Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (2024)

Take me to the Recipe

This Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe involves roasting a spatchco*cked bird to golden perfection and serving it with savory bacon gravy. Seasoned & basted with an herb infused butter to create the most succulent and flavorful roasted Cornish hens.

While you’re here be sure to check out this Juicy and Tender Oven Roasted Chicken and this Garlic Butter Seafood Boil!

Jump to:
  • Why You Will Love This Cornish Hens Recipe:
  • What is a Cornish hen?
  • How is Cornish hen different from chicken?
  • Ingredients you need:
  • Instructions to Make Herb Butter Cornish Hens:
  • Alternatives and Variations:
  • Pro-Tips:
  • Storing and Reheating:
  • FAQ:
  • More Chicken Recipes to Try
  • 📖 Recipe
  • Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook when you make this recipe! I would love to see your creation, and give you ashoutout!
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (1)

These Herb Butter Cornish Hens are one of our favorite things to make when we have guest over. They are the perfect size and selection for serving. Moreover, they are easy to prepare and cook in a breeze!

Why You Will Love This Cornish Hens Recipe:

Affordable! You can grab cornish hens from the meat department of grocery stores. They are usually near the chicken.

Flavorful! This oven roasted cornish game hen always turns out super moist and tender.

Faster! Cornish game hens are much smaller than whole chickens. So the cooking time is significantly less than the time it takes to roast a whole chicken.

Great for Special Occasions! Whether it's the holiday season or a special dinner party, this is the perfect entree.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (2)

What is a Cornish hen?

Cornish hens, also known as Cornish game hens, are a smaller breed of chickens from Cornwall, an English county.

How is Cornish hen different from chicken?

So, what is so special about game hens? These small chickens are preferred because they are delicately flavored, super tender, and cook faster than regular chicken. When fully matured, these game birds are about half the size of a regular chicken.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (3)

What is the spatchco*ck cooking technique?

With this particular cornish hen recipe, we used the spatchco*ck technique. By definition, spatchco*ck means to split open and dress to prepare for grilling.

Furthermore, the spatchco*ck technique is perfect for the herb butter Cornish hens because it ensures even cooking. It also helps provide an even golden brown skin for the roasted hens.

Ingredients you need:

  • 2 whole Cornish hens: They are usually about 1.5-2 pounds each.
  • Unsalted butter: Use unsalted so you can control the amount of sodium. You could use olive oil but butter flavor is so mouthwatering and rich.
  • Fresh Herbs: Thyme has an earthy, subtle minty flavor.
  • Ground Herb: Ground sage has a bold, peppery taste.
  • Chicken stock: This helps the skin crisp up as it bakes.
  • Seasoning: I season the bird with seasoning salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (4)
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (5)

Bacon Gravy

Serve your cornish hens with bacon gravy for a savory addition! Bacon gravy requires hearty bacon, that will stand-up to being fried and chopped.

Instructions to Make Herb Butter Cornish Hens:

How to Spatchco*ck a Cornish Hen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish or roasting pan with non-stick spray.

Clean the Cornish hens by removing any giblets. Using kitchen shears, cut down each side of the back bone. Start at the neck and cut down to the tail. Remove the backbone and open up the hen.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (6)
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (7)

Prepare Herb Butter & Season Cornish Hen

Mix the softened butter, fresh rosemary, thyme, and ground sage in a small bowl until well combined.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (8)
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (9)

Loosen the skin of the hens with a finger, and evenly distribute the infused butter under the skin of each one. Reserve 2 tablespoons of butter to rub over the top and baste the hens with.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (10)

Lay the Cornish hens flat and season the front and back liberally with the seasoning salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

How to cook cornish hens

Add the chicken stock directly into the baking dish. Bake the cornish hens for about one hour, and according to recipe instructions, check on them after 30 minutes to baste them with the pan juices.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (11)

The hen is done when it is golden brown, and the wings or legs are tender when you gently pull them. Enjoy this easy cornish hen recipe!

How to Make the Savory Bacon Gravy:

Fry the bacon until completely cooked, set aside. Reserve the bacon grease in the skillet. Add the chopped onions to the bacon grease and cook until they become translucent about 5-10 minutes.

