If you haven't tried a cornish game hen, this easy Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens recipe is just what you need to cook these hens like a pro. This recipe cooks two-game hens in just 30 minutes in your air fryer.
Stuffed with orange, garlic, and fresh herbs, this recipe for roasted Cornish game hens will quickly become a family favorite. If you love game hens, you will also want to try this oven-roasted Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Game Hens recipe.
I am still using my air fryer. I love how quickly it cooks meat without drying them out. I decided to try my favorite cooking herbs in this new game hens recipe to see how much flavor can infuse into the meat using an air fryer.
If you love using fresh herbs in cooking as much as I do, you will love these recipes that use fresh herbs.
What herbs are good for cooking?
For this recipe, I used fresh thyme and flat-leaf parsley. You can also use fresh basil, tarragon (though not with the basil), rosemary, or any others you like with citrus. I like to grow fresh herbs in my kitchen window and use as needed for recipes.
I am happy to report that the air fryer did great job with cooking the whole hens. Fitting two whole hens in the air fryer was very easy!
Are you ready to see how easy these game hens are to cook in the air fryer?
Step 1: Add your melted butter, garlic, and seasonings in a bowl and mix it well.
Step 2: Insert half of a mandarin orange into the cavity of each hen and then rub the butter herb mixture both under the skin of the breast area and on top of the skin.
Step 3: Spray oil on the rack of the air fryer. Add both Cornish game hens into the air fryer basket and put it into your air fryer. It is okay if the hens are touching...air fryers are not huge so don't worry if they slightly touch each other.
Step 4: Set your air fryer to the recommended poultry setting. For my air fryer, I cooked my hens for 20 minutes at 375 degrees F. It is important to check the temperature internally with a meat thermometer. You want them to have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If your hens are not done, cook an additional 10 minutes.
I will say I am NOT happy with the Cozyna brand of air fryer I currently have. It makes an odd smell when I use it and a small piece has broken off the handle. It is no longer available on Amazon so I wonder if they had too many issues.
If you love using your air fryer, did you know you can also roast a turkey breast? It is soooo good!
You can easily bake these hens in the oven. Stuff the herbs under the skin as you would if you were cooking them in the air fryer, but place them in a baking dish, breast up. Cover with foil for the first 30 minutes of baking, then remove the foil so the skin can get crispy!
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-60 minutes then use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. You want them to be at 165 degrees F before eating so if they are not at that temperature, you will need to bake them longer.
These game hens do taste a lot like chicken because they are so similar. You will find Cornish hens to have less fat and more white meat due to their small size.
This probably depends on how hungry you are. One hen can feed two people who are not very hungry, or one very hungry teenage boy :-).
For this air fryer recipe, I cooked the game hens breast up so that the seasonings I put under the skin can marinate the meat as it cooks, adding a ton of flavor!
Unfortunately, if you want the flavor to really cook into the game hens, you will need to thaw them. Technically, you can cook frozen game hens in the air fryer, but you won't be able to get the seasoning under the skin.
If you do decide to cook them before thawing, you will need to increase the cooking time significantly and check the internal temperature.
Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens
- 2 Cornish game hens
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon flat leaf parsley
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Add the melted butter and seasonings to a bowl and mix well.
- Cut a small orange or mandarin orange in half and put it into the cavity of each Cornish game hen.
- Gently pull up the skin on the breast of each hen.
- Spread the butter herb mixture under the skin, then rub the remaining butter all over the outside of each hen.
- Oil the bottom of the basket of your air fryer. See note.
- Add the two hens.
- Cook at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.
- Open the air fryer and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- If the temperature is 165 degrees F, your hens are done. If they are not hot enough internally, cook for an additional 10 minutes and recheck the temperature.
- When the hens are finished, remove from the air fryer
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