Cornish Hen in Air Fryer comes out super juicy with a crispy outer skin flavored with dried herbs. Learn how to cook Cornish hen in air fryer with this easy to follow keto and low carb recipe.
We love using the air fryer to make delicious main dishes. For more dinner ideas check out this Air Fryer Chicken Breast, it’s super juicy! Or make Air Fryer Turkey Breast is a fraction of the time it would take in the oven. For dessert try out this Cherry Cheesecake Dump Cake, a family favorite.
Air Fryer Cornish Hens
When I really want to make a great impression at meal time, I’ll make this air fryer Cornish hen recipe. They come out looking like mini rotisserie chicken, with this beautifully crispy and browned skin.
Not only do these air fried Cornish hens look gorgeous after they have been cooked, the meat inside is super tender and scrumptious.
This Cornish game hen in air fryer will look like you slaved over the meal for the entire day, but in reality it takes only a few minutes to get these birds completely prepped and tossed into the air fryer.
Air frying Cornish hens is my favorite way to cook them, they cook so much faster than roasting them in the oven. You don’t even need to have a rotisserie air fryer for them to come out tasting like rotisserie Cornish Hens. If you don’t have an air fryer and would like oven directions, check this out.
Can you Cook 2 Cornish Hens in Air Fryer?
This air fryer recipe is specifically for cooking two Cornish hens in the air fryer. But you can cut all of the spice amounts in half and only cook one also.
If you have big eaters you can cook one hen for each person, otherwise each hen should be about two servings. Which is great if there are only two of you, you’ll only need to make one 2 lb hen. I use the Cosori 5.8 QT, it’s the basket style air fryer, and it comfortably fits two hens.
What is a Cornish Hen?
Known either as Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish game hen, these are actually a cross between two chicken breeds. So it’s not actually a game bird (or may not even a be a hen if you get a male bird), it is a type of chicken. They are typically pretty small and are usually not larger than 2 lbs each.
Why is it Called Cornish Hen?
The reason why it is called “Cornish” is because it is crossed between a Cornish chicken and White Plymouth Rock chicken. I’m not sure why it is called a “game” bird since it isn’t actually a game bird and also has no gamey flavor what so ever.
What does Cornish Game Hen Taste Like?
Cornish hens have a delicate flavor and the meat is pretty tender. It tastes just like, well, chicken! Ha! But, this time it’s probably because it is actually chicken. In case you are concerned that this game hen tastes “gamey” you have no reason to worry. I have never had a Rock Cornish Hen end up with that flavor.
What to Serve With Cornish Hen?
What goes well with Cornish hens? I love making this rotisserie Cornish hens in air fryer for special dinners since it is a little more expensive per pound than regular chicken. It pairs well with anything that you would normally serve with chicken.
It goes really well with our favorite lemon butter rice or these tangy salt and vinegar smashed potatoes. Serve it with air fryer acorn squash or these sweet brown sugar carrots. Or just make a huge salad!
Thawing Cornish Hens
You do need some time to thaw the frozen cornish hens before cooking them in the air fryer. The water thawing method is a lot quicker, but the fridge method is the best/safest method.
Thawing cornish game hen in water: Fill the sink or a large bowl with really cold water. This water will have to be changed every 30 minutes to avoid bacteria from growing in the hen.
Thawing cornish hens in the fridge: This is method is hands down the safest practice to thaw meat. Place the frozen hens in a large bowl to defrost in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours.
Thawing Cornish hens at room temperature: It is not a safe practice to thaw any frozen meat at room temperature because of the risk of bacteria growth. So I do not recommend thawing game hen at room temperature.
How Long to Cook Cornish Hen in Air Fryer
The exact length of time to cook game hen chicken in the air fryer will vary since each air fryer cooks differently. The hens should cook for 30-35 minutes, just check at the lowest time and check the temperature with the thermometer. If it is not 165°F cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Cornish Game Hen Ingredients
- Cornish Hen: I typically buy two of the 2 pound hens, with the giblets removed. Check your hens for giblets before cooking.
- Oregano: I use dried oregano.
- Thyme: I use ground thyme that is dried.
- Rosemary: Dried and crushed rosemary
- Garlic Powder: Dried garlic powder.
- Onion Powder: Dried onion powder.
- Paprika: I love to use smoked paprika but regular paprika will work well, also.
- Salt: I like to use kosher or sea salt.
