A Cornish hens is one of the most popular poultry dishes out there — but who has time to spend hours roasting a bird on the stovetop or oven?
That’s why we love this recipe for air frying a Cornish hen!
This method cooks your bird quickly and efficiently without burning any parts.
What Is An Air Fryer?
An air fryer is essentially a countertop appliance that takes up minimal space while cooking food with very little oil.
It uses hot air instead of heat from the bottom or top source to cook foods like chicken wings, fish fillets, burgers, french fries, and more.
The best part about using an air fryer is that it requires no special equipment other than what you already have around your kitchen.
You can even use an air fryer to make healthy snacks like popcorn, chips, cookies, and pretzels!
Air fryers are also extremely affordable compared to traditional methods that require expensive appliances and large amounts of oil.
They usually run anywhere between $50-$100, making them perfect for anyone looking to save money on their meals.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
An air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food you want to cook.
Air fryers use convection cooking which allows heat to circulate throughout the entire chamber around the item being cooked, unlike traditional methods that rely on radiant heating.
This makes it much easier to get even cooking temperatures across large areas.
It also means that foods like chicken can be cooked without having to worry about overcooking some sections while leaving others undercooked.
The result is perfectly cooked pieces of meat with crispy skin and juicy flesh, all in less than half the time as normal cooking methods would take.
Air fryer size matters
It’s important to note that not every air fryer is created equal.
Some models have a small capacity and therefore won’t make enough room for larger items such as whole chickens.
However, if you buy a model with a bigger capacity, you can still fit in smaller birds such as Cornish hens.
Another thing to consider when buying an air fryer is whether its basket will sit flat against your counter top.
If it doesn’t, you may find yourself constantly lifting the device up off the surface, meaning it isn’t ideal for those who don’t have space to move their kitchen around easily.
What Are The Benefits Of Using An Air Fryer?
Air frying requires less cooking time than traditional methods like broiling or grilling.
Because it uses hot air instead of heat from fire or flames, air frying doesn’t require much attention while the food cooks.
You can focus more on enjoying dinner with family and friends rather than watching over the chicken as it slowly simmers away.
The only drawback to air frying might be that some foods don’t hold up well to its high-temperature environment.
For example, fatty meats may not brown adequately when cooked by air frying.
But if you plan ahead, these issues can easily be solved.
Just make sure that whatever you’re air frying isn’t too close to other foods that will burn when exposed to high temperatures.
How Do You Cook A Cornish Hen In An Air Fryer?
The first thing you need to know about preparing a Cornish hen in an air fryer is that it requires more attention than other chicken recipes.
You will have to be careful not to over-cook the bird, which can lead to a dry and tough meat.
To get started with this recipe, all you need is a cornish hen (or two), olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage, mint, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, lemon juice, white vinegar, and some extra virgin olive oil.
(We recommend buying organic ingredients when possible.)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon of dried basil
- 3/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup of freshly chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons of dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon of paprika
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
- 5 drops of liquid smoke
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Air Fryer Directions:
In a bowl combine the following ingredients:
Mix well until combined.
Cut off both ends of the hen and place them flat side down onto cutting board.
Remove the giblets by pulling apart the neck cavity.
Next cut along each leg bone and remove the thigh bones from inside the hen.
Place the hen into a large plastic bag.
Add the remaining seasoning mix to the bag and shake to coat evenly.
Remove the hen from the refrigerator and pour the seasoned water into the bottom of the air fryer basket.
Add the hen to the basket as close together as possible.
Pour enough extra virgin olive oil into the air fryer so that the top rack of the basket is covered in oil.
Close the lid and set the temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook the hen for 50 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Take the cooked hen out of the air fryer and let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.
What Is The Best Air Fryer For Cooking A Cornish Hen?
The best air fryers are compact appliances that can fit easily into small spaces like dorm rooms, apartments, or even the kitchen cupboard at home.
Most models will have two different settings, so you can switch between high (425°F) and low (360°F).
You should also check if the air fryer comes with a basket to help keep food from falling through the grate during cooking.
Here are some key features you need to look for when buying a new air fryer:
- Temperature control – Air fryers usually come equipped with temperature controls which allow you to adjust both the temperature and duration of each cycle individually. Some machines may only feature the ability to set the initial temperature while others offer more advanced options including auto-shutoff timers.
- Timer function – Many air fryers now include a timer function which allows you to program how long each cycle lasts. It’s a useful option because it means you don’t have to constantly watch over the cooker as it cooks your meal. When it reaches its final stage, the appliance automatically shuts itself off.
- Auto shut-off timer – Most modern air fryers will have an automatic shut-off timer that turns them off once they reach their maximum capacity. If you want to monitor the progress of your chicken throughout cooking, this is essential.
- Basket included – A lot of air fryers feature baskets designed specifically to hold food items safely during cooking. These baskets often fold up flat until needed and make cleaning easy too.
How Long Does It Take To Cook A Cornish Hen In An Air Fryer?
You can make this dish in just under 30 minutes with an air fryer, which makes it ideal for busy days when you don’t have much time to spare.
The process starts by prepping the meat using our cornish hen recipes guide.
