Instant Pot Cornish Hen


This simple, tasty Instant Pot Cornish hen recipe is a great solution if you need to quickly “roast” a game hen without compromising on cooking tender, juicy meat.

With Instant Pot, the cooking time for Cornish hen is only 25 minutes and the results are amazing.

Want to know how I make my Cornish game hen Instant Pot recipe extra delicious? My top tip for you is to add lemon, oil, and FRESH herbs for your seasoning.

I mix all the ingredients in a bowl and then season the chicken with the mixture.

These extra flavors sealed inside your Instant Pot help give your Instant Pot Cornish hen a deeper flavor.

The fresher your herbs, the more fragrant your hen is going to be.

If you want, you can season inside of the cavity as well for an extra taste.

This recipe is also gluten-free AND low in fat and carbs.

Is It a One-Pot Meal?

Yes, this cornish hen is a delicious one-pot meal! You can even cook your sides in the same Instant Pot cooker as your Cornish hens. Simply put your potatoes, veg, or other raw ingredients in beside your hen, seal the lid and leave the Instant Pot to work its magic.

If you prefer to cook all the elements of your meal separately, you can make your side recipes in another pot or cook them while your Cornish hen is broiling.

Check out my recipe for Instant Pot Red Potatoes as inspiration for your main course trimmings. I’m certain they’ll complement your pressure cooker Cornish hen perfectly.

Can I Use Frozen Cornish Hens?

Yes, you can use a frozen cornish hen for this recipe.

If you’re using a frozen Cornish hen, increase the Instant Pot cooking time by 5 mins. You’ll want to cook the chicken on High Pressure for 30 minutes, instead of 25. This extended cook time ensures your hen is cooked all the way through.

You can still season your frozen Cornish game hen. Once in the Instant Pot, simply sprinkle your seasonings on top of the chicken and add a little lemon and garlic around the sides.

If you’re adding potatoes, insert these around the sides of the hen, too.

Can I Use Sweet Potatoes Instead of White Potatoes?

You sure can. The instructions are the same for sweet potatoes as they are for white ones. Just Place them on the bottom of the pot as usual.

I love sweet potatoes. They are so festive and remind me of the holidays. Sweet potatoes are a great dinner course add-on to serve up if you’ve got family or friends sitting around the table.

Can I Use Rice Instead of Potatoes?

If you’re hankering for some rice with your Cornish hens, you’ve got to make it separately.

Yet don’t panic!

You can still make white or brown rice in an Instant Pot.

I have two simple recipes for basmati and brown Instant Pot rice.

recipes instant pot

Some of my other favorite side dishes to have with my Cornish hen Instant Pot recipe are:

Accompaniment Recipes
What You’ll Need
Why It Works
  • Potatoes
  • Canola or Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Paprika
Crispy, fluffy French fries are a perfect complement to any chicken dish, including this Instant Pot Cornish chicken.

I love to let the fries soak up all that delicious juice.

Fries are a well-loved favorite in the United States and rightly so. They are so simple, yet taste so GOOD.

Brussel Sprouts
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Black Pepper
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Vegetable Broth
You either love them or hate them yet I promise you that this buttery Brussel sprout garnish is a winner alongside my Instant Pot game hen.

You can also add bacon to give the sprouts an extra, meaty oomph.

Rosemary bread
  • Active Dry Yeast
  • Warm Water
  • Flour
  • Rosemary
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Olive Oil
Yes, you really can make bread in an Instant Pot! This rosemary bread is so fragrant and fresh.

You can use it to create a yummy Cornish chicken sandwich or to soak up those gorgeous chicken juices.

This recipe is so adaptable and you can pair it with any side dish you like.

Dawn commented:

“Great recipe Corrie! I actually used sweet potatoes and the recipe was perfect.”

Can I Cook Two Cornish Hens at the Same Time?

To cook two Cornish game hens in your Instant Pot at the same time, increase the cooking time by an extra 5 minutes.

