You should never cook a whole chicken in an air fryer. Here's why

Air fryers are fun, aren't they? You can finally cook a whole variety of dishes without adding too much oil and fat to your meals. You get to be healthier without compromising on taste, and can whip up quick, delicious meals without fretting over making a huge mess. After all, it's possible to prepare several chicken delicious dishes in an air fryer such as chicken thighs, chicken tenderloins, cheddar-stuffed chicken breasts, crispy chicken nuggets, and more (via All Recipes). What could be better? When it comes to air fryers and chicken, however, it's important to play by the rules to reap the maximum benefits. 

The trick to getting chicken right in the air fryer isn't very complicated at all. But one of the cardinal rules is to make sure that you don't stick an entire chicken inside an air fryer (as easy as that may seem). Here's why this can do more harm than good.

You need to leave some room in there

The reason why whole chicken and air fryers don't mix is pretty simple. According to Stephanie Pixley, deputy editor at America's Test Kitchen, you'll be leaving no room for chicken to cook properly if you toss the entire thing into the air fryer all at once (via Insider). What will happen, unfortunately, is the side that is close to the heat source will end up burned or dried out before the other side can get properly cooked. This will leave you with (at best) a rather average meal that's dry and quite possibly tasteless.

The idea is to leave enough room in the air fryer to let the hot air it produces do its job inside the machine. The solution is simple: Divide the cooking process into parts, instead of putting the entire chicken inside the air fryer.

Another idea worth considering is letting the breasts cook face-down, and finish by turning the pieces face up, which will keep your meat at its juiciest best. Whatever you do, just don't try to speed up the process by putting the entire bird inside the air fryer all at once.