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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.

overhead shot of an air fryer whole chicken

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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 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.

This Air fryer Whole Chicken makes a great Sunday dinner or holiday meal. Serve it with Coleslaw, Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts, and Hasselback Potatoes.

Air fry a whole chicken for Thanksgiving or Christmas if you’re having a small group. Air Fryer Turkey Breast is another great choice for a smaller holiday gathering.

low angle shot of an air fried whole chicken

more great air fryer recipes you’ll love

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

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

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By on February 1st, 2019

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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