Crispy Baked Cornish Hen Recipe
Simple and quick, Baked Cornish Hens are tender, juicy and a family favorite. Easy to make with just a few ingredients, this Cornish Game Hen recipe is fast enough for a weeknight dinner and special enough for a dinner party.
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Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and I remember when I used to pull out all the stops when it came to woo-ing my now husband with my culinary powers. Now that we’re married, I like to make things simple because, chances are, Landon will be joining us at our romantic dinner for two….er, um, three.
I tend to make this Filet Mignon recipe on the regular but this year I’ll be mixing things up with this super simple Baked Cornish Hen recipe. My little guy LOVES chicken so this will be a home run for everyone. Plus, this cornish hen recipe is so easy you can rely on it for a simple weeknight dinner.
Easy Baked Cornish Hen
I kept this roasted Cornish Hen recipe super simple with just a handful of ingredients like I did for my Roasted Chicken recipe. It’s the most reliable way to ensure your hens are juicy, tender and super flavorful. AND you won’t be spending a ton of time prepping them.
They’re so fun to serve for special occasions because each person gets their own little hen or you can split them and share. Really, they’re big enough that you could share a whole hen if you round out the meal with some heartier side dishes like Potatoes au Gratin or a Twice Baked Potato.
What is a Cornish Hen?
If you’re wondering what a Cornish Game Hen is, it’s actually a breed of chicken from Cornwall, England. Cornish chickens are the most popular breed in the chicken meat industry.
They’re pretty readily available in most well stocked supermarkets and can be purchased either fresh or frozen. I like to keep a few in the freezer for those nights we want a roasted chicken but don’t want to wait forever for it to bake in the oven.
The difference between a cornish hen and a chicken is, primarily, the size of the bird at maturity. A Cornish Game Hen rarely weighs over 2 pounds whereas a roasting chicken or even a fryer chicken weigh, on average, more than 5 pounds.
Cornish hens taste exactly the same as chicken but I find that, because of their smaller size, they are much more tender and juicy. They’re also lower in fat than a whole chicken.
How To Cook Them
Cornish Hens are super simple to cook and soak up flavor like a sponge. I like to keep my roasted cornish hens rather simple with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and aromatics like fresh herbs, garlic and lemon.
To prepare your cornish hens, remove them from the wrapping and discard any of the innards that may be packed in the cavity of the bird. I, sometimes, use those pieces to make a simple pan sauce or gravy but they’re also fantastic to freeze for later to make this easy chicken stock.
Dry your hens with a paper towel but patting all over then coat liberally with olive oil. The olive oil will help the skin crisp up and become golden while roasting. Season with salt and pepper both inside and outside then arrange, breast side up, on a baking sheet.
Stuff the cavity of the hen with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs. Then, tie the legs together with kitchen twine. This will help your hens cook evenly.
You can stuff cornish hens with a traditional stuffing if you like but be sure to check the temperature at the end of cooking for doneness.
Cornish hens are done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. You’ll want to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh or through the breast to get an accurate temperature. If you’re using stuffing in your Cornish Hen, insert the thermometer into the stuffing.
How To Cook From Frozen
If you forgot to thaw your Cornish Hen, you can cook it from frozen. Just roast for 1/2 an hour, then add a pat of butter and season with salt/pepper. Continue roasting for the recommended time or until your cornish hen is fully cooked and registers 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.
What To Serve With Them
It’s easy to find side dishes for your Cornish Hen recipe because you can, basically, serve anything you’d pair with a roasted chicken.
We love to pair our pan roasted cornish hens with this roasted asparagus because it’s equally easy and you can bake it along with your hens. We also love this scalloped potatoes dish or these super easy Lyonnaise potatoes.….so buttery and amazing.
If you love this Cornish Hen recipe, you may also want to check out this easy Rotisserie style Chicken or our FAVORITE Oven Baked Chicken Breast. These easy Baked Teriyaki Chicken Breasts are always a hit, too.
Get the Recipe: Crispy Baked Cornish Hen Recipe
- 2 cornish hens
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- 4 garlic cloves
- 4-8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp fresh black pepper
- baking sheet
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Remove the innards from the cavity of the hen and discard (or freeze for later.) Pat the hens fry with a paper towel and place on a baking sheet.
- Coat the hens, liberally, with the olive oil. Season the inside and outside with salt and pepper.
- Stuff half the lemon, garlic and herbs into the cavity of the hens. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the back of the hen. (This prevents the tips from burning.)
- Roast the cornish hens for 40 minutes until the skin is golden crispy and the juices run clear. Your cornish hen is done when the temperature reaches 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.
- Remove your cornish hens from the oven and cover with foil. Allow the hens to rest for 10 minutes prior to serving.