How to cook a whole chicken: oven, crock pot, instant pot or air fryer

how to cook a whole chicken

Explains step-by-step instructions for how to cook a whole chicken in the oven, crock pot, slow cooker, instant pot or pressure cooker easily.

Find more food guides, tips and advice

Few dishes make our mouth water as quickly as the sight and smell of the crispy brown roast chicken from the oven, but you can also cook a whole chicken in other ways, as we explain below.

Preparation when frozen

The frozen chicken does not differ in the slightest from the comparable fresh chicken (organic chicken is also available as frozen food), because the individual cells remain largely in their original condition during professional freezing. 

However, it has to be thawed properly in order to develop its full taste: overnight in the refrigerator is best, so it retains its consistency and prevents bacteria from multiplying. Ideally in a container with a sieve insert into which the defrosted water can run off immediately. At most, the chicken has to be patted dry a little with kitchen paper and can then be placed in the roaster immediately, the defrosting container and insert are immediately taken to the sink and washed off.

How to cook a whole chicken in the oven

Cooking time: A relative figure

How long does a chicken take in the oven? “Well,” said the great gourmet guru, “it depends on a lot of different things.” That sounds vague, but he’s right. It starts very simple: 2lb (1kg) of chicken is cooked through in an hour at 350°F (180 ° C) with convection in the oven .

However, you will hardly have 1 kg of chicken in front of you, because chickens for roasting are offered in weight classes between 2.5lbs (1.1kg) and 4.5lbs (2.1kg) and even up to 5lbs . Some of these chickens still have to be relieved of the innards (usually in a plastic bag). If you don’t want to tie the chicken in a complicated way, but simply want to cook it in the roaster, you should also cut off the wings, which can go in the oven half an hour later and then become perfectly crispy instead of burning.


  • 1 whole chicken (ready to cook, about 2.5lbs or 1.1kg)
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp ghee, clarified butter (or coconut oil). You can also use normal butter
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt, pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
  2. Wash the chicken and then dry it well with paper towels. The drier the chicken, the more crispy it will be.
  3. Pierce the lemons with a knife several times so that the juice can be better released in the oven.
  4.  Hold the chicken on the rump and add plenty of salt and pepper to the inside.
  5. Now put a lemon in the chicken, then the herb sprigs, the garlic cloves and finally another lemon.
  6. Slide 1 tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil under each chicken breast. To do this, slightly scratch the skin on the rear so that you can get under it with your fingers. Then slide the ghee to the desired position (see photo).
  7. Now cut into the fatty tissue next to both legs so that the legs can be fixed crosswise in these “holes” (so that the chicken is “closed”). To do this, pull the right leg through the left hole and the left leg through the right hole so that the legs are cross-knotted (see photo).
  8. Place the chicken breast up in an ovenproof dish. Tuck the wings under the body as much as possible. Now pepper again vigorously from above and above all salt.
  9. Put in the oven for 1 hour. The best way to test if the meat is done is to cut the thigh.
  10. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Then remove the lemons, squeeze the juice out over the chicken and serve.

How to cook a whole chicken in a crock pot or slow cooker

This method for how to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker or crock pot starts with an olive oil paste that’s made with lemon, garlic, salt, pepper and dried herbs of choice (thyme, oregano and parsley work particularly well).

For maximum flavour, put most of the paste under the skin of the chickenThis is not hard to do – and doesn’t need to be “perfect”!!! 

Just loosen the skin using a dessert spoon (hugs the curves, avoids piercing skin), spoon the paste under, then spread it roughly using your hands or the spoon from the outside. Doesn’t need to be perfect, the paste will slide and naturally spread as it cooks.

Pop the used lemon inside the chicken, then place the chicken on a rack in the slow cooker (or use balls or a ring of scrunched up foil), and slow cook for 5 hours on low.

When the chicken comes out of the slow cooker, it will smell gorgeous but will look thoroughly unappetising – pale and colourless. Just a quick 5 to 10 minute broil/grill fixes that – you will be amazed how quickly the skin goes from bland to crispy golden brown!!!

How to coook a whole chicken in a slow cooker

A 2kg/4lb whole chicken will take 5 hours on low, or 3 hours on high. This will be a juicy and carvable, chicken like a traditional oven Roast Chicken.

If you want one where the meat is more tender and can basically be pulled off the bone with little effort, slow cook for 7 to 8 hours on low.

How to cook a whole chicken in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker

The recipe just above can also be made in a pressure cooker. It comes out exactly the same – just a heck of a lot faster! 😂 Just add 1/2 cup of water and pressure cook for 24 minutes on high. Let it depressurise naturally for 10 minutes then release the valve.

How to cook a whole chicken in an air fryer

For 1 large chicken, place a couple of rosemary sprigs inside and marinate with an olive oil marinade. 

Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180 ° C). Place the fried chicken in the air fryer without the pan. This allows the fat to drain well through the sieve. Bake for 25 minutes at 350°F (180 ° C). Then bake for another 20 minutes at 330°F (165 °C) degrees. This way the chicken doesn’t get too dark.

The baking time will vary depending on the weight of the chicken.