Roasted Cornish Game Hens


It was HOT yesterday … a typical hot and humid sunny Southern Illinois summer day … ewe.  Summer time usually means I migrate from oven cooking to grill cooking to keep the kitchen cool, except for the days I get hungry for something like oven roasted meat! Yesterday was one of those day.

It was hot outside. 

My kitchen was hot. 

I was thankful for the A/C and the swimming pool. 

My mom roasted Cornish hens frequently when I was growing up – they were one of my favorite things to eat!  Cornish hens were inexpensive and went along way feeding a family of three (I’m a spoiled brat … I mean, an only child). They’re still relatively inexpensive, especially if you can find them at Aldi, and two easily feed us for dinner with enough left on the bones for a good chicken stock. That will change once Noodle becomes a teenager and starts eating me out of house and home! For now, two is perfect!

I make mine different every time, but I always start with a butter or oil base and add dried herbs and a little salt. I rub the mixture all over the hens, place them breast up in a small roasting pan and roast for about an hour on 375°.  Sometimes I stuff the cavity with lemons, onions, herbs or a combination thereof. I always roast mine with a little white grape juice, sweet white wine or chicken stock in the bottom of the roaster (line it with foil for easier clean-up). The liquid keeps the hens juicy and the sweetness of the grape juice or wine add a lot of flavor! 

I roasted these hens with diced potatoes and leeks that were tossed in olive oil and salt. It was SO good! The veggies only need about 30 minutes to cook, depending on the size of the potatoes. I dice mine in about 1/2-inch pieces so they’re done before the leeks decide to burn.

After we were finished, I placed the carcasses, which both has some leg and wing meat left, in a plastic bag for storage. I’ll use them, along with onions, carrots and basil, to make chicken stock this weekend! Waste not, want not. 


Roasted Cornish Game Hens
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  1. 2 Cornish game hens
  2. 1 cup white grape juice (or sweet white wine)
  3. 2 stems of fresh basil (about 12 leaves)
  4. 1/4 cup olive oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  6. 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  7. 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  8. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Line roasting pan with tin foil.
  3. Pour grape juice into pan. Place roasting rack in pan.
  4. Remove hens from package, rinse thoroughly, pat dry and place on roaster rack.
  5. Stuff 1 stem of basil into each hen cavity for added flavor.
  6. Combine oil, garlic powder, thyme, poultry seasoning, and paprika.
  7. Smear oil and herb mixture evenly on each hen.
  8. Roast for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165°.
  9. Remove from oven and let rest a few minutes.
  10. Serve with roasted vegetables of your choice.
  1. The white grape juice or wine will help prevent your hens from frying out in the oven. Chicken stock is another alternative, but the sweetness from the grape juice adds even more flavor!
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