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Air Fryer Cornish Hen

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Air fryer Cornish hen can be cooked from fresh or frozen for a delicious and impressive meal! The juicy meat and super crispy skin make these little birds irresistible.

Air Fryer Cornish Hens served on a white plate with lemon halves and garnishing

I love finding new and exciting dishes to make in the air fryer. It makes everything so easy, and the result is delicious meals my whole family loves. This air fryer cornish hen recipe is a perfect example!

Thanks to the air fryer, these hens have super crispy skin on the outside and tender, juicy meat on the inside. And you don’t need a rotisserie air fryer for this recipe! The entire meal comes together in just five simple steps.

Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post:

  • How to make 1 or 2 cornish hens in the air fryer
  • How to prep game hens for freezing
  • Cooking cornish game hen from frozen
  • How to reheat cornish hen in the air fryer
  • Tips for making the best cornish hens

This is a perfect dish for celebrating a special occasion or impressing dinner guests. The cornish hens turn out so delicious and juicy, and no one will ever guess how simple they were to make!

Air Fryer Cornish Hens cut in half next to each other on its side and served with lemons and zucchini and squash

What is a Cornish Hen?

A cornish hen is a certain breed of chicken.

A true cornish game hen is a young female cornish chicken, but most of the cornish hens you find in the store are a commercialized crossbreed that is much easier to raise and can be male or female.

Ingredients needed to make cornish hen in the air fryer on a white background

How To Make Air Fryer Cornish Hens

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees.

STEP TWO: In a small bowl, combine the oil, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and lemon zest.

Oil drizzled on top of cornish hen and seasoning mixed in a small bowl

STEP THREE: Pat the cornish game hens dry with a paper towel, then brush them with the seasoning mixture both under and on top of the skin. Twist the wings to tuck under the bird.

STEP FOUR: Place the hens in the air fryer basket, breast side down, and cook for 35 minutes. Only place as many hens as will fit in your air fryer.

You will need an air fryer oven or a larger square air fryer basket to make 2 cornish hens at the same time. The Cosori 5.8 QT works great for 2!

STEP FIVE: Flip the hens and cook for an additional 10 minutes to get the skin crispy. Check the internal temperature: hens are done when they reach 165 degrees F.

I love to use my Kizen Instant-Read Thermometer that works in less than 3 seconds to keep the air fryer as hot as possible when checking the food.

Raw cornish hen in the air fryer

How to Cook Cornish Game Hen From Frozen

Want to prep your cornish game hen and store it in the freezer for an easy future meal? No problem! 

You’ll mix the seasoning, pat the hens dry, and brush them with the seasoning mixture like usual. Then, seal them in plastic zipper bags, wrap the bags in foil, and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to cook.

To cook cornish game hen from frozen:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees.
  2. Place the hen(s) in a single layer and spritz with cooking oil.
  3. Cook for 40 minutes until heated through, flipping the hen(s) halfway to ensure even cooking.
Cooked cornish hen in the air fryer

Reheating Cornish Hens in the Air Fryer

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees.
  2. Place the hen(s) in the basket and cook for 18 minutes until heated through. If reheating a half hen, reheat for just 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the game from the air fryer and enjoy!

Ideas for What to Serve with Cornish Hens

Closeup of one cornish hen served with lemon halves

Tips for Making the Best Air Fryer Cornish Hen

  • Make sure the hen is completely dry before adding the seasonings. Removing any excess moisture will allow the skin to get super crispy.
  • Season the outside and insides of the chicken for the most flavor.
  • Only cook as many cornish hens as you can fit in a single layer in the air fryer. Overcrowding the basket can cause your food to cook unevenly.
  • Flip the bird over in the air fryer with 10 minutes left to allow the other side to get nice and crispy.
  • If you want to crisp the bird even further, increase the temperature to 400 degrees and let the cornish hens cook for about 3 extra minutes.

Other Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love:

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Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Air Fryer Cornish Hen

Air Fryer Cornish Hens served on a white plate with lemon halves and garnishing

Skip the store-bought rotisserie chicken and make this easy air fryer cornish hen recipe right at home! Five easy steps to perfectly cooked birds with irresistibly crispy skin.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cornish hens, about 1.5 pounds each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (or 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oil and salt, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and lemon zest/juice.
  3. Pat the cornish game hens dry with a paper towel then brush them with the seasoning mixture under and on top of the skin. Twist wings to tuck under the bird.
  4. Place hen(s) in the air fryer basket, breast side down, and cook for 35 minutes.
  5. Flip the hens and cook for an additional 10 minutes to get the skin crispy. Check internal temperature: hens are done at 165 degrees F. Serve and enjoy!







Notes

How to Reheat Cornish Hen in the Air Fryer

1. Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees.

2. Place the leftover Cornish hens in the air fryer and cook for about 18 minutes, until heated through. If reheating a half Cornish hen, reheat for just 3 to 4 minutes

3. Remove from the air fryer and enjoy!

How to Cook Frozen Cornish Hen in the Air Fryer

1. Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees.

2. Place the hens in a single layer, spritz with cooking oil, and cook for 40 minutes until heated through. Flip the hens halfway through cooking.

3. Remove them from the air fryer and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 168mgSodium: 1141mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 29g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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