How To Jazz Up Rotisserie Chicken

Four ways to make store-bought roasted chicken more exciting.

Roast Chicken
Photo: Photo: Iain Bagwell

Rotisserie chicken is the beginning of many effortless recipes. You can cut it up and shred the meat as part of your meal prep early in the week, then turn it into a myriad of dishes. It’s great for weeknight meals, like soups and pastas, but also office lunches. And don’t toss out the carcass! It doubles as the base to a delicious stock, a task you can do while crossing off other cooking tasks. At the beginning of the week buying a rotisserie chicken to use for multiple meals seemed like a great idea, but by Wednesday you’re thinking, “not chicken, again.” To avoid the inevitable boredom, try these tricks for making rotisserie chicken a tad more interesting, whether served as the star of the meal or as part of multiple meals throughout the week.

Get Saucy

Vibrant homemade sauces can inject a lot of flavor with little effort, making the same chicken taste like something new. "You can wake the flavor up with smaller batches of sauces to keep things exciting during the week, like a vinegary barbecue sauce, a spicy ranch, or a more adventurous tahini dressing, " says Senior Food Editor Josh Miller. You can also use these multi-purpose sauces as sandwich spreads or drizzle them over roasted veggies throughout the week.

Another way to add flavor to a rotisserie chicken, especially if serving as a centerpiece, is with a glaze. Use your favorite preserves, chutney, barbecue sauce, or build your own thick and sticky concoction to coat the bird with. Think honey and lemon or brown sugar and soy sauce; just be mindful of how much salt the glaze contains as most store-bought rotisserie chickens are already seasoned with salt. Reheat the bird in the oven with the glaze, and allow the skin to slowly crisp up lacquered in flavor.

Add Crunch

You would be surprised by how much texture improves a dish. It’s often the difference between something you’re excited to eat more of and something that you’re sick of by the third bite. Having an arsenal of crunchy things at the ready for topping rotisserie chicken dishes can help fight palette fatigue. The bulk bins at your local grocery store are a great place to find crunch factor, with ingredients like pepitas, sunflower seeds, nuts, and crackers. The air-fryer is another quick way to make crunchy toppings, like quick croutons for a rotisserie chicken soup, spicy pecans for chicken salad, or crispy chickpeas for a chicken rice bowl. Chili crisp is another secret weapon, both crunchy and spicy, this can make even boring old white meat delicious.

Prep a Pickle

A great way to turn around a chicken dish that feels a little lackluster is with a pop of acid. Aside from a squeeze of fresh citrus or a splash of vinegar, a quick-pickle is an easy way to brighten up bland roast chicken. From Pickled Red Onions to crunchy pickled carrots, even a short soak in a vinegar brine can turn veggies into an interesting topping for rotisserie chicken, whether on a salad or sandwich, as part of a taco night, or on a simple chicken soup.

Make a Rub

Just because the chicken is already cooked doesn't mean it can't benefit from a rub. Before reheating, make a custom blend of your favorite spices like paprika, cayenne, onion or garlic powder. Mix in dried herbs or a bit of sugar for beautiful caramelization, then sprinkle it evenly over the skin. Much like a glaze, stay away from adding too much salt, as most rotisserie chickens are already seasoned with plenty. Reheat the chicken in the oven or air fryer, to both re-crisp the skin and let the seasoning form a savory crust.

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