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What Size Air Fryer Will Cook a Whole Chicken? (A Complete Guide)

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Cooking an entire chicken in a single kitchen appliance would be an amazing feat. We all know that air fryers can cook raw foods and turn them into masterpieces. However, you’re going to have to find one that’s big enough to fit your chicken.

In this article we’re going to talk about how to cook a whole chicken and what types and size air fryers you should consider.

What size air fryer will cook a whole chicken?

Aside from young chickens, which are relatively small enough to fit almost any type of air fryer, there are adult chickens that can weigh anywhere between 4 and 10 pounds. This means that having an air fryer that can hold that size capacity is crucial to your ability to air fry a whole chicken. The best basket air fryer you could use would be one that ranges in capacity between 7 and 10 quarts. If you’re settled on an air fryer oven, you should pick the larger-sized oven with a higher ceiling.

A large air fryer we recommend when cooking chicken

Ninja DT251 Foodi 10-in-1 Smart XL Air Fry Oven
Our top pick for a large air fryer
9.4/10We Scored It
  • Up to 10x convection power
  • 10 versatile functions
  • Smart cook system
  • 30% faster cooking than ovens
  • Extra large capacity
  • Up to 75% less fat
  • Digital display handle
  • Includes food thermometer
  • Lots of included accessories
  • Recipe guide
  • Large and bulky
  • Slightly more to clean than smaller units
  • Requires a lot of counter space
  • Fan noise is noticeable

How to cook a whole chicken perfectly in the air fryer

Step 1: Preheat the air fryer

Most people will tell you, that it’s important to preheat your air fryer so that the moment your food goes in it’s already cooking at the right temperature. If you don’t pre-heat your air fryer then you may end up having to cook your meal for a longer of time.

Step 2: Pick out a 5-pound chicken

Most grocery stores will sell all different sizes of chicken. Everything from tiny baby chickens, to young chickens, two adult kitchens can be found in the meat section. You can even find frozen whole chickens in the frozen aisle.

Also, make sure you have an air fryer that is large enough to fit your chicken. And no, you don’t want to jam your chicken into that basket. Your air fryer needs room to circulate that hot are too evenly cook your chicken inside and out. Make sure the air fryer basket is much larger than your chicken so that the air can do its job.

Step 3: Remove the insides of the chicken

Make sure you gut the inside of the chicken before cooking it. People argue that you shouldn’t be cooking the insides of a chicken with the rest of the chicken. The juices that come out of the organs may taint the flavors of the meat. You can always use those organs for something else as well. You don’t have to throw them away.

Step 4: Season the chicken generously

It’s important to season your chicken really well. We found that some of the best seasoning blends include salt, ground pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder, dime, and basil. Give a generous serving of seasoning to the outside of your chicken.

Step 5: Put the chicken in the basket (breast down)

This is a recommended strategy known by most people who often tested the theory between breast down or breast up. They found that as the juices from the chicken begins to fall and Infuse into the breast of the chicken at the bottom. This will create a more juicy flavor in an otherwise area of the chicken that’s usually drier than the rest.

Step 6: Cook for 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes (Flip it over at 50 minutes)

This part is pretty self-explanatory. But it’s also important that you make sure to flip your chicken over towards the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. As great as any air fryer is able to circulate hot air all the way around the chicken it may not be enough and flipping it over will help put the bottom portion of the chicken in direct vision of the heating element. This will help create a more crispy back of the chicken.

Step 7: Make sure the chicken’s internal temperature is 165 degree Fahrenheit

We’ve always recommended that you purchase yourself a food thermometer. One of those giant needles that stick right into the meat of your chicken. Make sure it goes into the thickest part of your chicken so that you may monitor the current internal temperatures of that chicken.

This is a very important step because you don’t want to be eating undercooked chicken. The USDA recommends that the internal temperature of your chicken must be 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes so that it can kill any bacteria that may be lingering in or on your chicken. This will help prevent food poisoning and other major illnesses.

Step 8: Let it rest for about 10 minutes and serve

Letting your chicken rest for about 10 minutes also serves as the 10 minutes that the USDA recommends to kill any bacteria that are still alive.

Not only that, letting your chicken rest will also help keep in all the moisture that is currently sizzling to come out. If you cut into your chicken too soon the juices will it immediately eject and fall off your chicken. Let it sit for a bit, so that the juices can settle inside your chicken.

What temperature should the whole chicken be cooked to?

According to the USDA, chicken should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They have determined that this is the minimum, safest temperature for humans to consume.

