Simple, no-cook ideas for upgrading rotisserie chicken dinners

by Terry B on July 23, 2014

When it’s too hot to cook—or you’re too busy—these easy, no-cook ideas can turn a store-bought rotisserie chicken into a satisfying meal.

Rotisserie Chicken Dinner Ideas

The simplest way to make a meal of a rotisserie chicken was once witnessed by Marion’s sister at Costco. A fellow customer purchased his chicken at the store, proceeded to the store dining area and sat down and started eating it. I don’t remember now if some utensils or perhaps a soft drink figured into the meal or not.

Honestly, when I’m really hungry and standing in line at a grocery checkout, smelling the seductive, meaty goodness of my own soon-to-be-purchased rotisserie chicken, I understand the charms of this straightforward approach. But with very little effort, you can turn what is often a choice of convenience into a truly delicious meal.

1. Start with the chicken. This is the brainlessly easy part. Whether it’s still warm from the store, refrigerated and eaten cold later or reheated in the microwave, it’s going to be good. Once a rarity in supermarkets, rotisserie chickens have achieved ubiquity. And because you can get one almost anywhere, they have to be good and they have to be affordable. One chicken easily feeds a family of four. Two people can turn one into a couple of meals, plus leftover snacks.

And while the chicken is good as is, it can also be a blank canvas. Turn it into chicken sandwiches or a chicken salad. Add it to a pot of chili. One of our favorite chicken salads uses hot giardiniera and fresh basil. It can be made into sandwiches or eaten on its own. We also love this chicken sandwich, made with goat cheese, arugula and apricot jam (yes, apricot jam) and served on a baguette.

2. Add a salad. Sure, you can swing by the store deli counter and grab some cole slaw, but a fresh salad is easy too. And because you make it, you know what’s in it. Mixed greens (or arugula, as we used above), a simple dressing, maybe some tomato and done. Want to dial it up a bit? Grab some peaches and make this Arugula Salad with Peaches and Goat Cheese. If you want to show off a little, go for this beautiful take on the classic caprese salad, with peaches standing in for tomatoes. Or if you have a hankering for tomatoes, give this White Bean and Tomato Salad a try.

2a. Dress things up, with your own dressing. I can’t remember the last time we bought bottled dressing. They’re just too easy to make and taste so much better. Here are a couple we like. The first is a classic garlicky French vinaigrette that I learned to make at the table of a tough old French woman with a three-legged beagle. The second is a go-to here: Sherry Dijon Vinaigrette, made with Spanish sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and minced shallot. And if you’re in a hurry, you can skip the shallot.

3. Take advantage of abundant berries. Mix up some blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, whatever you have on hand. They add a fresh, sweet taste of summer. If you want to amp it up, macerate the fruit with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar, then stir in some chopped fresh basil, mint or thyme.

4. Wash it down with something good. Some crisp white wine, for instance. Pinot grigio is a good choice for summer. So is any of these bargain French whites. A bottle of your favorite beer works too. Even a nice iced tea.

So turn your next rotisserie chicken into a real meal, without turning on the stove. Unless you just really like dining at Costco.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky Winkler July 23, 2014 at 6:05 am

I love these ideas! I also like to put the rotisserie chicken leftovers to use making chicken stock. I’m going to have to try your sherry vinaigrette–I’ve been making something really similar, but with honey instead of the mustard. Ever since I got the bottle I have, I’ve been reluctant to use any other kind–there’s really something special about sherry vinegar.

John@Kitchen Riffs July 23, 2014 at 9:50 am

Great ideas! Rotisserie chicken is awfully good — clearly they’re brining it, but the cooking adds a lot too. And the size is perfect — usually a bit over 2 pounds (at least at the stores I frequent). Rum thing is, though, their meat departments rarely sell whole fryers that are less than 3 pounds, and they’re often 4 pounds. Two pound chickens are just better IMO — wish their meat departments would stock that size!

altadenahiker July 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

How nice to meet your Aunt Jo.

randi July 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm

They really are great for a quick meal. Costco’s are bigger and cheaper than our other grocery stores.

Terry B July 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Becky, we’re big fans of sherry vinegar too. I think you’ll like the mustard version of the vinaigrette, especially if you add the shallot.

Thanks, John! I hadn’t thought about the size disparities—interesting.

Aunt Jo was quite the character, Altadenahiker. I’m glad I got to know her too.

Randi, Costco’s chickens are the gold standard, as far as we’re concerned.

Barbara Fazio July 23, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Hi, Terry,
Living in AZ in the summertime has us using a store bought rotisserie chicken once per week! There’s an amazing number of recipes such as the ones you mentioned that serve us well. Costco’s are good, but slightly under-cooked for what we like. A pretty national chain, Fry’s here, Kroger in the mid west, I believe, sell never- frozen 2- pound roast chicken, often on sale for about $5. Not the value of Costco, but, personally, better. (Know theirs are Perdue, but just toooo juicy.) Mexican take-offs are our favorite. They’re baked chicken pieces also make a great grilled – quickly stand-by. Too hot here for the oven!

Dani H August 11, 2014 at 12:44 am

As Barbara said, here in Arizona we do a lot of Mexican take-offs with rotisserie chicken. And the Fry’s chicken IS amazingly juicy and comes in three or four varieties (including the apricot-glazed version I mentioned in a comment on another post.) I tend to stick to salads or Mexican, but will definitely be trying some of your ideas especially the chicken sandwich with goat cheese, arugula and apricot jam.

Another wonderful post!

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