How to Cook a Cornish Hen: Simple and Delicious Recipes

How to Cook a Cornish Hen

Understanding Cornish Hens

Cornish hens, also known as Cornish game hens, are a small breed of chicken that are typically less than 2 pounds in weight. They are often marketed and sold as a smaller alternative to a whole chicken, and are a popular choice for special occasions and dinner parties.

The Cornish hen is actually a crossbreed between a Cornish chicken and a White Plymouth Rock chicken. This breed was specifically developed for its meat, which is known for being tender and flavorful.

Compared to a regular broiler chicken, Cornish hens have a higher meat-to-bone ratio, which means that they have more meat per pound. They also have a shorter cooking time, making them a convenient option for busy cooks.

When shopping for Cornish hens, it’s important to look for birds that have been raised in a humane and sustainable manner. Look for labels that indicate that the birds have been given access to pasture and have not been treated with antibiotics or hormones.

In summary, Cornish hens are a delicious and convenient option for home cooks. They are smaller than a whole chicken, have a high meat-to-bone ratio, and cook quickly. When shopping for Cornish hens, look for birds that have been raised humanely and sustainably.

Preparing for Cooking

To cook a Cornish hen, I start by gathering all the necessary ingredients and equipment. Here’s what I need:

  • Cornish hen(s)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil or melted butter
  • Kitchen shears
  • Foil or aluminum foil
  • Roasting pan with a rack
  • Instant-read thermometer

Next, I preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

I rinse the Cornish hen(s) and pat them dry with paper towels. Then, using kitchen shears, I cut along each side of the backbone and remove it. This process is called spatchcocking, and it helps the Cornish hen cook more evenly.

I season the Cornish hen(s) with salt and pepper, and brush them with olive oil or melted butter. Then, I place them on the rack in the roasting pan.

To prevent the Cornish hen(s) from drying out, I cover them loosely with foil or aluminum foil. I make sure the foil is not touching the Cornish hen(s), as this can cause them to steam instead of roast.

Finally, I insert the instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the Cornish hen(s), making sure not to touch the bone. The thermometer should read 165°F (74°C) when the Cornish hen(s) are fully cooked.

With these simple steps, I’m ready to roast my Cornish hen(s) to perfection!

Seasoning the Hen

To enhance the flavor of the Cornish hen, I like to season it with a blend of herbs and spices. Here’s how I do it:

  • First, I mix together kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika in a small bowl.
  • Then, I rub the mixture all over the hen, making sure to get it under the skin and inside the cavity.
  • Next, I stuff the cavity with fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sliced lemon. This adds a fragrant aroma to the hen while cooking.
  • Finally, I drizzle melted butter or olive oil over the hen to help it brown and crisp up nicely in the oven.

You can adjust the seasoning to your personal preference by adding more or less of certain spices. Just be sure to taste as you go and not go overboard with the salt.

Overall, seasoning the Cornish hen is an important step in creating a delicious and flavorful dish.

How to Cook a Cornish Hen

Cooking Methods

When it comes to cooking a Cornish hen, there are several methods to choose from. Each method has its own unique benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your needs.


Roasting is a classic cooking method that works well for Cornish hens. To roast a Cornish hen, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 425°F. Rub the hen with butter or oil, then season with salt, pepper, and any other herbs or spices you like. Place the hen in a roasting pan and roast for 45-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Grilling is a great way to add some smoky flavor to your Cornish hen. To grill a Cornish hen, start by preheating your grill to medium-high heat. Rub the hen with oil and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like. Place the hen on the grill and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Spatchcocking is a technique that involves removing the backbone of the hen and flattening it out before cooking. This method helps to cook the hen more evenly and can reduce cooking time. To spatchcock a Cornish hen, use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the backbone, then remove it. Flatten the hen out and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like. Roast in the oven at 425°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Broiling is a quick and easy way to cook a Cornish hen. To broil a Cornish hen, place it on a broiler pan and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings you like. Broil for 10-15 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Each of these cooking methods offers a unique way to prepare a Cornish hen. Whether you prefer the classic taste of roasted hen or the smoky flavor of grilled hen, there’s a method that’s perfect for you.

Stuffing and Marinating

To get the most flavor out of your Cornish hen, it’s important to properly stuff and marinate it. Here are some tips on how to do it right:


  • I like to use a mixture of wild rice and couscous for my stuffing. The wild rice adds a nutty flavor and the couscous gives it a nice texture.
  • Cook the wild rice and couscous separately according to their package instructions.
  • Mix them together in a bowl and add in any additional ingredients you like, such as diced onion, garlic, or herbs.
  • Stuff the mixture into the cavity of the Cornish hen, being careful not to overstuff it.


