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.
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, I definitely recommend giving it a try.
Cooking a whole chicken used to be this hour-long affair that involved roasting in the oven for at least an hour, along with a messy clean up. But I powered through because it’s a delicious meal, it also ensures we have left over chicken for sandwiches and salads throughout the week. We love this easy chicken and broccoli.
Now, I’m thrilled to make the air fryer whole chicken, because it is so incredibly easy.
You will likely be very surprised by how little time it takes to make a whole chicken in the air fryer. Thanks to the circulating air and the small chamber in which it cooks, the chicken can be cooked in just 50 minutes with minimal clean up.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Whole chicken – A 3 pound chicken with giblets removed. 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, seasoned salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, and sage. You can also use a dry rub specifically for chicken.
- Lemon & garlic – You can add a little lemon juice and garlic to the olive oil to give even more flavoring to the chicken, if you want. This is optional.
- Air fryer: I use this 4-quart basket-style air fryer. It’s large enough to fit a meal for 4-6. But some things need more space in the air fryer basket, so they cook evenly.
- Kitchen tongs: It’s very easy to remove food from your air fryer with kitchen tongs. I use these kitchen tongs that are silicon coated so they don’t scratch the interior.
- Meat thermometer: The only way to tell if meat is fully cooked to the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer. I use this Instant Read thermometer. It’s so quick to open the basket and check the temp.
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.
- I use a Ninja MaxXL air fryer (pictured left). If you don’t have an air fryer yet, check out these options to find one that fits your needs.
- See reviews and prices for air fryers on Amazon.
- Here’s a printable Air Fryer Cooking Times Cheat Sheet to get you started.
- Click to find more recipes to make in your Air Fryer.
- Learn how to make fun things in the air fryer, like potato wedges, pork belly bites, and chicken wings.
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 ONE: Prep The Chicken
Do note that you’ll need to make sure whatever chicken you buy can fit into your basket. I have a 4.6 quart air fryer and it fits a 3 pound chicken, but would not be big enough for a 5 pound chicken.
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.
STEP TWO: Cook 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.
So set your air fryer for a few minutes longer than you intend to cook it for. In this case, we’ll set it for 60 minutes.
After a 5-minute warm up, place the seasoned chicken breast-side down in the basket and start the clock. There’s no need to oil the basket, since the chicken is coated with butter.
After 30 minutes, turn the chicken over so it’s breast-side up.
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. The thighs will cook faster and will reach the correct internal temp faster, so be sure to check the breast, without touching the bone.
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.
When it’s done, remove it from the basket to 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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
What To Do With Leftover Chicken
Leftover chicken can be transformed into a variety of delicious dishes such as chicken salad, chicken sandwich, chicken wrap, chicken stir fry, chicken soup, chicken tacos, chicken fried rice, casseroles, chicken pot pie, chicken nachos, pizza, or fajitas.
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:
- Air fryer cauliflower
- Air fryer baked potatoes
- Brussels sprouts
- Corn on the cob
- Crispy smashed potatoes
- Cottage fries
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. The best part is that every part of the chicken gets crisped equally. No soggy spots like when you cook it in the oven.
How do you flip a chicken while cooking in the air fryer?
We like to turn the chicken over after 30 minutes of cooking so it’s breast-side up. 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.
Do I need to preheat my air fryer?
It’s not absolutely necessary, no. 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?
The oven might be a better option if you’re looking for even cooking and have a larger chicken to roast. On the other hand, if you want a quicker cooking time and crave crispy skin, the air fryer is a great choice
Can whole chickens be cooked in an air fryer?
Yes, whole chickens can indeed be cooked in an air fryer!
What To Do With Leftover Chicken
A whole chicken is such a great meal to make because it keeps on giving. You can easily make multiple meals from the one chicken. Then you can use the left overs for other things, like chicken salad, these delicious chicken flautas or these chicken southwestern eggrolls.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
Easy Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe
- 3 pounds chicken
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
- Preheat the air fryer on 350° F (180° C).
- Pat the chicken dry. Mix the olive oil and seasonings in a small bowl. Brush the entire chicken with the seasoning paste.
- 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. (50 minutes is typically enough for a 3 lb chicken – cook less if your chicken is smaller and more if bigger). 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.
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.
PIN IT FOR LATER
Laura is a passionate foodie and owner of Air Fry Anytime She is dedicated to sharing delicious recipes and helpful tips for using air fryers at home. With years of experience in the kitchen and a love for healthy, flavorful cooking, Laura has become an expert at using air fryers to create amazing meals that are both nutritious and delicious.