Roasted Cornish Hens

So this past Sunday I did a freezer clean out and I happened to find these 2 lovelies.  I had been craving roasted chicken but didn’t want to make a whole big bird. Okay… I’ll fess up.  Truth be told, I didn’t have the fridge space to store the leftovers *blush*

but but but in my defense my fridge was full of good stuff!  LOADS of veggies and fresh fruits, juice and milk… and about 8 pounds of various cheeses but we won’t discuss my little obsession *hides her face*

Any who once I found these badboys I knew I wanted to make the Hasselback Potatoes and the Baked Zucchini Fries.

Now I make one kick ass roasted chicken (both stuffed and unstuffed) so I opted to go that route tonight using an herbed compound butter rub.


So pretty…

Go on.. look at it.  Isn’t it just gorgeous?  It was soooooo juicy.  Mr. Fantabulous was in heaven eating this scrumptious little thing!

Roasted Cornish Hens


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  • 6 Rock Cornish Hens, thawed
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 Tbl fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 Tbl Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbl fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Remove birds from wrapping, remove gizzards (inside stuff) and pat dry inside and out.
  3. Place a cooling rack on a baking pan.
  4. Place them breast-side up on the cooling rack inside of the pan.
  5. In a bowl combine the butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme to make a soft, but spreadable herbed butter
  6. Carefully separate the skin from the breast.
  7. Spread about 2 Tbl of the butter between the skin and breast of each bird. Smooth skin back down to cover meat.
  8. Rub the olive oil all over the birds and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
  9. Roast at 450F for 20 minutes.
  10. After 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350F and continue roasting about 40 more minutes or when the thickest part of the meat reaches 165F.
  11. Baste occasionally with pan juices. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  12. Serve with Hasselback Potatoes and Crispy Baked Fries.


48 Responses to “Roasted Cornish Hens”

  • Scott Adams says:

    I came across this wonderful recipe and just finished the meal…OMG… perfect recipe and the flavor and spices were right on target. THANKS FOR THE RECIPE!!! Cheers…. Scotty

  • Samantha says:

    Stumbled upon this site after googling ‘good Cornish game hen recipes.’ Lol.
    This recipe sounds/looks DELICIOUS and I am going to give this a try tonight! also- I giggled the whole way through your blog post. Too too funny 😄 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this dish!!

  • Dee Dee says:

    I’m trying Cornish hens for the first time for my friends birthday. There’s 6 of us, so will 6 hens be enough?

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Dee Dee!

      Yes, one hen per person is enough. They aren’t huge like chickens so if you truly want leftovers then you can always make a few extra.

      Happy Birthday to your friend!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Willie Macon says:

    This sounds so good will be making for Christmas!
    I use a similar recipe for my chicken,it is called rosemary chicken and I use my Nuwave.
    A Big Hit ! It is requested a lot

  • DJ says:

    What if I don’t have a cooling rack.? Would it make a big difference if I didn’t use one.??

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi DJ!

      The purpose of the cooling rack as it allows for the underside to cook more evenly and also not stick to the pan or foil. But never fear, I got you on this one. If you do not have a cooling rack, take a long piece of aluminum foil and roll it length ways like a long snake. On your pan coil the foil like a snake to make almost a ‘ring’ atop of the baking sheet. Spray the foil then put the hens on top of those. This will allow the heat to circulate to the underneath and also prevent it from cooking too fast on the pan. Sound good?

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Deborah Ervin says:

    Hi this is first time trying to cook cornish hens I like the ldeal of using the season butter. So when I place the hens in the oven some say use foil to to make a tent over the hens please help me.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Deborah,

      I only use the foil if I’m making say a turkey or a large chicken. The purpose of the foil is to prevent the skin from burning before the meat is cooked. But with these being so small you really need the foil. However it’s still wise to keep an eye out on it. The skin will be browned and crispy but not burnt. If you find it does start to burn you can just put a tent of foil over top but if that happens I would test your oven temperature with a thermometer to make sure that it’s registering correctly and not running hot.

      You got this 🙂

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Deborah Ervin says:

    Hi this is first time trying to cook cornish hens I like the ldeal of using the season butter. So when I place the hens in the oven some say use some foil to to make a tent over the hens please help me.

  • Deborah says:

    Hi this is first time trying to cook cornish hens I like the ldeal of using the season butter. So when I place the hens in the oven some say use some foil to to make a tent over the hens please help me.

  • Renee says:

    Going to make for the first time. I was going to stuff with wild rice. Would that effect the cooking time or taste?


    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Renee!

      I’m thinking no; if anything it would add another layer of flavor. Now I’m assuming you stuffing it with cooked/seasoned rice, right?. I would check it after 45 minutes total baking time just to be sure.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Andrew says:

    hello, are you able to prepare the hens over night and then just throw in the oven when ready the next day? and do you need to adjust the amounts for the other ingredients if you’re only making 4 hens?

    Thank you.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Andrew!

      Yes you can prep them the night before (you mean by adding the butter rub, right?). Of course, just cover with plastic wrap then back as normal. As for making 4, yes you can reduce the mixture by a third or mix it all up, remove a third of the butter mixture and save for another time.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Charity says:

    Yum!! I made this recipe with 4 Cornish hens for Thanksgiving. I loved the flavor, but mine didn’t brown very much. This was my first time cooking Cornish hens. I will definitely make these again with a few tweaks.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Charity!

