Roasted Cornish Hens

  • Roasted Cornish Hens or otherwise called “game hens” are small birds perfect for impressing guests. They are smaller in size making them a great choice for smaller gatherings. Coated in savory seasonings and roasted on top of potatoes for a meal fit for a king!

    Overhead view of roasted cornish hens over potatoes in a cast iron skillet.

    If you are having a small gathering or even a date night in and are looking for a dish to impress these roasted cornish hens will do the trick! They are found in your freezer section where you would find frozen turkeys and are so easy to make. I also like to make this Homemade Oven Roasted Rotisserie Chicken or even this Sweet Potato and Stuffing Turkey Roulade.

    Tell Me About These Roasted Cornish Hens

    • Take less time to roast than regular chickens
    • Anyone can make this dish…..it’s super easy!
    • No carving skills needed. Just cut each bird in half and serve!
    • Perfect for serving a small guest list
    • The meat is so tender
    • And the potatoes soak up so much flavor while cooking beneath the hens
    Overhead view of ingredients needed to make these roasted cornish hens.

    Ingredients

    It’s a pretty straight forward ingredient list! 2 cornish hens, potatoes (I like to use Yukon gold for this dish but russets will do great too), and the spices. You will need season salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and a little cayenne pepper.

    Four pictures showing the steps to make the hens.

    The How To

    Just like the ingredient list, it’s pretty simple!

    Mix together the spices and set aside. Cut the washed potatoes into large cubes (about 1″) and place in a cast iron skillet or a 9×13 pan. Toss the potatoes with a little oil and a little seasoning mix.

    Coat the hens in oil and sprinkle with seasoning mix, Place on top of potatoes. Bake at 425 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.

    Allow the hens to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.

    To serve: cut each bird in half and serve with potatoes. You can also carve each bird if desired.

    Overhead view of cornish hen pieces on a plate with roasted potatoes and a green salad.

    FAQs

    WHAT ARE CORNISH HENS?

    Cornish hens are a breed of chicken that is served at a young age compared to regular chickens. They are not a true game bird. They are much smaller in size; 1.5-2 pounds versus 5 pounds so they are perfect for serving to a small guest list or even cooking them for yourself.

    WHAT DOES CORNISH HEN TASTE LIKE?

    They taste very similar to regular chicken but are more tender because they are butchered at a younger age.

    HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER CORNISH HEN?

    Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    Tips and Variations

    • Be sure to pat the hen dry before brushing with oil. This helps ensure crispy skin.
    • Use bacon grease or butter in place of the oil for a different flavor.
    • Add fresh herbs and lemon to the cavity while roasting.
    • Add some carrots to the skillet along with the potatoes.
    • Replace the potatoes with sweet potatoes or a different root vegetable.
    Close up of roasted potatoes with the cornish hen on a plate.

    What To Serve With Roasted Cornish Hens

    There are a lot of options! You may need to cut some of these recipes in half to serve 4 people. Here are a few ideas for side dishes. Don’t forget to check out my desserts too!

    VEGETABLES:
    Corn Casserole
    Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake
    Homemade Green Bean Casserole
    Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
    Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots

    SALADS:
    Simple side salad
    Cranberry Fluff Salad
    Spinach, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
    Broccoli, Bacon, and Grape Salad
    Wilted Spinach and Bacon Salad

    HOMEMADE BREAD:
    Cottage Cheese Crescent Rolls
    Honey Wheat Rolls
    Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits
    Rosemary Parmesan Bread
    Buttermilk Cornbread

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    Roasted Cornish Hens
    Prep Time
    20 mins
    Cook Time
    1 hr
    Total Time
    1 hr 20 mins
     

    Roasted Cornish Hens or otherwise called "game hens" are small birds perfect for impressing guests. They are smaller in size making them a great choice for smaller gatherings. Coated in savory seasonings and roasted on top of potatoes for a meal fit for a king!

    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: cornish game hen, cornish hen
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 242 kcal
    Author: Malinda Linnebur
    Ingredients
    • ½ tablespoon season salt
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
    • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
    • teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
    • 2 pounds (905g) potatoes (yukon gold or russets)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 (1.5lb)(680g) cornish hens
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine the salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl; set aside.

    2. Wash potatoes and pat dry. Cut into 1" cubes and place in a 12" cast iron skillet or 9×13 baking pan. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of reserved salt mixture.

    3. Pat the cornish hens dry. Brush hens with remaining oil coating entire surface. Sprinkle with remaining salt mixture. Place on top of the potatoes. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting.

    Recipe Notes
    1. TO SERVE: Cut each bird in half and serve.
    2. STORAGE: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
    Nutrition Facts
    Roasted Cornish Hens
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 242 Calories from Fat 63
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 7g11%
    Saturated Fat 1g6%
    Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
    Monounsaturated Fat 5g
    Cholesterol 1mg0%
    Sodium 887mg39%
    Potassium 979mg28%
    Carbohydrates 41g14%
    Fiber 5g21%
    Sugar 2g2%
    Protein 5g10%
    Vitamin A 277IU6%
    Vitamin C 45mg55%
    Calcium 31mg3%
    Iron 2mg11%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the information shown is just an estimate.
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