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!
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!
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.)