Perfect Oven Roasted Baked Cornish Hens Recipe
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These oven roasted Cornish hens are so festive and delicious! Perfect crispy spiced golden-brown skin and juicy succulent meat – this is the only recipe for Cornish game hens you’ll ever need!
Cornish game hens are miniature chickens that are perfect for entertaining! There is something about these little game hens that makes them look so much more impressive than the plain regular roast chicken :) Especially when the Cornish hens are perfectly roasted and browned, everybody’s mouth will water when they see them on a platter, so delicious!
Baking Cornish hens in the oven is really easy. All you need to do to make perfectly roasted Cornish hens is rub them with melted butter and spices and bake in the oven for 1 hour at 400F – doesn’t get easier than that!
There are many recipes for baked Cornish hens that make things much more complicated then they need to be. For example, they require you to change the oven temperature throughout the baking process or make you constantly baste the birds with their juices. Basting is way too much work – having to open the oven, take out the Cornish hens, baste them, put them back in – that defeats the whole purpose of the oven being the lazy cooking method. If I’m baking something in the oven, I don’t want to have to deal with it until it’s completely cooked and ready to come out for good!
A great news is that this roasted Cornish hens recipe doesn’t require basting or messing with the oven in any way. Just put the Cornish hens in the oven, set the timer for 1 hour and then when the timer beeps you’ll take out perfectly crispy browned juicy birds! By the way, I also have a really easy roast turkey recipe that doesn’t require basting and makes a perfect turkey every time with virtually zero effort – check out my perfect roasted turkey recipe.
How can you get away without basting the Cornish hens? Easy – just rub them with melted butter before putting them in the oven! Melted butter keeps them moist and also makes the skin brown beautifully!
Another thing that makes these oven roasted Cornish hens so amazing is the homemade spice mix. The Cornish hens are rubbed with a mixture of Italian herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. There is something about homemade spice mixes that makes them so much more flavorful that ready-made! For another awesome spice mix recipe, check out my homemade taco seasoning recipe – once you try it, you’ll never want to use store-bought!
If you like these easy roasted Cornish hens recipe, you will also love these recipes:
Cranberry Roasted Brussels Sprouts – my favorite way of cooking brussels sprouts, these make a perfect side dish to go with Cornish hens!
Two Roasted Chickens – how to roast two chicken with potatoes at the same time, can use Cornish hens in that recipe instead of chickens!
Rainbow Roasted Vegetables – a platter of colorful roasted vegetables, their presentation is amazing, can roast at the same time as Cornish hens!
Best Ever Roasted Potatoes – the crispiest roasted potatoes, so golden brown and simply perfect!
Pomegranate Fruit Salad – so festive and colorful, perfect for any holiday gatherings!
Perfect Baked Cornish Hens Recipe
- 4 Cornish hens 1 to 1 1/2 lb each
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp Italian herbs seasoning
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper or foil.
- Make a spice mix - put salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian herbs seasoning and paprika in a cup and mix until combined.
- Rub the melted butter all over the Cornish hens.
- Sprinkle the Cornish hens with the spice mix and rub it all over the Cornish hens so it's evenly distributed.
- Put the Cornish hens on the baking sheet breast side up.
- Put the Cornish hens in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
Just a fantastic, moist and flavourful recipe! I make Cornish Hens quite often but never one that gave me results like this one. A real keeper. Not sure how to get the great golden color yours, but that is just cosmetic. This will be my go-to for hens. Thanks!
The seasoning mixture was very good although my hens didn’t turn out nearly as brown & crispy looking as yours, unfortunately!
Next time if you want them to be more brown, just Broil for 5 minutes at the end.
This was great and the rub makes it fantastic. Mine came out moist and cooked all the way through. My husband of 42 years said I can make this anytime I want which I will. Thanks for sharing.
I made this Cornish hen recipe. It was wonderful, nice and moist. Mine did get brown and the skin was crisp. What kind of Italian herbs seasoning do you use? I also made your roasted potatoes they are so good. I love your hints. It really made a difference. I will be following you, thank you.
