Rotisserie Chicken: Unexpected Weeknight Rockstar

Watch: CTV The Social — Rotisserie Chicken: The Unexpected Rock Star of Weeknight Dinners.

Three meals that transform an accessible grocery staple into multiple weeknight dinners that taste great and benefit the health of people and the planet.

Rotisserie chicken is a cheap and cheerful item that most people have on their shopping lists, after all it helps ease the stress around weeknight dinner, right? In this segment, I would like to share how this readily available grocery store staple can help transform our weekly routine and create soul-satisfying, mood-boosting meals using ingredients that have a lower environmental impact, protect personal health, reduce food waste, and benefit the long-term prosperity of the planet.

What You Need to Know When Shopping for a Rotisserie Chicken

Here are the key things to consider:

  • Read the label and watch for added salt and preservatives.
  • Pick a variety that uses less sauces and seasonings and is roasted the same day.
  • Choose free-range, organic if possible.
  • Choose one with minimal packaging.

You brought the chicken home. Now what?

  • Read the label and watch for added salt and preservatives.
  • First, shred it. Rotisserie chicken is best shredded while the chicken is warm or at least at room temperature. Refrigerate the meat afterward.
  • Busy after the grocery trip? Refrigerate and then bring the roast to room temp. Follow steps for shredding.
  • Now comes the fun part – eating! Add to salads, wraps, tacos, fajitas, bowls and curries.

3 Imaginative Ways to Use Rotisserie Chicken

Baked Chicken Chilaquiles

Inspired by a traditional Mexican breakfast that is normally served with eggs, my version of Chilaquiles are flavourful and comforting like the original but also easy to pull together on a busy weeknight. Without fail, this is a dish that will soothe and transport you to sunshine and warm skies.

Make these with toasted tortillas soaked in a garlicky, cumin-scented tomato sauce, mix with black beans, top with shredded chicken and cheese along with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt on top, and dinner is ready, on the table in <30 mins.

Recipe Notes: this dish is totally customizable and is also great to use up leftover tortillas from the night before. Half the meat, double the beans and veggies and you’re adding in extra nutrition and doing your part to support the planet.

Get the Baked Chicken Chilaquiles recipe


This dish is a combination of different textures and flavours and comes together in a glorious DIY bowl. People can customize their bowls per their preference making this an excellent option for those messy weeknights when you’re checking emails and the kids have homework and you’re dragged in a million different directions.

Start with a grain – a whole grain preferably, though white rice works very well here too. Add shredded chicken, chopped veggies, cooked or raw, and enough of a sharp, tangy dressing. My favourite is tahini and yoghurt dressing with lime juice, maple syrup and paprika.

Recipe Notes: Add acidity and crunch on the top – roasted sesame seeds, nuts or sunflower seeds even broken up chips will do. Try something new and increase the quality of your gut bacteria with fermented veggies, chutney or perhaps chipotle mixed with yoghurt, all would work in this dish.

Get the Build-A-Bowl Chicken recipe

Chicken Soup For The Soul

Homemade, made from scratch chicken soup is blissful comfort cooking at its best. In this case, we are using the broth made earlier after shredding the rotisserie chicken, adding in rice or barley from the night before. Transform this ordinary bowl into scrappy cooking at its best by using bruised carrots and wilted spinach and other greens from the bottom of the crisper and fresh window-sill herbs like basil and mint. Pasta works too. Serve with grilled cheese or garlic toast on the side.

Recipe Notes: use what you have from start to finish, reduce what is thrown away. This dish is comforting and beneficial for our body, our mind and by reducing food waste we are doing our part to protect the planet.

Get the Chicken Soup For the Soul recipe

More Tips for Using Rotisserie Chicken

A whole chicken is the greenest cut of meat; it results in less food wastage at farms, processing plants and at the grocery store.

Take it one step further and use the bones for broth or stock and there is a lot less food waste in our kitchens too. Reducing what you throw away and cooking something that’s delicious and immunity-boosting, all at the same time. Win, Win, Win!

How to Make Immunity-Boosting Homemade Stock

Put the bones in a stockpot and cover with more than enough water, a bay leaf or two, 6 cloves of garlic, a tsp of peppercorns. Celery, carrots, veggie scraps are optional. Boil and simmer for 20 min. Skim the scum. Take the bones out and pull away any hidden scraps of meat. Put the carcass back in to simmer for another hour. Strain and cool. Refrigerate/ Freeze.

Use this broth to add flavour and nutritional benefits to your risotto, gravy, soups, sauces, rice, pasta. Repeat when you buy the next rotisserie chicken.

Environmental Impact 

There is an enormous environmental impact of eating meat. Here are some tips to reduce our meat consumption:

  • One way to eat low-impact is by halving our consumption of meat. This is one of the key pillars of my framework, Eating with Benefits.
  • Another key way to reduce our environmental impact is by choosing chicken over beef or lamb.
  • Add whole grains to boost your gut health that supports the growth of gut bacteria in our bellies. This supports our mental wellbeing too.

Add something new to your plate every day. Another principle from Eating with Benefits, this is one of the key pillars where we can use the power of our wallet to support diverse crops that benefit us and protect our soil and the planet at the same time. Example – millet, quinoa, amaranth and wild rice ++

Meal prepping a few days before can really ease the stress of cooking during the week. Here are some healthy and easy tips: cook a batch of whole grains for the family and use it in various ways during the week. Prep lentils/ beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cukes Make a dressing or dip with yoghurt. Roast tomatoes and blend to start your sauce.

How to Rock Weeknight Dinners

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About Puneeta

Author, Educator, Speaker

Puneeta is a writer, food advocate and guide for those who seek earth-friendly, delicious solutions that work for real life.

Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma, Food Writer, Climate Advocate, New cookbook - Good Food, Healthy Planet - out April 2024
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma
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