Air Fryer Cornish Hens With Creamy Mushroom Bacon Gravy

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Delicious juicy Cornish hen in your air fryer with the best mushroom bacon gravy. The best air fryer recipe for crispy skin and fantastic flavor!

green beans, a cornish hen, and mushroom gravy on a white plate with a black fork

This post was developed in paid partnership with Tyson Foods, Inc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.Thank you for being supportive of me working with brands I use and love!

Every year I host a Friendsgiving at my house and invite a few of my closest friends over. I usually prepare the main dish and a couple sides, which can get expensive but only the best at a food blogger’s house, right?!

a reusable walmart bag, cornish hens, and a package of bacon

That’s why I’m buying this year’s Friendsgiving ingredients at Walmart. They have high quality brands like Tyson at great prices. You can even check out this rebate for additional savings!

Air fryer Cornish hens

Every time I make something in the air fryer I deem it as “the easiest thing I’ve ever made”. I’ve now come to terms with the fact that everything made in an air fryer is easy. It’s literally a foolproof cooking appliance that everyone should have.

This year we’re hosting about eight people for a small Friendsgiving. I feel like it’s always the host’s responsibility to prepare the main dish so I’m planning to make four of these air fryer Cornish hens, using Tyson Premium Cornish Hens. Although they are small birds and I usually serve one per person, there will be lots of food here so I’m planning on each person having half.

They make such a nice presentation when you arrange them over a bed of mixed greens on a nice platter. Then they’re dressed with the best mushroom bacon gravy you’ll ever have!

I serve the mushroom gravy on the side too because it’s so good you might just want to eat it as a side dish. It’s basically a creamy bacon mushroom soup!

The gravy is made with Wright Brand Hickory Smoked Bacon, which works perfectly in this recipe because you’ll get nice tender pieces of bacon in every bite. I got this bacon at Walmart too!

mushrooms in a bowl, package of bacon, and cornish hens in the package

How to make air fryer Cornish hens

Air fryer Cornish hens are made in two easy steps: 

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 390 F.
  2. Rub the hens with Italian seasoning, paprika, and a generous amount of salt. Stuff the cavity with onions and spritz the top of the hens with olive oil. Air fry for 25 minutes, flipping the hens halfway through.

two cooked cornish hens in the air fryer basket

That’s it! While the Cornish hens are cooking in the air fryer, I prep the mushroom bacon gravy.

Note: you can stuff the birds with other herbs and vegetables like rosemary, carrots, or mushrooms too.

How to make mushroom bacon gravy

This mushroom bacon gravy is so good and pretty simple to make, too. Basically, all you’re doing is cooking the bacon, dicing it, and combining everything in a shallow pan. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how to make gravy:

  1. Line the outer basket with aluminum foil and pre-heat the air fryer to 390F.
  2. Cut the bacon slices in half and arrange in the basket. Cook the bacon for 8-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. When finished, remove the bacon strips from the air fryer and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Once cooled, dice the bacon and set aside.5 strips of bacon in the air fryer basket
  3. While the bacon is in the air fryer, heat a skillet on medium heat with butter, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and butter is melted.
    mushrooms in a skillet with a wooden spoon
  4. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the mushrooms and wine. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have softened and wine has reduced by half. Note: if the wine comes to a rapid boil, reduce the heat. It should only come to a light boil.
    mushroom bacon gravy in a pan with a wooden spoon
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, then add it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Pour in the cream, chicken broth, diced bacon, parmesan cheese, pepper, and remaining parsley and thyme. Simmer on medium-low heat until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with more herbs and pepper if needed. Salt shouldn’t be necessary.

mushroom bacon gravy in a weck jar with a small white spoon

You can use this recipe on anything you would eat with gravy, or even by itself because it’s basically a creamy mushroom soup and it’s SO good! I actually put some on my plate and ate it as a creamy mushroom side dish.

Recipe making tips

  • I like to prepare the bacon in the air fryer before everything else. You can even do this ahead of time the night before and store it in the refrigerator. If you prefer another method of cooking bacon, you can do that too.

air fryer bacon on white parchment paper

  • The mushroom bacon gravy stores well in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for about four days. It reheats easily either in the microwave or stirred over low heat.
  • If you are air frying multiple batches of bacon, make sure you empty the bacon drippings from the air fryer basket in between batches.

