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I Found the Best and Fastest Way to Make a Whole Roast Chicken

 I Found the Best and Fastest Way to Make a Whole Roast Chicken

Roasted chicken on a Sunday afternoon is about as comforting as comfort food gets. I make one a few times a month and enjoy tinkering with the seasoning, recipe and cooking times. In my biggest tinker yet, I cooked a whole chicken in an air fryer. It was the fastest I’ve ever roasted the bird, the skin was impossibly crispy, and the meat as tender as a love song. 

The one big question after my first, but certainly not last, air fryer roast chicken is why it took me so long to try it.

I’m fully versed in the joys of air fryer cooking — nothing outside of a deep fryer gets food crispier, faster — but the idea of making a whole roasted chicken in an air fryer oven evaded me until now.

ingredients for roast chicken on table ingredients for roast chicken on table

Air fryer chicken is one of the easiest and most satisfying recipes I’ve made lately.

David Watsky/CNET

The secret to great roasted chicken is high heat while not overcooking the bird for a crispy skin with moist, tender meat. An air fryer is the perfect vessel for this method since it envelops the food inside with hot quickly moving air and manages to crisp outer layers better than a full-size convection oven that features more widely dispersed heat. The smaller air fryer cooking camber also means more consistent temps throughout a single session.

Air fryers are typically smaller than wall ovens, but many models are capable of handling a 3- or 4-pound chicken. I cooked a full 4- pound roaster and it fit comfortably inside my Dreo 6-quart ChefMaker smart air fryer oven.

Read moreGrill, Bye. Make Your Next Burger in an Air Fryer and Thank Me Later

This fancy souped-up air fryer has a steam feature and smart cooking programs but I didn’t need or use them. I cooked the chicken on basic air fryer mode at 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 55 minutes, flipping the bird (ha!) after 25. You won’t need a fancy air fryer, either. This $120 Instant air fryer (on sale for $90) will get the job done — as will this $60 Gourmia model. 

There was minimal prep in this air fryer chicken recipe, which I adapted from a few found online and my go-to oven-roasted chicken recipe. I whisked together a quick marinade with olive oil, grain mustard, salt, pepper and some of my favorite Mediterranean seasoning blend. I stuffed the chicken with half of an orange, some green onion and some fresh parsley that was down to its final days in the fridge.

roasted chicken in air fryer roasted chicken in air fryer

About 10 minutes before I pulled it from the air fryer.

David Watsky/CNET

I served the chicken with rice made quickly in my trusty rice cooker, but I could have just as easily dropped diced root vegetables in the air fryer with the chicken, and had myself with a full dinner to feed four or five cooked completely in the confines of one nontick air fryer basket.

My only suggestion is to keep a close eye on the chicken, especially toward the end. The heat from an air fryer is intense and could easily burn the skin if you have it cranked up too high. If your skin is getting brown quicker than you think the chicken is cooking inside, pull back on the heat and continue monitoring.

You’ll know the meat is cooked when an internal thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit when plunged into the thickest part of the breast.

uncooked chicken rubbed with marinade in air fryer basket uncooked chicken rubbed with marinade in air fryer basket

You’ll need at least a 5-quart air fryer to make a roasted chicken.

David Watsky/CNET

What you’ll need for air fryer roast chicken

  • 4-pound chicken, giblets removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grain mustard
  • Seasoning blend (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon or orange
  • Fresh herbs

chicken in air fryer basket chicken in air fryer basket

Almost done…

David Watsky/CNET

How to make air fryer roast chicken

  1. Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Whisk olive oil, mustard, seasoning blend, salt and pepper together
  3. Rub mustard marinade over the entire chicken
  4. Place chicken in air fryer basket breast down on top of the wire rack and cook for 25 minutes
  5. Flip the bird breast up and cook for the remaining 25 minutes
  6. Remove when juices run clear or an internal thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit
  7. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving and pour juices from the air fryer basket over sliced chicken

roasted chicken on cutting board roasted chicken on cutting board

There it is. 

David Watsky/CNET

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