  • A soy-based marinade works well with Cornish hen. It adds a salty and savory flavor to the meat.
  • In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, honey, minced garlic, and some chopped green onions.
  • Place the Cornish hen in a large resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it.
  • Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor.

By following these tips for stuffing and marinating your Cornish hen, you’ll end up with a flavorful and juicy bird that’s sure to impress.

Cooking Times

When it comes to cooking a Cornish hen, timing is everything. The cooking time and oven temperature can make or break your dish. Here are some guidelines to help you achieve the perfect Cornish hen:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Oven Temperature: 375°F

To ensure that your Cornish hen is cooked to perfection, it is recommended that you use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the hen should reach 165°F before it is safe to eat.

Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect cooking time:

  • Always preheat your oven to 375°F before cooking.
  • Place the Cornish hen on a rack in a roasting pan to ensure even cooking.
  • Baste the hen with butter or oil every 20 minutes to keep it moist and tender.
  • Cover the hen with foil for the first 30 minutes of cooking to prevent it from drying out.
  • Remove the foil and continue cooking until the skin is golden brown and crispy.

By following these guidelines, you can be confident in your ability to cook a delicious and perfectly cooked Cornish hen.

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to serving Cornish hen, there are many options to choose from. Here are a few suggestions to help get you started:

  • Side dish options: Cornish hen pairs well with a variety of side dishes, such as roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. These can be seasoned with herbs and spices to add extra flavor.

  • Salad options: A light salad can be a great way to balance out the richness of the Cornish hen. Consider serving a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing, or a fruit salad with berries and citrus.

  • Vegetable options: In addition to the side dishes mentioned above, you can also serve additional vegetables alongside the Cornish hen. Steamed broccoli, roasted asparagus, or sautéed mushrooms are all great options.

  • Garnish options: To add a finishing touch to your Cornish hen, consider garnishing it with fresh herbs, such as parsley or thyme. Lemon wedges or orange slices can also be used to add a pop of color and flavor.

Overall, the key to serving Cornish hen is to keep it simple and let the flavors of the dish shine through. With a few well-chosen side dishes and garnishes, you can create a delicious and satisfying meal that will impress your guests.

How to Cook a Cornish Hen

Nutritional Information

As someone who is passionate about cooking, I always make sure to consider the nutritional value of the dishes I prepare. Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional information for a Cornish hen:

  • Calories: A single Cornish hen contains around 300-350 calories, depending on the cooking method and any added ingredients.
  • Fat: Cornish hens are relatively low in fat, with around 10-15 grams of fat per serving.
  • Saturated Fat: A serving of Cornish hen contains around 3-5 grams of saturated fat.
  • Cholesterol: Cornish hens are a good source of protein, but they do contain cholesterol. A single serving contains around 120-150 milligrams of cholesterol.
  • Protein: Cornish hens are a great source of protein, with around 25-30 grams per serving.
  • Carbohydrates: Cornish hens are low in carbohydrates, with less than 1 gram per serving.
  • Fiber: Cornish hens do not contain any fiber.
  • Sodium: The sodium content of a Cornish hen can vary depending on the seasoning and cooking method. On average, a serving contains around 150-200 milligrams of sodium.

Overall, Cornish hens are a great choice for anyone looking for a delicious and nutritious meal. They are low in fat and carbohydrates, high in protein, and contain a variety of important nutrients.

Tips and Tricks

When it comes to cooking a Cornish hen, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you achieve the perfect dish. Here are some of my favorite tips:

  • Keep it easy: Cooking a Cornish hen doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply season it with your favorite herbs and spices, and roast it in the oven until it’s cooked through. It’s a great dish for a date night or special occasion.
  • Moisture is key: To keep your Cornish hen moist, baste it every 20-30 minutes with butter or olive oil. This will help lock in the moisture and prevent it from drying out.
  • Crispy skin: If you want crispy skin on your Cornish hen, try rubbing it with a mixture of butter and salt before roasting. This will help create a golden, crispy skin that’s sure to impress.
  • Rest before serving: Once your Cornish hen is cooked, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.
  • Fresh is best: When it comes to Cornish hens, fresh is always best. Look for hens that are plump and firm to the touch, with no signs of discoloration or odor.
  • Share on social media: If you’re proud of your Cornish hen creation, share it on social media! Use hashtags like #CornishHen or #Foodie to connect with other food lovers and get inspiration for your next meal.

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