This is the BEST Air Fryer Cornish Hen recipe. When you make an air fried Cornish hen you’re left with extra crispy skins, juicy meat and an impressively easy dinner, just like when making our popular Smoked Whole Chicken. Only 5 minutes prep time and 40 minutes of cooking time.
Like Air Fryer Recipes? Here are a few reader favorites: Air Fryer Chicken Wings, Jamaican Jerk Chicken Wings, Crispy Air Fryer Tater Tots, Frozen Burrito in Air Fryer, Air Fryer Pizza Rolls and Air Fried Frozen French Fries!
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Air Fryer Cornish Hen
Why is this Cornish Hen air fryer recipe better than traditional baked Cornish hens? Two reasons: majorly reduced cooking time and the forced circulating hot air creates a super crispy skin while maintaining a juicy and tender center. And who doesn’t love crispy skin chicken? (See: Crispy Shake and Bake Chicken). Look how crispy this skin is!
In the market for a new Air Fryer? Amazon has a ton on sale, including our favorite the Ninja Foodie Digital Fry. Cooking Cornish Hens in Ninja Foodi will top your favorite air fryer recipes list in no time.
What Are Cornish Game Hens?
A Cornish hen is a small breed of chicken, usually weighing between 1-2 pounds. It’s the perfect size to feed 1-2 people. Small family households can grab a twin pack for $6-$8 for an inexpensive meal. It also makes a great Valentine’s Dinner.
Despite the full name (Cornish Game Hens), it’s not a game bird therefore does not have a gamey taste. It tastes like a “regular” chicken.
How to Cook Cornish Hen in Air Fryer
Expect to spend only 5 minutes preparing the ingredients and only 40 minutes air frying. After combining the seasonings, rub it on the Cornish hens after lubing them up with oil. From there just transfer the birds to the air fryer for 40 minutes. That’s it! You’re done.
Dry Chicken Rub
Cooked Cornish game hens + your favorite dry chicken rub = spectacular. You really can’t go wrong using your favorite chicken run recipe. The dry rub listed below is our favorite, non-spicy, chicken rub. Other great seasoning options to consider: Jamaican Jerk Seasoning or even BBQ Rub.
Cornish Hen Cooked In Air Fryer Tips
Chicken Brine – If brining chicken is your thing, pick from 4 easy Smoked Turkey Brine. They work on all poultry!
Do I have to use oil? – Yes and no. Using oil is best because it creates a crisp coating for the skin without drying it out. You can use butter, however it won’t crisp up the skin as well as oil.
Is Pre-heating necessary? It depends on the model of air fryer you’re using. Check the instruction manual for your model. Some need to be pre-heated while other models do not.
How much Cornish Hens to serve? Plan on serving one bird, per person, if they have hearty appetites. Two people with smaller appetites can easily share one bird.
Final temperature – ALWAYS use a meat thermometer. Dimensions and weight of Cornish hens always vary, so don’t go by time. Our go-to digital thermometer is the Thermaworks Dot.
Can I Cook Two At Once
Yep. In fact the Cornish hen air fryer recipe, as written, is for two Cornish hens at once. You can shave off a few minutes if you’re baking just one.
Frozen Cornish Hens
Forgot to defrost your Cornish hens? Not a problem. Just pre-heat your air fryer to 370 degrees F. Cook the bird for 20 minutes before removing and coating in oil and seasonings (per the recipe below). Place the seasoned bird back into the air fryer, flipped from the original position, and cook for 20 more minutes.
How To Reheat Chicken In The Air Fryer
It’s easy to reheat Cornish Hens. Just preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees F. Place the leftover Cornish hens in an air fryer basket sprayed with cooking spray and cook for 16-18 minutes, until heated through out. If you already cut your bird in half, it will only need about 5-6 minutes.
Whole Chicken in Air Fryer
You can use this recipe to make an Air Fryer Whole Chicken. It will just take a bit more time as whole chickens are larger than Cornish game hens.
Sheet Pan Dinner Ideas
Sheet Pan Cornish Hens and Green Beans
To make green beans on the same sheet, just cut off the rough ends (optional) of 1 lb. of green beans, toss in 1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil and add to the cooking sheet in a single layer, 15 minutes before the birds are done. Add any salt, pepper or seasonings you prefer before baking.
Sheet Pan Cornish Game Hens and Asparagus
To make asparagus on the same sheet, cut off the rough ends of 1 lb. asparagus, toss in 1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil and add to the cooking sheet in a single layer, 25 minutes before the birds are done (only 15-18 minutes if using skinny asparagus). Add any salt, pepper or seasonings you prefer before baking. You could also make Sous Vide Asparagus to serve with it instead.
Sheet Pan Chicken and Mushrooms
To make Air Fryer Mushrooms on the same sheet, toss the mushrooms in your favorite marinade (this mushroom recipe has two options) and add to the air fryer basket 5 minutes before the Cornish Hens are set to be done.
Sheet Pan Cornish Hens and Zucchini
To make zucchini on the same sheet, cut 1 lb. of zucchini into quarters and toss in a 1/2 tablespoon of avocado oil and add to the cooking sheet in a single layer, 12-15 minutes before the birds are done. Add any salt, pepper or seasonings you prefer before baking.
Sheet Pan Cornish Hen and Air Fryer Baby Potatoes
To make air fryer baby potatoes on the same sheet, toss the potatoes in 1 tablespoon of avocado oil and add to the air fryer basket, in a single layer, 20 minutes before the air fryer Cornish hens are set to be finished.
Cornish Game Hen Side Dish Ideas
Wine – Syrah, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Champagne
- 2 Cornish Game Hens (*Note 1)
- 2 tbsp Olive or Avocado Oil (*Note 2)
- 1 tsp Dried Thyme
- 1 tsp Dried Rosemary
- 1 tsp Dried Sage
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ tsp Cracked Black Pepper
- Spray the inside of the air fryer with cooking spray and preheat to 360 degrees.
- Add all of the spices to a small bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.
- Use a paper towel to pat dry the Cornish hens.
- Coat the Cornish hens with the oil, evenly on all sides.
- Rub the spice mix evenly over both hens and transfer them to the air fryer basket, breast side down.
- Cook for 30 minutes before flipping and cooking an additional 10 minutes. The Cornish hens are done when the internal temperature is 165 degrees F.