Easy Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe

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Did you know you can cook a whole chicken in the Air Fryer? Not only is it one of the easiest ways to make a chicken, it comes out with crispy skin and the juiciest chicken. Skip the oven and make it in the air fryer.

air fryer whole chicken

Every time I make a whole chicken in the air fryer, I am astounded by how perfect it turns out. It’s so easy to do that it makes me wonder why I’d cook it any other way. If you haven’t done it, now’s the time to start.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Crispy and juicy: This is the absolute best way I’ve ever cooked a chicken. The skin is perfectly crispy and the meat stays super juicy.
  • Easy cleanup: All you have to do is clean the air fryer basket. Super simple.
  • Leftovers: Left over chicken is great for sandwiches and salads throughout the week. We make chicken tacos, southwestern chicken salads, you name it.

rocker_dad says: 5 stars I can’t believe how fantastic this air fryer chicken turned out!

Mary221 says: 5 stars I was skeptical about cooking a whole chicken in an air fryer but my husband said to give it a try. My family absolutely loved it.

Ingredients You’ll Need

chicken ingredients
  • Whole chicken – I used a 3-pound chicken here. When buying your chicken be mindful of the size of your air fryer. You don’t want a bird that is too big for your basket.
  • Olive oil – Olive oil is my go-to oil though you could use something else. You could also use melted butter.
  • Seasonings – Paprika, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, and sage. You can also use a dry rub specifically for chicken.

Equipment Information

Why Use an Air Fryer

An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.

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How to Make an Air Fryer Whole Chicken

There are two steps to making a whole chicken in the air fryer. It’s actually very, very simple. It consists of seasoning the chicken and putting it into the air fryer. Seriously. Does it get any easier than that?

I also love how everyone raves about the chicken like I spent hours making it. Maximum kudos with minimal time! That’s what we’re going for here.

Step 1: Prep The Chicken

Do note that you’ll need to make sure whatever chicken you buy can fit into your basket. I use a 5.5-quart air fryer most of the time and it fits up to a 4-pound chicken. My outdoor air fryer fits a much larger chicken. Whatever you buy, just make sure it fits your basket.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator around 30 minutes before you want to start cooking it, so it can come up to in temperature. It’s okay if you skip this extra time, but it might mean cooking it for a minute or two longer.

Mix up your wet rub and brush it all over the chicken’s exterior, making sure to get into the crevices.

rub mixture
chicken with rub

Step 2: Air fry it

I always find that it’s best to let the air fryer pre-heat for a few minutes. It helps keep the food from sticking to the basket, and just like the oven, it helps keep the cooking time consistent.

I preheat my air fryer on 350 degrees F for 5 minutes.

After a 5-minute warm up, place the seasoned chicken breast-side down in the basket and set it for 50 minutes. There’s no need to oil the basket, since the chicken is coated with oil. If you have a temperature probe that you can leave in the chicken, insert it into the thickest part of the breast.

chicken breast side down

After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over so it’s breast-side up.

chicken on the grill

This can be a bit challenging, because you need to be careful not to upset the beautiful crisping skin. If you use tongs to grasp it around the center, the skin will likely break. Instead, I use 2 forks on either end to spear it and lift it out, then you can rotate it and put it back in.

When you near the end of the cooking time, start checking the internal temperature of the chicken, if you didn’t use a probe. It should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Continue cooking and checking every 5 minutes until that temperature is reached.

Not all air fryers will cook at the same rate, so it’s very important to check the internal temperature of your chicken at regular intervals to ensure it gets cooked to the proper temperature. I use this handy instant read thermometer by Thermapen.

Step 3: Rest the chicken

air fryer chicken

When it’s done, remove it from the basket to let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. This will make sure all the juiciness doesn’t run out the second you cut in.

Cooking Temperature for Chicken

To ensure that chicken is cooked safely and properly, it should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Using a food thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone to accurately measure the internal temperature.

To ensure meat at the bone is no longer pink, you’d want to cook bone-in pieces, like thighs and wings, to 165°F and let it rest to come up to 170°F.

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What Size Chicken Fits In An Air Fryer

The size of chicken that fits in an air fryer depends on the capacity or dimensions of your specific air fryer model. However, as a general guideline, a whole chicken weighing around 3.5 to 5 pounds should fit comfortably in a standard 6-quart air fryer. If you have a smaller 4-quart model you should look for a 3-4 pound chicken.

It’s always a good idea to check the dimensions and capacity of your specific air fryer to determine the maximum size of chicken that can be accommodated.

How Long To Cook Chicken In An Air Fryer?

3-Pound Chicken – 50 minutes is enough for a 3 lb chicken. Confirm that the internal temperature of the chicken has risen to 165° F (75° C). If not, continue cooking at 5-minute intervals until done.