Other instructions stays the same – Wait for a natural release for 5 minutes and then release the remaining pressure manually.

You can do it by moving the floating valve from the sealing position to the venting position.

If you’re hosting a dinner party, having all the family over, or cooking for holiday festivities you might need more than two birds.

Have no fear! If you can fit another hen in the Instant Pot, GO FOR IT.

Here’s a handy table to help with increased quantities of broth to hen ratio:

Hens Liquid
1 Cornish hen 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Cornish hens 1 cup chicken broth
3 Cornish hens 1 ½ cup chicken broth

Can I add onions?

Sure! Feel free to add 5 small onions (or a big one cut into pieces…).

Can I use poultry seasoning?

Yes. I didn’t use it for this recipe, but feel free to add one tablespoon of poultry seasoning in the first step.

You can add dried or fresh rosemary as well.

Can I reduce the fat?

If you want to reduce the saturated fat in this recipe, a handy replacement for the chicken stock gravy is pressure cooking the hen in water instead.

Pour 1 cup water in the pot to pressure cook two Cornish hens.

Can I reduce the fat?

If you want to reduce the saturated fat in this recipe, a handy replacement for the chicken stock gravy is pressure cooking the hen in water instead.

Use 1/2 cup of cold water for one cornish hen

Use 1 cup of water for 2 cornish hens.

How Do I Make the Cornish Hen Crispy?

Just as we did for the Instant Pot Duck recipe, If you want to get crispy meat, broil the cooked Cornish hen in the Air Fryer Lid at 400 °F for 10 minutes right after cooking it in the Instant Pot.

If you don’t have an Air Fryer Lid, Mealthy CrispLid or a similar appliance, place hen on a baking sheet and broil in the oven at 400°F for 5 minutes. Then use tongs to flip it over and broil at 400°F for another 5 minutes.

I think we can all agree… no one likes a soggy bird. Sticking your Cornish hen under the broiler gives you soft, tender meat on the inside and extra crispy chicken skin on the outside.

You’ll be able to fool your dinner party guests into thinking you “roasted” that chicken for hours. The magic of Instant Pot means a full “roast” will take under an hour using the pressure cook method.

Do I Have to Use Garlic?

For my Instant Pot Cornish hen recipe, I’m using garlic twice:

  1. Minced garlic clove as part of the seasoning which I rub into the meat.
  2. A whole head of garlic which I place inside the pressure cooker, as part of the cooking process.

I don’t peel the head of garlic, instead, I cut it in half and place it in the pot as it is.

I am OBSESSED with garlic. The intense, aromatic flavor of cooked garlic is so delicious. The smell makes my mouth water.

In my opinion, the garlic really upgrades my Instant Pot Cornish game hen recipe and emphasizes the taste of the chicken meat. If you don’t have fresh garlic, using garlic powder works just as well, too.

As with so many Instant Pot recipes, if you don’t like an ingredient, just take it out. That’s why I love cooking with my Instant Pot so much. You can tailor your recipe to include exactly what YOU want.

What Do I Do With the Bones?

You can use the leftover chicken bone to make my Instant Pot Chicken Stock.

The great thing about this recipe is that there’s next to no waste. Repurpose the old bones to make delicious stock which you can use in many more of my Instant Pot recipes. You can also use the stock as chicken gravy to make this Instant Pot chicken leg quarters recipe or keep for the next time you make Instant Pot Cornish hen.

I love how this recipe is economical as well as so-so tasty.

