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Air Fryer Cornish Hen

Air fryer Cornish hen makes a great meal for two. It is quick to cook, and perfectly sized for one or two without leaving a ton of leftovers. Here’s how to cook roasted Cornish hen to perfection in your air fryer.

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Air fryer Cornish hen
Air fryer Cornish hen.

How to Roast Cornish Hen in an Air Fryer

Cornish hen (or Cornish game hen) is easy to cook in an air fryer, and as a bonus you can roast a side of veggies in there at the same time! A much smaller bird than regular chicken, it roasts in around half the time, and is just the right size for dinner for two.

Also, unlike traditional roasting, air frying means they are not sitting in oil while they cook, so they absorb less. So you get delicious juicy Cornish hen The action of the hot air frying will also ensure that it comes out with perfectly crispy skin.

I love pairing this easy air fryer Cornish hen recipe with air fryer roast potatoes or other air fried veggies, and microwaved steamed vegetables. Perfect for a simple meal, or a dinner party!

Ingredients

  • Cornish hen: I use fresh (or defrosted) Cornish hen. Cornish game hens have less fat and calories than regular roasted chickens, meaning they make for a slightly healthier option, but still have all the taste.
  • Melted butter: Brush onto the hen, then apply the seasonings. The butter helps to make the skin really crispy, as well as adding a wonderful richness to the flavor.
  • Seasonings: For this recipe I use a simple homemade spice mix of salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme, but you can use any other seasoning mix, dry rub, or herb seasoning that you like with roast chicken. Try: switching out the rosemary and thyme for Italian seasoning, or adding some garlic powder, onion powder or smoked paprika.
  • Olive oil spray or avocado oil spray: this is optional, and used to help prevent the Cornish hen from sticking to the air fryer basket. (You will probably know whether your air fryer needs this or not.)

Preparing Cornish Hen

Seasoning

The seasoning process is very simple for this recipe:

  1. Mix the dry seasonings together in a small bowl.
  2. Brush the skin of the bird with melted butter.
  3. Then rub Cornish hen with seasonings to ensure it is coated thoroughly. Ensure you add some seasoning inside the cavity.

You can also add stuffing or fill the cavity with a lemon or onion and garlic to really add a flavor punch!

Trussing

Once the bird is seasoned you need to truss it.

Trussing the hen is important to ensure it cooks evenly, it also helps retain moisture, keeping the meat tender and juicy. We will also need to tuck the wings in to protect them from getting charred to a crisp.

Simply use a short length of kitchen twine or string to tie the legs together.

A trussed roaste Cornish hen on a white plate.
Trussed air fried Cornish hen.

Roasting Cornish Game Hen

You will need to preheat the air fryer so that the hen goes in when it is hot. Exactly how long to roast it for depends on the size, and how efficient your air fryer is, but a 1.5 pound bird should take approximately 30 minutes.

The cooking time in the recipe card below is perfect for my Philips XL Airfryer. If you have another powerful air fryer brand like Nuwave or Ninja Foodi then expect cook times to be similar.

The best way to tell whether your hen is cooked is to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature

The safe temperature for poultry is 165°F (74°C), but I usually remove the hen when the thermometer reads just over 160°F because the temperature will continue to rise another 5 degrees (or more) while it is resting.

I have managed to over-cook Cornish hen in the past before I learnt this trick!

Meat thermometer tip:
Measure the temperature at the thickest part of your Cornish hen for an accurate temperature reading.

Resting Cornish Game Hen

Once it has reached the desired temperature, remove from the air fryer, and resist the urge to tuck in straight away. For really juicy meat you need to rest it first.

Tent with foil and leave to rest for ten minutes so that it can finish cooking and the juices can reabsorb into the meat.

Remember to continue to check the temperature while it is resting to ensure that it has reached the all important temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Then cut the string, and serve!

Scroll down for this recipe card for this air fryer Cornish hen!

What to serve with Cornish hen

Cornish hen is a very versatile dish, it can be served in many ways with different types of side. I usually serve with air fryer roasted potatoes and microwave steamed vegetables, but it is also great with mashed potatoes, wedges, sweet potato fries or a salad (try this pomegranate couscous salad).

Air frying sides with the Cornish Hen

I love a one pot dinner, and roasting a side of vegetables in the air fryer with the hen couldn’t be easier!

Simply cut your veggies (think potatoes, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin) into 2 inch chunks. Scatter in the bottom of the air fryer basket with a quick spray of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Then gently place the Cornish hen on top.

Alternatively, and sides that will cook in ten minutes or less can be prepared while the hen is roasting, and air fried while it is resting.

Air Fryer Cornish Hen Recipe Card

Air fryer Cornish hen
Yield: 2 Servings

Air fryer Cornish hen

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

How to cook a Cornish hen in an air fryer.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cornish game hen
  • 1 tbsp melted butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary and/or thyme, finely chopped (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Olive oil spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat air fryer to 390°F (200°C).
  2. Pat the Cornish hen dry.
  3. Mix herbs and salt together in a small bowl.
  4. Brush melted butter onto the skin of the Cornish hen, and rub herb mix into the skin. Also rub some seasoning inside the cavity [Note 1].
  5. Tuck the wings in, and tie the legs together to truss the bird.
  6. Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray (to help prevent sticking).
  7. Place the Cornish hen into the air fryer basket.
  8. Air fry at 390°F (200°C) for 30 minutes, until the temperature of the thickest part is 160°F (70°C).
  9. Remove Cornish hen from the air fryer, cover with tented aluminum foil, and leave to rest for at least ten minutes. This allows it to finish cooking and allows the juices to reabsorb.
  10. Monitor the internal temperature to ensure that it has reached 165°F (74°C) [Note 2].
  11. Cut the string and serve!

Notes

  1. If you are using fresh herbs, place a small bunch of rosemary and/or thyme inside.
  2. Always ensure that poultry has reached the safe temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part before serving.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 444Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 184mgSodium: 710mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 29g

Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.

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