Herb Roasted Cornish Hen

Either for date night or family Sunday, nothing beats a fresh oven-roasted bird! Cornish hens are flavorful little birds that are begging to be roasted with some butter and fresh herbs.

About this Recipe

By: Kelli South

I LOVE cornish hens! They are so easy to make and it is the perfect amount of food for 2.  It is a little smaller than a rotisserie chicken you would typically pick up at the grocery store.   What is awesome about their size is that you get a little piece of meat from all sections of the bird.

  • 1 Cornish Hen, thawed
  • 6 Tbsp Salted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp Fresh Oregano, chopped
  • 1 tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Fresh Sage, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Seasoning Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp  Pepper 
For my herb mixture, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage, I get the organic poultry mix at Mariano’s.  In the vegetable department, they always have fresh herbs and most of the year they have a poultry blend with all four herbs in it.  Not only is it convenient, it’s organic!  Start by chopping up all the herbs and mixing them together with the seasonings and butter.  Then, rub all the butter over the hen, covering it with a nice even coating.  After slathering your bird, lay it on a roasting pan, breast sides up!  If you are not sure which side it is by looking at it, an easy way to figure it out is to find the spine.  Lay the bird spine side down.
I have a “makeshift” roaster pictured above.  Because the cornish hens are so small, they do not fit in my regular sized roaster and I have to create my own.  I lined a 1 inch deep pan with foil and placed a roasting pan over it…easy!  Place your hen in a 375 degree preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, crank up the temperature to 425.  The higher temperature will help the skin get more crispy.   Bake the hen at 425 degrees for an additional 20-30 minutes.  Make sure the temperature of the hen reaches 160 degrees.  I like to keep my bird in for 30 minutes to get the skin even more crispy.  Let the hen rest for at least 15 minutes before digging in.  Letting the bird rest will allow it to re-soak up its juices and not be running liquid when you cut into it.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Remove hen from packaging and dry with paper towels.  Allow to dry, uncovered, in the fridge or at room temperature for 2 hours.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix together butter, oil, herbs, and seasonings (AKA everything but the hen).

Step 3

Spread your butter mixture evenly on every surface of the hen.  Place hen, breast sides up, on either a roaster or sheet rack.  (I have a picture and example up in my blog)

Step 4

Bake for 1 hour.  DO NOT BASTE! Basting will make the herbs fall off.

Step 5

After 1 hour, turn up heat to 425 and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until the hen reaches an internal temperature of 160.  Let rest 15 minutes before carving.

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