When I cook chicken, the flavor seems to be concentrated in the skin. But when I get a rotisserie chicken from Costco, it seems to be very flavorful through and through, beyond just the skin.

I've experimented with various seasonings, including salt/pepper, soy sauce, or various store-bought marinades. They're all good, but again, all the flavor seems to be in the skin.

In my chicken quest, and out of admiration of Costco chicken, I've purchased a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie oven, which I use regularly. I'm quite the novice cook, so it has certainly helped the level and consistency of my chicken. However it seems to make little difference when it comes to flavor.

From what I know, cutting the chicken into pieces gives the chicken more flavor. But I'm looking for other solutions please.

How can I achieve more flavorful chicken through and through?

11 Answers 11


One option to consider to add flavour to a chicken is brining. I've personally never brined a chicken, but everytime I come across mention of it in a foodie blog, forum or elsewhere, it always seems to be considered a good way to impart additional flavour into the meat.

Since writing this answer I've followed Nigella Lawson's recipe for Spiced and Superjuicy Roast Turkey which has resulted in fantastically tasty and moist turkey at Christmas every year, to the point where I won't countenance turkey at Christmas without brining it now. If this translates as well to chicken (which I fully admit I should've tried by now!) then it's well worth the time and effort.

  • I absolutely love a brined and grilled chicken.
    – justkt
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 11:51
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    Just watch out- most commercially-sold birds are already injected with a sodium solution and brining could make the meat unbearably salty. Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 21:52
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    Brining is absolutely the way to go with chicken for full, robust flavours and plenty of moisture. Use an 8% brine solution for a whole chicken, soaking for 6 hours and rinsing thoroughly in clean water after. I've never heard of commercial birds being sodium-injected in the UK - that's awful.
    – Gary
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 19:41

Brining works well, but it can take some time. A possibly faster way is to use a marinade injector. They look like large hypodermic needles, and you use them to inject flavoring into the chicken meat before cooking.

Butter, herb mixtures, salty things, and garlic are all very good. Put everything in a blender if you use chunky ingredients.

  • 5
    Or if you can get it, kosher chicken is actually pre-brined, since part of the kashering process is to pack the meat in salt to draw out the blood. That's why many chefs like kosher meat for their recipes, since it saves a step.
    – Martha F.
    Commented Aug 18, 2010 at 16:34

What kind of chicken are you cooking? I can really taste the difference between a cheap store bought vs Free Range from farmers market/ Butcher - buy the best you can afford.

I usually stuff the cavity of whole chickens with a selection of: Onions, Lemons, Herbs (Thyme, Rosemary) and garlic along with a descent glug of oil, salt and pepper. Then rub the skin with salt, pepper and oil.

Cover the chicken for the first 2/3rds of cooking then remove to brown skin.

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    +1 from me for the quality of the chicken. A cheap fast-reared chicken will be virtually flavourless as compared to a free-range of a breed that's not one of those specifically bred to grow huge swathes of breast meat at the expense of everything else.
    – Rob
    Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 10:03
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    Using aromatics such as carrots, celery, bay leaves, garlic, and onions do wonders for roasts and I can imagine rotisserie as well. The trouble would be getting it all to stay inside the cavity while it turns. Commented Aug 17, 2010 at 17:09
  • I usually cook a 2-pack of Foster Farms Young Chicken (one at a time of course) or the grocery store equivalent. I've always been hesitant to try out free range chickens, because I've heard that taste is indistinguishable. Thanks for your answer, I'll give it a try!
    – Arlen
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 8:25
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    The first paragraph is only partially true; you do get what you pay for, usually, and free-range chickens are often better than the alternative, but the definition of "free range" is pretty loose and doesn't actually guarantee that the chicken ate a balanced diet, which is why some free-range birds taste better. So don't just expect anything labeled "free-range" to taste better; you might have to do a little more research and/or experimentation.
    – Aaronut
    Commented Dec 2, 2010 at 19:11
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    @Rachael Wentworth- Try sewing the cavity shut with dental floss (non-minty, of course!) or just holding it shut with toothpicks. Most birds have enough extra skin to hold in all your stuffing. Commented Dec 4, 2010 at 21:51

Hands down the best way to get the flavor into the meat is by: INJECTION.