Once that’s done, pour some olive oil into the bottom of the air fryer basket and add the chicken pieces.
Then season them with salt and pepper before adding the aromatics (onion, garlic, etc.).
Finally, cover the basket with foil and put the lid on top.
Air-fry for 20 minutes at 400°F / 200°C until cooked through.
There are two ways to finish off this meal: either use a blow torch to char the skin or pop it back into the air fryer for another 10 minutes so it gets crispier.
This recipe uses a standard size air fryer, so you will need to adapt it if you want to try something different like a mini air fryer.
What Is The Best Way To Cook A Cornish Hen In An Air Fryer?
Air-frying a chicken takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish, so you can get dinner ready while you prep everything else.
It also makes cleaning up easy because you don’t need to deal with messy grease splatters or hot pans.
The key to success when using an air fryer to cook a Cornish hen is ensuring that all surfaces are evenly heated before adding the meat.
If not, the outer layer will burn before the inner layers have fully cooked through.
Here’s how to do it right:
- Preheat the air fryer basket (set temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit) by placing two racks inside the heating element.
- Next, open the lid and put the food tray down onto the rack.
- Add 1/4 cup water into the bottom chamber of the air fryer and close the lid again.
- Cook for 7 minutes until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Open the basket and remove the rack with the food tray on top.
- Place the rack with the food tray back into the air fryer and repeat step 3.
Cooking times vary depending on the size of the Cornish hen
We recommend starting with small birds like a Cornish hen since they require less time to cook.
A 4 pound bird should be done in about 12 minutes, while a 6 pound bird needs 15 minutes.
You may want to adjust the cooking time as needed if you use larger birds.
What Are Some Tips For Cooking A Cornish Hen In An Air Fryer?
The first thing you need to remember about air frying is that it works by using hot air instead of heat from direct contact with the meat.
Air fryers work much like indoor grills where food is placed inside a basket over heated coils.
These coils can get extremely high temperatures which allows them to cook foods fast.
However, if you don’t have enough room inside the device for your chicken to fit (or if you want to make sure they aren’t cooked too long), you may want to place the chicken on top of another pan first before placing into the air fryer.
You will also need to ensure that your food doesn’t touch the sides of the air fryer while cooking so as not to burn yourself.
If you use a large pan underneath your chicken, try putting the smaller pan right against the side of the air fryer to prevent the food from touching the sides at all.
Air frying is ideal because it takes less space than other methods such as baking and broiling.
You won’t even need to turn the oven on during air frying since the heating element is built-in.
All you need to do is pop everything in the air fryer and let it go until the timer goes off!
How Do You Know When A Cornish
When shopping for a Cornish hen, look for one that weighs between 1 pound (about 455 grams) and 2 pounds (1 kilogram).
Anything larger will be too large to cook properly with an air fryer.
Cornish hens can vary widely in size so make sure you buy the right size based on what the recipe calls for.
You may also want to double check the weight before purchasing it since they tend to weigh more than other chickens.
If you don’t have access to an air fryer at home, you can still achieve similar results by using a pan instead.
Step 1 – Preparing Your Bird
First, remove all the giblets from the body cavity and clean out as much of the inside of the chicken as possible.
The next step is to cut off both ends of the breastbone with sharp kitchen scissors.
Cut through the skin and meat around the bone until you reach the cartilage underneath.
Then pull this away so you can get to the bones easily later.
With a small knife, carefully slice up each side of the backbone where it meets the wings, removing them completely.
Next, use a pair of kitchen shears to snip down along either side of the breastbones, cutting the skin and meat as close to the bone as possible.
Once you’re done trimming, wash and dry the bird thoroughly.
If you plan to eat the entire bird, leave the legs intact.
Step 2 – Mixing Up Your Marinade
Mix together 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
Add half of the spice mixture to the bottom of a shallow dish.
Then add two cloves of crushed garlic, four sliced shallots, and a quarter cup of white wine vinegar.
Stir well, making sure everything gets coated evenly with the seasonings.
Finally, stir in ½ cup of water, ¼ cup of honey, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
Make sure to mix these ingredients well so that no part of the chicken remains untouched by the marinade.
Step 3 – Air Fry Time
Transfer the seasoned bird into the air fry basket and place it onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
Let the bird sit for 15 minutes while the seasoning takes effect.
Afterward, flip the bird over and repeat the process on the backside.
After another 15 minutes, turn the bird once again and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Air fry the bird like this for about 20-25 minutes total, checking every 5 minutes after the first ten minutes to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F/75°C.
- 1 Oven
- 2 Cornish hens
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 rosemary
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Set oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine salt, lemon pepper, dried basil, and poultry seasoning in a small mixing dish. The hens should be covered in olive oil and seasoned with the salt mixture.
- On a baking sheet pan, arrange the hens with lots of space between them. Use two pans if necessary. Add some celery, onion, and green bell pepper to the cavities of each bird.
- The birds should be roasting in the preheated oven for about an hour, or until the juices flow clear and an instant-read thermometer put into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.
- The birds should be taken out of the oven, loosely covered with foil, and given 10 minutes to rest before cutting or serving.