Two air fryer cornish hens surrounded by vegetables on a white rectangular platter on a grey placemat with white bowls behind all on a white surface (with logo overlay)

Easy Air Fryer Cornish Hens

Cooking small cornish hens in the air fryer is a perfect way to get crispy roasted skin without taking the time to roast in the oven.

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A few weeks ago, we had to get cornish hens for a client recipe and ended up with extras. I wasn’t sure what to do with them besides her recipe, so we started experimenting. I’m someone who loves a lot of flavor on the meat, especially a good blackened chicken breast.

We wanted to roast the cornish hens, but I wasn’t sure the best way to do it. After all, I’ve never roasted a turkey before, only cooked turkey in the Instant Pot! It gets roasted in there, but we wanted to try something different for the cornish hens. Justin is the one who suggested trying to roast in the air fryer. We’ve used it a LOT lately since one of my clients is all air fryer meals, so gotten pretty comfortable with it.

For the seasonings, I went with my two favorites (garlic powder and onion powder) then added anything else that smelled good to me at the time. By combining the seasonings and then rubbing on the cornish hens, the flavor was evenly spread out. The basic rule of thumb for an air fryer that I’ve learned: lower the temperature a bit from what you would use with the oven, and increase the time by a few minutes.

Air Fryer Cornish Hens Step by Step

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp rosemary, dried
  • 1 tsp thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cornish hens, 1 lb each
Ingredients for air fryer cornish hens in stainless steel bowls on a white surface

Preparation

Preheat the air fryer to 380F. To preheat the air fryer, I turn it on to this temperature for 10 minutes while I get everything else prepped. Then adjust the time when you put your food in the air fryer.

In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings.

Seasonings mixed in a stainless steel bowl on a white surface

Brush the olive oil on both sides of the cornish hens.

Cornish hens covered with olive oil on a round white plate on a white surface

Rub the seasoning mixture on both sides of each cornish hen.

Seasoned cornish hens on a round white plate on a white surface

Place the cornish hens, breast side down, on a greased air fryer basket and cook for 30 minutes. Flip the cornish hens and cook another 15 minutes, until they are cooked through. Let them sit for 10 minutes before serving warm.

Two air fryer cornish hens surrounded by vegetables on a white rectangular platter on a grey placemat with white bowls behind all on a white surface (vertical)

Air Fyer Cornish Hens Leftovers

Store leftover air fryer cornish hens in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to go ahead and pull the meat from the bones so it’s easier to eat later and takes up less space. Just as with chicken, I typically like to eat the leftovers cold either in a salad or on its own. If you want to reheat it, you can heat it in the air fryer again or in the oven. Only heat until it’s warm as this will dry out the meat. As much as I don’t like to use the microwave, it’s best for reheating this since it won’t get dried out in there.

Recipe

Originally Published On: March 14, 2022

Two air fryer cornish hens surrounded by vegetables on a white rectangular platter on a grey placemat with white bowls behind all on a white surface (with title overlay)

Air Fryer Roasted Cornish Hens

Cooking small cornish hens in the air fryer is a perfect way to get crispy roasted skin without taking the time to roast in the oven.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cool Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course:
Main Dish
Cuisine:
American
Diet
Gluten Free
Keyword:
air fryer
|
cornish hens
|
dairy free
|
roasted
|
seasoning
Dietary Needs:
Dairy-Free
|
Egg-Free
|
Gluten-Free
|
Keto
|
Nut-Free
|
Paleo
|
Whole30
Meat:
Chicken/Turkey
Cooking Method:
Air Fryer
Servings: 4
5 from 7 votes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp rosemary (dried)
  • 1 tsp thyme (dried)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cornish hens (1 lb each)

Instructions

  • Preheat the air fryer to 380F
  • In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings
  • Brush the olive oil on both sides of the cornish hens
  • Rub the seasoning mixture on both sides of each cornish hen
  • Place the cornish hens, breast side down, on a greased air fryer basket and cook for 30 minutes
  • Flip the cornish hens and cook another 15 minutes, until they are cooked through
  • Let them sit for 10 minutes before serving warm
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Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Roasted Cornish Hens
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cornish hen)
Calories 497 Calories from Fat 315
% Daily Value*
Fat 35g54%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Polyunsaturated Fat 7g
Monounsaturated Fat 16g
Cholesterol 227mg76%
Sodium 286mg12%
Potassium 589mg17%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 39g78%
Vitamin A 407IU8%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutrition content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.

Air Fryer Cornish Hens FAQs

What is a cornish hen?

A cornish hen is a specific breed of chicken. The ones sold in grocery stores are actually a hybrid of two different breeds. They are bred to be small.
Src: https://animals.mom.com/difference-between-chicken-cornish-hen-5812.html

Where do I buy a cornish hen?

A cornish hen can be purchased in the meat freezer at most large grocery stores. They are packaged similarly to a turkey.

Can I use different seasonings?

Yes, you can use whatever seasonings you prefer. These are just our favorites and the ones we wanted for this particular meal.

18 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Cornish Hens”

  1. 5 stars
    It is a great recipe! I got my air fryer two months ago and I can`t explain how happy I`m. I gonna try your recipe this weekend.

  2. This sounds like a cute dish to make, and I love that you can make it right in the air fryer. It would be fun to serve these for a special occasion.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve not heard of this type of chicken before but will certainly look out for them on my next shop. I’ve never tried air frying a whole chicken before…looks delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    I’m getting hungry just looking at this! I love cornish hens, especially when they get that really crispy skin. Thi sis the best.

  5. 5 stars
    It’s great you can make these in an air fryer. This sounds like a great recipe and nice and easy too.

  6. I didn’t realize that about the microwave (and would have never thought it). Excellent tip for reheating.

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