I, myself, was skeptical of this method. I tried it out at Thanksgiving and using a Creole Butter injection marinade. To my surprise, it was the best turkey Ive ever eaten. My friends were so impressed.

I highly recommend it. It keeps the meat seriously moist and flavorful. Even the white meat turkey was soft like dark meat, and delicious.

Here is the bottle I used: http://www.brucefoods.com/mystOre/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=21&idproduct=67

I highly recommend this stuff!

  • I used to work the rotisserie in my local supermarket; the flavoured chickens there were injected with a gloopy seasoning. Hence the flavour tastes 'bigger' throughout.
    – Gary
    Commented Mar 2, 2011 at 19:38

Seconding Rob's suggestion.

Brining is the only way to go with poultry. It will pull the seasonings deep into the meat of the bird and produce a very moist product.

I have used Alton Brown's turkey recipe on chicken with great success. It takes some preparation of course but I won't cook a turkey any other way anymore.


One secret I use is crushed chicken bullion cubes. You can add a couple to your marinade or brine if you're using that approach. You can also just form a paste with a little olive oil and rub this into the meat under the skin. Let it sit for at least a half an hour.

The great thing about this method is that instead of flavoring your chicken with more and more flavors like lemon, Rosemary, or other herbs, you're instead flavoring it with chicken. You can turn the blandest boneless, skinless chicken breast into the most amazing thing. It will taste as good as a skin-on piece of dark meat.

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    Well, actually, you're flavoring it with salt and MSG. Check the ingredients in your cube.
    – derobert
    Commented Sep 29, 2010 at 19:02
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    @derobert: Corn Starch, Non-Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Yeast Extract, Natural Chicken and Rosemary Flavouring, Roasted Onions, Chicken Fat, Dehydrated Chicken Meat, Turmeric, Celery, Parsley, Rosemary, Garlic.
    – hobodave
    Commented Sep 29, 2010 at 22:39
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    "yeast extract" most likely means autolyzed yeast, another source of free glutamic acid (just like MSG). Though apparently yours have no salt.
    – derobert
    Commented Oct 1, 2010 at 18:18

I've had wonderful success simply from spatchcocking and grilling the chicken.

  1. Cut out the spine with a pair of shears.
  2. With the bird breast up, press down with enough force to break the breast bone.
  3. Fold legs and wings over top.
  4. Season, and sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice and dust with herbs (provencal mix is perfect)
  5. Grill on medium heat, bone side down until almost done (15-20 minutes, watch for flare ups)
  6. Flip, on high to crisp up the skin. Let stand.

I generally find that I get better results to slightly undercook the bird, and then finish it in the microwave for about 1 or two minutes before standing. I don't know why, but the bird seems moister.


In addition to stuffing the cavity, I also season underneath the skin.

Starting from the neck, I put my fingers in between the meat and skin to create small pockets. This involves breaking connections between the meat and skin but not actually tearing the skin. I then spread the seasoning in those pockets.


I have discovered that making a paste of butter, salt, pepper and herbs, and rubbing it under the meat, make the meat more flavorful. You separate the skin from the meat by working your hand under the skin where the breast meets the opening of the cavity. Do one side at a time, and be gentle as the skin tears easily. work you fingers over the breast and leg areas. Then take half the paste and rub it over all the meat. If the skin tears I sew it back with toothpics. The meat will absorb the flavors. I do this to my turkeys also.


I make homemade chicken broth and keep it in the freezer. The person who advised to buy quality chicken is right, you can ask your butcher to help. Then marinate it for 24 hours. (many online recipes in homemade chicken stock, good olive oil, vinegar, fresh lemon, lime, and/or orange juice, garlic, herbes de provence and fresh rosemary.

Then grill, bake or broil it. Enjoy!


I poach chicken for salads and stir fries. Wash chicken in cold water. Place in pan just big in enough to hold the chicken, and cover with water. Heat to boiling. Add one tsp of salt ( rounded for small and heaped for large ) two spring onions and a walnut shell sized piece of ginger sliced.Ginger can be duplicated for traditional flavouring ie sage or thyme. Place chicken in boiling water and top up with more water if needed to cover chicken. Bring to boil for ten minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Leave for 2 hours. Chicken will be juicy, tasty and tender. Wonderful with salads, sandwiches and stir fries. Choose your favourite flavourings but don't overdo them Of course, use the liquid for soup.

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