Roasted Cornish Hens

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the elements of cooking I am trying to perfect is being able to utilize leftovers to minimize my grocery budget. My favorite way of achieving this goal so far is by roasting chickens. Cole and I only like the white meat when the chicken is initially roasted, but we are perfectly fine with utilizing the dark meat mixed in with pasta or a casserole the next day. This helps us to reduce our poultry costs since it is cheaper to use the dark meat off a chicken than it is to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts for every recipe. I also personally think that the meat is tastier and juicier when it has been roasted while still attached to the bones. 

While I could easily roast a whole chicken, I prefer to work with Cornish Hens. Cole and I are both trying to be a little healthier about portion sizes lately, and the Cornish Hens allow us a little smaller bird to work with. I typically cook three hens at a time since this size allows enough meat for us to have as a meal, and enough leftover meat to put in a different dish the next day. Cole usually eats three of the chicken breasts, and I eat the wings and one of the chicken breasts. 

Some people may be a little intimidated by the idea of roasting a full bird, but I promise this is a relatively easy task, especially when working with smaller Cornish Hens. The most difficult part of the process is carving the bird, but there are multitudes of youtube videos that can walk you through this task. My coworkers make fun of me for it, but I sometimes even make this meal on a weeknight. I wouldn’t do that if this meal wasn’t semi-simple. 


3 Cornish Hens

2 Onions

3 tsp Minced Garlic

½  cup Chicken Broth

3 tbsp Olive Oil 

½ tsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper

¼ tsp Dried Thyme 

2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Garlic Powder

¼ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

½ tsp White Pepper

Special Tools Needed

-Large Roasting Pan – The pan I use for this is 14×9 inches, but if you do not own a pan that large, you can always purchase a disposable one for a very low cost. 

-Heat Resistant Baster


1. Slice the onions into ¼ inch thick circles and arrange them on the bottom of the roasting pan. This will provide a layer for the chicken to sit on. 

2. As you open the packaging for the Cornish hens, allow the excess liquid inside the packages to flow into the bottom of the roasting pan. Add in the chicken broth in addition to this liquid. 

Kitchen Tip: If you are getting the hens directly from a butcher shop, they will most likely not be packaged with liquid. If that is the case, add in an extra ½ cup of broth to the bottom of the pan. 

3. Place a tsp of minced garlic into each of the cavities of the birds. This will allow the garlic flavor to seep into the meat from the inside out. 

4. Pat each of the hens dry with a paper towel, mix the seasonings together for a dry rub, then split the dry rub evenly over the surface of the birds. 

5. Pour a tbsp of olive oil over each of the hens. Use a basting brush to coat this evenly over the top of each one. 

6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake uncovered for 30 minutes. 

7. Take the chickens out of the oven and use the baster to pour excess liquid over each one. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes

Kitchen Tip: I am basing this recipe off of my convection oven. If your oven does not have a fan circulating the air inside, your cooking times may take a little longer than the ones listed. Keep an eye on the hens to make sure they are not getting over done if you need to cook them longer. Remember that all poultry should be 165 degrees before eating it. 

8. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before beginning to carve. This may seem like a step that could be skipped, but I promise the wait time will make the birds much easier to cut up. 

While this dish has a lengthy cooking time, it is overall pretty simple to make. If you love rotisserie chickens, but the size of a chicken intimidates you, Cornish hens can be a great way to fulfill the craving! 

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