Are you looking for an alternative to turkey this Thanksgiving? Try our Easy Cornish Hens recipe, well-seasoned and easy to make. Plus, it’s less hassle than making a huge turkey.

the best cornish hens

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Easy Cornish Hens Recipe

Like a lot of folks, I used to be intimidated by the thought of preparing Cornish Hens. Not anymore. Now I love them, and here is why. First, it is all about the perfect portion. Cornish hens for me, translate into less waste. Who wants to cook a whole chicken or gigantic turkey then struggle to figure out what to do with all of the leftovers? Second. Cornish Hens are not the fancy-pants dish you think it is. Mainly because pound for pound, they are often a more economical purchase than other poultry meats. And finally, they are delicious. The following recipe guarantees a moist and well-seasoned outcome. Enjoy!

easy cornish hens

What You Need To Make Our Easy Cornish Hens:

Cornish Hens. We love Cornish hens because they are like individual-sized servings of chicken, even though they are technically not chicken, but the taste is similar. Typically, each hen weighs around 1-2 pounds. Typically, the wife and I will split one, but our teenage boys will eat a whole Cornish hen in one sitting.

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Olive Oil. Garlic & Butter. After the Cornish hens are patted dry, I like to apply a mixture of melted unsalted butter, olive oil, and lots of minced garlic.

Onions. Lemons. Sage & Rosemary. I also love adding additional layers of flavor by resting the Cornish hens on a bed of onion, lemons, sage, and rosemary. Protip. Add even more flavor by stuffing the hens with onions, lemons, garlic, sage, and rosemary.

Seasoning Mix. Our seasoning mix includes Old Bay seasoning, Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, sea salt, freshly cracked black peppercorns.

Ingredients needed for Cornish Hens

  • 3 Cornish Hens
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 lemons sliced
  • 1 large onion cut into quarters and separate the quarters into individual slices of onion
  • 10-12 fresh sage leaves
  • 6-8 Sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • 2 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt

how to season cornish hens


  1. Thaw and pat the Cornish hens dry with a paper towel.
  2. Place the onions, sliced lemons, and half of the sage and rosemary into the roasting pan or Dutch oven.
  3. Brush the hens with the melted butter, olive oil, minced garlic.
  4. Rub the hens thoroughly with the dry rub mixture.
  5. Arrange the Cornish hens into the roasting pan or Dutch oven, place the remaining sage leaves, sprigs of rosemary, and sliced lemon in-between the Cornish hens.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375 ° F until an instant-read thermometer reads inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 ° F, and the juices run clear. (Cooking time: 45 minutes to an hour)
  7. When finished baking, remove the pan from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve.

How to cook stuffed Cornish Hens

You can try cooking your Cornish Hens by stuffing the cavities full of fresh herbs and butter. We’re sharing one of the ways we’ve made this Cornish Hens recipe for previous holiday dinners.


Directions on cooking stuffed cornish hens

More holiday dinners to try:

Cajun Cornish Hen Jambalaya Recipe

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Croissant Cornbread Dressing with Chicken

Published 11/2014 | Updated 11/2020

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