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Taste Test Thursday: Rotisserie Chicken

There are few American foods my dad loves more than rotisserie chicken.

(Maybe fried chicken, but that’s about it.)

I grew up eating Boston Market’s rotisserie chicken like my life depended on it. Actually, it took a lot of convincing by my co-workers before I decided to remove it from this taste test list. They say it’s crap; I say it’s fantastic. Memories, I’ll admit, can befuddle the mind.

For this tasting, I went to five common places to grab a rotisserie chicken in Dallas. I did this all within 1.5 hours and tried, as best I could, to get them back here to still hot. (They ended up warm.) Kroger made the cut because I’d heard good things. Its chicken came in a little plastic bag, swimming in a pool of savory juices. I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing I was, “Might be good, but how could it compare to Eatzi’s and Central Market?”

In that case, you’ll find the results surprising.

1_taste_test_name
A. Velvet Taco’s herb rotisserie chicken ($20 for whole chicken + 2 sides + corn tortillas. It’s half-price on Mondays)

B. Central Market‘s classic rotisserie chicken – $7.99 for a whole

C. Eatzi’s rotisserie chicken – $10.99 for a whole (half is an option)

D. Kroger’s (Cedar Springs location) rotisserie chicken – $5.99 for a whole

E.  Cowboy Chicken‘s rotisserie chicken – $8.39 for a whole (half is an option)

A
3_tasting_notes
Ingredients: thyme, rosemary, parsley (Roasting time: Close to 2 hours)

  • “Herby, lemony, very moist. Would be a great Sunday dinner with mashed potatoes.”
  • “A little dry, hard to cut, not much meat. Peppery, herby”
  • “Woodsy herbs. Not what I want in rotisserie chicken.”
  • “Good lemon-herb flavor, but dry.”
  • “The color is pale and off-putting.”

 

B
3_tasting_notes
Classic: “A nice blend of paprika, onions, salt, and pepper” (Roasting time: Marinate for 24 hrs, roast for 1 hour and 45 minutes)

  • “Spicy. Lots of meat on the bones.”
  • “Lemony.”
  • “Chipotle. Would be good for potatoes and a BBQ picnic.”
  • “Lawry’s seasoning salt? Makes me want fajitas or guac”
  • “Moist. Mesquite-y flavor to the skin. Points for flavor.”

C
3_tasting_notes
Roasting time: 45 minutes to an hour

  • “Classic rotisserie chicken. Not very flavorful, though.”
  • “Pretty plain.”
  • “Easy to cut. Fresh-tasting. Would be good on a salad. A little dry.”
  • “Tastes like chicken.”
  • “Dry. Chalky. Is this turkey?”

 

D
3_tasting_notes
Roasting time: 45 minutes

  • “Chewy, needs salt.”
  • “Skin is flabby, but the chicken is fairly moist. Decent flavor.”
  • “This is how rotisserie chicken should be.”
  • “A bit slimy. Serviceable.”
  • “The skin was well-seasoned and flavorful.”

E
3_tasting_notes
Grilled over wood-burning fire (Roasting time: 2.5 to 3 hours)

  • “Smoky.”
  • “Tastes a little like barbecue.”
  • “Slightly BBQ-y, but dries instantly
  • “Smoky, which is a little overpowering”
  • “Skin is nice, dark, and crisp”

 

4_tally_up

5 votes for (D) Kroger
4 votes for (E) Cowboy Chicken
2 votes for (A) Velvet Taco
2 votes for (B) Central Market

5_conclusion

So Kroger won.

But before we discuss why, let’s talk about the other four. Cowboy Chicken’s wood-fired meat did well, since it had a really great barbecue flavor that none of the others had. It was distinct and smoky and flavorful. Velvet Taco, on the other hand, tasted more like Marcella Hazan’s lemon chicken than a rotisserie chicken. At Velvet Taco, you can see these lean babies roasting behind the cashier station, but none of them look dark enough. They all look like pale chickens with a mix of herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley) spread over them. They’re great with the corn tortillas, elotes, and Korean barbecue sauce they come with. (On Mondays, these birds are half off.)

