Air fryer Cornish game hens are one of favorite easy dinners. Because of their smaller size, air frying Cornish game hens are quick and easy. You can get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes if you’re only air frying one hen. 

air fryer Cornish game hens
holding platter of air fryer Cornish hens

Juicy Air Fryer Cornish Hens 

Crispy skin and juicy meat, these are the delicious results that comes out of the air fryer. The hot circulating air cooks the skin to crispy perfection and keeps the meat juicy and wonderful. It’s a game changer when you make air fried Cornish game hens. 

What are Cornish Hens vs Regular Chickens? 

  • First of all, they are also commonly called Cornish game hens.
  • These Cornish hens are harvested much earlier than regular chickens, usually at 4-5 weeks and weigh an average of 2 pounds.
  • They’re young female Cornish chickens and not fully grown chickens yet that usually has more tender meat than fully grown chickens.
  • Cornish hens usually have less fat than regular chickens.
  • If you want to air fry a whole chicken, here’s our air fryer whole chicken recipe

Video: Recipe for Air Fryer Cornish game hens 

How to Air Fry Cornish Hens (Tips) 

  • If your hens are frozen, allow them to thaw completely, especially in the center cavity. Rinse out any excess ice that’s in the center make sure the cavity is completely thawed. Lay the cavity upside down on a paper towel to drain out all the excess water. 
  • Make sure to pat dry the outside of the Cornish game hen skins with paper towels. Removing moisture on the skin will allow it to cook crispy! 
  • Add your favorite fry seasonings on the outside of the hen besides the basic salt and pepper. Lemon pepper, garlic powder, herb seasonings or even steak seasoning is absolutely delicious. 
  • Use a thermometer to ensure it’s cooked all the way through. 
  • All recipe details are in the recipe box below. 
Plated air fryer Cornish game hens

How to store leftovers 

Fridge: If you plan on eating the leftovers over the next 2-3 days in sandwiches or salads, just store them in air right containers in the fridge.

Freezer: store the leftovers in air tight plastic bags or containers. Eat these leftovers within 3-4 weeks of freezing. 

holding platter of air fryer Cornish hens

Air Fryer Cornish Hens

Perfect for air frying, these Cornish hens are juicy and flavorful. Most hens average 16-24 ounces are great for smaller air fryers. If air frying just one Cornish hen, Air Fry at 350°F/177°C. The timing & directions remain the same.
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  • 2 Cornish game hens (about 1.5 lbs./680g each)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) dried basil (or herbs of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) black pepper
  • oil spray


  • In a bowl, combine seasonings (garlic powder, smoked paprika, basil, salt, and pepper).
    Spices for recipe in small bowls
  • Spray Cornish hens with oil to coat. Rub seasoning mix around the hens.
    Cornish hens rubbed with spices on a sheet pan
  • Spray basket/tray of air fryer with oil spray or line with a perforated silicone liner or perforated parchment paper. Lay hens breast side down in the basket/tray.
    Uncooked Cornish hens in air fryer, breast side down
  • Air Fry at 360°F/182°C for 20 minutes then flip the hens.
    Flipping the half cooked Cornish hens over with tongs
  • If needed, crumple some foil and place under the front of the Cornish hens to level them and keep the legs from sticking upwards toward the top of the air fryer where the heating element can get too hot. This will keep the legs from burning.
    Cornish hens in air fryer, breast up and with foil under hens to lift up one side
  • Air Fry for another 12-18 or until internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C.
    Cooked Cornish hens in air fryer
  • Allow the hens to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
    Cornish hens on platter with vegetables

If your air fryer is preheated or if you are cooking multiple batches, you may need to reduce timing by a few minutes (unless preheating is called for in the recipe).


YouTube video

Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 941kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 78g, Fat: 66g, Saturated Fat: 18g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g, Monounsaturated Fat: 30g, Cholesterol: 455mg, Sodium: 1442mg, Potassium: 1129mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 988IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 69mg, Iron: 4mg

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