The Best Easy Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens Recipe
Sep 05, 2023
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The Best Easy Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens recipe – tender, juicy delicious cornish game hens in under 40 minutes from an air fryer or Instant Pot with broiler lid!
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Air Fried Cornish Hens
Tender, delicious Cornish game hens with a crispy, golden crust are one of the most delicious dishes to serve at a dinner party or holiday dinner.
They are low carb and keto compliant, have a light, chicken-like flavor, present beautifully, and are so easy to make.
These air fried Cornish game hens are a perfect main dish for a smaller holiday dinner – each hen serves about 2 (if your guests are big eaters, you can serve 1 per guest), and make great leftovers.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
How to Air Fry Cornish Game Hens
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- Cornish Game Hens (2): Cornish game hens are small, young chickens that are perfect for individual servings. They offer tender and flavorful meat that’s great for roasting or air frying.
- Salt and Pepper (to taste): Salt enhances the overall flavor of the dish, while pepper adds a subtle heat and depth of taste. Balancing these seasonings is crucial for a well-seasoned dish.
- Lemons (2, sliced): Lemons provide a citrusy brightness to the dish. Slicing lemons and placing them both inside the hens and around the air fryer basket infuses the meat with a zesty aroma and flavor.
- Fresh Rosemary (2 sprigs): Rosemary is an aromatic herb that imparts a distinct earthy and pine-like flavor to the hens. Stuffing the hens with rosemary adds a fragrant note to the meat as it cooks.
- Italian Herb Seasoning Blend (1 tbsp): The Italian herb blend adds a combination of various herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and marjoram. This blend enhances the overall herbaceous and savory profile of the hens.
- Butter (3 tbsp, softened): Butter adds richness and moisture to the hens, preventing them from becoming dry during cooking. It also helps to create a flavorful crust on the skin.
- Garlic Cloves (8): Garlic is a pungent and aromatic ingredient that brings a robust flavor to the dish. Roasting the garlic cloves with the hens infuses the meat with a mellowed garlic taste.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:
- Prep. Preheat air fryer to 450F. Rub chickens with 3 tablespoons of butter. Lightly season chickens with salt, pepper, and herbs. Place 1 lemon wedge, 4 garlic cloves, and 1 sprig rosemary in cavity of each hen. Spray inside of air fryer basket with nonstick spray. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
- Air Fry. Arrange chickens in air fryer basket. Roast in preheated air fryer for 30 minutes.
- Flip to crisp. Flip hens, roast additional 10 minutes. Remove hens from oven when they reach 170 degrees with an instant read digital thermometer. Tent hens with aluminum foil as hens carryover cook, do not carve for at least 10 minutes.
- Enjoy! Serve individual chickens on diners plates, and encourage them to carve tableside for a fun dinner!
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Air Fried Cornish Game Hens
If you love crunchy game hens, be sure to check my top tips for perfect air fried chicken legs below:
Preheat air fryer. Run your air fryer for a few minutes before adding the food so it is hot and ready to go when you go to air fry your cornish game hens. This is optional, but I feel it helps the skin to puff up and get a crispy “fried” texture.
Don’t open too often. Since air fryers are completely sealed off, it’s hard to judge your hen’s doneness by the look of it. Don’t open your air fryer constantly, letting heat escape – trust in the timing of the recipe, and a handy rapid-read digital meat thermometer. Check the temperature of the game hen when you’re already opening the air fryer to flip them – don’t open it just to check the temperature or too much heat will escape. You can also buy an air fryer with a built-in temperature probe, that does all the work for you – including shutting off when the meat is fully cooked!
How many Cornish Game Hens per person. One of the trickiest parts of serving Cornish Game Hens for a holiday dinner is planning out just how many to cook for a crowd! Luckily, it can be easy to figure out with a little bit of planning! While one Cornish hen per person might make the most sense for your dinner party, you might want to go for a little less, and serve it pre-carved to guests. If you want to serve a meal with some meat left as leftovers, it is important to be sure you cook a slightly bigger portion per person. Since cornish game hens are quite small, they really only give 1 – 1 1/2 servings per bird, making them a dish you really need to plan ahead to be sure you have the proper amount before roasting. For larger portions dinners, plan for one cornish game hen per person for dinner.
Let guests carve their own. This hen can be sliced and portioned and then served to dinner guests on a platter, or presented whole on a plate so the guest can carve their own hen.
Use a digital thermometer. Use a digital thermometer. When your timer is done, immediately test the temperature of the game hens with a digital thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the chicken drumstick without touching bone.
