This Cajun Cornish hen recipe will soon be your new favorite go-to weeknight dinner. The tender meat is cooked with a blend of Cajun herbs and spices then covered with a flavorful garlic butter sauce. If you’ve never had a Cornish hen before this recipe shows you just how to roast them in the oven in 1 hour!
Cooked like roasted chicken this easy-baked Cajun Cornish hen recipe features crispy skin and sweet and spicy meat that is fall off the bone tender. This flavorful main dish features fragrant herbs and spices such as dried oregano, ground paprika, and plenty of chili powder and cayenne pepper for a nice amount of heat and a subtle hint of smokiness.
During the holidays, Cornish hens can easily be served in place of cooking a whole turkey. Just cook a couple of hens then serve half a hen to each person.
Whole cornish hens. Also known as cornish game hens. They can usually be found in the freezer section of your local grocery store.
Brown sugar. The perfect amount of sweetness to complement the heat and spiciness of the Cajun seasoning mix.
Cajun seasonings. A mix of ground paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Oil. Mixed with the seasonings to rub over the cornish hens. Helps the seasonings stick to the meat better.
Fresh garlic. To make a garlic butter sauce that is poured over the cornish hens towards the end of cooking.
Butter. Keeps the meat moist and gives a wonderful buttery flavor.
How to make Cornish game hens
If your Cornish hens are frozen, thaw them first. Overnight in the fridge is fine or few hours on the counter will do it. Rinse them with cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Start with preheating oven to 400 degrees. Make your homemade Cajun seasoning or use store bought. I used a mix of ground paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Combine spices with oil and mix well. You will have a pretty thick mixture. Rub it all over cornish hens, inside and outside the bird. Place them in the medium size baking dish.
Cook Cajun Cornish hens in the well preheated oven for 45-50 minutes. Once done, pull the hens out and loosely wrap in foil for 10 minutes before cutting.
Meanwhile melt butter in the small pan. Add chopped or minced garlic and saute for 2 minutes, stirring. Pour garlic butter sauce over cooked birds and serve.
What are Cornish game hens
Cornish hens are a small breed of chicken. This miniature poultry is about half the size of a regular chicken weighing in at roughly 1.5 – 2 pounds each. They taste very similar to chicken but the meat is softer and more tender.
Because of their small size, cornish hens do not need to be carved before serving, rather they can be served either whole or by simply cutting them in half making them a wonderful option for dinner parties or busy weeknight meals.
Roasted cornish hens are also a popular choice to prepare during the holidays especially if you are cooking for just a few people. They are not hard to cook and you don’t end up with too many leftovers that you don’t know what to do with.
Cornish hens. If you can’t find whole cornish hens, using one whole chicken would be just fine. Keep in mind that you will have to cook a regular whole chicken for longer than cornish hens.
Spice. Use more or less chili powder and cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you like your meat and if you are cooking for children or not.
Sweetener. Instead of brown sugar, you could brush the cornish hens with a honey glaze.
Stuff Cornish hens with dirty rice or stuffing for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Go with a herb seasoning blend instead of Cajun spices, instead use a lot of fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, or sage.
Roast with vegetables such as potatoes, broccoli, carrots, red onions, or squash for an amazing dinner. Place the hens on top of the vegetables so the skin stays perfectly crispy.
Stuff the inside cavity of the Cornish hen with sprigs of fresh herbs, whole garlic cloves, lemons slices or wedges, chunks of butter, or a sprinkle of salt for even more flavor.
Frequently asked questions
There’s little difference between the two. Cornish hens are just a small variety of chicken, weighing 1 – 2 pounds each. The biggest difference is that cornish hens have a softer texture because the hens are butchered at a younger age.
Yes, cornish game hens taste very similar to regular chicken. Despite the name, cornish hens do not taste gamey at all. Both varieties of chicken can be seasoned and served in the same way!
To make a full meal out of these cajun cornish hens, you will need to add some side dishes. It could be a vegetable salad or grilled vegetables like zucchinis or eggplants.
A classic steamy bowl of white rice goes so well with any type of poultry. Substitute it with brown rice for a healthier option. Potatoes pair well with birds too. Make mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes.
Serve cornish hens even with just chopped vegetables on the side. Keep it simple and healthy.
Store cajun cornish hens just like any chicken leftovers. Place leftovers in the air tight container or a zip lock bag and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze in the freezer safe container for up to 4 months.
Reheat in the microwave, oven or air fryer. If frozen, thaw in the fridge first and then reheat.
You may also like…
- Ninja Foodi cornish hen
- Air fryer pheasant
- Pulehu chicken
- Air fryer ranch chicken
- Alfredo chicken wings
- Air fryer corn in husk
- Air fryer bbq chicken thighs
Hope you will like this Cajun Cornish hens recipe as much as we do. Please rate the recipe if you made and leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.
- 2 Cornish hens
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon each garlic powder,onion powder and chili powder, each
- ½ teaspoon each chili powder and cayenne pepper, add more if you like heat
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine dry seasoning with oil and rub Cornish hens with the mixture, inside and outside. Place them in the medium size baking dish.
- Cook hens for 45-50 minutes.
- Loosely wrap in foil for 10 minutes before cutting.
- Meanwhile melt butter in the small pan. Add chopped garlic and saute for 2 minutes, stirring.
- Pour sauce over hens and serve.
Store Cornish hens just like any chicken leftovers. Place leftovers in the air tight container or a zip lock bag and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze in the freezer safe container for up to 4 months.
Reheat in the microwave, oven or air fryer.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 487Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 199mgSodium: 733mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 29g