Cornish Hen Recipe
This Cornish Game Hen Recipe is the perfect Thanksgiving alternative to a turkey this year. Tender, flavorful, and so easy, roasted on a bed of veggies for the perfect one-pan meal!
Why We Love This Cornish Hen Recipe
Preparing a lavish Thanksgiving dinner is complicated, but there are certain things that can make it even harder to handle. Sometimes, you just don’t want to make a full turkey! It is complicated to thaw and roast… Or you just might not want turkey this year. That is where this easy Cornish Game Hen recipe comes in!
I highly recommend making this recipe on Thanksgiving if:
- You don’t like turkey.
- Your family is not coming into town.
- You need an easy main dish for just a few people.
Cornish hens are similar to roast chicken, but smaller, so they are super easy to pop into the oven and make in no time! Especially if you are only cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a few people, these are an amazing and delicious option.
You can serve each person their own little bird, or have the butcher half them for you, like I did! That way, each person gets a wing, thigh, breast, and drumstick. Plus, I roasted these with a bunch of veggies for an easy built-in side dish!
This Cornish Hen Recipe will serve 2-4 people with a side of buttery herbed veggies in the bottom of the pan. Add a small portion of cranberry relish, 1 or 2 extra sides, and a dessert, and Thanksgiving dinner is served!
Ingredients You Need
- Baby Potatoes – or whole potatoes, diced into pieces.
- Carrots – roughly chopped.
- Olive Oil – to coat the veggies.
- Onion – for added flavor!
- Cornish Game Hens – whole or cut in half by the butcher.
- Butter – softened to room temperature.
- Lemon Zest – to add flavor to the skin of the hens.
- Thyme – fresh or dried.
- Rosemary – fresh or dried.
- Parsley – fresh is best here, but dried will also do.
- Garlic – freshly minced garlic.
- Salt & Pepper – to taste!
How to Make Roasted Cornish Game Hens
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place a rack in the upper middle position.
In a 9×13-inch baking dish, add the potatoes, carrots, and onion. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste.
In a small bowl, mix the butter, lemon zest, fresh herbs, and garlic together with a fork. Set aside.
Pat the game hens dry with a paper towel, then rub the herb butter over the game hens, coating on all sides. Salt and pepper liberally and lay all four pieces on top of the veggies.
Roast for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and baste. Then continue to roast for another 20 minutes, until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork. Allow the hens to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving and enjoy!
Tips & Tricks
- Check the temperature of the hen after taking it out of the oven in the thickest part of the thigh. The internal temperature should be at least 165 F!
- After taking the vegetables from the roasting pan with a slotted spoon, use the pan drippings to make gravy!
- If you are cooking your cornish hens whole (instead of halved like mine), you can place fresh herbs like sprigs of fresh rosemary and lemon wedges into the cavity to make it more flavorful!
To serve at Thanksgiving or any other special occasion, these Cornish hens can go with so many different sides to make an absolutely decadent meal! Pair it along with some of my personal favorites:
- Cornbread Stuffing Cups
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Mushroom Rice Pilaf
- Yeast Rolls
- Holiday Gravy
Frequently Asked Questions
This is totally up to you! Since I pause the baking process in the middle to baste, I don’t think covering the hens is necessary. You don’t want the hens to dry out, but you do want to get a nice crispy skin on them! Start the baking process without covering them. Then, after about 25 minutes you can cover them with aluminum foil if they are getting too much color.
Like all poultry, Cornish hens need to be cooked to 165 degrees F! After baking, check the internal temperature of your hens with a meat thermometer in a few different spots to ensure that it is done throughout.
Store any leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave until heated through!
Looking for More Holiday Recipes to Try? Be Sure to Also Try:
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Whole Chicken with Herbs
- Dutchess Potatoes
- Butternut Squash Casserole
- Homemade Mac & Cheese
Cornish Game Hen Recipe + VIDEO
- 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes halved if larger than 2 inches long
- 1 pound carrots cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 large onion cut into 8 wedges
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 Cornish Game Hens halved by your butcher
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 6 sprigs thyme leaves removed
- 2 sprigs rosemary leaves removed
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place a rack in the upper middle position.
- In a 9×13-inch baking dish, place the potatoes, carrots and onion. Toss with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- In a small bowl, mix the butter, lemon zest, fresh herbs, and garlic together with a fork. Set aside.
- Pat the game hens dry with a paper towel, then rub the herb butter over the game hens coating on all sides. Salt and pepper liberally and lay all four pieces on top of the veggies.
- Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste. Then continue to roast for another 20 minutes, until the juices run clear when pricked with a fork. Allow the hens to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.