Why Costco’s Rotisserie Chicken Will Always Be $4.99

Do you love Costco rotisserie chicken? Then you'll really love that it will always be the same price—here's why.

Costco is known for bulk buys, cheap gas, and some of the best grocery store rotisserie chicken at a budget-friendly cost of only $4.99. But how is Costco able to keep the rotisserie chicken price so low? It’s because they don’t make a profit—seriously! The price has stayed the same despite inflation and supply chain issues, and we’ve gotten to the bottom of it. Plus, here’s why Costco hot dogs are cheap.

How much is rotisserie chicken at Costco?

As mentioned above, Costco’s rotisserie chicken—the whole chicken, not shredded or sliced—is priced at $4.99 throughout the entire globe, and has been since 2009.

Why is rotisserie chicken so cheap at Costco?

It’s the same reason the famous soda-and-hot dog combo hasn’t budged from $1.50 since the deal was introduced in the early 1980s: to keep customers happy. Costco could make a giant profit on chickens by raising the price by only $1, as it sold a record-breaking 106 million rotisserie chickens globally in 2021 alone, up from 101 million in 2020. Instead, the store keeps the prices low on its famous rotisserie chickens and other staples as an incentive to get shoppers in the door.

While the retail grocery chain is technically losing money on their famous chicken, the price is also subsidized by the fact that shoppers have to pay a Costco membership fee.

Additionally, in 2019, Costco opened a 400,000-square-foot poultry processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, to further cut costs on chicken by managing the process from farm to production and ensuring the birds grow to the right size. While you’re here, check out these other secrets Costco employees won’t tell you.

Costco’s thinking behind the decision

As a warehouse members-only club, Costco sells the majority of its products in bulk. As such, most shoppers would ordinarily stop by the warehouse once a month or so to stock up on big-batch items. However, low-cost rotisserie chickens help to ensure shoppers visit more often. And, as the rotisserie chickens are typically located in the back of the store, the hope is that customers will fill their carts with other items as they make their way through the aisles.

Costco’s Chief Financial Officer, Richard Galanti, explained their business philosophy to The Seattle Times in 2015. “I can only tell you what history has shown us: When others were raising their chicken prices from $4.99 to $5.99, we were willing to eat, if you will, $30 to $40 million a year in gross margin by keeping it at $4.99,” Galanti said. “That’s what we do for a living.”

Perhaps the old saying should be amended: “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes—and $4.99 Costco rotisserie chicken.” Next, learn more food facts, plus these supermarket tricks that will save you money.


Susan Bronson
Susan Bronson is a writer and editor based in Northern Wisconsin.