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How to Air Fry a Whole Chicken

My world has been rocked by an air fryer whole chicken. I’m talking about a whole chicken cooked to crispy-skinned, succulent, flavorful deliciousness.

A whole chicken cooked in an air fryer--crispy-skinned, succulent, and flavorful

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Confession: I am a gadget freak. I’m almost embarrassed by how many kitchen gadgets I own. I said almost. I just happily added one more large cooking appliance to my kitchen, and I’m not sorry about it. Not sorry at all.

It’s an air fryer. A big, beautiful GoWise 5.8-Quart Air Fryer. And although it has to live in the basement due to space issues, it is pretty much my new BFF.

The air fryer is, of course, great for cooking all your favorite crispy, crunchy fried foods like French fries, egg rolls, and donuts. They turn out light and crisp, and you don’t have to deal with a vat of piping-hot cooking oil.

And skipping all that oil makes even the naughtiest junk foods much lower in fat and calories.

whole chicken rubbed with spices in the air fryer basket ready to be cooked

Air Fryer Whole Chicken Is the Best

But the thing I love to cook most in my air fryer most is surprising—a simple whole chicken. Rub some spices and olive oil on the bird, stick it in the basket, and cook it for an hour (flipping it once) and you get super tender, flavorful meat and skin so crispy it crackles.

The best part? Because of its totally enclosed cooking area, you don’t end up with chicken grease all over your oven—or anywhere else. And, as if I needed more reasons to love my new air fryer, it’s incredibly easy to clean, too.

air fryer whole chicken cooked to crispy-skinned perfection

Air fryer whole chicken makes a great filling for Homemade Chicken Enchiladas, Tamales, and Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie.

Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven

You might be thinking, well, I already have a convection oven. Doesn’t an air fryer do the same thing? The answer is yes… and no. Yes, an air fryer is essentially a convection oven.

You can do pretty much the same things in an air fryer that you can in a convection oven. You can bake, fry, and roast in it. But because of its design, the air fryer makes foods much crisper and cooks them faster than most convection ovens.

I still use my convection oven for plenty of foods—like pizzas, cakes, and other items too large for my air fryer basket. But when I want that crispy, crunchy, fried exterior, I choose my air fryer every time.

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Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Air Fryer Whole Chicken

A whole chicken cooked in an air fryer--crispy-skinned, succulent, and flavorful

I love to cook a whole chicken in my air fryer. The skin comes out shatteringly crisp and the meat is succulent and flavorful. I rub a simple spice blend and a bit of olive oil on the outside for flavor. This version has a bit of a Mexican twist, but you can substitute any spice rub you like. I like to dry brine my chicken (generously salt it and let it sit in the fridge, uncovered, for anywhere from a couple of hours to overnight), but this step is optional. If you want to cook your chicken straightaway, just start with Step 3 of these instructions. I often serve the chicken straight out of the fryer or shred the meat and set it aside for other meals. It makes a great filling for Homemade Chicken Enchiladas, Tamales, Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie, or any number of other dishes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 1 whole chicken (4 to 5 pounds), rinsed and patted dry
  • Kosher salt


  1. Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken and then shower it generously all over with salt. Separate the skin from the breasts and rub some salt underneath the skin, as well. Place the chicken in a large baking dish or roasting pan and then refrigerate it, uncovered, for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. To make the rub, in a small bowl, stir together the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper.
  3. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil and then with the spice rub, rubbing some of the mixture underneath the skin.
  4. Place the chicken into the basket of the air fryer with the breast side down. Cook on 350ºF for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the basket from the air fryer and carefully flip the chicken over (I use large spring-loaded tongs). Return the basket to the air fryer and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken reaches 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Remove the chicken from the basket and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 179Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 66mgSodium 134mgCarbohydrates 0gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 20g

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