Questions you might have about this recipe

What is a Cornish hen?

A Cornish hen, also known as a ‘Cornish game hen’ is a chicken produced from a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chicken breeds. It’s served young, at about two pounds.

What is the difference between a chicken and a Cornish hen?

Cornish hens taste like chicken since they are still a chicken variety, and because Cornish hens are younger they can be more tender when cooked.

Cornish hens are also very lean since they’re composed of more white meat than dark meat. Tyson Cornish Hens, specifically, are 100% all natural and minimally processed with no artificial ingredients.

air fryer cornish hen on a white plate

What else can I serve with the Mushroom Bacon Gravy?

Serve this Mushroom Bacon Gravy with anything you’d eat gravy with! Mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, or over top of vegetables like green beans.

Can I use thin bacon strips instead?

Lots of people prefer thinly sliced bacon to thick cut bacon because it gets super crispy. In a sauce like this bacon gravy, you will want thick cut bacon strips because it has a chewier bite and more flavor. Better for sauces and it still gets crispy!

Can I use thin bacon strips instead?

Lots of people prefer thinly sliced bacon to thick cut bacon because it gets super crispy. In a sauce like this bacon gravy, you will want thick cut bacon strips because it has a chewier bite and more flavor. Better for sauces and it still gets crispy!

a hand holding a strip of bacon in the air

I served my Cornish hens with green beans, but here are a few other options for side dishes:

Want to try this Air Fryer Cornish Hen and Mushroom Bacon Gravy Recipe?

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two cornish hens with bacon gravy on a plate with lettuce
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Air Fryer Cornish Hens With Red Wine Mushroom Bacon Gravy

Delicious juicy Cornish hen in your air fryer with the best mushroom bacon gravy. The best air fryer recipe for crispy skin and fantastic flavor!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer bacon, air fryer cornish hens, bacon, bacon gravy, cornish hens, mushroom bacon gravy
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 203kcal

Ingredients

Cornish Hens

  • 2 cornish hens
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced into 1 inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • salt

Red Wine Mushroom Bacon Gravy

  • 5 strips of thick cut bacon
  • 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and stems trimmed
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pink peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

Red Wine Mushroom Bacon Gravy

  • Line the outer basket with aluminum foil and pre-heat the air fryer to 390F.
  • Cut the bacon slices in half and arrange in the basket. Cook the bacon for 8-9 minutes, flipping halfway through. When finished, remove the bacon strips from the air fryer and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Once cooled, dice the bacon and set aside.
  • While the bacon is in the air fryer, heat a skillet on medium heat with butter, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes until fragrant and butter is melted.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the mushrooms and wine. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have softened and wine has reduced by half. Note: if the wine comes to a rapid boil, reduce the heat. It should only come to a light boil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, then add it to the skillet with the mushrooms. Pour in the cream, chicken broth, bacon crumbles, parmesan cheese, pepper, and remaining parsley and thyme. Simmer on medium-low heat until the sauce has thickened slightly. Taste, and adjust the seasoning with more herbs and pepper if needed. Salt shouldn't be necessary.

Cornish Hens

  • Pre-heat the air fryer to 390 F. Rub the hens with Italian seasoning, paprika, and a generous amount of salt. Stuff the cavity with onions and spritz the top of the hens with olive oil. Air fry for 25 minutes, flipping the hens halfway through.
  • To serve: divide the cornish hens between two plates and add a generous amount of bacon gravy to each hen.

Notes

  • Air fry the bacon first and prepare the sauce while the cornish hens are cooking. 
  • Remove the aluminum foil lining with bacon grease from the air fryer before adding the cornish hens.
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Cornish Hens With Red Wine Mushroom Bacon Gravy
Amount Per Serving
Calories 203 Calories from Fat 1431
% Daily Value*
Fat 159g245%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 30mg10%
Sodium 653mg28%
Potassium 205mg6%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 106g212%
Vitamin A 4828IU97%
Vitamin C 17mg21%
Calcium 12mg1%
Iron 8mg44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Author: JZ Eats

Eating is my hobby, cooking is my passion. Sharing easy to follow recipes from my kitchen.

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