Cornish Hens

Holiday Cornish Hens

Years ago, when I ran a Bed & Breakfast Inn, I occasionally catered banquet dinner parties during the holidays. These tender little Cornish Hens were a favorite.  My guests loved them!  The oven roasted hens are and  juicy and full of flavor. They are basted with a delicious glaze made of honey, butter, Dijon mustard and curry powder. They are stuffed with tart apple slices. This unique combination of sweet and spicy is so delicious.  I served them on a bed of seasoned rice with steamed vegetables on the side.

Last Thanksgiving, when all of our kids went to their in-laws for the day, we had a small group for dinner at my mom’s house.  We decided to switch the meal up and have Prime Rib instead of turkey! My 5 year old nephew was more than a little upset when he found out there would not be a turkey on the table. So my husband and I thought it would be a fun idea to make him his own little “mini-turkey!”  I made him one of these little Cornish Hens for his very own!  I can’t even begin to describe the look on his face when he saw it!  (My husband told him that I left the turkey in the oven too long and it shrunk!)

This is a classy main dish for any occasion.  You will love them!

This recipe is for 2 hens.  You can double or triple the recipe as needed.

2 – 18-20 oz. Cornish game hens (completely thawed)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 small tart apple, sliced

Stuff apple slices into cavity of the hens. Truss hen with string. Salt and pepper outside. Set on rack in shallow roasting pan.


 Roast in a preheated 375° oven for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by melting together the following:

2 T. honey
1 T. butter
1 T. dijon mustard
1/4 t. curry powder

Brush the hens with the glaze and return them to oven 20 minutes longer. Continue to brush with glaze occasionally while they continue to roast until they are golden. You will know that the hens are done when juices run clear and leg joint moves freely. 

15 thoughts on “Holiday Cornish Hens

    1. grandmabee Post author

      Hi Lexy. I don’t actually peel the apples, but you could if you don’t like the peel. They are so good. They’re like a baked apple inside!

      1. Lexy Lawrence

        I went ahead and made 6 of these hens…I presented them plated and it was a surprise. They turned out beautiful. I didn’t cut the apples skins off, it wasn’t a problem. As I brought them in to serve I quoted your line about “daddy shrunk the turkey” and I actually heard a family member say “I didn’t know you could buy miniature/baby turkeys”….we laughed all day about that one. I will definitely make them again….they were that good. Thanks so much for letting me learn this recipe. I can only say I wish I would have taken pictures. Again, thanks.

  1. bridget hartwell

    I am going to make 8 cornish hens with this glaze. Will i need to adjust the roasting time? i have a double oven so i will put four in each oven. Thanks!

    1. grandmabee Post author

      The roasting time should still be pretty close to the recipe, maybe a tiny bit longer. Use your thermometer to check for doneness.

    1. grandmabee Post author

      I just stuff the hens with tart apple slices. They are yummy cooked apples that are perfect to eat with the roasted hens. Mmmm…

  2. Cee Jay Kay

    Very tasty! I’ve made something similar with chicken thighs. Since there was only three of us, I made this for Thanksgiving. I did however brine the hens overnight first. This seemed to be a hit.

  3. Heather Lampman

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I’ve made it at least 4 times for guests and several more times for myself. I’ve also stuffed the hens with a cranberry bread stuffing. It’s amazing what sublime flavor these few ingredients can produce!

  4. Katie

    Making these for Christmas and from the look and comments, I’m cannot wait to taste them.
    I’m having family in from Chicago for Christmas and this is a perfect!


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