Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken

Home cooks certainly make this Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken as a distinctive Cantonese-style barbecued meats named Siu Mei 燒味. Siu Mei originates from the Guangdong province of Southern China. Today, the fascination for these flavourful roasted meats is widespread in Southeast Asia and globally. As a result, we can find this signature variety of roasted meats. Likewise, they usually hang from S-shaped hooks behind the glass displays of Cantonese barbecue restaurants worldwide.

If I were to roast this Cantonese-style Chinese Roast Chicken at home, I would normally use a Dutch Oven. However, I have opted for an air fryer oven this time instead. Moreover, the air fryer method helps to replicate the Cantonese-style barbecue roast poultry with crispy skin and juicy meat.

Cantonese roasted meats have a distinctive and immense barbecue flavour. Chefs will marinate the different types of meat with various flavoursome sauces before roasting. Then, the chefs will roast the meats in a large wood burning oven or open fire spits. Traditionally, Cantonese-style roasted meats comprise bbq pork (char siu), roast pork belly, roast suckling pig, and roast duck. In addition, modern variations include roast spareribs and roast squab or pigeon.

You may also like some of my other chicken recipes:

Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free

Preparing and Cooking Chinese Roast Chicken

Chinese Roast Chicken has many different homecooking variations with some recipes including hoisin sauce as a marinade. Similarly, the cooking method is an adaptation from a customary roast duck method. Likewise, the poultry is first marinated with ginger, peppercorns, green shallots, star anise, cassia buds, cloves. Plus Chinese cooking wine, and salt. Subsequently, the chef will inflate the bird with air and poached straight away. However, this is only when the chef use duck. Whereas, for chicken, the chef will exclude inflating with air. After poaching, the chef will dry the poultry completely.

Chinese chefs typically dry the meat using an air drying method of hanging the poultry with an S-shaped hook. Just like what you’ll see on display at a Cantonese BBQ restaurant. When the poultry is dry, the chefs will brush the poultry skin with a coating. Made of maltose, Chinese rice wine, vinegar, and salt. They will then leave the poultry to completely dry again as this is a crucial step for crispy skin. The chefs will later roast the poultry in a large wood burning oven or open fire spits.

Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free

Gluten-Free Chinese Roast Chicken with Crispy Skin

For my gluten-free Chinese Roast Chicken, using an air fryer oven means the process is much quicker and easier. The cooking time is 40 minutes instead of the typical 1 to 1½ hours in a regular oven. The air fryer method not only cooks this Chinese Roast Chicken faster but also more consistently. And browning the chicken skin way better. The fan circulating hot air at high speed creates a dry atmosphere. Thus, the air fryer oven produces very crispy skin.

Frying with air also involves up to 90% less fat, making the air fryer oven a healthier choice. As a result, the dish is low in calories. This Chinese Roast Chicken recipe is not only gluten-free. But also Paleo, dairy-free, corn-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, low carb and refined sugar-free.

Using an air fryer oven, my gluten-free Chinese Roast Chicken turned out so well and full of flavour. Additionally, this Chinese Roast Chicken has crispy skin, superb juiciness, and moist and tender meat. Besides, I used only a few simple ingredients to make this delicious chicken. The main marinating ingredients are coconut aminos, honey, Chinese five spice powder, ground white pepper, and medium dry sherry. Subsequently, after marinating, I left the chicken to drain and dry thoroughly overnight in the refrigerator in a vertical position. You can also use this recipe for oven roasting the chicken if you do not have an air fryer.

Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free

Condiment and Dipping Sauce for Chinese Roast Chicken

A meal is never complete without condiments or dipping sauces for the dish. Hence, for my gluten free Chinese Roast Chicken, I have included a fragrant chilli dipping sauce. Besides, it complements the chicken extremely well. Ingredients for the chilli dipping sauce include red chillies, garlic, onion, and extra virgin olive oil. Likewise, I processed these sauce ingredients into a smooth paste in a food processor. Using a saucepan, I stir-fried the paste for 3 minutes and seasoned with salt, sugar, lime zest, and lime juice. In addition, I have added a Sichuan pepper salt as a condiment. For the aroma, I used a skillet or frypan to toast the ground Sichuan peppercorn and salt for 3 minutes.