Eatzi’s was distressingly dry but it had the best crackly skin. Central Market’s chicken fared a little better yet didn’t stick out among the five. It was a tad bit dry and a little spicy.

I know you’re probably gasping and sighing and raising your fists against commercialism and whatnot, but that Kroger on Cedar Springs Road sure knows how to cook some robust rotisserie chickens. Honestly, it’s the worst-looking chicken, given its soggy, broken skin. But if you’re not into crispy skin and you like cheap wet meat, this is your best option. Grab a plastic bag off the shelf, lift the chicken out of its juices, and start cutting. Dinner’s ready.

  • TLS

    The Dallas Morning News also picked Kroger’s chicken as the winner and they got chickens from around 11 or 12 places. Neither of you tried a Costco chicken which is hands down the best. But when I can’t get to Costco a Kroger chicken is my next choice.

  • 3rd Degree

    Agree on the Costco call. They make one delicious bird.

  • CookieChick007

    Could’ve told you this….. had to learn for yourself I see….and if you go after 8:30pm, the chickens are $2.50! Yumm!

  • Anonymous

    Usually, grocery store chickens are full of preservatives and MSG, like Tom Thumb for example. I’m curious to know what where the ingredients for Kroger since they were not listed.

  • JtB

    Pollo Regio is awsome mexican rotiserie! Plus it come with everything to make your own tacos if you want for 12.99. And its drive thru.

  • Randy McCluer

    Something happened with the Eatzi’s chickens a couple years ago. They used to be consistently awesome, but I got enough dry ones last year or so to stop even buying them.

  • Carol Shih

    It sucks that you weren’t here for this, Randy. But we covered your old desk well with lots of chicken.

  • Carol Shih

    It’s too dry by itself. It’s great with all the extra stuff, though.

  • George Lewis

    We’ve stopped buying rotisserie chickens since you published the Marcella Hazan chicken recipe. It does leave a bit of a soggy skin, so I carve it up and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes.

  • Carol Shih

    Somehow, my professor always made it with crispy skin. She had a magic touch.

  • Catherine

    Seriously Costco makes a crazy good chicken. It’s a must try!

  • merrimanwines

    Check out the Vietnamese version, called Ga Roti, at Phö Bác. With fish sauce and crispy skin, it’s amazing.

  • A. B.

    Love Cowboy Chicken! I’m surprised it didn’t win.

  • BradfordPearson

    This sounds wonderful.

  • Mike

    If you get a fresh Pollo Regio chicken it is awesome, very moist and not dry. Unfortunately they make them way ahead of time so that rarely happens.

  • ersanch2001

    <3 Kroger and glad you tried them :) Love their rotisserie!

  • Carol Shih

    I want this now.

  • David Ramirez

    My favorite 😀

  • David Ramirez

    Chicken Scratch is awesome and uses free range / hormone free local birds

  • auntiecairo

    Check out El Rey de Pollo on Maple down from Maple and Motor — delicious rotisserie chicken – dinner for 4 for $12 — with homemade tortillas and sides — best hidden secret in town.. .

  • Michael Merriman

    Pairs perfectly with Oregon Pinot Noir (plug)

  • Eric Mazariegos

    SAM’S chicken!

  • goddess63

    Fiesta markets have a decent one too.

  • JJJ

    I don’t want to eat any chicken unless I know where it originated and know the bird has been treated humanely. I feel relatively secure with Central Market because their chickens are farm-raised and hormone free.

  • Lynda

    Yes, Sam’s chickens are good. They have the biggest birds and only $4.88

  • muffin_dad

    These weekly review of “best of” food are horrible. Get someone that isn’t 20 years old and has a real palate to do this or cancel the bloody thing because it’s horrible.

  • btbt

    Costco is the best rotisserie chicken. It is consistently good and never dry. It is also the biggest and least expensive. Hands down the winner!!

  • Anonymous

    CostCo’s or nothing for me. Nobody has them as big and perfectly done as CostCo.

  • Dubious Brother

    Stop reading them and quit posting after cocktail hour.

  • theplugdallas

    My vote goes to Boston Market #theplugdallas.

  • theplugdallas

    Our vote goes to Boston Market.

  • Anonymous

    Kroger now has a “simple truth” organic one that is about $10. Wonder how it compares.

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