Cornish Game Hens are small birds coated in a lemony garlic and rosemary mixture, stuffed with more lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and baked over red potatoes and onions. For a full-size chicken, be sure to try my Roasted Chicken.
Cornish Game Hens
Cornish Game Hens are petite birds that are a cross between Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chickens. They are usually between 1-2 pounds and fit easily onto a dinner plate. Most bone-in chicken recipes can be adapted to work for Cornish game hens. The game hens are tender, juicy, and elegant to serve.
Cornish Game Hens Ingredients
This recipe has three parts–the vegetables, Cornish game hens, and the cavity filling.
Vegetables: I went with red potatoes in this recipe and left the skins on. Leaving the skins on the potatoes saves you a lot of time and can add a little nutritional value, as well as some ‘character’. I also added yellow onions to the pan.
Cornish Game Hens: As stated, Cornish game hens have to be between 1-2 pounds (we used 1 1/2 pound game hens). You can find them at your local grocery store (most oftentimes in the freezer section) or butcher shop. Be sure the game hens are completely thawed before cooking them.
Rub and Cavity Fillings: The outside and inside of each game hen will be coated in a lemon, garlic, and rosemary mixture. These ingredients will also be inserted into the cavities of both game hens.
Garlic: For the coating, use minced garlic. For the cavity filling, use cloves of garlic with the paper removed.
Lemon: You will only need one large lemon for this recipe. Cut the lemon in half lengthwise. Juice one half of the lemon (about a tablespoon of lemon juice); cut the other half of the lemon lengthwise into wedges. They need to be thin enough wedges to insert into the cavities of the game hens.
Preparing the Vegetables
Since we are leaving the skins on the potatoes, make sure you wash them really well before cutting them. Quarter each potato and put them into a large oven-safe roasting pan. Then, quarter the onions and place them into the pan with the potatoes. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
How to Make Cornish Game Hens
Once the potatoes and onions are in the pan, place the Cornish game hens on top of the vegetables. Next, in a medium bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice from half a lemon, minced garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Rub the mixture over the outside of the game hens as well as inside the cavities of both hens.
Then, insert the lemon wedges (from the other half of the lemon), fresh rosemary, and garlic cloves into the cavities of the hens. Finally, tuck the wing tips under the hens to prevent burning. Use cooking twine to tie the legs together. (more information below)
Bake the hens for 50-60 minutes, or until a digital thermometer reads a temperature of 165°F and the potatoes are fork-tender. Transfer the hens to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes before carving. Serve warm, garnished with fresh rosemary.
How to Tie Cornish Game Hens
There are a couple of methods to tying cornish game hens. One way is to truss a cornish hen, which is a more secure and specific tying technique than I used here. The method I used was simply tucking the wings under the bird and tying the drumsticks together with cooking twine. This helps ensure even cooking for the best results.
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Cornish Game Hens
Cornish Game Hens are small birds coated in a lemony garlic and rosemary mixture, stuffed with more lemon, garlic, and rosemary, and baked over red potatoes and onions.
- 1 pound (5-6 medium) red potatoes, rinsed and quartered
- 2 small yellow onions, quartered
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large lemon, cut in half lengthwise, divided
- 2 Cornish game hens, 1½ pounds each
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
- 1 head garlic, paper removed (about 8-10 cloves), divided
- fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 425°F.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, add potatoes and onions. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Cut the lemon in half lengthwise. Juice ½ of the lemon for the oil mixture (you will need about a tablespoon of lemon juice). Slice the second half of the lemon into 4 wedges, lengthwise, to be inserted into the cavities of the game hens.
Place game hens breast side up on top of the vegetables.
In a medium bowl combine oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Spread this mixture on the outside and inside the cavity of the hens.
Insert 2 lemon wedges, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and about 4 garlic cloves into the cavity of each hen.
Tuck wing tips under the hen to prevent burning and use cooking twine to tie the drumsticks together.
Roast the game hens in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the hens are golden brown and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F and potatoes are fork-tender.
Transfer the hens to a serving platter and tent with foil. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve warm.