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Side view of an Instant Pot Cornish hen on a platter.

Instant Pot Cornish Hens

Instant Pot Cornish Hens with yogurt sauce take just 20 minutes to pressure cook and get browned and crispy with a quick broil in the oven!
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 36 minutes
Resting Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 51 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 1125kcal


Yogurt Sauce:

  • 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey start with 1 teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric optional


  • Combine the salt, pepper, garam masala, garlic, ginger, honey and olive oil in a bowl and mix to make a paste.
  • Rub the mixture all over both of the Cornish hens.
  • Let them sit in the fridge, uncovered, overnight.
  • Heat an Instant Pot using the saute setting and a non-stick insert (if using the stainless steel insert, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil).
  • Place the Cornish hens in and brown on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). If they both won't fit comfortably, brown one at a time.
  • Add the chicken broth, lemon halves (lightly squeeze them before adding them) and onion to the Instant Pot, along with the browned Cornish hens.
  • Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then use the quick release to release the remaining pressure.
  • Place on an oven safe sheet and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the top has browned and the skin has crisped.
  • Serve whole with the yogurt dipping sauce.

Yogurt Sauce:

  • Mix the yogurt with the lemon juice, honey, turmeric (optional), salt and garlic. Adjust the honey, salt and lemon juice to taste if desired.



  1. I don't recommend skipping the step of letting the Cornish hens marinate with the rub overnight. This provides enough time for the birds to absorb the flavors of the rub and helps them get tender and juicy. 
  2. When cooking these Cornish hens in the Instant Pot, I normally use a non-stick insert. If you’re using the stainless steel insert, I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of cooking oil so the birds don’t stick when they’re browning.
  3. You may need to brown the Cornish hens one at a time if both won’t fit in the Instant Pot at the same time.
  4. Cornish hens should be cooked to 165F degrees. I suggest using a digital thermometer to test for doneness.
  5. Let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes before doing a quick release. The Cornish hens will continue cooking as the pressure releases.
  6. While the cook time is 20 minutes in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to factor in time to brown and broil the birds and for pressure to build and release in the Instant Pot.


Serving: 1hen | Calories: 1125kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 91g | Fat: 71g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Monounsaturated Fat: 33g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 460mg | Sodium: 4313mg | Potassium: 1445mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 507IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 213mg | Iron: 5mg