Roasted Cornish Hen

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Roasted Cornish hens or “game hens” are small poultry that is easily baked to crispy perfection— they are truly delicious!

Looking for a fancy recipe for a special occasion at home? Because Cornish game hens are so small, they don’t take long to cook in the oven! It’s a kind of “set it and forget it” dinner that everyone will think you slaved over!

baked Roasted Cornish Hen in a casserole dish with potatoes and carrots Much like a roast chicken, this recipe is a one-pot, hearty, yet kinda fancy dinner that is perfect for staying in or having company over. The vegetables cook alongside the chicken for an entire meal on one pan.

What is a Cornish Game Hen?

Cornish hens are a popular breed of chickens that hail from the English county of Cornwall. They are about 2 pounds as opposed to a regular chicken that weighs in at 4 or more pounds.

Cornish hens are fully matured at the smaller weight and the meat is super tender. They are often preferable to bigger birds because they are easier to prepare, and take less time to cook. You can often find them in the freezer near the frozen turkeys.

ingredients to make Roasted Cornish Hen in bowls

Ingredients/Variations

RUB
A simple mixture of olive oil and herbs flavor the skin. Use whatever herbs you like (or have on hand).

VEGGIES
Add more veggies like butternut, acorn, or zucchini squash! Arrange the veggies around the hens and once cooked, remove the hens and stir the veggies into all of the delicious juices for extra flavor!

HERBS
Try tucking sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme, or oregano amongst the veggies or rub the outside of the hen with your favorite seasoning mix for a super savory skin!

spreading olive oil mixutre to make Roasted Cornish Hen

How to Cook Cornish Hen

It might sound hard, but this is one of the easiest fancy dinners ever!

  1. Brush hens with oil and season if desired. Tuck wings under the bird and place on a pan. Arrange vegetables around the cornish hens.
  2. Bake, uncovered according to recipe directions below.
  3. Remove hens from oven and let stand before serving.

PRO TIP: For an even crispier skin, place the hens under the broiler until the skin turns golden brown and gets crispy!

What to Serve with Cornish Hen

This recipe is already a one-and-done, but a side or two rounds out the meal and keeps the focus on the entrée!

We like to make some homemade French bread for sopping up any delicious juices and add a simple tossed salad or caesar salad.

Roasted Cornish Hen before cooking in a casserole dish

Tips for Perfect Cornish Hen

  • For best results, rub some salt into the cavity of the hens to draw more moisture out while it roasts, this also helps season the meat a little more.
  • A few sprigs of fresh herbs or a slice of lemon can be added to the cavity as well.
  • If you save bacon grease, this is a perfect way to substitute bacon grease for the olive oil, adding another subtle layer of flavor!
  • The most important tip is to ensure chicken is fully cooked but not overcooked. Once the hen is removed from the oven, insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast away from any bones and verify that the internal temp is 165°F.

More Meat & Veggies

Did your family love this Roasted Cornish Hen recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below! 

baked Roasted Cornish Hen in a casserole dish with potatoes and carrots
4.97 from 82 votes
Review Recipe

Roasted Cornish Hen

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Rest Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 4
Author Holly Nilsson
Roasted Cornish Hen is tender, juicy, and oh-so-flavorful! The whole family will love this easy dish!

Ingredients

  • 2 cornish hens about 1.5 pounds each
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary crushed
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Optional Vegetables
  • 1 pound potatoes chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 onion chopped

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste (add extra herbs if you'd like).
  • Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and herbs in a small bowl. Brush hens with olive oil mixture. Twist wings to tuck under the bird.
  • Place hens in a large casserole dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the prepared vegetables around the hens and place in the oven. Reduce heat to 400°F.
  • Bake 55-65 minutes or just until hens reach 165°F with a thermometer and vegetables are tender. (Ensure the thermometer does not touch the bone.)
  • Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil for 10 minutes before cutting.
  • Cut hens in half using kitchen scissors and serve.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 568, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 39g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 227mg, Sodium: 450mg, Potassium: 669mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 5338IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword Cornish Hen, How to roast a cornish hen, Roasted Cornish Hen, Roasted Cornish Hen recipe
Course Chicken, Dinner, Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Roasted Cornish Hen in a casserole dish with writing
Roasted Cornish Hen with a title
Roasted Cornish Hen in a casserole dish with writing

spreading olive oil mixture and finished dish of Roasted Cornish Hen with a title</div

About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. The recipe is tasty, but you are incorrect about the origins of the hens. Cornish hens are a fairly recent American invention dating from about 60s. Joy of Cooking says they are a cross between the White Rock and Cornish breeds of chickens which are naturally small. They have nothing to do with the English county of Cornwall.

  2. This has to be one of the top 5 worst recipes we have ever tried!! Cooked exactly per recipe directions. Veges we’re still crunchy. Chicken was not good at all!!! I would give it a 0. As a retired couple we were extremely disappointed to spend what we did on this terrible meal!!

    1. I’m extremely surprised to hear that Tom, considering that this recipe has a rating of 4.98 from almost 70 people. Did you use cornish hens (not chicken)? Vegetables should most definitely be cooked after the baking time of 55-65 minutes. Have you checked your oven’s temperature with an oven thermometer? I’d be concerned that it is not baking at the correct temperature.