Instant Pot Cornish Hen
4.18 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2
  • 1 Cornish hen
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 bunches fresh thyme
  • 1 garlic cut in half
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 slices lemon
  • 6 potatoes chopped
  • In a bowl, mix butter salt, lemon zest, minced garlic, and fresh thyme.
  • Grease the chicken with the mixture.
  • Pour the olive oil into the Instant Pot and press the Sauté button.
  • Add the Cornish hen into the Instant Pot and saute for about 3 minutes per side, until it browns.
  • Add potatoes, head of garlic, fresh thyme and chicken broth. Stir well.
  • Close the lid, move the venting knob to "sealing" and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
  • When the cook time is complete, wait 5 minutes for a natural pressure release.
  • Once done, perform a manual quick pressure release by moving the venting knob to "venting".
  • Open the lid and serve serve with half of the lemon wedges 🙂

How to get crispy chicken

  • After cooking, you can broil the cornish hen in the Air Fryer Lid or in the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
Calories: 1089kcal Carbohydrates: 115g Protein: 53g Fat: 47g Saturated Fat: 11g Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g Monounsaturated Fat: 24g Cholesterol: 229mg Sodium: 989mg Potassium: 3335mg Fiber: 15g Sugar: 6g Vitamin A: 474IU Vitamin C: 142mg Calcium: 146mg Iron: 8mg

This recipe is part of our 1001 Instant Pot recipes project, a huge collection of free, easy and delicious recipes.

32 thoughts on “Instant Pot Cornish Hen

  1. Wonderful. I don’t like to fry in the instant pot. It makes it hard to clean. I added the chicken stock to the pan drippings and poured it over the hen. Wonderful!

  2. I’m brand new to using my 3 qt Instant Pot and i get so confused when different recipes call for different cook times. Yours says 25 minutes pressure on high for one bird and another one i read said only 12 minutes on high. both recipes called for 3 minutes saute on each side before pressure cook. how does a newbie sort all this out?

    1. The beauty of the pressure cooker is that it is much harder to overcook things, so especially for poultry I choose to err on the side of caution. I have tested this recipe several times and 25 minutes will have the bird come out moist and juicy, and also fully cooked to food safety standards.

  3. This was easy and excellent! I usually don’t like cooking poultry, but this was super easy and delicious. I did one hen in the instant pot and then broiled it for about 8 minutes afterwards, with pouring some of the broth on top. It was moist on the inside, with crispy skin. I also used the leftover broth to cook my rice in. I will definitely use this recipe again, and get more creative with it in the future, however I was in a rush tonight, so it did the trick!

  4. made gornish hen in the instant pot , i could not believe how good it was it was like having a party in your mouth thats how good it was

  5. Corrie; I enjoy your recipes but am confused when less than 8oz of liquid is used which is the case with a few recipes. I have a CrockPot Express and use of the pressure cooker function calls for a minimum of 8oz of liquid to be used. Anything less sets off an error message. I thought Instapots required the same amount. Please advise. Thank you.

    1. It depends on the recipe and the model, but usually 1/2 cup liquid is enough for it to function and additional liquid is often released from ingredients in the pot. If your model needs more liquid, you can add 1 cup of chicken broth.

    1. Yes the paper can stay on the garlic halves. You can add the lemon slices at the same time you add the garlic halves, or use lemon slices for garnish.

  6. I have a roasting hen aka stewing hen which I bought to pressure cook chicken fricassee. However, your recipe looks so much better. Do you think it’s possible to use this type of hen with your recipe? If yes, any pressure cook advice? Thanks in advance.

    1. Yes, it should work as long as it fits. Stewing hens are a bit larger than cornish hens so I would add around 10 minutes to the cook time to make sure it’s cooked through.

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to so quickly respond. I’m cooking the hen, 5.20 lbs., this weekend using your above recipe and your cook time advice. If it comes out as good as all your other IP recipes I’ve cooked, I’m sure it will be a winner.

          1. Oh my goodness, this cooked perfectly moist and I’m glad I asked your advice. The extra 10 minutes was key as I checked it per this recipe and it didn’t ‘feel’ done. Added quartered sweet onions, bay leaf and chopped carrots as I was going for that chicken fricassee taste. Removed the hen, added 1/2 cup broth into the pot’s liquid, turned on sauté and made dumplings. This was a great Sunday dinner-type meal. Thanks so much.

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