The BEST Cornish Hens Recipe: The Only Recipe You Will EVER Need

This is the BEST Cornish Game Hen recipe around! We love Cornish game hens, and they make for a delicious recipe. There are many ways to make them, however, this has the best tips for how to make Cornish game hens.

Cornish Hens Recipe

Cornish Game Hens Recipe

Hi, there Clarks Condensed readers! My name is Charlee and I blog over at Humble in a Heartbeat. I am so excited to be on Katie’s blog today to share a simple and out-of-this-world Cornish game hen recipe with you. Never made Cornish hens before? No problem. This recipe is great for beginners.

When I was dating my husband, he invited me over to his apartment one evening to have dinner with him. I was thinking we would have some kind of steak or maybe pork. But no. He served Cornish game hens with oven fries. They only weigh 1 1/2 pounds or so.

Let me tell you, it was a dinner to remember! I had never in my life heard of Cornish game hens before and it was kind of fun to have an entire bird to myself.

Since our first Christmas dinner as a married couple, the Cornish game hen has become a regular feature. But really you can eat them anytime you want.

I personally love roasting Cornish hens because when you cook two 24 ounces in your oven it literally takes half the time in the oven as a 6-pound chicken.

Cornish game hens would be perfect to cook if you are having Thanksgiving away from family. Two Cornish game hens can feed two adults and one or two young children. It’s also great to cook these little birds if you don’t want leftovers.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any weeknight is a fine occasion for making Cornish game hens. Ok, so they are more expensive per pound than your average whole chicken. BUT, remember that when you don’t really want leftovers and you only want to heat up your oven for a small amount of time, they are the perfect solution.

Do you want to know what makes these babies so delicious? It’s my special brine recipe. I had heard about brining turkeys for years before I ever tried brining myself. I tried it on chicken several months ago, and now I’ve tried it on my little Cornish hens. Extraordinary results, I tell ya.

Once you brine even once, you will not go back to making any kind of bird without doing this simple process. Brining just makes every chicken, turkey, and Cornish hen so much tastier and moist.

Cornish Game Hens

1/4 cup + 2 T. Kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar or honey
3-5 garlic cloves
1/2 T. black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 tsp. onion powder
2 1/2 quarts of warm water
2 Cornish games hens (mine were 24 oz. each)


Cornish Hen Brine

At least 12 hours or more before you intend to cook your Cornish hens, start the brine.

Cornish Hen Brine

Get out a large food-grade container. You can use a large pot if you have one large enough. Try to avoid metal if at all possible, because from what I’ve read it can do strange things to your birds!

Add the salt, sugar, garlic, peppercorns, ground mustard, and onion powder to your pot. (Do not worry if you don’t have garlic, peppercorns, ground mustard, or onion powder because these can be omitted. I would discourage this, but sometimes you just don’t have an ingredient.) Pour the warm water over it all and stir it so the salt and sugar dissolves. Put the pot into your fridge until the water has cooled down.

Cornish Game Hen Brine

Take the pot out of the fridge and get your Cornish hens ready. Remove the giblets and submerge the hens into the brine. Put the pot back in the fridge for about 6 hours. Remove the pot from the fridge, flip the birds over, and put the pot back into the fridge for another 6 hours.

How to Cook Cornish Hens

Remove the pot from the fridge, take the Cornish hens out of the brine, and pat them down with paper towels. Place them on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. You do not have to add anything else, because they taste wonderful as they are, but I tried them with some olive oil, more salt, and a little pepper, and it does make a difference. Either way is sooo good!

Tuck the wings under the birds, and if you have some cooking twine, use it to tie the legs together. It will help the birds roast more evenly and makes for better presentation. I rarely do this since I don’t have cooking twine lying around my house. 🙂

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Once the oven comes to temperature, put the birds into the oven for 25 minutes. Turn down the temperature to 400 F and roast for another 20 minutes. Finally, bring the temperature down to 375 F and roast for another 25-30 minutes. If you have a meat thermometer, make sure that the internal temperature of the birds is at least 165 F before removing from the oven. If you don’t have one, make sure that the hens are completely cooked (no longer pink) before eating.