Top Tips for Crispy Skin Chicken

  • Ensure that the chicken skin is totally dry by patting thoroughly including the cavity.
  • Place the chicken in an upright position using either a clean tall glass, tin can, or bottle on a plate. This is to drain and dry the chicken.
  • Marinate with minimum liquid. Wet ingredients include just honey, maltose, coconut aminos, or gluten-free light soy sauce. Do not add any water to the marinate.
  • Refrigerate overnight after marinating to ensure that the chicken skin is dry completely.
  • Separate the chicken skin from the breast by carefully inserting your fingers underneath the skin. Take care not to break the skin. This helps render the fats to dribble off from the skin, causing it to dry and crisp up during roasting.
  • Best drying methods for a whole chicken include the traditional method of hanging the chicken using an S-shaped hook. Other methods are using a fan, air-conditioner or hairdryer, or refrigerating the chicken uncovered overnight in a vertical position.
Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free

Nutritional Values of Chicken

The most frequently consumed poultry in the world is chicken. It is not only a Sunday roast favourite for the entire family, but also packed full of nutrition. Moreover, chicken is a highly affordable and versatile everyday ingredient that you eat at home. You can find chicken on restaurant menus of different cuisines. It is not only a popular white meat, but also a high quality lean protein. Chicken is low in fats and calories, making it an outstanding substitute for red meat. 

Furthermore, Chicken is a superb source of essential minerals such phosphorous and selenium. It is also a fantastic source of choline and the B group of vitamins. Including vitamins B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B2 (riboflavin), and B1 (thiamine). Chicken is also excellent for zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, vitamins D, B7 (Biotin), A and B9 (Folate). It also has some amount of vitamin E.

Health Benefits of Chicken

Overall, the health benefits of whole chicken include:

  • Help build and maintain muscles;
  • Promoting healthy bones and teeth;
  • Aiding in weight loss and management;
  • Boosting the body’s immune system;
  • Supporting heart health and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases;
  • Providing common cold and flu relief;
  • Reducing Premenstrual Syndrome or PMS symptoms; and
  • Having a calming effect that helps to lower stress levels and elevate moods.

Ingredients for Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken

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Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free
Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken Gluten Free
Print Recipe
5 from 17 votes

Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken

Chinese Roast Chicken is a homecooked version of the distinctive Cantonese-style barbecued meats. This Air Fryer roasted chicken has crispy skin, superb juiciness, and moist and tender meat. 
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Resting Time15 hours
Total Time16 hours 10 minutes
Course: Main
Cuisine: Cantonese, Chinese
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: Chicken, Chinese bbq chicken, Corn Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Nut Free, Paleo, Poultry, Refined Sugar Free, Roast Chicken, Soy Free
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 359.25kcal
Author: Daphne Goh


For The Chicken Marinade:

For The Chicken Cavity Marinade:

For The Sichuan Peppercorn Salt:

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground Sichuan peppercorn

For the Chilli Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 5 long fresh red chillies deseeded and cut into 1 inch lengthwise
  • 3 small fresh red chillies deseeded (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled
  • 1 large brown onion peeled and cut into wedges
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice


Toasting the Sichuan peppercorn salt:

  • Sift the ground Sichuan peppercorn through a fine sieve to remove the husks.
  • Using a skillet or frypan, toast the ground Sichuan peppercorn together with the salt for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Cool and set aside. You can also toast in the oven.

For the cooking the chilli dipping sauce:

  • Put the extra virgin olive oil, red chillies, garlic and onion into the food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste.
  • Remove from the food processor and put the paste into a frypan, stir-fry briefly for 3 minutes on medium low heat.
  • Then, add the coconut aminos, salt, maple syrup, lime zest, and lime juice, stir and mix well. Turn off the heat. Set aside.

Preparing and marinating the chicken:

  • Wash and pat dry the chicken thoroughly with a kitchen paper towel, including the cavity.
  • Add all the chicken marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl, mix and combine well.
  • Marinate the whole chicken skin by covering and rubbing with the marinate prepared in step 2.
  • Apply the chicken cavity marinade evenly.
  • Position a tall glass upside down on a plate. Place the chicken on top of the glass vertically. You can also use a clean tin can or bottle.
  • Gently separate the chicken breast skin from the meat with your fingers. Take care not to tear the skin. This step helps render the fats to dribble off from the skin, causing the skin to dry and crisp up during air frying or roasting.
  • Refrigerate the chicken uncovered in an upright position overnight until the chicken skin is entirely dry.

Cooking the chicken:

  • Remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Preheat the air fryer including the basket to 150C or 300F.
  • Place the whole chicken breast side up into the air fryer basket. Air fry the chicken for 20 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken over thigh side up and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes before cutting into pieces.
  • Serve chicken with Sichuan peppercorn salt, chilli sauce, cucumber, and steamed rice (for paleo diet, serve with cauliflower rice).
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chinese Roast Chicken
Serving Size
1 people
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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5 from 17 votes (17 ratings without comment)

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