There’s nothing as comforting and delicious as a roast chicken dinner. Since I know this to be so deeply true, a whole chicken was one of the first things I tried when I got my new air fryer, and it was probably the best roast chicken I’d ever made. I’m not sure I’ll ever do one in the regular oven again.
If you’ve ever wanting to roast a whole chicken, but didn’t feel like turning the oven on, you’ve got to try it in the air fryer! I’ve got the tips to make sure you end up with juicy meat and crispy skin. Plus, some helpful info on what size chicken will fit in your air fryer.
Get all the details on cooking a whole chicken in the air fryer below or click here to head straight to the recipe.
Here’s A Video On Air Fryer Chicken:
Why Is Air Fryer Roast Chicken So Good?
Two things. Juicy chicken and crispy skin. Both existing together, which is a rare thing.
Why is it rare to have crispy skin and juicy meat when roasting a chicken? The thing is, we usually roast chickens breast-side-up to get the skin nice and crisp. But that breast meat at the top is white meat and has a tendency to dry out. To get the nice crisp skin, you end up drying out the meat.
However, one way to get really juicy chicken is to roast it, at least for part of the time, breast-side-down. This protects the white breast meat from some extreme heat. Also, because a lot of the fat and juices in the chicken are in the back and legs, when you cook the chicken breast-down those juices make their way all through the chicken. This is why rotisserie chicken is so amazing: The juices from various parts of the chicken get redistributed, making the meat more succulent.
However, if you roast a chicken in a regular oven breast-side-down for part of the roasting time and then flip it over, the skin over the breasts doesn’t have time to brown and crisp.
The problem with a conventional oven then is that you have to choose between juicy meat or crispy skin. With the air fryer, you can have both!
Cooking Air Fryer Whole Chicken
Start by roasting the chicken in the air fryer breast-side-down. You get all that amazing juice redistribution I was talking about and the breast meat is protected for a lot of the roasting time. Then, for the last 15-20 minutes, flip it and roast it breast side up. In the air fryer the heat is circulated really well, and that the short time is enough to really crisp the skin.
The result: Extra juicy meat. Extra crispy skin. One happy chick! (The chick being me! Ha!)
How Many People Will A Whole Chicken Feed?
Usually you figure 1/2 to 3/4 pound of meat per serving. However, because whole chicken and turkey has bones, you need to figure it a little differently since you need to consider the weight of the bones.
When calculating how much whole chicken or turkey you need to serve, you convert this to 1 serving per pound. It’ll weigh less once cooked and once bones are removed.
*Note: Not all chickens will fit in all air fryers. If you have a 5 quart air fryer, you can fit a 4 pound chicken. If you have a 4 quart, you can fit a 3 pound chicken. If your air fryer is smaller than that, a while chicken won’t fit.Print
- 3 to 4 lb. whole chicken*
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- Preheat air fryer to 360°F.
- Take chicken out of the refrigerator. Remove giblets and discard or save for other use.
- In small bowl combine olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Rub all over chicken, inside and out.
- Put chicken in air fryer basket breast-side-down. Cook 30 minutes.
- Flip chicken. Cook another 12-22 minutes, until internal temperature on an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the chicken thigh, being careful not to touch bone.
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This post originally appeared in September 2019 and was revised and republished in March 2023.