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Air Fryer Cornish Hens

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Cook up whole Cornish hens quickly and easily with the aid of your air fryer. Seasoned with garlic, onion, thyme, and paprika, these roasted Cornish hens have a delicious crispy skin and juicy and tender meat.

An air fryer cornish hen served with slices of lemon.

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I am a huge lover of roasted chicken, but when it’s just for a couple of us, I love to cook up some Cornish game hens. It’s super easy to overcook them in the oven, but the air fryer produces tender meat and crispy skin every single time.

Super quick to prep, these small chickens are rubbed with oil and a simple seasoning mix before being air fried, and the cooking time is just 30 minutes and pretty much hands-off. It’s such an easy recipe that you’ll want to make it often.

These are a great option for date night, and they look so impressive when you serve them up with all of your favorite sides.

Be sure to try my Air Fryer Chicken Wings and Air Fryer Whole Chicken too!

A cooked cornish hen in the air fryer basket.

How to make air fryer Cornish hens

  • Gather your ingredients. I’m making two game hens and some of my favorite seasonings. Most air fryers will be able to fit 2 cornish hens in the basket.
Ingredients to make the recipe.
  • Pat the Cornish hens dry. Then rub them with olive oil all over.
  • In a small bowl, mix the garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Rub the spices all over the Cornish hens
  • Place the Cornish hens in the air fryer breast side down and cook at 375 Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. Then flip and cook for 10 additional minutes.
  • Once the hens are done, remove them and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Two cornish hens in the air fryer basket.

Can you prep them ahead of time?

You can season the Cornish hens an hour or two before you want to cook them. Season the with the spice mix and then keep them covered in the fridge till ready to serve. Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for 3 days, remove the meat from the bones, and store in an airtight container. The leftovers are great to add to soups, salads, and sandwiches.

What’s the difference between a Cornish hen and a chicken?

A Cornish hen is a crossbreed of chicken. The main difference between a Cornish hen and a chicken is the size. A small whole chicken will easily feed four, but a Cornish hen is smaller and it is ideal to serve a whole one as a single portion. Taste-wise, they taste pretty similar and most people can not tell the difference. Cornish Hens are slightly milder in flavor, but because they are younger birds, their flesh is much more tender. Cornish hens have less fat and calories compared to chicken.

Other ways to season these hens?

You can season or marinate these little chickens any way you like. Try my chicken seasoning, lemon pepper seasoning, or even Italian seasoning.

What do you serve them with?

These air fryer Cornish hens are great for an occasional meal, and I love to serve them how I would usually serve roasted whole chicken, with veggie and potato sides and maybe a little gravy! Try them with some of these favorites:

Two cornish hens on a white serving plate with fresh lemon slices and herbs.

I hope you enjoy these juicy air fryer cornish hens as much as we do.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • For best results, allow the Cornish hens to come to room temperature before air frying them. I like to take them out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before cooking them.
  • Rub the oil and seasonings all over the birds. This will help the skin to get crispy all over.
  • Cook the Cornish hens breast side down for the first part of cooking. This helps to stop the breast meat from drying out and burning.
  • Let the hens rest for 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute making them extra tasty.
  • The chicken is done when the chicken shows an internal temp of 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

A cooked cornish hen in the air fryer basket.
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5 from 1 vote

Air Fryer Cornish Hens

Cook up whole Cornish hens quickly and easy with the aid of your air fryer. Seasoned with garlic, onion, thyme and paprika, these roasted Cornish hens have a delicious crispy skin and juicy and tender meat.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fried cornish hens, cornish hens recipe, how to cook cornish hens in the air fryer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 585kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cornish hens
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Pat the cornish hens dry. Then rub them with olive oil all over.
  • In small bowl, mix the garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Rub the spices all over the cornish hens
  • Place the cornish hens in the air fryer breast side down and cook on 375F for 20 minutes. Then flip and cook for 10 additional minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 1884mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 501IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 2mg
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