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How Long to Cook Cornish Hen at 400 Degrees

Don't be absurd -- bake your bird!

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated June 5, 2022

Traditional fried cornish hen-min
The ideal Cornish hen temperature needs to reach an internal heat of 165 degrees F, which you can read with any meat thermometer. Learning how long to cook cornish hen at 400°F to achieve that is imperative to avoid food poisoning while keeping the meat tender.

The cooking time will vary depending on the hen’s size, the cooking method, and factors like whether the bird is frozen, stuffed or has been deboned.

The charts below will help you determine how long to cook a Cornish hen.

How Long to Cook Cornish Hen at 400 Time Charts

How Long to Cook Cornish Hen at 400 in an Oven

Follow each section from left to right to determine a cornish hen’s cooking time based on freshness, type, and weight. All times are based on a preheated oven at 400 degrees F to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

For a temperature of: 400 °FTypeWeightCooking Time
Preheated oven at 400 (wrapped in foil or uncovered)
Fresh Cornish HenUnstuffed18 oz45 mins
Stuffed1:00 to 1:15 mins
Unstuffed24 oz55 mins
Stuffed1:10 to 1:25 mins
Frozen Cornish HenUnstuffed18 oz1:05 mins
Stuffed1:20 mins to 1:30 mins
Unstuffed24 oz1:20 mins
Stuffed1:35 mins to 1:50 mins
Minimal Internal Temperature
165°F for all Poultry

How Long to Cook Cornish Hen at 400 in an Air Fryer

In general, air-frying Cornish hens will take less time than baking them in an oven. Follow this chart for cooking cornish hen meat based on a preheated air fryer at 400, whether stuffed or unstuffed.

For a temperature of: 400 °FTypeWeightCooking Time
Preheated air Fryer at 400 (wrapped in foil or uncovered)
Fresh Cornish HenUnstuffed18 oz25 mins
Stuffed40 mins to 55 mins
Unstuffed24 oz30 mins
Stuffed45 mins to 01:00 mins
Frozen Cornish HenUnstuffed18 oz40 mins
Stuffed55 mins to 01:10 mins
Unstuffed24 oz50 mins
Stuffed01:05 to 01:20 mins
Minimal Internal Temperature
165°F for all Poultry

Important Notes

  • Cooking Cornish hens properly is a health and safety concern, as raw meat can carry bacteria such as salmonella. Ensuring you bring the meat to a high enough temperature eliminates any potential risk of illness.

  • According to the USDA the internal temperature for all poultry, not just Cornish game hens, needs to reach 165 degrees F to be safe to eat.

Factors That Impact Cornish Hens’ Cooking Time

Weight of the Hen

The hen’s weight is one of the biggest factors affecting cooking time. Most Cornish hens weigh between 18-24 ounces and a larger hen will take longer to cook than a small one. So, make sure you weigh the bird to determine the cooking time.


Stuffing adds flavor; however, it will increase the cooking time by about 15-30 minutes.

Temperature of the Cornish Hen

For the shortest cooking time, thaw the Cornish hens before you bake it. It will take about 50% as long to cook Cornish hens that are frozen.

Cooking Methods

The appliance you use has a big impact on the cooking time of the Cornish hen.
An oven is set to the same temperature regardless of whether the bird is covered in foil, so the meat will cook at the same rate.

However, if you leave the whole cornish hen uncovered, the meat will brown because the heat around it is dry.

If you cover the bird, the foil traps steam and prevents browning.

The same principle applies to air fryers. If you put foil or parchment paper on the bottom of the basket, the Cornish hen won’t cook any faster, but there will be less mess.

However, the way presentation and prep do affect the time. For instance, if you cook split Cornish hen, it will cook faster than a whole bird.

Other Factors

Variables in your home kitchen appliances are the final factor in cooking time but are hard to account for.

For example, the temperature gauge on the oven or air fryer may not be 100% accurate. As well, the shape of the roasting pan or air fryer basket can affect the total time.

Simply follow the guidelines above and use your best judgment.

cornish hen white meat - 683 1024-min

Cornish Hen Recipes at 400 Degrees

Oven-Baked Cornish Hens at 400 Degrees




  1. Prepare the Cornish Hens

    The hens should be at room temperature about half an hour before you want to start. At the same time, you should be preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.

    With the breasts facing upwards, place the hens on a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.

    Take the giblets out of the poultry, using a paper towel to gently dry the meat.

  2. Make the Marinade

    Put the olive oil, wine, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

  3. Marinate the Hens

    Without breaking the skin, form a pocket between the meat and skin of each hen with your finger.

    Drizzle some of the marinade and a single herb sprig inside the pocket on each bird, pouring the remaining marinade over the outside.

    Marinate for at least an hour at room temperature. If you leave them overnight, refrigerate them.

  4. Prepare for Baking

    Tie the ankles of each bird together with butcher’s twine, wrapping aluminum foil over each one to prevent burning.

  5. Roast the Hens

    Place the hens in the oven.

    After using the chart above to determine cooking time, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thigh at the thickest point to determine if it has reached 165 degrees F.

    Visually, the juices coming out of the meat should be clear when thoroughly cooked.

  6. Rest the Hens

    Remove them from the oven. Keeping the foil on, let them rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

  7. Serve!

    Serve the Cornish game hens with lemon slices. Add baked potatoes, a salad, or another favorite side dish.

Air-Fried Cornish Hen Recipe at 400 Degrees




  1. Preheat Air Fryer

    Set the air fryer to 400 degrees F and wait for it to preheat.

  2. Season the Hen

    Dry the bird gently with a paper towel. Season all sides of the bird with salt and pepper, or your favorite spices.

  3. Fry the Hen

    Put the Cornish hen in the air fryer basket, and fry for 15 minutes.

  4. Brown the Hen

    Use cooking spray to lightly coat the outside of the hen. Cook hen for another 10 minutes, before checking the internal temperature to make sure it has reached 165 degrees F.

  5. Rest and Serve

    When the hen has cooked through, let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.

    Slice and enjoy.

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