Instant Pot Cornish Hen Recipe

First things first, let's answer the question about half of you are probably asking yourself right now: What is a Cornish hen, anyway? Well, for starters, it's the same thing as a Cornish game hen. And it's not a game bird in either case, meaning one you'd hunt, like a pheasant. And it need not be a hen, technically speaking, either: a Cornish hen can be male or female.

But don't worry, it's actually quite simple. It's a chicken, according to Love Kitchen Today. A Cornish hen is simply a chicken, a breed created by crossing traditional Cornish chickens with White Rock chickens and that are harvested when still quite young and small, with the bird weighing about two pounds at most at slaughter. So basically, just a small chicken.

And when you use an Instant Pot and follow chef and recipe developer Kieth Kamikawa's recipe for preparing a Cornish hen, you'll find the whole process quite simple, too, yet the results will be a delight. With just a half dozen ingredients (plus the bird) and a five-minute prep time, you'll create an entree fit for the finest white table cloth restaurant in town.

Gather your ingredients for Instant Pot Cornish hen

As noted, it really doesn't take much to make a great Cornish hen, and that goes for effort and ingredients. Kamikawa's recipe calls for a Cornish hen, ("we used a 22-ounce bird," he says for reference), plenty of kosher salt, some poultry seasoning, some ground black pepper, olive oil, water, and vegetable oil.

And in case you're wondering, you can buy pre-made poultry seasoning. If you're the industrious DIY type, though, you can also blend it yourself using garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, dried rosemary, ground coriander, sage, thyme, pepper, and paprika.

"This is a very versatile recipe, it gives the basics," Kamikawa says, adding: "You can season a hen with any spice you like, BBQ, Cajun, lemon pepper, etc. using the same method."

Season and dry brine the Cornish hen

Make your dry brining mixture by combining the kosher salt, the poultry seasoning, and the black pepper together in a small bowl and stirring until everything is well combined.

Now season the Cornish hen with the spice mix, making sure to cover the entire bird evenly. Also season inside of the cavity as well, and if you run out of the dry brine mixture, just prepare a bit more and keep on coating.

Then, when it's coated all over, inside and out, let the Cornish hen dry brine in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. "This a pretty straightforward recipe, but there are a few things to keep in mind," Kamikawa says. "Letting the hen dry brine for those 15 minutes really lets the seasoning work its way into the meat. If you have time, you can dry brine the hen up to six hours."

Sauté the Cornish hen in the Instant Pot

Set the Instant Pot to "sauté," and let it come up to its full sauté temperature. When the Instant Pot reads "hot," add the olive oil to the cooking chamber. Wait a bit, and when the olive oil starts to shimmer, carefully place the Cornish hen in the Instant Pot, breast-side down first.

Sear the hen for four minutes, then flip the bird and sear it on each side, ending thigh-side down, letting the skin has turn a golden brown, which will take about three minutes per side.

Finish cooking the hen under pressure

Add the water to the Instant Pot and turn off "sauté" mode. Then place the lid on the Instant Pot, seal the valve, and set it to "manual" for 12 minutes of cooking under pressure.

When the timer is done, let the Instant Pot naturally release for five minutes, and then open the valve to release the rest of the steam. Now carefully remove the finished Cornish hen and serve it with your favorite sides, like corn, a chopped salad, or some fresh bread.

Leftovers are unlikely given the bird's small size and big taste, but they will keep well for about three days in a sealed container in the fridge.

Instant Pot Cornish Hen Recipe
4.8 from 13 ratings
Want to make your very own Cornish hen at home ... the easy way? Take a look at how you can cook this bird in your Instant Pot for a delicious dinner.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
32
minutes
Servings
2
servings
cooked cornish hen
Total time: 37 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Cornish hen, approx. 2 pounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water
Directions
  1. Combine kosher salt, poultry seasoning, and black pepper, and season Cornish hen with the spice mix, making sure to cover the entire bird. Season inside of the cavity as well, and let the Cornish hen dry brine in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to "sauté" and let it come to heat. When hot, add the olive oil.
  3. When the olive oil shimmers, place the Cornish hen in the Instant Pot breast-side down. Sear for 4 minutes, then flip bird and sear on each side, ending thigh-side down, until the skin has turned a golden brown color, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. Add water and turn off "sauté" mode.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, seal the valve, and set it to "manual" for 12 minutes.
  6. When the timer is done let, the Instant Pot naturally release for 5 minutes, and then open the valve to release the rest of the steam.
  7. Carefully remove the finished Cornish hen and serve.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 460
Total Fat 37.2 g
Saturated Fat 8.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 169.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 1.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 0.0 g
Sodium 701.1 mg
Protein 29.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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