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.
In this post, I’m going to answer all of your rotisserie chicken storage questions and give you my best tips for how not to let those leftovers go to waste. So keep on reading if that sounds like what you came here to find out.
How Long Can Rotisserie Chicken Sit Out?
As with any cooked meat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends not to leave rotisserie chicken to sit out 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.
The reason behind this is simple: bacteria absolutely thrive at room temperature. In other words, leaving meat out for prolonged periods of time can cause bacteria to populate it and grow to dangerous levels known to cause food-borne illness.
Enough so, as a matter of fact, 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:
Kept in a ziplock bag or a shallow food storage container, rotisserie chicken will stay good for 3 to 4 days in your fridge. Wrapping the chicken in aluminum foil or plastic is also an option, but it can smell up your fridge, or juices can drip onto the shells and make a mess.
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).
A sticky and slimy texture, an off odor, and fuzzy spots of green or blue mold are tell-tale signs that the rotisserie chicken in your fridge has gone bad and that it’s no longer safe for you to eat.
Cooking chicken that’s gone bad won’t make it safe to eat. Though the heat will kill most of the pathogens (bacteria, fungi, etc.) that have populated it, it won’t get rid of the toxins and poisons that they have secreted inside it.
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.