5-Pound Chicken – 60 minutes is typically enough for a 5-lb whole chicken. Cook it for 30 minutes at 350°(180° C), then turn it over and cook for another 30 minutes. You’ll know chicken is done when the internal temperature of the chicken has risen to 165° F (75° C). If not, continue cooking at 5-minute intervals until done.

How to Store and Reheat

To Store

Let the chicken cool to room temperature before storing. Avoid leaving it out for more than 2 hours, as this increases the risk of bacterial growth. Wrap cooled chicken in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or place them in an airtight container. This will help maintain freshness and prevent the chicken from drying out or absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator or freezer.

Store the chicken in the refrigerator if you plan to consume them within 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, place the chicken in the freezer, where it can be stored for up to 3 months.

To Reheat

Place leftovers in the air fryer basket and cook at 350° F for 5-8 minutes. Check it halfway through cooking and adjust the time as needed.

air fryer whole chicken

Tips For Success

  • Dry the chicken with a paper towel. This step is important as it allows the oil and seasonings to adhere well to the chicken and promotes crispy skin. Excess moisture on the skin can lead to steaming rather than achieving that desired crispy texture.
  • To retain the moisture in the white, drier part of the chicken, it’s recommended to initially place the chicken breast side down. This cooking technique ensures that the juices are distributed and absorbed, keeping the breast meat juicier throughout the cooking process.
  • Flip the chicken halfway through to make sure the skin gets crispy all over. Just be careful not to rip the skin up.
  • Once done cooking place the chicken on a cutting board, cover, and let rest 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb in to the meat before cutting.

What Side Dishes to Serve?

You can serve some really easy side dishes with your main dish cooked in the Air Fryer. Sometimes, you can cook them together in the air fryer to make it even faster.

Some of our favorite side dishes to serve include:

Here are 28 more air fryer side dishes to try

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the chicken have crispy skin?

You won’t believe how crispy the skin is when you take the chicken out of the air fryer. The air circulation helps get it super crispy and crunchy. It’s so delicious, especially with the rub on it. You won’t be able to resist. Every part of the chicken gets crisped equally. No soggy spots like when you cook it in the oven.

Do I need to preheat my air fryer?

It’s not absolutely necessary, but I like to let the air fryer pre-heat for a few minutes. It helps keep the food from sticking to the basket, and just like the oven, it helps keep the cooking time consistent.

Is whole chicken better in the oven or an air fryer?

I think the air fryer is superior to the oven in many ways. It produces a crispier skin while keeping the meat super juicy. And it has a quicker cooking time.

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air fryer chicken

Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe

You can easily cook a whole chicken in the Air Fryer and it comes out with crispy skin and the juiciest chicken.
5 from 136 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 235 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 3-5 pound chicken
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

Instructions
 

  • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Pat the chicken dry. Mix the olive oil and seasonings in a small bowl. Brush the entire chicken with the seasoning paste.
  • Preheat the air fryer on 350° F (180° C) for 5 minutes.
  • Set the chicken, breast side down in the air fryer basket. Cook for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 20-30 minutes. Confirm that the internal temperature of the chicken has risen to 165° F (75° C). If not, continue cooking at 5 minute intervals until done.
  • Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Notes

  • Be sure the chicken you buy can fit in your air fryer basket with a little room around the sides for good air circulation.
  • 50 minutes is typically enough for a 3-lb chicken. You may need to cook less or more, depending on the size of your chicken.

All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 20gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 82mgSodium: 270mgPotassium: 209mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 166IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Air Fryer, Chicken
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30 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe

  1. Jessie says:

    5 stars
    I can’t wait to try roasting a chicken in my air fryer! I usually use my oven, but it would be great to free up the oven space for veggies!

  2. Linda says:

    5 stars
    Oh yum! My chicken turned out so juicy and delicious. I’m a big fan of an air fryer because I don’t really like greasy food so this is my fave recipe to make. Now I just need to get a thermometer.

  3. Noah R says:

    Thank you for sharing your air fryer whole chicken recipe! I’m grateful for the inspiration and a fantastic meal!

  4. Eleanor Glass says:

    I’m trying to watch my sodium intake. Are there any low-sodium alternatives to the seasoning that you suggest for this chicken?

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Eleanor, I would just leave the seasoned salt out of the spice rub all together. There are enough other spices being used that you will get great flavor without it.

  5. Mary221 says:

    5 stars
    I was skeptical about cooking a whole chicken in an air fryer but my husband said to give it a try. My family absolutely loved it.

    • Angela Morris says:

      I can understand that. Once you try it and it comes out great you are set. It really is such as easy way to cook a chicken.

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