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Roasted cornish hen on a serving platter with sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Roasted Cornish Hen


This roasted Cornish hen recipe delivers tender juicy chickens with golden crispy skins. Prep the hens in 10 minutes then bake. This is an easy recipe that produces savory, elegant-looking chickens.


  • 2 Cornish hen (about 1.5 pounds each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 Lemon
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

GARNISHES: Flaky sea salt + sprigs of fresh rosemary



RECIPE PREP: Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse Cornish hens in the sink under cold running water. Pat the hens dry between paper towels.

  1. Arrange chickens on a rimmed baking tray or in a large baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil with all the dried spices: salt, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and ground black pepper. Drizzle the mixture onto the Cornish hens. With your hands, rub the mixture all over the hens, coating all sides equally well.  
  3. Fill the cavity of each chicken with 2 quarters of an onion, one clove of garlic, half the carrot, and half the celery. With a fork, pierce the skin of the lemon all over. Quarter the lemon with a knife. Add 2 wedges of lemon and 1 sprig rosemary to each cavity. 
  4. With kitchen twine, tie the legs together on each hen. Tuck the wings under the bird to prevent them from burning in the oven. Roast the hens for 50 to 55 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the flesh (away from bones) registers 165°F. After 25 minutes of roasting, baste the hens with juices from the pan. 
  5. Remove hens from the oven. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Let the hens rest for 10 minutes. We want to allow enough time for the juices in the center to travel throughout the bird for a juicer meat experience.

HOW TO SERVE ROASTED CORNISH HEN: Garnish chickens with flaky sea salt and fresh herbs. Serve warm chickens whole or carved.


HOW TO DEFROST CORNISH HENS: See the body of post for the 2 best methods (and complete instructions) for defrosting the chickens.

HOW TO INCREASE FLAVOR AND JUICINESS: Instead of olive oil, use fresh bacon fat to increase umami flavor. Loosen the skins by tucking 2 to 3 fingers beneath the surface. Slightly lift up the skin. Spread additional spice rub on the meat beneath the skin. Slip in a pat of butter and a slice of juicy lemon to increase moisture. Add a sprig of rosemary for added flavor.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN CHICKEN IS DONE: To avoid food-borne illness, the USDA states the internal temperature must reach 165°F. Use an instant-read kitchen thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the breast away from bones.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 Minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Roasted Cornish Hen, Baked Cornish Hens, Cornish Hen Recipe