My Perfect Cornish Game Hen

My mother preferred to cook Cornish hens instead of a Turkey during the holidays because it’s a much easier thing to do. I always loved seeing the small little bird in front of me. But I would only eat the legs, because I was  a picky eater as a child.

Now, I can easily just scarf down the entire bird on a fork. Because it’s perfect. Seriously, perfect. Let me show you how I made it.


Olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic and onions. (ignore the potatoes)


  • 1 Cornish Hen (about 1.2-1.3 lbs)
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 2 tsps. kosher salt
  • 1 tsps. pepper
  • 3 tsps. Extra virgin olive oil.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. THOROUGHLY pat dry the Cornish hen, both INSIDE and OUT. Make sure you THOROUGHLY PAT THE BIRD DRY. This is especially important because otherwise the moisture will create steam and it’s not going to be a soggy bird. (This is partly inspired by Thomas Keller’s Roast Chicken recipe)

After the bird has been thoroughly dried, I put the 2 cloves of garlic (remember to cut them in half) inside the cavity, along with 1 tsps. of kosher salt and 1/2 a tsps. of pepper. (you can always season to your taste).

I rubbed the outside lightly with extra virgin olive oil only because a little bit of fat is needed to help get the skin brown and crispy. Season the outside of the bird with salt and pepper to taste (or use the remaining measurements), and don’t forget to tuck the wings under the bird and truss the legs.


Lay the hen in the bed of sliced onions, (in the photo above, I lined the pan with parchment paper, which is my practice.) and pop the bird into the oven for about 34-40 minutes.

The way to know if the hen is done, is if you insert a food thermometer between the breast and thigh (the thickest part of the chicken) and it reads 165 degrees. If you don’t have one, you can cut between the leg and thigh and if the juices run clear, then it’s done.

Allow the hen to rest, covered in foil for about 10 minutes. The juices will remain inside the bird, it will be warm, and just amazing.


The bottom of the chicken was a bit soggy, so next time I am going to try using a roasting rack, but the onions soaked up all the fat from the hen and they were delicious. I had such a great time cooking this hen for myself. (My husband already had dinner before he came back from Queens that evening.)


The carcass can be used to make stock.

Do you know of any other ways to prepare a Cornish hen? Let me know in the comments below, because I’d love to try a new style!

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