Once the onions are translucent, add the flour to the skillet. Use a whisk to mix the flour in with the grease. After the grease is fully absorbed by the flour, slowly begin to add chicken stock.

Continue whisking the flour and chicken stock until there are no longer lumps of flour. The onions will provide a bit of texture. Add more chicken stock or water to thin the gravy out if it becomes too thick.

Once the flour is fully incorporated into the gravy, add the bacon back into the skillet. Add the seasoning and then mix well. Enjoy this alongside the cornish hen recipe.

Alternatives and Variations:

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (12)

Pro-Tips:

  • Before seasoning the hens, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. This makes it easier for the skin to get crispy.
  • One hen is enough for one hearty serving or two servings.
  • This Savory Bacon Gravy makes an awesome gift to send guests home with. Once the gravy is prepared and cooled, simply place it in 8 ounce jars. Decorate the jars with festive holiday labels and bows.
Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (13)

What to Serve with this Cornish Hens Recipe:

Upgrade your meal from a dinner to a feast with a few sides:

  • Sweet Cast Iron Cornbread
  • Southern Cornbread Dressing
  • Creamy Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole
  • Cheesy Bacon Ranch Scalloped Potatoes
  • Southern Collard Greens
  • Southern Macaroni and Cheese
  • Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Storing and Reheating:

Store leftover cornish hen in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat it in the microwave.

We love to use leftover bacon gravy the next day for breakfast. Store it in the refrigerator for up to one week. Reheat it over low heat on the stove.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (14)

FAQ:

Should Cornish hens be cooked breast up or breast down?

Roast them breast side up. This maximizes the skin's exposure to the heat for a perfectly golden brown skin.

How long should I cook my Cornish hen?

Cornish hens take about one hour to cook when roasted at 350°F. But you can use a meat thermometer to determine if it's done. The meat is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

Where can I find cornish hens for this recipe?

Premium Cornish Hens are available at your local Walmart stores. While at my local Walmart, I found them in the middle section of the meat department.

How do you keep Herb Butter Cornish Hens from drying out?

Allow the cooked hen to rest for about ten minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to redistribute for moist, succulent meat. Adding butter to the hens is also helpful to keep them moist and tender.

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (15)

More Chicken Recipes to Try

  • Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs
  • Best Grilled Chicken Wings
  • Baked Chicken Legs
  • Smothered Chicken with Grit

📖 Recipe

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (16)

Yield: 2 Hens

Herb Butter Cornish Hens w/ Bacon Gravy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

This Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe involves roasting a spatchco*cked bird to golden perfection and serving it with savory bacon gravy. Seasoned & basted with an herb infused butter to create the most succulent and flavorful roasted Cornish hens.

Ingredients

Cornish Hens

  • 2 whole Cornish hens
  • 1 stick Unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Thyme
  • ½ cup Chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Seasoning salt
  • ½ tablespoon Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon Onion powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x11 baking dish with non-stick spray.
  2. Clean the cornish hens by removing any giblets. Using kitchen shears, cut down each side of the back bone of the cornish hen. Start at the neck, and cut down to the tail. Remove the backbone and open up the hen.
  3. Lay the cornish hens flat and season the front and back liberally with the seasoning salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  4. Mix the butter, fresh rosemary, thyme, and ground sage in a small bowl until well combined.
  5. Loosen the skin of the hens with a finger, and evenly distribute the infused butter under the skin on each one. Reserve 2 tablespoons of butter to rub over the top and baste the hens with.
  6. Add the chicken stock directly into the baking dish. Bake the hens for about one hour, check on them after 30 minutes to baste with juices.
  7. Hen is done when it is golden brown, and the wings or legs are tender when you gently pull them.

Notes

There is a loose flap of skin near the bottom of the breast. Cut a slit on both sides of this area to insert each leg into. This just helps keep the legs in place for a beautiful presentation.

Cooking times may vary by the size of the hens and different oven settings.

Click here for the Savory Bacon Gravy recipe.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 365Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 130mgSodium: 271mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 30g

This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog and tag me in your photo on Instagram or Facebook!

Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook when you make this recipe! I would love to see your creation, and give you ashoutout!

Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe (2024)

FAQs

Do you have to cover Cornish hens when baking? ›

Roast, uncovered, basting frequently with butter for 1 hour (if hen weighs over 1lb 2oz, roast 1 hour and 15 minutes) or until internal temperature on instant read thermometer reaches 180°F when inserted into inner thigh.

What makes Cornish hens so good? ›

Their flavor is often described as rich and moist with a hint of sweetness. Because they're harvested so young, Cornish hens' meat is exceptionally tender. Their high skin-to-meat ratio makes them remarkably succulent too. Cornish hens are as versatile as conventional chickens, but cook faster and feel more special.

Should I dry brine a Cornish hen? ›

Pat Cornish Hen dry and season liberally with dry brine over a sheet pan with a rack ( juices will come out of the hen because of the dry brine). Dry brine Cornish Hen for 4 hours.

Can you microwave an entire Cornish hen to cook it thoroughly Why or why not? ›

Because they are so small (usually about 20 ounces) it is quite simple. Place one or two hens on a microwave safe rack set in a baking dish (About 8X12 inches in size). Cover with a piece of wax paper and cook on high about 14 minutes or until the juices run clear rotating the dish once during the cooking.

Do you cook Cornish hens breast up or down? ›

Place hens in a roasting pan, breast sides up. Place 2 thyme sprigs and 1 lemon half in cavity of each hen. Loosen skin from breast, and place remaining thyme and the parsley underneath.

How do you keep Cornish hens from drying out? ›

Place in oven and roast for 45 minutes or until meat tested with a digital meat thermometer registers 180 F. Tips: To prevent loss of moisture, let chicken rest for 5 to 8 minutes before carving. To maintain a crispy, crunchy skin, do not tent bird with foil after removal from oven.

What is the best way to eat Cornish hens? ›

Because of their small size, Cornish hens are perfect as a serving for one person or split in half when served with some delicious sides. I love pairing this easy roasted Cornish hen recipe with my Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes; Italian Oven Roasted Vegetables; or Brussels sprouts...

Is Cornish hen healthier than regular chicken? ›

Because they are butchered young, some find the taste of Cornish Game Hen to be more tender compared to regular chicken. Cornish game hens are fairly lean, with half of a hen (120 grams or about 4 ounces), meat only, providing 139 calories, 24 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fat.

Can you brine Cornish hens too long? ›

The meat is tender and flavorful, and absolutely the best I've ever had! Don't leave the hens in the brine for too long, or the meat will be too salty.

How long should you brine Cornish hens overnight? ›

Place the hens in the brine, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Remove hens from the brine and rinse well inside and out; pat dry. Rub skin all over with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Why are Cornish hens so expensive? ›

Why are Cornish hens so expensive? Part of the price is due to its decades-old reputation as an exotic new bird (though it really isn't). It's been marketed as a fancy alternative to chicken and so manufacturer's can get away with charging such a steep price.

How can you tell if a Cornish hen is bad? ›

Fresh raw chicken should have a pink hue to it with fat parts being white. If the color fades, it's looking yellow or gray in color, has mold or a different color tinge, it's no longer safe to eat.

How do you know when a Cornish hen is done? ›

Roast the hens in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear. Remove the hens from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before carving or serving.

Should Cornish hens be room temp before cooking? ›

Half an hour before you plan to cook, bring the chickens to room temperature. Using butcher's twine, tie the chicken legs together at the ankles. Cover the wing tips with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

What temperature is Cornish hen cooked? ›

An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 minutes before slicing.

Do you need to remove anything from a Cornish hen? ›

Some Cornish game hens come with giblets and some do not. If yours does, you need to remove them from the cavity before cooking. After we rub them down with oil, I place the Cornish hens in a 9x13 baking dish, I combine the seasonings in a small bowl, and I season both sides.

What temperature is a Cornish hen breast done? ›

Roast in a 425 degrees F heated oven for 1 hour (or until the hens are cooked through and juices run clean), basting every 15 minutes with the broth. If you have a cooking thermometer, cooked Cornish hens will have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Allow the Cornish game hens to rest before serving.

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