Roasted Cornish Game Hens

This Cornish hen recipe is easy to make and great for special occasion dinners. Cornish game hens are seasoned with pantry spices and fresh herbs and roasted in the oven until the skin is golden and crispy.

one roasted cornishe hen on a dish.

If you’ve never tried them, Cornish game hens are little chickens with a fancy name that delivers big in the flavor department: once cooked, they’re juicy and delicious. They don’t need much – a little seasoning and olive oil turn the skin golden and crispy, and a few aromatics in the cavity add flavor to the meat.

They’re a bit retro and perfect if you want a special main course for the holidays or other special occasions. The appeal is in the size – one hen is a generous serving for one person, and, sitting on the plate all roasted and delicious, they make for a pretty presentation. Although, in my experience, with some side dishes, two people can easily share one bird.

Roasted Cornish Hens Recipe

Get the recipe right here, and don’t forget to let me know if you tried it! Leave a comment with your rating – I would love to hear from you ❤️ Keep scrolling if you want more tips and tricks about the recipe, too. I can’t wait for you to try it!

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Roasted Cornish Game Hens

roasted cornish game hen in a pan.

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5 from 3 reviews

Roasted Cornish hens are easy to prepare and great for special occasion dinners. They’re seasoned with pantry spices and fresh herbs and roasted in the oven until the skin is golden and crispy. One hen is a generous serving for one person so, if you have sides, two people can easily share one.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cornish hens (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1  large stalk celery, cut into 1” pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pat the hens dry with paper towels and place them in a baking dish that’s big enough to hold both of them so they aren’t touching.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, dried thyme, onion powder, paprika, and black pepper.
  3. Rub the oil mixture all over the hens and fill the cavity of each with the carrots, celery, garlic, and rosemary.
  4. Tie the legs with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the bird— this will prevent them from burning in the oven.
  5. Roast the hens for 50 to 55 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 165°F in the thickest part.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and cover it with aluminum foil. Rest the hens for 10 minutes. You can carve them for serving or serve them whole. If you are serving four, you can also slice them in half for serving,

 

Notes

If your hens are frozen, thaw them at least 24 hours in advance before roasting them. You can keep them in the packages and thaw them in a baking dish in the refrigerator.

One hen can serve two people with side dishes. You can carve the meat off the birds for serving or split one down the center lengthwise for two people to share. 

 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 hen
  • Calories: 434
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 1142.8mg
  • Fat: 22.4g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 16.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.8g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Protein: 49.3g
  • Cholesterol: 218.4mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

More about the Hens

You can find Cornish hens at most grocery stores, Walmart, and Costco, and I’ve seen them on Amazon, too. I usually find them in the freezer section at the store. They look like a frozen whole chicken – just smaller. If you have a local butcher shop, they might have them or can order them for you.

Their size can vary, but I usually get ones that are between one and a half and two pounds. Plan ahead because if they’re frozen, they will need at least 24 hours to thaw before you roast them. I like to place them in a baking pan in the fridge.

ingredients for the recipe.

Roasting Tips

If you’ve ever made roast chicken or turkey, roasting cornish game hens is the same process. You will want to season the skin and place aromatics (like celery, carrots, and garlic) in the cavity. Once you’ve done that, just pop them in the oven until they’re golden and crispy.

For the best results, be sure and pat the hens dry with paper towels before you roast them. This removes excess moisture, so you end up with golden, crispy skin after the birds have roasted.

Place them in a baking dish, roasting pan, or on a sheet pan that is large enough so they aren’t touching. If you crowd them in the pan, they won’t roast evenly.

Get yourself some kitchen twine so you can secure the legs. This also helps them cook evenly and prevents the legs from burning.

Use a meat thermometer to check if they are done cooking – this takes all of the guesswork out! Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the hen – I usually check the breast meat and the thickest part of the leg. Once the temperature is 165°F. Take them out of the oven.

Let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving them. This allows all of the juices to be redistributed back into the meat.

roasted hens on a baking sheet.

How to Serve Them

You can keep them whole or carve them for serving by slicing off the breast meat and removing the legs. Bigger hens can easily serve two people – in that case, try splitting one hen down the center lengthwise to make it easy to share.

You can definitely split the hens if you’re adding some side dishes. Here are some of my favorites you might like:

cooked hens on a serving patter with rosemary.

I hope you give this Cornish game hen recipe a try this fall and winter!

Happy Roasting,

April

More Special Occasion Dinner Recipes

7 Comments

  1. Had this for a special dinner with my girlfriend and it was a night I will never forget! Thank you for this recipe that will always have a special place in my heart.






  2. My husband and I love Game Hens and I have made them three different ways before seeing your recipe. We LOVE yours the best!! The directions are clear and easy to follow, the birds looked toasty brown and were really crispy, the veggies inside were cooked to perfection (just a little crunchy) and the time between cooking and serving gave me enough time to make the wild rice I wanted.
    This was the first recipe of yours I tried and I will definitely use others in the future! Thanks for making me look so good!






  3. I made a “happy mistake” last time I made these in my convection oven. I cooked them upside down. Because I always have them in a baking pan on a metal rack, they brown and crisp up great on both sides but the hens come out juicier cooking them upside down! Making them today!

    1. I bet they were great! I roasted a chicken upside down by mistake once and it worked great – good idea for these, too!

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