For a little elegance at your dinner table, you can’t go wrong with the Air Fryer Cornish Hen.
There’s something extra special about being served up a whole, perfectly baked bird with golden-brown skin and succulent meat. And even better, they’re incredibly simple to cook, making them an ideal choice for low-effort entertaining that’s bound to impress your guests.
What is the difference between a chicken and a Cornish hen?
Cornish chickens are raised primarily for meat as they are not particularly good egg-layers. They are much smaller than standard chickens, and are usually served whole as a single serving.
They also tend to be butchered younger, resulting in a more tender meat with a lower fat content. Tastewise, you won’t necessarily be able to tell the two apart.
But thanks to their size, Cornish hens are much easier and quicker to bake, and better yet, cook in the air fryer, resulting in juicy meat and deliciously crispy skin.
Cornish Hen Air Fryer Cooking Guide:
A good test to see if your Cornish Hen air fryer is ready is to test a small section from the thickest part on the meat.
If the liquid runs clear, then the meat is cooked. But if they are tinged slightly pink, it will need more time in the oven.
When ready to air fry or bake the Cornish Hen, make a small slit on the hanging skin towards the bottom of the bird and insert the legs.
The bird is fully cooked when the temperature reaches 165 degrees after 25 minutes.
For the oven baked Cornish hen, I recommend putting the bird on a bed of fresh ingredients such as onions, celery, and herb to help further enhance the flavor of the juice.
If you would like to be extra sure that your Cornish hen is cooked through, you can’t go wrong with a meat thermometer.
Just insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the bird (the breast and inner thigh is a good bet). If the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees, you know that the meat is done.
Does it need to rest?
You might be tempted to skip this step, but resting is a vital part of the cooking process when it comes to whole baked meats.
If you cut straight into your Cornish hen straight out of the air fryer or oven, you will lose all those tasty juices. By letting it rest, gives the juices time to redistribute throughout the bird, making for irresistibly juicy and tender meat. This is the same method used when baking a whole turkey or an overnight turkey.
Do you cover Cornish hens when baking?
It is not necessary to cover the meat when baking or in the air fryer. However, when making the oven baked cornish hen, I do cover it slightly to retain moisture while it bakes. We do not cover the meat when it is being cooked in the air fryer.
To make sure your Cornish hen stays hot during the resting time, cover the entire thing loosely with foil and place two clean dish towels over the top.
What Should I Serve With Cornish Hen?
This versatile dish can be served with a wide range of sides and can be made into a meal to suit every taste.
You could try it with some buttery mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables of your choice, with a fresh green salad for a light dinner option, or you could make it all the more indulgent by serving with some rich macaroni au gratin or with this creamy macaroni cheese.
Cornish Hen Air Fryer Recipe
- 2 Fresh Cornish Hens 1 ½ Pounds Each
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Air Fryer Ingredients
- 1 Tsp. Kosher salt
- 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
- 2 Tsp. Lemon Pepper
- 1 Tsp. Paprika
Oven Baked Ingredients
- About 4 Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
- About 4 to 5 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Celery Stalks Cut in 4
- 1 Large Onion Quartered
- Remove the giblets from cavity of t hens; discard. Wash thouroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Place Hens in a large plate. Mix the air fryer ingredients in a small bowl. Apply the olive oil over the Hens. Then apply the dry seasoning (air fryer) mixture to both Hens on all sides. Adjust the seasoning measurements if necessary.
Air Fryer Cooking Instructions
- Preheat the air fryer. Add the Cornish Hens in the basket. Air fry for 25 minutes on 350 degrees. Cook the Hens until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from the air fryer and let sit.
Oven Baked instructions
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. In a large baking dish, arrange the herbs, celery, and onion. Place the Cornish Hens on top of the ingredients. Bake for 60 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers at 165°F.Remove from the