Take the hens out of the oven and let them rest for 10 minutes while the juices distribute evenly.

Bon appétit!

You are going to really enjoy the ease of making these Cornish games hens this holiday season. When you can do the prep a day ahead, it makes the cooking part a breeze. Enjoy!

Oh, and if you’d like to make a brined chicken before trying the Cornish hens, please check out my post on Better Than Rotisserie Roast Chicken.

Cornish Game Hen Recipe / Easy Cornish Game Hen /


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    • We don’t have one on this recipe. I’ll try and add one after the holidays! If you just right click on the page you should be able to press print. Just have it print the first three pages
  • Hi, Ooo the looks is Amazing.I was just wondering why you say don't use metal and yet you show an enamel pot! Looks like your peppercorns are not crushed. Really want to try this just confused?
    • You know this was a guest post, so I can’t really tell you why she said what she said. She probably just showed them uncrushed for the sake of the picture. Just follow the recipe and enjoy - people seem to have done that so far without issue :-)
  • I think it is my all-new favourite. I’ve tried a lot of chicken recipes, and with this one I feel like I finally hit gold! Full chicken taste, beautiful gold colour, perfect salt, no fussy steps and done in the same amount of time (or less) as other recipes. Life changer!
  • Great title but you lost me as soon as you started the recipe with "I'm a blogger at such and such and I'm so happy to be blogging for so and so". Judging from the pictures I'd say you need a flip 2/3 of the way through or you need to move a little lower in the oven.
    • Hmmm I’m not sure why it bothers you that this was a guest post? This girl wrote this post as a favor when my son was born. It’s a great recipe. I’ve followed it myself, and it turns out perfectly cooked. Definitely not overdone!
  • Brined these little sweethearts and stuffed each with a wedge of apple and a wedge of onion. They are currently on hour number 2 in a slow smoker with Apple wood with sliced Apple in the smoker water pan... Will let you know how they turn out!
  • I am going to try this, but I have honey, sugar, and brown sugar.Have you ever used brown sugar? (Or Molasses? I have that too!) So many choices.... :D
  • Thanks for the awesome recipe for brining!! Tried it today and loved it. I used one recipe for three hens. May have added a little more water. Did everything according to recipe but also used my Famous Daves roasted chicken seasoning on hens. These were totally delicious!! Every bit as good as Dixie Stampede's?
    • I grew up on a farm and butchered chickens every year; Cornish, fryers, and broilers. A Cornish game hen is typically a Rock Cornish, and they will get large if not butchered at the right time.
    • I just looked it up, and cornish game hens were bred in the mid-1950's by cross breeding two breeds of chickens. And the aren't hens, they're male and female.
  • I am going to bake these tonight I did not have peppercorn but I had all of the other ingredients. I will let you know if it's a winner at our house.
  • I was just wondering why you say don't use metal and yet you show an enamel pot! Looks like your peppercorns are not crushed. Really want to try this just confused...
    • This was a guest post, but I'd imagine she crush the peppercorns afterward - just showed them uncrushed for visual appeal. And I don't know what to tell you about the pot - not one I used. I think if you just follow the instructions and not the pictures, you should be good to go :)
    • The pot in the picture is enameled and would prevent the salt from causing the metal to leach into the birds. Aluminum will taste and is not good for us to eat. We use too much of it and causes health problems. Google it. The salt also helps to break down the peppercorns. If you notice afterwards salt and pepper (cracked) can then be sprinkled on the birds. Pepper helps brown the skin on any meat. It also says any of the seasonings can be omitted if you're out of any one or all but it's not recommended. I dunno why you weren't answered but u know these things to be true. Have fun y'all!
      • Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I responded to Chris, but I wasn't really sure what to say since this was a guest post. thank you!

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