At 165 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s rated to kill all Salmonella bacteria. As long as this temperature remains this way for some time oh, it will continue killing any bacteria that may be living on your poultry.

This brings us to a concept known as “rest time”. This is the time at which the finished temperature remains hot enough to continue killing as much of the bacteria off the food as possible. The USDA recommends you rest your chicken for about 3 minutes at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.

What size air fryer do you need to cook a whole chicken?

According to, whole chickens come in different sizes and are identified by different names. You will find these in most supermarkets:

Cornish game hens

Cornish game hens are very young chickens. The typical weight is around two pounds or less.

Broiler/fryer chicken

Broiler/fryer chickens are six to eight weeks but average around seven weeks old. These chickens weigh between two and a half to four and a half pounds.

Roaster chicken

Roaster hens are older, typically around eight to 12 weeks old. Sizes may vary, but its weight usually starts at about five pounds and upwards. Roaster chickens, like broiler or fryer chickens, are young chickens that are raised primarily for their meat.

Stewing chicken

Stewing chickens are about 10 months old. A stewing chicken can weigh between five and seven pounds. Stewing chickens used to be laying hens. But these hens no longer lay eggs and are past their prime.


Capons are fully grown male chickens that are castrated. These chickens will weigh about six to eight pounds. Capons mature slower than other chickens and contain more body fat than traditional chickens. This means the meat is more flavorful as well as tender.


Roosters/cocks are male chickens that are ten weeks old. Their weight varies between six to eight pounds. They are older, more lean, and have much less body fat. Rooster/cocks can be found in specialty stores and are often used to cook Coq au Vin, which is a style of cooking.

Air fryers range in size from small to extra large. Basket sizes range from 1.6 to 10 quarts. Make sure that the size of the air fryer is suitable for the size of the whole chicken you intend to roast. Use a four quart air fryer to cook smaller chickens between two and four pounds. Cornish game hens and smaller broiler/fryer chickens can be cooked whole in a four quart air fryer. Medium-sized chickens ( four to five pounds) can be cooked in a five to six quart air fryer. Use a seven to 10 quart air fryer for chickens weighing over five pounds and up to 10 pounds.

Understanding the standard measurement sizes of an air fryer

According to, air fryers typically come in two sizes. For the USA, air fryer sizes are measured in quarts (qt) while most of the rest of the world uses liters (l) as a measurement. states that the United States uses the British Imperial system to calculate weight and size, while the rest of the world relies on the metric system. As previously mentioned, air fryers come in several sizes, with 1.6 quarts being the smallest and 10 quarts being the largest.

What size air fryer is best for a family?

Capacity (Quarts)How many people can it feed
1 to 21
2 to 32
3 to 55
6 to 1010
8 to 1616
This table provides reference between the size and capacity of an air fryer and how many people it can feed

The benefits of large air fryers

Large air fryers are ideal when cooking for larger or extended families. Larger air fryers enable users to cook whole meals at one time. It eliminates the need to cook food in multiple batches. In addition, larger air fryers are great for cooking whole vegetables such as carrots or asparagus, as well as whole roasts of chicken or beef.

In fact, owning a large air fryer also permits all the benefits of a smaller air fryer as well. You weren’t limited to any amount of food you put in the air fryer. A larger air fryer will likely be able to accomplish all the functionality and features that a smaller air fryer can provide. The only disadvantage would be making room on your kitchen counter.

Basket-style vs. oven-style air fryer for whole chicken

Both an air fryer basket and air fryer oven will cook food quicker than a traditional oven. But, an air fryer basket will cook food slightly faster than an air fryer oven. Apart from time, the only other difference between an air fryer basket and an air fryer oven is that the air fryer oven can hold more food.

Are there air fryers that can make rotisserie chicken?

Yes. Air fryers are extremely versatile. Most air fryers come with additional accessories that allow users to cook food using a variety of techniques. Some air fryers come with a spit that allows users to cook a rotisserie chicken at home.

These specialized air fryers will have a motor on the inside and when activated in rotisserie mode, will turn the spit while at the same time circulating hot air throughout the chamber. It’s basically identical to what a rotisserie oven does.

What can you do if your chicken is too big for your air fryer?

Air fryers should not be overcrowded. The best option is to cut the whole chicken into smaller pieces and cook multiple batches. Cut the chicken into two halves or into various smaller parts, depending on the capacity that the air fryer will hold. If the air fryer is overcrowded, it will not cook the chicken evenly. Additionally, if the chicken sits too close to the element, it will burn the top part of the chicken before it has been cooked through.

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