Golden brown, incredibly savory, and mouthwateringly juicy, rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite foods to eat at any time of the year.
It not only makes for the perfect Sunday dinner, but you can store the leftovers in your fridge—especially if you picked up a bigger bird from the store or roast it yourself—and add them to all kinds of delicious salads and sandwiches throughout the week.
Generally, rotisserie chicken stays good for 1-2 hours at room temperature, 3-4 days in the fridge, and will keep its best qualities for up to 4 months in the freezer.
Let us go through all of your questions for storing rotisserie chicken and look at some of the best ways to not let those tasty leftovers go to waste. If that sounds like what you came here to find out, read on.
How Long Can Rotisserie Chicken Sit Out?
Like with all cooked meat, the USDA advises not to leave rotisserie chicken out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
On summer days, when it’s 90°F or hotter outside, that time gets slashed by half, to no longer 1 hour. So, unless you and your family plan to eat the whole bird in one go, the best thing to do is to let it cool down, then store it in your fridge.
There’s a simple reason for this: pathogens, from which you can get food poisoning, multiply very quickly at room temperature. They double their population every 20 minutes until their numbers are so great that the food is no longer safe to eat.
This is so important that the USDA calls the 40°F to 140°F temperature range “the danger zone.”
How Long Does Rotisserie Chicken Last in the Fridge?
We’ve already established that rotisserie chicken leftovers should be refrigerated and never be left to sit out at room temperature for more than an hour or so. But how long will they last when refrigerated?
Here’s a helpful rule of thumb:
Rotisserie chicken, sealed in a ziplock bag or food storage container, will keep for 3-4 days in your fridge. You could also wrap the bird in aluminum foil, although it will smell up the fridge.
You can use those leftovers as a shortcut to make all sorts of shortcut dishes, from a classic chicken Caesar salad to chicken BLT sandwiches or BBQ chicken pizza.
But don’t limit yourself there! Think of all the ways you can use up that rotisserie chicken for burrito, taco, tortilla, and quesadilla fillings, in casseroles, stuffed peppers, or loaded potatoes.
Seriously, when you get creative with those leftovers, your options are endless.
How Long Does Rotisserie Chicken Last in the Freezer?
If you don’t plan on eating a rotisserie chicken within a few days—the sooner, the better—you should freeze it.
Stored properly (in a freezer bag or an airtight food storage container), frozen rotisserie chicken will stay safe to eat indefinitely. However, it will only keep its best qualities for up to 4 months, so it’s a good idea to eat it sooner rather than later.
White spots on frozen chicken are a sign of freezer burn. While safe to eat, these spots tell you that the chicken has been lying around in your freezer for too long, and it’s time to take it out and do something about it. Freezer-burnt spots are dried out and tasteless, which is why I usually cut them out and throw them in the bin. The rest of the chicken should be okay.
The best way to thaw rotisserie chicken is to transfer it to the back of the lowest shelf in your fridge the night before, on a baking sheet with a rack to catch the drips while lifting the bird to prevent it from getting soggy.
Rotisserie chicken can be reheated in a 350°F oven. Place the chicken in a casserole dish, basting the skin with warm (freshly melted) butter and pouring 1/2 cup of chicken broth to keep it from drying out.
The fastest way to thaw rotisserie chicken is in your microwave oven. Simply put the bird on a microwave-safe plate and use the defrost setting for 2-3 minutes until it’s fully defrosted. To thaw bigger birds, you might need to do a few more rounds of defrosting in 60-second increments.
How to Tell If Rotisserie Chicken Is Bad
To tell if rotisserie chicken has gone bad, smell and touch it (if it’s gone bad indeed, remember to wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds afterward).
When the bird develops a flour odor, its surface gets sticky and slimy, or fuzzy mold appears in spots, these are all sure-fire signs that the rotisserie chicken in your fridge has spoiled and must be discarded immediately.
If you reheat or cook chicken that’s gone bad, it won’t become any more safe to eat. Heat does kill the bacteria on the surface, but it doesn’t get rid of the poisonous toxins that they’ve leave behind.
Throw it away before you—or anyone else in your household—make the mistake of trying to eat it. Also, never feed your pets with spoiled chicken; doing so can make them sick.