- Pepper: Freshly ground pepper.
- Oil: I use olive oil in this recipe, but any vegetable oil will work. It will need to be divided in half. Each bird will get 1/4 of the oil under the skin and the other 1/4 on the outside skin.
- Lemon: You will stuff 1/4 of a lemon inside each hen.
- Garlic: One or two lightly smashed, whole garlic cloves to put inside each bird.
How to Cook Cornish Hen in Air Fryer
Here are the simple instructions on how to cook Cornish hen in the air fryer. For more detailed information on the ingredient amounts and full instructions, see the recipe card below.
- Preheat the air fryer.
- Combine together all of the herbs and salt.
- Separate the skin from the meat by gently pressing your fingers between them.
- Add 1/4 of the oil under the skin and spread out 1/4 of the herb mixture under the skin.
- Using another 1/4 of the oil, coat both sides of the outside of the rock hen. Sprinkle on 1/4 of herbs on both sides of bird.
- Stuff a lemon wedge and a couple smashed garlic cloves inside the birds.
- Repeat for the second bird if making two.
- Cook breast down, then flip over after 25 minutes. Finish cooking until the internal temperature on a thermometer reacher 165°F.
- Pull the hens out of air fryer and let rest for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.
Cornish Hen Air Fryer Recipe Tips & Variations
- Wear gloves. If you don’t like touching raw meat, you can wear gloves to keep your hands covered.
- Thermometer. You definitely want to use a meat thermometer to ensure the rock cornish hen is cooked all the way through.
- Only one bird. If you are only making one hen, you can cut all the ingredients in half.
- Less/More Cooking. If your hens are smaller then they may need less cooking time and if they are a bit larger may need more cooking time, use the thermometer to check temperature.
- Check on hen while cooking. Don’t be afraid to open the air fryer at any time to check on the hens.
- Let it rest. Let the air fried game hen rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.
- Seasonings. Try out some different seasonings like lemon pepper, cajun seasoning, poultry seasoning, rotisserie seasoning will make this taste even more like rotisserie Cornish hen.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to tell when cornish hen is cooked? You will know that the hen is completely cooked when a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F. Just make sure you don’t have the thermometer touching bone.
How many servings is a Cornish hen? One 2 pound hen actually has two servings. This can be great for portion control.
Is Cornish hen healthy? Cornish hen is actually a healthier option to chicken since it has less fat and calories.
Is Cornish hen a chicken? Yep, a Cornish hen is just a breed of chicken.
How to Store Leftover Air Fryer Cornish Hen
Let the cornish hen cool and take all of the meat off the bone. Put the meat into an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Or store it in the freezer for up to 3 months, make sure to label with the recipe name and date.
How to Reheat Cornish Hens
Place the cold cooked game hen in the basket of the air fryer. Cook at 400°F fro 3-5 minutes until the meat is heated through. Reheat in the oven by preheating at 350°F, bake Cornish hens covered with foil in a baking dish.
Try these other air fryer recipes!
- Air Fryer Dinner Rolls
- Acorn Squash in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Squash and Zucchini
- Turkey Breast in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Carrots
- Crispy Potatoes in the Air Fryer
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How to Cook Cornish Hen in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer
- 2 2-lb cornish game hens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano dried
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 large lemon cut in half
- 4 large whole garlic cloves crushed
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- In a small bowl, combine together paprika, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Press fingers between the skin and the meat to separate the two from each other. Add 1/4 of the oil under the skin spreading as well as you can. Then spread 1/4 of the herb mixture under the skin.
- Using another 1/4 of the oil, coat both sides of the outside of the hen. Sprinkle on 1/4 of herbs on both sides of bird.
- Stuff the lemon wedge and whole garlic into the inside of the bird.
- Repeat for the second bird if making two.
- Place the hens into the preheated air fryer breast down. Cook for 25 minutes then flip over to the other side. Cook for 10-15 more minutes until the internal temperature on a thermometer reacher 165°F. Pull the hens out of air fryer and let rest for 10-15 minutes before enjoying.
- You definitely want to use a meat thermometer to ensure the rock cornish hen is cooked all the way through.
- If you are only making one hen, you can cut all the ingredients in half.
- If your hens are smaller then they may need less cooking time and if they are a bit larger may need more cooking time, use the thermometer to check temperature.
- Don’t be afraid to open the air fryer at any time to check on the hens.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out!