We’re all about easy meals here at Mark’s Daily Apple, but sometimes you want to step it up and make something a little special. Who says you can’t serve an impressive meal that’s also simple? Here, we made air fryer cornish hens over mashed root veggies with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts. It’s easy to prepare and is a step up from your typical weekday fare.
Here’s how to make it.
Cornish Hens with Brussels Sprouts and Gravy Recipe
- 2 cornish hens
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- 1.5 tbsp. avocado oil 
- Primal Kitchen® Classic Gravy 
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 2 tbsp. avocado oil 
- 1.5 lb. brussels sprouts
- 4 cloves sliced garlic
- Salt and pepper
Drizzle and rub the avocado oil  all over the hens.
In a small bowl, combine all of the spices together and sprinkle them on all sides of both of the hens. Place the cornish hens on a baking sheet or an air fryer rack.
Air Fryer instructions
Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit if you are using an air fryer with a stainless basket, or 380 degrees if using an air fryer with a plastic basket. Place the hens breast side down and air fry for about 30 minutes. Flip the birds over and continue air frying until the internal temperature reaches 165-180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast and thigh (check the packaging on your hens to confirm cooking temperature). For a crispier bird, you can increase the temperature to 375 or 400 respectively and air fry until the skin crisps up. The overall time and temperature it takes will depend on the type of air fryer you have.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the hens on a sheet pan or baking sheet and roast for about 55 minutes. Check the internal temperature and place back in the oven if necessary, until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast and thigh reach 165-180 degrees Fahrenheit.
To prepare the brussels sprouts, cut off the tough ends and cut them in half lengthwise. Toss them in the avocado oil, sliced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay them out on a glass baking dish or roasting pan and roast at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden, Alternatively, you can place them in your air fryer and air fry at 350 or 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until golden. The overall time and temperature it takes will depend on the type of air fryer you have.
Once the hens have cooled slightly, slice them in half and serve each half with a helping of crispy brussels sprouts and a serving of mashed root veggies . Pour the Primal Kitchen Classic Gravy  on top and enjoy!
- Cornish hens vary a bit in size and are usually around 1-1.5 pounds. This will influence how long they take to cook, and how many people they feed. For a larger bird, aim for half of a hen per serving. For smaller hens, you may be able to serve each person a whole hen.
- Defer to the cooking instructions that came with your cornish hens if you have any. Some packaging recommends cooking hens to 180 degrees, which differs a bit from the typical 165 degrees for other poultry.
- Every air fryer is a bit different, so defer to your manual on ideal cooking times and temperatures. I’ve found that steel-insert air fryers tend to cook a bit more hot and quickly than plastic insert fryers. If the air fryer function on yours runs quite hot and you have a convection bake option, that might be an option to use instead to make sure your hens cook on the inside as well as the outside.
- Feel free to switch up the spice blend used on the cornish hens. Another option would be grated lemon, freshly grated garlic, chopped rosemary, salt, pepper and onion powder.
- Not a fan of brussels sprouts? Swap it out for your favorite veggie! Some other good options for this dish would be roasted asparagus, broccoli or cabbage.