Get the best roast chicken with crispy skin and incredibly juicy meat with this air fryer roast chicken recipe! Just season and pop a whole bird into the air fryer – the circulating high heat locks in all the moisture and gives the skin an incredible crisp. Weeknight dinners just got a whole lot simpler.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Roasting a whole chicken in the air fryer is much quicker than in the oven
- One easy trick ensures the chicken remains moist and tender on the inside with perfectly crispy skin on the outside, just like a rotisserie chicken!
- You get perfect roast chicken with no messy roasting pans
This recipe is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal, and it’s also great for meal prep. Simply cook a whole chicken in your air fryer, and then shred or slice it to use in tacos, salads, sandwiches, or whatever else you can dream up.
Scroll down for the printable card for this air fryer whole chicken recipe, or read on for all the details.
What do you need?
The key to selecting a chicken for air frying is to make sure you get the one that is the right size for your air fryer.
I use broiler chickens, which are usually around 2-4 pounds (1-2 kg), and the perfect size for my air fryer. If you have a larger air fryer you could choose a larger chicken, but the cooking times will be longer. The cooking times are dependent on the size of the chicken you use, the smaller the bird, the quicker it will roast.
A little oil is needed for roasting, especially if you want to get really crispy chicken skin. The recipe below specifies light olive oil, but any cooking oil with a high smoke point will work (e.g. avocado oil, vegetable oil).
When air frying, choose a cooking oil with a high smoke point to reduce the chance of your air fryer smoking.
The recipe below uses very simple seasoning of just salt and pepper. However, you can use standard chicken seasoning, or any spice rub, spice mix, or seasoning blend that you like with chicken.
Some ideas for other seasonings to try are:
- Simple salt and pepper
- Traditional rosemary and thyme
- Cajun seasoning
- Smoked paprika and
- Lemon pepper dry rub
- Garlic and rosemary (use garlic powder or crushed garlic cloves)
- Rubbed sage and onion powder
How to roast a whole chicken in the air fryer
This recipe is very simple to prepare, there are just a few simple steps to getting it just right:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F/ 200°C while you prepare the chicken.
- Season the chicken. Pat the raw chicken dry with a paper towel, then drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with seasoning. To get good coverage with the seasoning, rub it evenly over the whole chicken, including inside the cavity.
- Place chicken in the air fryer. If your air fryer is prone to sticking, it is a good idea to place it on a small square of parchment or baking paper for the first cooking period. Note: some air fryers do not recommend using parchment, so check your manual if you are unsure
- Air fry chicken. Lower the temperature of the air fryer to 360°F/180°C for 25 minutes (half the cooking time, see table in the section below).
- Flip the chicken. When the first cooking time is up, carefully flip the chicken over. This is the secret to getting perfectly juicy roast chicken in your air fryer. This technique prevents the juices from draining out of the chicken during cooking and directs them back into the center of the bird (in the same way that cooking a rotisserie chicken does).
- Finish roasting chicken. Continue air frying the chicken for the second half of the cooking time until it is golden brown and has reached at least 165°F/ 74°C in the center of the thickest part.
- Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer in a few places to ensure it is cooked the whole way through.
For an easy way to flip a chicken in the air fryer:
- Lift the air fryer basket out of the pan
- Pop a plate on top of the basket, and hold it in place
- Carefully turn the basket and plate over so the chicken gently falls onto the plate (don’t worry, it doesn’t have far to fall!).
- Then it is as easy as sliding the chicken off the plate back into the air fryer basket.
How long to air fry a whole chicken
The cooking times for air frying a whole chicken depends on the size of the chicken you have. To estimate how long to roast it, I follow the approximate air frying times of 15 minutes per pound plus another 10 minutes.
You can use the table below to estimate cooking times:
|Chicken Size||Air Frying Time**||+ Resting Time|
|2-2½lb/ 1-1.2kg||40-50 minutes||10 minutes|
|3-3½lb/ 1.3-1.6kg||55-65 minutes||10 minutes|
|4-4½lb/ 1.8-2kg||70-80 minutes||10 minutes|
|5-5½lb/ 2.2-2.5kg||70-90 minutes||10 minutes|
** The exact cook times will depend on the exact shape and size of your chicken, its starting temperature, and also how powerful your air fryer is.
Chicken is cooked correctly when the internal temperature reads at least 165°F/ 74°C in the center of this thickest part.
The only way to be sure that your chicken is cooked correctly is to use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature in the center of the thickest part. Check the temperature in a few places to ensure that it is evenly cooked.
I often use my Meater* wireless meat thermometer when I’m cooking roast chicken, though any instant-read thermometer will do the trick.
Use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the meat for an accurate temperature reading.
Serve roasted chicken smothered in gravy with a side of vegetables and your favorite style of potatoes.
Here are some easy side dishes to try:
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes (no-drain recipe)
- Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli
- Microwave Steamed Green Beans
- Air Fryer Roast Potatoes
- Air Fryer Broccoli
- Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables
Want to air fry the sides too?
When you’re cooking a whole chicken in your air fryer, there often isn’t a lot of room left to air fry vegetables at the same time. The easy solution is to air fry the vegetables separately.
This is my process:
- Prep the vegetables according to the recipe, then pre-cook in the air fryer for 5 or 10 minutes while you prepare the chicken.
- Then remove the veggies from the air fryer, put them in a bowl, and cover with foil until the chicken is done roasting.
- Pop the vegetables back into the air fryer to finish cooking while the chicken rests for 10 minutes or so.
Note: You may need to drain the oil and juices out of the air fryer after removing the chicken to prevent your air fryer from smoking.
Storing and reheating
Store any leftover roast chicken in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and use it within 3 days.
You can reheat the chicken in the air fryer. Air fry for 5-10 minutes until 165°F/ 74°C in the center. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave.
Air Fryer Roast Chicken
- 3 lb whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- optional seasoning rub
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F/ 200°C.
- Pat chicken dry. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Rub seasoning into the chicken, including inside the cavity.
- Place chicken in air fryer basket chicken breast side down [Note 1].
- Turn the air fryer down to 360°F/ 180°C, and cook the chicken for 25 minutes.
- When the time is up, carefully flip the chicken over and air fry for another 25-30 minutes until it is golden brown and at least 165°F/ 74°C in the center of the thickest part [Note 2].
- Remove chicken from the air fryer to a plate or cutting board. Cover with foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.
- If food tends to stick to your air fryer, you can place the chicken on a small square of parchment (if recommended for your air fryer).
- Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature is at least 165°F/ 74°C in the center of the thickest part of the chicken.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.