Hi, I enjoy your recipes, very simple & comes out yummy!!
trying this with cornish hens tonight,– Question: my hen is frozen- (only cooking one for the two of us to share.) I should have pulled them out yesterday & forgot. When I cook this (hopefully its somewhat thawed by 4:30 or 5:00pm)
How long would you suggest to cook them additionally– if frozen solid? and do you normally do yours completely thawed?
Cook them until instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads at least 165F. If you don’t have thermometer, add 30 minutes to baking time. I bake them completely thawed.
Forgot–also– cover the birds with foil or not at all ?
I bake them uncovered.
No olive oil listed. Can you use it on the Cornish hens? Thank you! Gerri
Yes, you can use olive oil instead of butter!
I usually split my hens before cooking. Can that be done with this recipe as well? Looks like yours are cooked whole.
Yes, you can split them! Same cooking instructions and times.
Thanks. I figured that would be the case. I’m making these for Thanksgiving instead of a turkey, which we aren’t huge fans of. These look delicious!
Love your recipes
Made 1/2 recipe for 2 of us for thanksgiving. It was delicious. Did broil
5 min to brown up. This is a keeper
How did you split up the spices love
Do I need to crack the breasts bone or can it be put in whole? Thanks!
You can cook them whole, no need to split!
This is going to seem like a silly question but … Do these spatter all over the oven?
I’d really like to make these but cleaning my oven has become increasingly difficult for me so I don’t roast anything messy anymore.
They look absolutely delicious!
I haven’t noticed them splattering
Italian herbs seasoning… what is the name brand and where will I find it?
I like this brand: McCormick Italian Seasoning (disclosure – Amazon affiliate link).
This was absolutely amazing. Followed the directions exactly. So flavorful and juicy! My super picky child even asked for seconds. My favorite part is how easy the prep is! Thanks so much for sharing. This will be added to our dinner rotation.
This is my go-to way to make Cornish hens love your recipe Melanie
To achieve that crispy skin make sure those little birds are as dry as you can possibly get them using paper towels and allowing them to sit out till their bone dry or you can use a blow-dryer LOL this is true of any bird you make even when you’re preparing turkey
I baked the Cornish hens. They were delicious and so simple. If you want a fancy dinner with no fuss, this is definitely it!
Can I put the vegetables underneath the hens to bake and to marinate them with the spices and juices?
Yes that’s a great idea!
Thanks. I saw it on “the Kitchen” yesterday. Sunny Anderson’s recipe!
Melanie, what you said about the bother of some recipes resonated with me! I will look again on your site. The hens were savory and crispy, and prep was easy, just as you promised. Thank you.
I made two Cornish hens for Christmas dinner using your recipe, and my husband and I loved it! We both kept commenting about how moist and tasty the hen was; and by the end of our delicious meal, I suggested that from now on, we should have Cornish hens instead of turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and he wholeheartedly agreed. As the one who prepared the meal, I was delighted with the simplicity from start to finish, from prep to cleanup. No big turkey carcass or messy drippings to have to deal with afterwards, either. Want leftovers? Make two! We shared one hen and have the other plus plenty of sides left for another meal. Thanks for the great recipe and tips.
Sounds really good. Trying tonight! Thanks for all the tips! Donna
Thank you for a great simple recipe. Awesome
Tried it for the first time tonight and my husband couldn’t stop saying how great the recipe is and I certainly agree! Melanie you knocked it out of the park!
Excellent just as is! Everyone loved it!
I just cooked this as well as the roasted potatoes and both were so good. I loved the rub for the Cornish hen and mine did brown up enough for me. I wouldn’t change a thing especially the fact it took 5 minutes to get ready then baked all my itself in the oven while I cooked the rest of the meal. The meat was juicy and tender. Thanks for this wonderful recipe!!!
Thumbs up!! Phenomenal and easy recipe. This was a great hit!! Thanks so much or this awesome recipe!! Love it!!
Thumbs up!! Phenomenal and easy recipe. This was a great hit!! Thanks so much for this awesome recipe!! Love it!!