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Air Fryer Whole Chicken is a delectable chicken dinner that doesn't require special tools. Season the chicken in 5 minutes and the air fryer does the rest! It's juicy inside, crispy outside, and loved by everyone!
Better than rotisserie chicken
Air fryer whole chicken is a convenient and cost-effective way to get all the comfort and flavor of rotisserie chicken without using any special rotisserie methods or tools. Your air fryer doesn't even need to have a spinning rotisserie function. The basket or drawer insert is the only accessory you need – and every air fryer comes equipped with either.
I was skeptical about making whole chicken in an air fryer, until I did. Guys, it's a game changer for family dinners, especially with food prices these days!
Why you'll love this recipe
- 5 minute prep - no trussing, no rotisserie tools, no marinade - just oil, season, and air fry the chicken...really!
- hands-free cooking - except for the one-time flip, you don't have to touch the chicken while it cooks.
- customizable - you can season the chicken using your favorite spices or seasonings. See my suggestions below.
- Budget-friendly - buying the whole bird is cheaper than buying pieces. Also, store bought cooked whole chicken is expensive (if it's not from Costco).
- The chicken sits above the grease in the fryer which makes crispy skin.
- Use leftover chicken to make chicken tortilla soup, chicken fried rice, and chicken Shepherd's pie, and stove-top chicken and broccoli casserole.
- Easy cleanup - especially if using a pod-style air fryer (read more about air fryer styles below!)
You can customize the chicken seasoning to your liking. The ingredient amounts are listed in the recipe below.
- whole chicken - these range from 2 ½ pounds to 5 ½ pounds. I used a 6-pound chicken in my Cosori 5.8 quart XL it fits perfectly as you can see from my photos.
- garlic powder - If using garlic salt, I recommend reducing the amount of salt listed in the recipe.
- paprika - Use Hungarian or smoked paprika. Both are fabulous seasonings for chicken.
- salt and pepper - Use as much or as little as you like.
- olive oil - Or preferred oil.
How to cook whole chicken in the air fryer
Whole chicken in the air fryer takes 5 minutes of active prep and one hour of hands-off air frying except for one flip. It's hard to believe you get such a crispy and juicy rotisserie-style chicken with such little effort. Enjoy my step-by-step photo instructions. You'll find the full recipe below.
Step 1: Before air frying – I recommend tempering chicken by resting it at room temperature about 20 minutes to remove the chill. This promotes evenly cooked meat without extra steps on your part. You can do this while the chicken is still in its packaging or once it has been seasoned.
Also, if your air fryer requires preheating, set it to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Use a paper towel to pat excess moisture from the skin. You want the entire surface as dry as possible to create crispier skin.
Step 3: Combine chicken seasoning with olive oil and brush over the chicken to coat.
Step 4: Place chicken, breast-side down, in the fryer basket or tray. Air fry 30 minutes at 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Remove tray from cooker, flip chicken over and air fry an additional 10-20 minutes, or until it reaches the safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The chicken size will impact the final cook time.
Step 6: Transfer whole chicken to a loosely covered plate and allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.
What size air fryer to cook whole chicken
I tested this whole chicken recipe in my Cosori 5.8 quart XL air fryer and my larger air fryer oven. As you can see from my photos, this pod-style fryer accommodates a 6-pound chicken with room to spare! While oven-style fryers are known to accommodate larger sizes, they're not required for air frying whole chicken. In fact, a chicken can be as small as 2.5 pounds, which will fit in fairly small fryers.
So, if you have a pod-style fryer, find the chicken size that fits, make note of its weight, and add it to your master shopping list. If you have any questions about whole chicken, or air fryer models, I'm happy to help you in the comments section below the recipe.
Recipe tips for success
remove chill: Allow the chicken to rest at room temperature before cooking to remove the chill. This tempering promotes even heat distribution and cooks the chicken more efficiently. It's optional, but recommended.
remove moisture: Pat the skin completely dry before adding seasoning because excess moisture doesn't promote crispy skin.
type of oil: You can use any oil. I prefer extra virgin olive oil for air fried whole chicken for its heart-smart qualities. Also the air fryer temperature keeps the oil well within its smoke point range.
seasonings: I'm using my favorite chicken seasoning recipe here but you can substitute with any spice blend such as an Italian herb blend, Cajun seasoning, jerk seasoning, or poultry seasoning.
rest the chicken after air frying: Always allow a minimum 5 minute rest after air frying to allow carryover cooking and to keep the juices from spilling out.
Do I need to truss whole chicken for the air fryer?
It depends. Trussing secures legs close to the chicken during cooking to prevent them drying out. This is recommended if you're using a spinning rotisserie feature because it secures the chicken and prevents the legs flopping around or getting stuck as it slowly spins.
But, if you're using my preferred method where the whole chicken is stationary in the pod-style basket or oven-style tray, I find trussing to be unnecessary. In fact, I found out the hard way that it caused the chicken to sit too close to the heating element and resulted in burned the skin. So, no trussing for me.
How to know when whole chicken is fully cooked
Before serving, always confirm that chicken has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a quick-read thermometer inserted into the flesh of the chicken, next to the bone. Repeat as often as needed during the cooking process, sanitizing the thermometer between uses to avoid contamination.
To freeze whole chicken, I recommend cutting each section away from the cavity and allowing to cool. Then, separate the chicken from the skin, bones, and any soft tissue. This allows the chicken to reheat more evenly and efficiently. It also gives you the base material to make a delicious stock or bone broth.
How do you serve whole chicken?
You can serve the whole chicken on a platter and carve as you go. Or, cut whole chicken into sections and serve with tongs.
While the chicken rests after frying, there's time to whip up air fryer mushrooms, air fryer Brussels sprouts, or air fryer asparagus. No matter what, you will absolutely love this chicken in your dinner recipe rotation.
More chicken recipes we love
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Oven Baked Chicken Thighs
- Honey Hot Chicken Wings
- Baked Chicken Legs
- Oven Baked Wings
- Lemon Greek Chicken
Air Fryer Whole Chicken
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- 1 (5-pound) Whole Uncooked Chicken giblets removed
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil or other cooking oil
- Optional: Allow CHICKEN to rest at room temperature about 20 minutes to remove the chill.
- If your air fryer requires preheating, set it to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pat the chicken completely dry with a paper towel and remove any giblets from the inner cavity.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together GARLIC POWDER, PAPRIKA, SALT, PEPPER, and OLIVE OIL.
- Brush or smear spice mixture over the surface of the whole chicken.
- Place the bird breast side down in the air fry basket (press the back side as flat as possible to prevent it being too close to the burner inside the cooker.)
- Air fry the chicken for 30 minutes.
- Carefully open the unit, remove the basket (or tray) and use tongs to flip the chicken over so it's facing breast side up.
- Air fry another 10-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The chicken size will determine the final cook time.
- Transfer whole chicken to a plate, loosely cover, and rest 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
- To store, allow chicken cool completely and refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days. Freeze up to 30 days (or longer if vacuum sealed).
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