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Cornish Hens on platter with vegetables.

Air Fryer Cornish Hen

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  • Author: Deb Belsha
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American


This Air Fryer Cornish Hen recipe creates perfectly crispy skin on the outside and juicy meat infused with fresh herb butter. It is the perfect solution when you don't want to use your oven. Your air fryer will cook dinner in about 30 minutes.


  • Olive oil spray
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • small handful choice of herbs ( I used 3-4 sprigs each of sage, thyme and rosemary)*
  • 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 2 (16 oz. each) Cornish Game Hens


  1. Preheat Air Fryer to 375°F for 5 minutes.
  2. Gently pull skin away from the hens and smear butter underneath the skin and on top.
  3. Cornish hens with herbs under the skin.
  4. Place some herbs under the skin.  Sprinkle hens with salt and pepper. Also salt the cavity of the hen.
  5. Lightly spray the air fryer basket with olive oil.  
  6. Place hens breast side down in the fryer.
  7. two cornish hens in air fryer.
  8. Cook for 15 minutes.  Flip over the hens and cook for another 15 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh meat registers 165°F.
  9. Air Fryer Cornish Hens
  10. Remove to platter and let rest for 5-10 minutes to allow juices to redistribute.
  11. Slice each hen in half for four servings.  Or you could slice the breast meat for those that prefer white meat.  And divide the legs, thighs and wings for those that prefer dark meat.
  12. Serve with your favorite side dishes.


* If your Cornish hens are frozen, defrost them overnight on a plate in the refrigerator.

*Instead of fresh herbs you can use a 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary, sage, thyme.  Or a general all purpose chicken or poultry seasoning.

*Use a long handled fork to lift from inside the cavity of the hens.  Don't spear the meat or you risk losing some of the juices.

*Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  You can heat them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or saute in a fry pan to heat through.  My favorite way to use leftover chicken is to make cold chicken sandwiches or add to a salad.