If you need a filling, delicious, and affordable dinner option that you can easily repurpose for another delicious meal, rotisserie chicken is the way to go. Can you have it though while you are pregnant?
Rotisserie chicken is safe when pregnant, provided its internal temperature reaches at least 165 °F (74 °C). This is the same when reheating to prevent the growth or presence of disease-causing bacteria. However, deli or cold-cut chickens should be avoided unless heated up again.
So, how should you prepare and handle rotisserie chickens, how do you tell if they’re done, and what can you do with the leftovers? Find out the answers below!
Can I Eat Rotisserie Chicken When Pregnant?
Pregnant women can eat rotisserie chicken, as long as it reaches a safe internal temperature and is reheated at the same temperature.
Before anything else, let’s first describe what a rotisserie chicken is, as far as its method of cooking.
Rotisserie chicken is a whole chicken put on a spit and roasted by rotating on either an open flame or a direct source of heat over a grill or in an oven (source: The Spruce Eats). Rotating it makes for even cooking.
This is essential because chicken should not be eaten rare. Raw or rare chicken is susceptible to being contaminated with Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens (source: CDC).
In 2005, a Salmonella outbreak took place in Spain with over 2,000 cases linked to eating pre-cooked chicken (source: Eurosurveillance).
Listeria contamination can also happen as reported in a study. L. monocytogenes, the bacteria that causes listeriosis, was found in a commercial ready-to-eat chicken in Maryland (source: BMC Veterinary Research).
These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses and could endanger both the mother and the baby because their immune systems are weak during this time.
Chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 °F (74 °C) for it to be safe for consumption. This temperature doesn’t just apply to a whole chicken or all its parts, but also ground chicken, sausage, giblets, and whatever you stuff the bird with (source: Food Safety).
The best way to tell if rotisserie chicken is cooked is by using a food thermometer (our recommended food thermometer is this one, from Amazon). Safely cooked chicken can differ in color from white, pink, or tan, so you can’t always tell just by looking at it.
The food thermometer should be inserted in the innermost part of the whole chicken, or the thickest part of the chicken parts.
All the meat, even any pinkish part, is safe to consume if the minimum safe internal temperature of 165 °F (74 °C) is achieved (source: USDA).
Another thing to look out for is the salt content of some commercial chicken. They can be soaked or brined in high salt. It’s not recommended to eat late amounts of salty foods during pregnancy.
Apart from increasing the risk of developing pregnancy-induced hypertension, high-salt foods can negatively affect the fetus’ urine excretion and overall renal functionality (source: The Journal of Endocrinology).
While rotisserie chickens cooked at a high temperature can produce Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) which are mutagenic compounds that can cause cancer, eating ready-to-eat meat products like rotisserie chicken won’t increase the uptake of these compounds (source: Meat Science).
However, it’s a personal preference whether you want to eat the skin because apart from them being the first to get burned in the process, they also contain high amounts of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) oleic, palmitic, and linoleic acids (source: Food Science & Nutrition).
Constant consumption of foods high in SFAs can raise the levels of LDL and serum cholesterol which could lead to cardiovascular diseases (source: Foods). A high LDL and cholesterol during early pregnancy can result in babies having the same high risks (Source: Journal of Clinical Lipidology). That said, it’s probably OK in small amounts.
Hot Rotisserie Chicken
Most recipes for rotisserie chicken have an average cooking temperature of 300 °F (149 °C) to 350 °F (177 °C). Cooking temperatures can vary as long as the innermost or thickest part of the chicken reaches the safe internal temperature as stated above.
After cooking, especially in food establishments, rotisserie chicken should be kept at a holding temperature of over 140 °F (60 °C). This is because bacteria that cause diseases can grow between temperatures of 40 °F (4 °C) to 140 °F (60 °C) (source: USDA).
Cold Rotisserie Chicken
If you cooked or bought a rotisserie chicken and could not finish it, only keep it for 3–4 days and refrigerate at 40 °F (4 °C) or less to prevent them from spoiling (source: USDA).
Deli meats or cold cuts of chicken, on the other hand, are not advisable to be eaten without reheating because they could be contaminated with listeria. It is best to refrain from buying or eating cooked rotisserie chicken located in the refrigerated section for meats at the deli meat counter, unless you’re able to heat it up (source: Piedmont).
Reheated Rotisserie Chicken
Reheating rotisserie chicken needs to reach the same safe internal temperature as you would cook it which is 165 °F (74 °C).
Rotisserie chicken can be reheated, but it is not advisable to reheat them several times as this will increase the risk of contamination through equipment or improper handling processes (source: S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control).
You can always prepare another dish with the leftover chicken. You can create chicken quesadilla, enchiladas, sliders, salads, pot pies, noodle soups, muffin pizzas, nachos, coconut curry, casseroles, pasta, and much more.
Overall, these convenient and delicious chickens are safe – just watch the internal temperature, and make sure it’s always reheated to make it safe.