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 worked on all day!
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.
A simple mixture of olive oil and herbs flavor the skin. Use whatever herbs you like (or have on hand).
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!
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!
How to Cook Cornish Hen
It might sound hard, but this is one of the easiest fancy dinners ever!
- Brush hens with oil and season if desired. Tuck wings under the bird and place on a pan. Arrange vegetables around the cornish hens.
- Bake, uncovered according to recipe directions below.
- 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.
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
- Instant Pot Chicken and Vegetables – 30-minute cook time
- Crock Pot Beef Stew – 5-star dish
- Sheet Pan Greek Chicken – one-pan meal
- Hamburger Casserole – quick & easy
- Roasted Rosemary Chicken – with fresh veggies
Did your family love this Roasted Cornish Hen recipe? Be sure to leave a comment and a rating below!
Roasted Cornish Hen
- 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
- 1 pound potatoes chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 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 provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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The oven temperature is listed in step 1 (Preheat oven to 450°F) and it is reduced in step 4 when the hens are added to the oven (Reduce heat to 400°F).
Excellent. I mean absolutely excellent. I took mine out after 55 min and they were done – prob could have pulled at 45/50. The potatoes were velvet. My kids (1.5 and 3) basically ate a whole hen to themselves! Thank you for this. I might try and add fennel to the veggie mix next time
This recipe is great. Simple and delicious, it’s a winner!
Hi iam a metis ukrainin a meat hunter moose deer venison in ab ,love to see new recipes as Cornish, hens thank you ,
Delicious Recipe. Cooked the C Hens for my wife on her birthday
So glad you loved them! Happy Birthday!
Please leave oven temperature in recipe instructions
Hi Norma, you can find this in Step 1 of the instructions: Preheat oven to 450°F.
Used this recipe for Thanksgiving! Just a small dinner of 4 and everyone got their own lil hen. I originally considered this recipe “too simple” but looks are deceiving! It’s absolutely perfect. The hens were a hit!
Prepared and baked four hens for our holiday dinner. Simply delicious. Many thanks for sharing this recipe. It IS a keeper for me.
Mrs Smith, USA
Tried this for the first time for our small Thanksgiving, So good! This will become a regular for the holidays.
I always cut my hens in half before roasting. They are my go to Christmas dish I love the herb recipe.
best served with fried or roasted green beans.
Looks fantastic. Would like to try soon.
This is the umpteenth time I’ve lost my mind & track of time when it’s time to do hens. Your recipe has been my go-to easy, fast, one pot, & delicious recipe each time. I don’t normally comment on recipes but considering how often this one has saved me with the versatility & ease, and I’ve heard “This is delicious” from my beloved… I felt like I owed you all the stars.
PS. I use several recipes on your site so thank you!
I’m so glad you loved it, thank you so much for coming back and leaving a comment and review!
The problem I had is that the bottom skin of the hens never browned; it was pale and not crisp at all. When they were done i realized and I cut them in half and stood them on end and put under the broiler to brown. If you are going to do this, then don’t wait until they are cooked thoroughly because it dries out some of the meat.
Thank you for the cooking tips, Holly! I have been challenged to do “Thanksgiving in Miniature” this year by my husband. He wants it to look like we are giants eating whole turkeys . What a doofus. I’ll tag you on twitter and tiktok if it turns out!
This gave me a chuckle! I would love to see how it turns out Kasey!
What temperature do you cook it at?
Hi Pamela, this can be found in step 1 of the recipe. Preheat oven to 450°F.
Hi! It then says to reduce the heat to 400 once the hens are in the oven. Is there a reason for this? Do the hens cook at 450 at all?
The initial high temperature helps to ensure really crispy skin. They do not roast at 450°F.
Wow! this was a perfect weekday meal. easy to put together and clean up. The flavor of the hen and veggies were amazing! will definitely make again. thanks for sharing!!
I’m talking to text as I head straight for my kitchen right this very minute to try out your Cornish hen recipe sounds perfect and just what I need I appreciate you so much