Cook to the right temperature. Cornish game hens should be cooked to 165 degrees internally. If poultry has not met 165 degrees internally, add another 2-5 minutes to cook time.
Don’t crowd air fryer basket. Air fryers help get hot air to circulate around the game hens to get a heat so high it makes meat taste fried – and to do that, it helps to not crowd the pan. Put the Cornish game hens in your air fryer pan in a way they aren’t crowding each other – it makes a huge difference.
Plan on one game hen per person for hungry adults if it is a main course.
Game hens run from 1-2 pounds, but most hens will weigh about 1 1/4 pound.
Slather cooked game hen in a little butter and prop under the broiler for 2-5 minutes to crisp skin before serving.
The cooking time can vary based on the size of the Cornish game hens and the specific air fryer model. As a general guideline, cook the hens at 375°F (190°C) for approximately 25-30 minutes. To ensure they are fully cooked, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
Preheating the air fryer is recommended to ensure even cooking. Preheat the air fryer to the cooking temperature (375°F or 190°C) before placing the hens inside.
Season the hens with salt, pepper, and the Italian Herb Seasoning Blend both on the skin and inside the cavity. You can also rub softened butter over the hens for added flavor and moisture.
Yes, you can use other herbs like thyme, sage, or a poultry seasoning blend based on your preferences. These herbs will add different flavor profiles to the hens.
It’s not necessary to flip the hens in the air fryer, as the hot air circulates evenly around them. However, if you prefer, you can flip them halfway through the cooking time for more even browning.
It’s recommended to thaw the hens completely before cooking for even and safe cooking. Thaw them in the refrigerator for a day or two before air frying.
To prevent sticking, you can lightly coat the air fryer basket with oil or use non-stick cooking spray. You can also place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the basket. Preheating the air fryer also helps keep the hens from sticking.
Consider serving the hens with roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, a side salad, or even some dinner rolls. The choice of side dishes depends on your preferences.
To ensure the hens are cooked, use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the meat, without touching the bone.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens
Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or potatoes are a great choice. Their caramelized flavors and textures complement the succulent hens.
Mashed Potatoes or Cauliflower Mash: Creamy mashed potatoes or a healthier cauliflower mash provide a comforting and hearty side that can soak up the flavorful juices from the hens.
Gravy: Serve the hens with a rich homemade gravy made from the drippings and air-fried juices. The gravy adds extra depth and moisture to the meal.
Green Salad: A light and refreshing green salad with a tangy vinaigrette can help balance the richness of the hens.
Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw with a zesty dressing adds a fresh and crunchy component to the meal.
Rice or Quinoa: Serve the hens over a bed of fluffy rice or quinoa for an additional source of carbohydrates.
Fruit Compote: A sweet fruit compote or chutney, such as cranberry or apple, can provide a sweet contrast to the savory hens.
Bread Rolls or Baguette: Freshly baked bread rolls or slices of baguette are perfect for mopping up the delicious juices and flavors from the hens.
Wine or Sparkling Water: Consider pairing the meal with a glass of white wine, rosé, or even sparkling water with a splash of citrus for a refreshing beverage.
Roasted Potatoes: Crispy roasted potatoes seasoned with herbs and spices can be a hearty and flavorful accompaniment.
Mixed Grains Salad: A salad made with a mix of grains like quinoa, farro, or barley, along with fresh herbs, vegetables, and a light dressing, adds both texture and nutrition.
The Best Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens Recipe
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- 2 Cornish game hens
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 lemons, sliced -1 to stuff in hens, and one to place around air fryer basket for extra flavor
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, to stuff in hens
- 1 tbsp Italian Herb Seasoning Blend
- 3 tbsp butter, softened
- 8 cloves garlic
- Preheat air fryer to 450F.
- Rub chickens with 3 tablespoons of butter.
- Lightly season chickens with salt, pepper, and herbs.
- Place 1 lemon wedge, 4 garlic cloves, and 1 sprig rosemary in cavity of each hen.
- Spray inside of air fryer basket with nonstick spray.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
- Arrange chickens in air fryer basket.
- Roast in preheated air fryer for 30 minutes
- Flip hens, roast additional 10 minutes.
- Remove hens from oven when they reach 170 degrees with an instant read digital thermometer.
- Tent hens with aluminum foil as hens carryover cook, do not carve for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve individual chickens on diners plates, and encourage them to carve tableside for a fun dinner!
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1 hen
Amount Per Serving Calories 426Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 191mgSodium 322mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 29g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.