Roasting Cornish game hens is a perfect way to make an easy weekday meal. These hens are packed with flavor and will make a great meal for those that have a big appetite.
The first time I had a Cornish game hen was when my father made them for me. I originally thought they were baby chickens and I didn’t want to eat it. When he told me they were little hens I was blown away by how tiny they were. I have found that these make a great single serving for those with huge appetites (or growing children), or great in halves for meal prep.
In this recipe
After eating quite a few of these little guys I found out that the only difference between Cornish game hens and regular chickens is just their size. They are chickens that do not reach maturity. Imagine my shock when I found out that they are not Cornish but that is the name of the breed. I felt that everything was a lie, well for about 23 seconds before I took another bite.
What makes these little birds so tasty is the addition of the spice rub that is added. In the following recipe you will see one of my favorites to put on poultry and will more than likely see it again. The addition of brown sugar will add some caramel and sweet notes to the hen to balance out the spice. Check out the mix it up section below for other spice rub ideas.
When making champagne rice it is important to know that there is a sugar element in the recipe compared to using water. This is important to note when making sure the heat is reduced to simmer. If the sugar cooks too long it will scorch and you will have a burnt mess on the bottom of your pan.
Mix it up
The spice rub for this recipe is 6 tablespoons. With the exception of the tablespoon of each salt and pepper feel free to mix up the spice combination. Below are some herbs and spices that work well with the Cornish hens.
- Rosemary, sage, and thyme
- Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon
- Fennel, mustard seed, coriander
- Mace, nutmeg, anise
- Chili powder, paprika, ground chipotle powder, oregano
Cornish Game Hen with Champagne Rice
- Roasting pan
- 4 Cornish game hens
- 2 lemons quartered
- 1 lime quartered
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 10 thyme sprigs
- 2 onions cut into eighths
- 10 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp brown sugar packed
- 1 tbsp salt kosher
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- ½ tbsp oregano
- ½ tbsp garlic powder
- ½ tbsp cumin
- ½ tbsp cayenne pepper
- 3 cups champagne
- 2 cups jasmine rice rinsed
- Preheat the oven to 375°F or gas mark 5.
- Pat the Cornish hens dry with a paper towel.
- Add all of the spice mix ingredients together and mix. Combine with the avocado oil. Rub all of the hens with the spice rub mix and stuff the cavity with an onion wedge, one lemon wedge, a garlic clove. and a lime wedge, and place in the roasting pan. Place the rest of the lemon, onion, and garlic portions in the roasting pan surrounding the hens.
- Roast for 1 hour or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F or 74C.
- While the hens are cooking add the rice and champagne to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.