Yes, you CAN cook a whole chicken in your air fryer! Just cover with a quick and easy spice rub, then cook for just one hour (maximum!) for a perfect rotisserie-style chicken. It’s delicious – moist and juicy with a crispy skin. Try this once and you’ll use your air fryer to cook a whole chicken every single time.
Why cook a chicken in your air fryer?
You might be wondering why you’d bother to air fry a whole chicken. Well, what if I told you it’s the perfect way to cook a smaller chicken? It takes almost half as long as in a regular oven, and turns out moist, juicy, crispy and delicious every time.
This cooking method is particularly perfect on a summer’s day because your air fryer won’t heat up your kitchen like your oven does. You won’t need a roasting pan, either. Just pop the chicken in the air fryer, paint with a quick rub and cook.
Unbelievably, your chicken will be perfectly cooked in just 35 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the chicken and your particular air fryer.
Achieving a rotisserie-style chicken is just so EASY when you cook it in your air fryer!
Just one thing to note: If your chicken is on the larger side – say over 4.5 pounds or 2 kilos – I would in fact stick with your oven. It might be just a little too snug in your air fryer and you won’t get the best results.
About the ingredients
A whole (raw of course) chicken: As mentioned above, it’s best to choose a small to medium sized chicken – up to about 4.5 pounds/2 kilos in weight. Any bigger and it can be a bit of tight squeeze in an average sized (around 4L) air fryer!
I always choose a free range or organic chicken if I can. It’s worth it if you eat up every scrap of the chicken and perhaps even use the carcass to make a stock or broth.
For the rub: I usually use some basic herbs and spices and some olive oil. Brushing this all over the chicken before cooking and again half way through will help the skin to crisp up nicely. Not to mention that it will taste absolutely delicious!
I typically throw in dried herbs (either mixed Italian or oregano), onion and garlic powder, paprika and salt and pepper. If I’m feeling fancy I might add a little ground cinnamon (trust me!) and a squeeze of lemon juice.
If I do add lemon, I usually stuff the rest of it inside the chicken to subtly flavour the meat as it cooks. You can also throw some garlic cloves in there too if you have some.
How to roast a whole chicken in an air fryer
Firstly, make the olive oil rub by whisking all the rub ingredients together.
If you added lemon juice to your rub, push the rest of the lemon into the chicken cavity (if not, no worries!).
Paint the chicken all over with the rub. I usually use a pastry brush but fingers work too if you don’t mind the mess! Be generous!
Place the chicken inside the air fryer basket. You want it to be BREAST SIDE DOWN at first. This way the legs and wings stay moist as they are tucked under the rest of the chicken.
Cook for 20 minutes (smaller chickens) to half an hour (medium chickens) at 355F/180C.
Then, using big tongs or meat forks, turn the chicken over so that it’s now BREAST SIDE UP. Paint again with any remaining rub.
Continue to cook for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. For a 4.5 pound or 2 kilo (medium) chicken, I find 25 minutes longer (on top of an initial 30 mins) is about right. So around 55 minutes altogether. To be sure, however, invest in a meat thermometer. (See below!)
How long to air fry your chicken for
It’s always quite hard to know how long to cook a chicken for, right? You want it to be properly cooked without overcooking it, but chickens come in different sizes. Ovens can vary, too.
The answer? Use a meat thermometer! I used to think this would be a hassle, but it’s actually super simple. Just insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken. A good spot is between the breast and the thigh. Push the thermometer deep into the breast but don’t touch the bone. It should read at least 165F or 74C.
That should give you some peace of mind, but here’s a rough guide as to how long different size chickens should take to roast in an air fryer:
3 pounds/1.3 kilos: 35 to 45 minutes
3.5 pounds/1.5 kilos: 45 to 50 minutes
4.5 pounds/2 kilos: 50 minutes to an hour
Another way to look at it is to allow roughly 12 to 15 minutes for each pound or 500 grams. But do always check the temperature with your thermometer before declaring your chicken cooked. Cooking times do vary a bit in different air fryers!
Helen’s top tips
- Choose the right sized chicken. For a chicken up to 4.5 pounds/2 kilos, a standard to large sized air fryer (4 to 7 L) will be fine. If you have a smaller air fryer (3 to 4 L), it’s simple – choose a smaller chicken!
- Use a meat thermometer! I know, you heard me the first time, but I can’t emphasize this enough.
- Let the chicken rest. Leave it for 10 to 15 minutes after cooking. This helps the juices to flow through the meat, keeping it super moist and juicy.
- Short on time? Skip the rub and just brush with olive oil and grind over plenty of salt and pepper instead. Your chicken will still be moist, juicy and delicious!
Make a simple roast chicken dinner with roast potatoes and vegetables of your choice. While your chicken rests, make a simple gravy with the juices that have collected at the bottom of your air fryer. Skim off any fat and serve as a French style ‘jus’. Alternatively, pour into a small saucepan and heat with cornflour and extra chicken stock (or instant gravy powder) for a more traditional style gravy.
Wild card option – make this delicious and very easy lemon & butter sauce to go with it!
