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!

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
4.99 from 393 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Roasted Cornish Hen

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

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

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.
4.99 from 393 votes

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

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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. The most accurate way is by using a meat thermometer but you can also pierce the thickest part of the hen with a sharp knife. If the juices run clear, it should be cooked. If they still run pink, you will want to cook it a little longer.

  1. Made 2 without the veggies using your recipe as a guide and it turned out fantastic. I want to make it again but with the veg and potatoes this time and for a group of 12. Any tips for cooking 12 hens in one go?5 stars

    1. Oh my! I have never attempted that many at the same time but I would definitely recommend a meat thermometer to ensure they all evenly cook. I would love to hear how they turn out for you!

    1. Hi Lily! Nope, the pan does not need any liquid. I would love to hear how it turns out for you!

    1. Hey Julie! If you’re cooking 3 Cornish hens, bake time will be around 65-70 minutes. Check the hens regularly to make sure they don’t over or under cook, you want the internal temp of each hen to 165°F. Happy cooking!

    1. Hey Zach, you can use the same temperatures listed in the recipe but I would check the internal temp of the hen around 40 minutes, depending on the size of the hen. Let us know how it works out for you!

    1. Hi Tony, we have found that if you are using a “reader view” you may not see the site correctly. Click jump to recipe at the top, or scroll down to find the full recipe. Hope that helps.

  2. A long time favorite. As a kid , I loved that I got a whole bird on my plate to eat all by myself with my bare hands!
    That is how the game hen became endeared to me. As an adult I have prepare the dish glazed with blackberries and with a roast chestnut stuffing.4 stars

    1. I find that it’s usually brown enough but if you’d like, you can brown it during the last few minutes of cooking time.

  3. I tried this game hen recipe but added some Cajun seasoning. birds were done a few minutes sooner so keep an eye on them. Meat was juicy and so tasty! not to mention the veggies, wow good stuff!
    sorry, 1st time I’ve commented on one of your recipes, I have tried several of yours and I’m always impressed, thank you!5 stars

  4. I made 2 Cornish game hens up for my husband for supper!!

    They were so sooooooo delicious!
    The flavor and meat fell off the bone!!

    Thanks so much for sharing this on line!5 stars

  5. I would like a recipe for curry chicken with a peanut butter sauce. This recipe was great we used the vegetable for our sides I added a few more veggies than what the recipe called for

  6. EASY, flavorful recipe. At 400′, my birds were done in about 20 minutes with another 5 to brown. They may not have been as big.5 stars

  7. Everyone loved!! And, we are very, very picky! Served with apple salad and yogurt dressing. Will be making again5 stars