  3. I tried this recipe and followed the instructions exactly as written. While the meat was tasty, I wasn’t prepared for how “wet” it was. The amount of juice made it difficult to eat and, honestly, the vegetables sitting in that juice just weren’t very appetizing. I’d do two things differently next time: (1) add more spices to the olive oil rub to give it more zing, and (2) absolutely finish it under the broiler as was listed as an option. It needs a crisper skin.3 stars

    1. Were your cornish hens sitting on top of the vegetables? The juices from the cornish hens drip down, and the meat is not sitting in juices. Perhaps your vegetables were overcooked? Crisping under the broiler sounds great!

      1. I have found this recipe to be both easy and delicious. In response to the above criticism, the recipe is written slightly incorrectly. I KNEW to place the hens atop the vegetables, because of cooking experience. However, the recipe actually says, “Arrange the prepared vegetables around the hens”. This is where the confusion occurs. If the recipe were followed to the letter as written the hens would indeed be braising in a puddle of their own juices instead of roasting nicely.5 stars

      2. I’m so glad to hear you love this recipe! We did place the vegetables around the hens when we roasted them and we did not have and issue with the juices. Placing atop would change that, although the vegetables “may” overcook (may not as well). Thank you for your comment Shawn.

    2. I made this before and it turned out great. Confused about your comment where you said that you weren’t prepared for how “wet” the chicken was but I assume you mean the juices from the chicken, I however find juicy chicken very appetizing and flavorful. I also really enjoyed the potatoes and carrots cooked in the seasoned juice from the chicken to also be very good… possibly when you made it they were chopped too small?4 stars

  4. Wow!!! So beautiful and wonderful delicious Cornish Hen recipe by the great Chef Holly Nilson Perfect presentation good texture tender crispy good taste mouth watering good create nice color rich ingredients professional cooking shows Thanks for your dedication and hard work that will be appreciated successful results God bless you and your family always with Good Health Good Luck and Happiness Love Stay safe in New Year 2021⭐️❤️5 stars

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Caroline! You made my day. So glad you love this cornish hen recipe!

  5. Made this dish past Saturday night. I have to say I was really skeptical. The only change I made is that I added a pound of sliced mushrooms. The dish came out fantastic. You didn’t mention, but I was able to make gravy with all the drippings and it was really tasty thanks for a great recipe!

      1. Popping them into a hotter oven will help the outside crisp up. Enjoy!

  6. I made this for an elderly friend and she loved it! I figured since she doesn’t eat a lot she would have leftovers but I was wrong! She said she kept eating and eating until it was all gone and she said she slept so good that night. Made me happy!5 stars

  7. Yummy. Very simple recipe to follow. Didn’t change a thing. Delicious. I did leave the oven on for 10 minutes at 450 but turned it down after that and had nice, crispy hens.5 stars

  8. excellent recipe. love the adaptability of vegetable options. i used duck fat instead of oil. as that gold does for absolutely everything – turns it to extra YUM!!5 stars

    1. As long as they’re in a pan that is large enough (and not touching), the cook time should remain close to the same.

    1. How disappointing Anita, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. At 165°F the meat should be cooked but still tender and juicy.

  9. Excellent dish! So easy & flavorful. I used Epicure Holiday seasoning. 2 tbsp of seasoning to 2 tbsp of olive oil on the hens. I also used 1 tbsp of seasoning mixed with 1 tbsp of olive oil on the veggies. S & P to taste. Finger licking, lip smacking good :)5 stars

  10. Kudos to you, Holly Nilsson! A great versatile recipe. As we are minimal carbs, my veggies are brussel sprouts, chopped onion, sliced carrots and minced garlic ( I used jarred garlic, still tasty) Tossed all veg in bowl with few tbsp olive oil, and dried rosemary, which I crushed in my palm before adding to veg bowl.
    Arranged little hens in baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, surrounded with oil tossed veg. Did about 3 tbsp o. Oil in side dish with a bit more crushed rosemary and a pinch of sea salt; brushed over birds, then into 400 degee oven for 1 hour. Let rest, lightly foil covered for 10 min before serving. RAVES ALL AROUND! Succulent meat and tender done veggies! A very easy and adaptable recipe!

  11. I followed your recipe and our Thanksgiving hens turned out great! I used bacon grease that I had from another recipe and then used the spices that you had listed. I will definitely refer to this when I make them again!5 stars

  12. Since there’s only two of us for Thanksgiving dinner, instead of Turkey we’re going to try this recipe. The only thing different I added was I injected the hens with melted butter and a mixture of seasoning suggested in the recipe. This will hopefully keep the chicken very moist on the interior. I will update after we indulge. Happy Thanksgiving to all.5 stars

  13. Trying for very 1st time & I’m definitely not a cook….I don’t have any type of string to use….any replacements or will my hens be dry if I can’t tie the legs?
    Thanks!

    1. While I haven’t tried it you could try wrapping them with a little bit of foil. Tear off a piece and scrunch it into a rope shape. If it doesn’t work, they should be fine cooked untied too. Let us know how it goes!

    1. Hi Deanna, please take a look at the recipe card to see the full ingredients and instructions, which includes the temperatures for baking the cornish hen. You can find a jump to recipe button at the top to take you right there!

  14. I usually do a whole chicken but have not done one of these little guys. I have a good recipe I use for big chickens so going to try it out with these. I’m going to cook two of them, one for me and one for the GF. Came here to find out cooking times and temps. Looking forward to see how it comes out!!5 stars

  15. Never tried this kind of chicken yet because they’re not as readily available ion our country. But definitely gonna try it with some of my fave recipes to taste the difference.5 stars