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Did you know you can cook whole chicken in the air fryer?! This air fryer whole chicken recipe cooks up juicy, succulent, and never, ever dry just like my air fryer sriracha chicken. It’s easy enough for weeknights, fancy enough for company!
The secret to moist and tender whole air fryer chicken? Garlic butter underneath the skin! I have a basic version below, but any compound butter will work, as long as the butter you use is high quality.
And trust me, not all butters are created equal… I choose Danish Creamery European Style Butter because it comes from pasture-raised cows and has 85% butterfat content (higher than most other butters of its kind!). Plus, it has the silkiest texture thanks to slow churning in small batches. It’s a must-have ingredient when you’re cooking a whole chicken in an air fryer, and any other dish that uses butter.
(Including stores near you that carry it!)
Can You Cook A Whole Chicken In An Air Fryer?
Air fryers are known for cooking smaller portions of food, but you can absolutely cook an entire chicken in one! This air fryer chicken recipe allows the chicken to develop crispy skin, while keeping the meat perfectly moist. It only takes a few easy steps! If you prefer an oven method, try spatchcock chicken or baked balsamic chicken instead.
Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe
- Garlicky, buttery taste
- Crisp, browned skin and tender meat
- Real food, natural ingredients
- Faster than the oven
- Cooked to perfection
Air Fryer Whole Chicken Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking whole chicken in air fryer, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
For the compound butter:
- Danish Creamery European Style Butter – None other will do! This butter makes juicy chicken and keeps the meat moist and tender. Make sure it’s at room temperature so that you can mash it easily. I used unsalted and added salt to taste, but the same Danish Creamery butter is available in salted as well, so you can use that and omit the salt here if you prefer.
- Garlic – Some recipes use garlic powder, but fresh garlic is the absolute best. Use jarred garlic if necessary.
- Fresh Herbs – Parsley and dill.
- Sea Salt – Adds so much flavor to the meat.
For the chicken and seasoning:
- Whole Chicken – Look for one around 4 pounds — anything larger might not fit in the air fryer basket or provide enough room for air to circulate in the fryer.
- Olive Oil – I prefer extra virgin olive oil, but a neutral oil like avocado oil would also work. While butter underneath the skin gets the meat super juicy, olive oil works best over the skin since it won’t burn.
- Sea Salt
- Paprika – This chicken uses regular paprika, but sweet or smoked varieties work as well.
- Black Pepper
How To Cook A Whole Chicken In An Air Fryer
This section shows how to make air fryer whole chicken with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Make compound butter. Mash the butter in a small bowl, then add garlic, herbs, and salt, and mash again.
- Rub butter under the skin. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and slide your hand underneath the chicken skin, to separate the skin from the meat. Dollop compound butter underneath the skin and press down from the top of the skin to spread it around underneath. Rub a little bit inside the cavity, too.
- Season the skin. Drizzle oil on both sides of the outside of the chicken. Sprinkle with spices (salt, pepper, and paprika) on both sides.
- Air fry. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket, breast side down. (You can tie the legs together with kitchen twine if you like.) Roast the chicken in the air fryer, flipping once to make the chicken breast side up, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rest. Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will help lock in the juices, and the internal temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees while resting, to reach at least 165 degrees F.
TIP: You can use the drippings to make gravy. Just pour them out of the bottom of the air fryer basket.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s easy to make a whole chicken air fryer friendly with these considerations in mind:
What temp to cook whole chicken in an air fryer?
For perfectly crisp skin and fully cooked meat, set your air fryer to 350 degrees F.
How long to cook a whole chicken in an air fryer?
Cooking time varies depending on chicken size. Always cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, but because the internal temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees while resting, I recommend taking it out when it reaches 160 degrees. That takes roughly 55-65 minutes in the air fryer, flipping about halfway through.
What size air fryer for a whole chicken?
If you use a smaller chicken, you can fit it into a standard-sized basket air fryer. (I use a 6 quart air fryer to accommodate a 4-pound chicken.) You could use a larger chicken with a larger air fryer, but cook time will vary.
Can you cook frozen whole chicken in an air fryer?
Yes! You can cook frozen whole chicken in air fryer, but it takes one extra step. Place the chicken plain in the air fryer and cook it on the fryer’s lowest setting for 10-15 minutes to let it thaw a bit before seasoning. Then, follow the recipe instructions for seasoning and air frying, checking with a meat thermometer for doneness.
- Store: Refrigerate leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Meal prep: Prepare compound butter in advance and store until ready to prepare the full whole chicken air fryer recipe. If you like, you can also season the whole chicken in advance, cover with plastic, and store in the fridge.
- Reheat: Reheat with a few tablespoons of stock or water, covered in foil, in a 350 degree F oven or air fryer, until warm. If the skin isn’t crispy enough, uncover and cook for a few more minutes.
- Freeze: Store cooled chicken in freezer-safe bags or containers, removing as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With Air Fryer Chicken
For a complete meal, this chicken goes with just about everything — try it with these side dishes for a tasty chicken dinner:
- Sauteed Veggies – Sauteed cabbage, zucchini, or eggplant pair very well with a whole air fryer chicken.
- Hearty Salads – Toss together a Greek salad, creamy cucumber salad, or avocado caprese salad to plate with chicken.
- Noodles – I prefer low carb options like zucchini noodles, spiralized cucumber, or spaghetti squash, but any pasta that fits your lifestyle will work.
- Potatoes – Make your favorite kind! I like low carb swaps like rutabaga fries and mashed cauliflower, but make oven roasted potatoes occasionally too.
Ideas For Leftovers
- Sandwiches – Chicken makes a great addition to a BLT, cheese wrap, or bell pepper sandwich.
- Chicken Salads – Shred any leftover chicken just as you would a rotisserie chicken, then use in a chicken salad. Try classic chicken salad with herbs, chicken caprese salad, avocado chicken salad, or Mediterranean chicken salad.
- Other Salads – You can either chop or shred the chicken for a cobb salad or to add to a chef salad.
- Soups – Leftover chicken is great for chicken soup, white chicken chili, or a creamy chicken pot pie soup.
More Easy Air Fryer Dinner Recipes
Now that you know how to cook air fryer chicken whole, try these other easy air fryer recipes:
- Air Fryer Pork Chops
- Chicken Legs In The Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Cauliflower
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer Eggplant
Tools To Make This Air Fryer Chicken Recipe
How To Make Whole Chicken In The Air Fryer
Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe
Learn how to cook whole chicken in the air fryer, perfectly every time! This easy air fryer chicken recipe cooks up with buttery, juicy meat and crispy skin.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
In a small bowl, mash the butter with a fork. Add the garlic, parsley, dill, and sea salt. Mash again. Set aside.
Run your hands under the chicken skin on the breast and legs to separate it from the chicken underneath. Place dollops of garlic butter all over underneath the skin and then press down over the skin to spread around underneath.
Drizzle olive oil over the chicken, over the skin, on both sides. Sprinkle with sea salt, paprika, and black pepper, also on both sides.
Place the chicken in the air fryer basket, breast side down. Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
Flip the chicken over and cook for 25-35 more minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reaches 160 degrees F (71 degrees C). Temperature will rise about 5 degrees while resting.
Remove chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.
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Serving size: 1/4 of entire chicken
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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