With their crispy, golden skin and juicy meat, air fryer cornish game hen is a win-win for a casual weeknight meal or even for a more formal holiday setting with guests. Our recipe can be prepared and ready to serve in 45 minutes for a delightful presentation.
What is a cornish game hen?
The cornish game hen is a U.S.D.A.-approved name for a particular variety of broiler chicken. It is served young and immature and weighs only about 2 pounds when it is ready to cook. Despite its name, the cornish hen is not a game bird since game birds are wild, so we will refer to them as cornish hens in our recipe. Actually they are not Cornish either, the name just denotes a breed. Cornish hens are really just chickens, yet they are very small, not very old, and very, very tender. Because of their size, they are nicely suited for an individual serving. Although they taste chicken-y, cornish hens have a more subtle and delicate flavor than the regular chicken.
Is cornish hen healthier than chicken?
A cornish hen is very small and lighter than regular chickens. As such, they have less fat, fewer calories, and healthier than chicken. They have mostly white meat, so they are lean and rich in niacin, which can help lower cholesterol and boost brain function. They are also rich in protein and a good source of vitamin B12.
How do you cook cornish hen in an air fryer?
- Spray the air fryer basket with a thin layer of cooking oil, and place lemon slices in the basket.
- Pat the cornish hens dry.
- Brush or rub both sides of the hens in olive oil and sprinkle both sides with the seasonings.
- Place the hens breast side down in the air fryer basket on top of the lemons.
- Air fry for 25 minutes at 350 degrees F, then gently turn the cornish hens and cook for 10-15 more minutes. The internal temperature of the hens should reach 165 degrees F when done.
- Remove the cornish hens and allow them to rest on a plate for 15 minutes before cutting.
- Serve and enjoy this delightful main dish!
What temp do you use to cook cornish hens in an air fryer?
Cornish hens are cooked in an air fryer at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes total, turning them over once during cooking.
How do you know when cornish hens are done?
Cornish hens are fully cooked when their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer in the thigh area, as this is the thickest part of the hen. If you don’t have a meat thermometer make a small slice in the thickest part of the hen and the meat should be white and the juices should run clear.
Do cornish hens stay tender when cooked in an air fryer?
Yes, cornish hens are small and immature so they stay very tender and moist when cooked in an air fryer.
Can you use frozen cornish hen to cook in an air fryer?
You may use fully thawed frozen cornish hens to cook in an air fryer. Give the hens overnight, or up to a day in the refrigerator, to thaw or place the hens in a cold water bath. They will thaw faster in a cold water bath but it is safer to thaw in the refrigerator since the consistent temperature in the fridge helps to avoid the growth of bacteria. Do not thaw the cornish hens at room temperature as this increases the risk of food-borne illnesses. Be sure to pat the hens completely dry before cooking in the air fryer so the spices and seasonings will stick and the skin can become crisp and golden brown.
Is it safe to eat rare or undercooked cornish hen?
It is never safe to eat rare or undercooked cornish hens or any poultry. Fully cooked cornish hens should reach 165 degrees F, according to the U.S.D.A., in the thickest part of the hen which is usually under the thigh area. Undercooked cornish hens can contain bacteria and pathogens that can cause food-borne illnesses.
Can you freeze cornish hens after cooking in an air fryer?
Yes, you can freeze the fully cooked cornish hens in the freezer for up to 2-3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag.
How long can you safely store cornish hens after cooking?
You can safely store the fully cooked cornish hens in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container or bag.
How do you reheat cornish hens in an air fryer?
Use the air fryer to reheat leftover cornish hens simply and quickly. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F and reheat them for about 1-2 minutes.
What sides go well with cornish game hens?
Since cornish hens are a delightful main dish in a casual or formal setting, they go well with any of your favorite side dishes, including:
- Mac and cheese
- Savory mushroom rice
- Roasted or scalloped potatoes
- Glazed carrots
- Brussel sprouts
- Sweet potatoes
- Fresh salad and dinner rolls
Tips to making great cornish hens in an air fryer:
- Wash your hands and utensils well before and after handling raw cornish hens.
- Do not thaw the cornish hens at room temperature as this can increase the risk of any food-borne illnesses.
- Because of their small size, generally a person can eat one cornish hen so plan your meal accordingly.
- To measure for doneness, place the meat thermometer in the thigh area since that area is usually the thickest part of the small hen. The internal temperature of each hen should be 165 degrees to be considered done and ready to enjoy.
- Feel free to use more seasoning for a really tasty cornish hen.
- Try different spices such as lemon pepper, basil, and Cajun seasoning.
- For more golden, crispy skin on the hens, add a few minutes of cooking time.
- The cornish hens must rest after cooking to redistribute their juices and can be difficult to remove from the air fryer basket using tongs. After the cornish hens have rested and cooled for a few minutes in the air fryer basket, try scooping them up with your clean hands instead.
Air Fryer Cornish Game Hen
- 2 Cornish hens about 1 pound each
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground thyme
- ½ tsp ground rosemary
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- 2 slices fresh lemon
- Pat the cornish hens dry.
- Rub cornish hens all over with oil.
- Sprinkle cornish hens all over with the seasonings.
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil.
- Place the lemon slices in the basket.
- Place the cornish hens breast side down in the air fryer on top of the lemons.
- Air fry for 25 mins at 350°F.
- Open the basket and turn the cornish hens over (breast side up now).
- Cook cornish hens for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the inner most meat has reached 165°F.
- Remove the cornish hens from the air fryer basket and place on a plate to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting & serving.