Air Fryer Cornish Hen is a gourmet meal that requires only a few ingredients and cooks in 45 minutes. This Cornish game hen recipe results in super crispy skin on the outside and juicy tender poultry on the inside.
What are Cornish Game Hens?
Cornish game hens are a smaller breed of poultry that usually weigh 1 to 2 pounds. They taste like chicken and the smaller size makes one perfect to serve 2 people.
Because they are under two pounds, they cook much more quickly then a whole roasted chicken. It is easy to divide one in half with a cleaver after cooking making it a perfect size to serve on a dinner plate.
Even though they are called game hens, they are not game birds and do not have a gamey taste.
While I do occasionally see fresh Cornish hens, most grocery stores sell frozen ones. Make sure to defrost overnite in the refrigerator before cooking.
How long to cook Cornish hens
I love this air fryer method of cooking a Cornish hen. They cook in about 45 minutes and the skin gets a deep golden brown while the inside stays juicy.
I brush the outside of the hens with a bit of olive oil and some seasoning. I can fit 2 Cornish hens inside my air fryer which is just perfect to serve 4 people.
It is a good idea to check your poultry at the end of cooking with a digital thermometer. The internal temperature of the hens should be at 165 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, they are cooked when the wing slightly gives from the body of the hen when pulled, the skin is golden brown and the juices run clear.
Seasoning for your Air Fryer Cornish hens
I always keep an all purpose chicken seasoning in my pantry and use it for all poultry. My favorites are this rotisserie chicken seasoning or Montreal chicken seasoning. Both of these seasonings include salt so there is no extra salt needed.
If you wanted to, you could use your favorite seasoning, make your own or just season the Cornish hen with salt, pepper and garlic powder. I use one to two tablespoons of seasoning for two hens depending on the size of them.
While the typical size is two pounds or under, they can vary a bit so use just enough seasoning to lightly coat your birds. You can always add some extra salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Side dishes to serve with this Cornish hen recipe
This recipe can easily be served with some roasted or steamed vegetables to make dinner super simple. But if you'd like some more recipe ideas, here you go:
- Roasted Cranberry Glazed Brussels Sprouts
- Butternut Squash and Mushroom Risotto
- Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest
- Mini Parmesan Truffle Hasselback Potatoes
- Spinach Salad with Grapes, Blue Cheese and Almonds
- Easy Crockpot Cornbread Dressing via Restless Chipotle
Leftover Air Fryer Cornish Hen
I can't say that I always have leftovers as I have a hungry teenage boy living in my house who loves cornish hen cooked in the air fryer. But he is about to go away to college and sometimes I cook dinner for just my husband and I. But I still cook 2 hens as I like to make an extra. It can be reheated in the air fryer or oven but I also like using the leftovers just as I would use leftover roasted chicken. It is perfect to make Buffalo Chicken Flatbread or Chicken, Mango and Avocado Salad.
Air Fryer Cooking Tips
- Preheat your air fryer if necessary. Read your manual instructions as some air fryers need to be preheated while others do not.
- It is a good idea to coat the grates of your air fryer racks or basket with some sort of oil or cooking spray. It will insure that food does not stick. Spray oils are best as some commercial cooking sprays can ruin the finish on racks and baskets.
- Don't overcrowd. In order for food to cook evenly, it should be slightly spread out.
- A good instant thermometer helps insure that meat, poultry and fish are cooked throughly.
- For better browning, rotate the basket or racks halfway through cooking.
Check out my Cornish Hen webstory to see how easy it is to cook!
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes with Seasoned Sour Cream
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Air Fried Tofu via Souffle Bombay
- Air Fryer Cajun Salmon
- Air Fryer Baby Carrots with Honey Butter
- Air Fryer Lamb Chops
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Air Fryer Cornish Hens
- 2 Cornish Hens (see note on size)
- 1 to 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoon poultry or chicken seasoning
- extra salt and pepper to taste
- Grease the air fryer racks or baskets with the oil. Remove any giblets from the Cornish hens and rinse the inside of them. Pat the Cornish hens dry with paper towels. Preheat air fryer to 375 degrees if necessary.
- Rub the cornish hens with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning all over and lightly rub to coat. Place the hens breast side down on the cooking rack.
- Cook the Cornish hens for 30 minutes then flip and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees and skin is crispy. (see note)
- Rest the hens for 10 minutes before cutting in half. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste if necessary.