Cornish Game Hens

I decided to go a little non-traditional this Thanksgiving, and make cornish hens instead of turkey. I’ve never made them before, and am so glad I did… they were truly incredible. Seriously. I combined two recipes, one was for a turkey breast, and have to say, it’s a brilliant combo. I will tell you there are a lot of ingredients, but don’t shy away because of that… there’s a rub for the bird, in addition to what’s put in the cavity, so it’s really pretty straight forward. I’m giving you the recipe to make two hens, so if you just want to make one, simply divide everything in half.

Cornish Game Hens


For The Cavity

  • 4 cloves garlic (2 for each hen) + 8 additional cloves garlic for arranging around hens
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (1 per hen)
  • 1 small onion, cut in half (1/2 onion per hen)
  • 4 lemon wedges (2 per hen)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (1 per hen)

Herb Rub Mix

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder

For Basting

  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Season hens with salt and pepper.
  3. Stuff hens with cavity ingredients.
  4. Generously rub herb mix all over hens and underneath skin.
  5. Arrange 8 garlic cloves around hens in small roasting pan (you don’t need a rack).
  6. Add some chicken broth to pan. I didn’t measure but made sure the bottom of pan was covered.
  7. Roast in oven for 25 minutes.
  8. Combine wine, chicken broth and olive oil in a bowl.
  9. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. and pour basting liquid over hens.
  10. Baste every 10 minutes, and continue roasting for 25 minutes longer, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear.

* To make a gravy/sauce, transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a saucepan, and boil until liquid reduces to a sauce consistency, about 8 minutes. 

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