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How to Cook Cornish Hens in the Oven

How to Cook Cornish Hens in the Oven

Cornish hens are the ultimate dinner hack for times when you want to do less but display more. Their small sizes easily pop out in plates, and are the delicious flavor is also worth the wait. Cornish hens are great for menus you wish to offer at dates, small parties, romantic dinners, and even holidays table spreads. And they’re pretty easy to prepare, plus you can manipulate the recipe as you will for regular chicken dishes.

Cornish hens are a notably smaller breed of chicken, usually presented around 1.5 to two pounds. And since they’re smaller chickens, the taste is pretty much the same. But Cornish hens come with a perk that may make you altogether boycott their larger counterparts. With a single Cornish hen in a dish, you get an entire breast, two drumsticks, and everything expected in a chicken, minus the messy carving!

How to Cook Cornish Hens in the Oven (2)

Oven-Cooked Cornish Hens- What You’ll Need

Cooking Cornish hens is so easy; it’s becoming a favorite among many poultry enthusiasts out there. And the recipe is pretty straightforward, too, with only a few ingredients being compulsory. The rest, however, can be manipulated as you please. Plus, if you already love cooking chicken, you can transfer your preferred ideas to the Cornish hens.

Here are essential ingredients you need to prepare a delicious plate of Cornish hens;

Oil-Oil helps to cook the hens in the oven, and any type would do. Though the most preferred is olive oil, you can also use safflower, avocado, sunflower, or canola.

Fresh Herbs-For a more robust flavor, you’ll need to include fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or any other fresh herbs you prefer. If you’re using parsley, only sprinkle it as a garnish.

Aromatics-Laying the Cornish hens on a bed of onions, shallots, garlic, or cloves infuses both flavor aromas to the meat. And, you can also stuff the cavity with these ingredients as well.

Lemon- For an extra dose of zing to your Cornish hen, lemons make a great addition. You can place slices on the skin or lay them along with the aromatics.

Spices and Seasonings- Options for this include paprika, pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, black pepper, and any other spice or seasonings you’d prefer. These ingredients are combined to make the dry rub, so you can make it as you wish.

Cooking Cornish Hen in the Oven

To cook Cornish hens in the oven,

Set the oven to preheat at 425F. While you wait, continue with the other preparations.

Season the Hens with the dry rub and drizzle with olive oil. Then, place the hens on the baking pan and arrange the aromatics and lemon slices around it.

Cook the Hensuncovered for about 50 minutes, and make sure to check for the internal temperature. When the thermometer hits an internal temperature of 165F at the thickest breast, the hen is ready. Rest the Cornish hens for 20 minutes before you serve with more lemon slices. Save the pan juice and drizzle it over the hens for more deliciousness.

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Oven-Roasted Cornish Hens (4 Servings)

  • Author: Bobby


  • Two Cornish hens, 1.5 pounds each
  • Six cloves garlic
  • Four sprigs thyme
  • Two tablespoons olive oil
  • Two sprigs rosemary
  • One large onion, quartered
  • One lemon, sliced

Dry Rub

  • One tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Two teaspoons smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Pepper
  • Salt


  1. Pat the Cornish hens with paper towels to dry them. Then, combine the dry rub ingredients and generously apply them to the hens with your fingers. Apply the rubs to the inside cavity as well.
  2. Set the oven to 425F and arrange the onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and half of the lemon slices in the baking pan. Next, place the hens on the herb bed, and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Bake the hens in the oven for 50minutes to one hour, or until the internal temperature reads 165F at the thickest breast.  Then, set them down to rest for 20 minutes. Save the pan juices for garnish.
  4. Use a cleaver or very sharp long knife to cut from the middle into two halves. Place the blade at the breast and steadily force it down with controlled slicing moves till you slice through.
  5. Serve each half with an herb garnish and a drizzle of the pan juices.

For more instructions, click on this video recipe.