      What you could do at the very end of cooking is broil for maybe a minute or two just to get that ‘browned’ skin. I’m so happy though you loved these!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Rose L. says:

    I’m cooking hens now for 7 and I think your recipe is going to be Devine. Should I add more cooking time because I’m cooking so many at one time.
    Thanks so much!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Rose!

      You shouldn’t have to. As long as they fit into your oven in a single row (meaning not stacked on top of one another) you’ll be fine. You can always take one out 5-10 minutes early and check the temp.

      Happy Thanksgiving and Best Kitchen Wishes!

      • Pam says:

        I have a 2 lb Cornish Hen. I know how long to roast it if wasn’t more than 1 lb 2 oz, but I can’t find any roasting instructions for a 2 lb Cornish Hen. Not even the Tyson website shows roasting instructions for more than 1 lb 2 oz and it’s their bird. I also find roasing temps from 325 to 400.

  • fxdp says:

    When you stuff them, what do you stuff them with?

    • TKWAdmin says:

      I typically go with a traditional chicken stuffing – soft wheat bread, sauteed onions/celery/garlic, salt and pepper, thyme, 1 egg and a bit of chicken stock to help bind it. You, obviously, can’t make a lot of stuffing as they are so teeny.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

    • Alexandra says:

      I stuff them with uncle bens wild rice, I cook the rice first let it cook then stuff the Cornish hens- it’s delicious and everyone in my family loves them!!

  • Sharon says:

    Made only 2 cornish hens for dinner tonight (it’s raining cats and dogs and hubby can’t grill) as you suggested and they were fantastic. I have a dinner coming up in a few weeks and this will be my choice. Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Andre says:

    Just wonderful tasty tender I wrap in a loose foil bake 35minutes closed then I open the foil for another half hour. I made a sour cream cucumber salad with I will definitely make this again

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Thank you so much Andre! I’m so happy that you loved these! Oh do tell me more about your sour cream cucumber salad! Do you use dill in yours?

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Yahzmeen says:

    Do i need to reduce the time if i’m only making 2 hens?

  • Yahzmeen says:

    Do i need to reduce the time if i’m only making 2 hens

  • Maxine says:

    Well I just made this recipe and it’s not cooking yet. But it smells wonderful. I seasoned the 4cornish hens. I put in the fridge for 3hours. Because I didn’t want to cook before guest arrive. I never cook Cornish Hens because everytime I’ve had them they have been dry. Stay tuned

    • TKWAdmin says:

      I just bought 2 more cornish hens to make this weekend. I hope you love it as much as I do!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Julia says:

    Absolutely delicious. Will actually use the herb butter separately with toasted bread. Used the “fake” butter as I am dairy intolerant and it was beautiful and spectacular. I did cover the hens for first half hour so it cooked a bit more thoroughly inside as we like it. Meat fell right off the bone.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Thank you so much Julia! I just bought more cornish hens over the weekend as I’m craving these. They are so simple and delicious. I’m so happy you loved it as much as we do!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Carolyn says:

    Cook uncovered the entire time? I don’t want to serve dry birds. Thanks!!

    • TKWAdmin says:


      Hi 🙂 The bird will not be dried out due to how you massage and coat the meat under the skin. I’ve been making this recipe for decades and have not once had a dried bird.

      Covering the hens (or chicken or turkey) will prevent browning and leave the skin soft and mushy. You’re roasting the bird – thus the initial high heat then reduction to the lower heat. Roasting is defined as a dry heat method of cooking.

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you SO much! I finally learned to bake a delicious chicken. Even though I’m 35 I’ve never felt confident enough to try it until today I made this recipe for my grandmother & she really enjoyed it!
    I’m not afraid of baking chicken anymore.

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Nicole!

      OMGosh, thank you so much! You have no idea the smile you just put on my face. This, THIS is why I do this – to know that I can inspire one person to tame the kitchen and conquer a fear or gain confidence to make something. Truly, thank you! I’m thrilled you and Grandma loved it!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Tima says:

    SO yummy!!! I happened to have a fresh rosemary, thyme and basil mix from the store and used that to melt along with the butter and garlic. SO GOOD!!! I did these for Christmas dinner instead of doing a turkey! I can’t wait to do them again!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Tima!

      Thank you so very much! I’m thrilled that you loved these! I love making these when I’m craving that big roasted ‘bird’ dinner but don’t have the time to make a huge turkey. I love that you made these for Christmas too! Great thinking!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

  • Jessica Hahn says:

    Oh Kitchen Whisperer what I wouldn’t give to be your neighbor! You HAVE to write a cookbook!

    I made this on Sunday for a family dinner. The kids loved the fact that all got their own “chicken”. You made me look “fancy schmancy” as you put it!

    Love your website and facebook page!

    • TKWAdmin says:

      Hi Jessica!

      LOL sure, you can be my neighbor!

      HAHA I love that you used “fancy schmancy”! So happy everyone loved the cornish hens!

      Best Kitchen Wishes!

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