This is also a great solution for Christmas or Thanksgiving. Free up space in your oven by cooking a chicken in your air fryer!
These sautéed frozen green beans would go perfectly, and only take 10 minutes to make! Alternatively, make your air fryer do double duty with this air fryer cauliflower. Make it in just 12 minutes while your air fried chicken rests.
Make chicken and chips/fries! While the chicken is resting, quickly slice up some potatoes into skinny fry shapes and toss them in a little olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Wipe out the air fryer. Cook the fries for around 15 minutes, shaking the basket half way through. Serve with salad or veggies.
Make tacos! Pull the meat off the chicken and stuff into tortillas with salad, avocado, Greek yogurt and 5-ingredient fresh tomato salsa.
Chicken salad. Use the ideas in this easy tuna salad post to make a chicken version.
Use up the leftovers on pizza or in sandwiches, pastas and crustless quiche (impossible quiche!).
More things to know (recipe FAQ)
There are so many good options on the market these days. A couple of popular models are the Philips Air Fryer XL and Ninja Foodie ranges. But I think you can get decent results with any medium to large sized model. In fact I’ll let you into a secret. Someone gave me a cheap no-brand air fryer a few years ago and it’s been great! I’m still using it today.
I do happen to own a Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro, too (an oven style air fryer). I use this to cook whole meals in for our family. You might prefer this kind as they are larger and have several other functions e.g. cooking pizza. However, bear in mind that they do take up more space in your kitchen.
Of course! As this style of air fryer is bigger, it’s ideal. I own a Breville oven style air fryer which I often use to cook a whole chicken in. I simply put the chicken in the air fryer basket and place a baking tray lined with baking paper underneath to catch the juices.
The cooking time is about the same, although I do find that cooking times in my oven style air fryer are sometimes slightly longer. Checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer always takes the guess work out, however.
Yes! Just combine any dried herbs and spices that you have with a little olive oil and you’ll have a tasty rub. It really doesn’t matter if you don’t have any of the ingredients that I usually put in my rub – you can create your own!
I like to, but you don’t HAVE to. You can just add a few minutes to the cooking time instead.
Don’t worry, I nearly always have to think about this when I cook a whole chicken! Your chicken is breast side down if the legs and wings are facing down, tucked underneath the chicken. It’s breast side up when the legs are pointing up too.
There are two possibilities. Firstly, your chicken is a little overcooked. Don’t worry, you’ll get it right next time. Just check your chicken with a meat thermometer towards the end of the cooking time. Remember to take into consideration the size of the chicken (Use my handy guide in the post above!).
The second possibility is that part of the chicken was too close to the air fryer elements at the top. To avoid this, make sure your chicken isn’t too big for your air fryer so that it can sit nice and straight. Also tuck the legs and wings under the chicken for the first 20 to 30 minutes before you turn it over. Tying the legs together with some string will help, too, if they aren’t already tied.
The main advantage of roasting your own rotisserie chicken is that you know exactly what’s in the marinade. When you buy one from the supermarket you often don’t.
More really easy air fryer recipes
- This air fryer banana bread is a great way to use up that last browning banana. It’s also tiny so you won’t be tempted to eat more than you should!
- Make a double batch of bacon in your air fryer and store it in the fridge for salads, sandwiches and pastas. No extra oil needed, and no grease splattering everywhere!
- These crowd pleasing Greek air fryer meatballs are great on their own or with spaghetti and sauce.
- These Greek style crispy smashed potatoes work well made in an air fryer.
- In the mood for a healthier burger? Make crispy chicken burgers!
Or see all my easy air fryer recipes.
1-Hour Air Fryer Rotisserie Chicken (How To Air Fry A Whole Chicken!)
Equipment (affiliate links)
Ingredients (UK/Australia? Click below for grams/ml)
- 4.5 pound whole chicken (2 kilos approximately) Choose a smaller chicken if you have a small air fryer (see post and notes section for more info).
For the olive oil rub
Extra rub ingredients (optional)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- 2 squeezes lemon juice optional (Stuff the rest of the lemon inside the chicken)
- Whisk all the rub ingredients together in a small jug or bowl.3 tablespoons olive oil, 1.5 teaspoons dried herbs, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 squeezes lemon juice
- Pre-heat the air fryer to 355F/180C for 3 minutes.
- Place the chicken on a large plate and 'paint' all over with around ⅔ of the olive oil rub (You can do this after placing the chicken in the air fryer if preferred). If using a lemon in the rub, stuff the remainder of it inside the chicken.4.5 pound whole chicken
- Place the chicken in the preheated air fryer basket breast side up (with the legs and wings tucked under). Cook for 30 minutes (or 20 minutes if your chicken is a smaller one).
- Use large tongs to turn the chicken over so that it's breast side down (with the legs now pointing up). Paint with the remainder of the spice rub.
- Cook for a further 25 minutes (for a 4.5 pound/2 kilo chicken) or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165F/74C in the thickest part of the breast (use a meat thermometer to check). Reduce the time for smaller chickens (see notes).
- Let the chicken rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.