Cooking a whole chicken in the air fryer is a delicious and easy dinner recipe. The air fryer whole chicken is juicy and tender inside, with a nice crispy skin outside. This is a healthy family dinner that cooks in about an hour!
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A whole chicken is one of my favorite dinners to make in my air fryer! It is simple to prepare and delicious.
This meal has become part of my regular dinner rotation since it is easy and everyone loves roast chicken. Air fryer whole chicken gives you taste comparable to store bought rotisserie chicken with almost no effort.
Why You Will Love Air Fryer Whole Chicken
- Roast chicken is a perfect family dinner.
- The air fryer cooks the chicken in only one hour, meaning it can be an easy weeknight meal.
- It takes only a few minutes of hands on prep time to make this roast chicken. There is no basting or marinading necessary for delicious flavor.
- Air fryer whole chicken is low carb and keto friendly and is a healthy dinner.
- If there are any leftovers you can use them for a second meal, like chicken bacon ranch pizza or Buffalo chicken zucchini boats.
- Whole chicken – Chickens are usually sold as frying chickens, which weigh 3-4 pounds or roasting chickens, which weigh 5-6 pounds. For this recipe the size is the important factor since it needs to fit in the air fryer. I have no trouble putting a 5 1/2 pound chicken in my 5.8 quart Cosori air fryer. If you have a smaller air fryer choose a smaller chicken.
- Spices – For this recipe I use a simple spice combination of salt, pepper and paprika. But you can vary the spices used. You can find some other suggestions in the section below.
Do I Need Oil to Cook the Chicken?
You do not need to add any oil to cook a whole chicken in the air fryer. A chicken has a decent amount of fat and as the chicken cooks that fat will render and add flavor and crispness to the chicken.
One of the advantages of cooking in an air fryer is you don’t need to use as much oil as in a conventional oven.
But if you want to add a little bit of oil to the skin you certainly can. Spritzing the chicken with spray oil will make the skin a little browner and a little crispier.
Just make sure you use olive or other vegetable oil in a spray bottle and not a commercial cooking spray. Commercial cooking sprays can cause the nonstick finish on the air fryer basket to peel.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Prep the Chicken
Check to see if the giblets and neck are packaged with the chicken. At my grocery store it seems to be somewhat unpredictable, sometimes there are giblets and sometimes there aren’t.
If there are giblets take them out and do whatever you want with them. Then use a paper towel pat the chicken all over to dry the skin off. The skin will crisp better if it is dry.
Rub the spices all over the chicken, making sure to cover the bird thoroughly. It is best to use your hands for this, just wash them well afterwards.
2. Air Fry the Chicken
Put the chicken in the air fryer basket with the breast side down. This means the drumsticks are underneath the chicken.
The chicken breast meat will stay juicier if you start it with the breast side down. Set the air fryer at 360 degrees F and cook the chicken for 30 minutes.
Then use tongs to flip the chicken over so that the breast side is up. Put it back in the air fryer, still set for 360 degrees F, for another 30 minutes if it is 5+ pounds and 20 minutes if it is 3-4 1/2 pounds.
Different air fryer brands and sizes cook at different rates, so always check the temperature of the meat before serving! Use an instant read thermometer to ensure the chicken measures 165 degrees F in the thigh, with the thermometer not touching the bone. Don’t try to just go by cooking time.
3. Let the Chicken Rest
When the chicken is done cooking take it out of the air fryer and put it on a serving platter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
Letting the chicken rest will make it easier to carve and will let some of the juices absorb back into the meat.
How to Serve
I usually let my kids fight over who gets the chicken legs and slice up the breast meat for serving. But if you’d like to carve your chicken a little more formally check out this article for complete carving directions.
The chicken goes well with many different side dishes. I like to wipe out the basket with a paper towel and then make a quick cooking vegetable like air fryer green beans or air fryer delicata squash while the chicken rests.
How to Store
Other Spice Variations
This recipe has a very basic spice rub which is easy to change up. Just use about 2 Tablespoons of spices to make sure the chicken is nice and tasty. Here are some great options.
- Harissa chicken – Use 2 Tablespoons of Harissa powder on the chicken
- Lemon chicken – Use lemon pepper seasoning along with salt and the zest of one lemon.
- Italian chicken – Replace the paprika with Italian seasoning.
- Barbecue chicken – Use a your favorite barbecue rub to coat the chicken.
- Cajun chicken – Replace the paprika with Cajun seasoning.
Frequently Asked Questions
A 5.8 quart air fryer should be large enough to cook a 5 pound whole chicken. A smaller air fryer, like the 4 quart size, should fit a smaller 3-4 pound frying chicken.
Occasionally roaster chickens will be larger birds, up to about 7 pounds. A chicken that large might be difficult to fit in most air fryer.
In general you should think about the size of your air fryer basket when selecting a chicken. If you aren’t sure err on the side of picking a smaller bird!
No, you shouldn’t try to air fry a frozen whole chicken. While individual chicken pieces that are frozen can be air fried successfully a whole chicken is too big and too dense.
Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight before air frying it.
It won’t hurt to truss the chicken, but it isn’t necessary. It might make the result look more fancy and professional, but I never bother.
Find More Easy Air Fryer Dinner Recipes
- 1 whole chicken (4-6 pounds)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Make sure the chicken fits in your air fryer basket before you start!
- Take the chicken out of the package and remove the giblets from the cavity if they are there. Throw them out or put them aside to use later.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Combine the paprika with the salt and pepper. Rub it all over the chicken, coating both sides well.
- Put the chicken in the air fryer with the breast side down (this means the legs are tucked underneath). Cook it at 360 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Then pull the basket out and use tongs to carefully flip the bird over so the breast side is on top. Cook at 360 degrees F for another 20 minutes if you have a 3-4 1/2 pound chicken and for 30 minutes if your chicken is 5 pounds or more.
- Once the time is done check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Test the chicken thigh, not touching the bone. You need a temperature of 165 F for food safety.
- When the chicken is done take it out of the air fryer basket and put it on a serving platter. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.
Air fryer sizes and power levels vary. So always check the internal temperature of the chicken before serving, don't just rely on time!
Many other spice variations are possible, just use about 2 Tablespoons of spices to thoroughly coat the chicken.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 244Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 435mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 27g
Nutrition facts are estimates.