosemary" rotisserie chicken, in my experience, a plain chicken gives you more bang for your buck. It can be repurposed in more ways and won't clash with any other flavors on your plate. Of course, this suggestion can be ignored if you plan on eating the entire chicken at one meal. In that case, bring on the seasonings!