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
4.98 from 137 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
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.)

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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Comments

  1. I made the mistake of reading through all the comments and doing as one suggested by putting my hens on top of the veggies. DO NOT DO THIS.
    My hens were perfect at 55 minutes and thermometer read exactly 165 but when I cut them in half, the bottoms were not fully cooked.

    I put them cut side down in a plain pan and cooked them a little longer by themselves but the result was drier meat where they were done the first time and perfect meat where the hen met the pan.

    Put your veggies around like the recipe suggests. Flavor was perfect and mine would have been perfect otherwise.5 stars

  2. My husband and I enjoy Cornish hens. He’s not a turkey fan. One is plenty for the two of us. I used cubed sweet potoes, red skin potoates along with carrots, cerlery and oinion tossed with the oil and herbs. Have a rosemary plant so put sprigs of fresh rosemary in the cavity with some of the oil with the other herbs. It was wonderful. Have made it twice. This recipe is a keeper!! Thank you for this recipe.5 stars

    1. We cook the cornish hens at 450°F, Sharon. The full recipe is towards the bottom of this post, or you can use the jump to recipe button at the top.

  3. It says veggies are optional. Has anyone made these without? How does it turn out? I’m alone for thanksgiving this year and don’t have room in my belly for more root veggies as I’m already making my favs.

  4. Came out perfectly. I used new potatoes, celery, carrots, onions and garlic for the veggies.
    Thanks so much for putting this out there.5 stars

  5. Made it for Canadian Thanksgiving. Was so easy and turned out delicious. My husband and I were on our own for this holiday, and I still wanted to serve something that looked like a turkey! Was just perfect. I have a herb garden so I loaded up with fresh thyme and rosemary. I did insert lemon slices into the cavity as suggested, and that left a subtle lemony flavour to the juices. I followed the recipe as laid out and it was perfect.5 stars