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Herb Roasted Cornish Hens

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens with Root Vegetables

Herb roasted Cornish hens with root vegetables might just be the perfect one pan dinner for two or a small group. Individual Cornish hens are crusted with fresh herbs, roasted on a bed of root vegetables and apple.

Thanksgiving is a busy time for large family groups and lots of cooking. In the past, it has been just my husband and I for Thanksgiving and sometimes I don’t want to buy a giant turkey for two people. I also don’t need all the fuss of a big meal production, so I came across a solution.

A couple of years ago saw Cornish hens become popular and since they weigh about two pounds each they are perfect for individual servings. They’re also sold in a pack of two… how convenient!

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens with Root Vegetables

I love roasting meats in a cast iron skillet. In this instance, the vegetables cook in the pan with the hens so it’s a one pan meal and serving the meal right from the pan not only cuts back on dishes, but makes for a lovely presentation.

See Also

I use a lot of herbs this time of year and there’s nothing better than a herb crusted chicken or turkey. I also use a lot of fresh apple cider in my cooking and for this recipe I mixed it with melted butter and brushed it all over the skin for that extra flavor.

Understanding and Cooking Cornish Hens

1. Know Your Bird: Understanding Cornish Hens

  • Cornish hens are a smaller breed of chicken, typically weighing no more than 2 pounds.
  • They offer a tender and leaner meat compared to regular chickens.
  • Each hen is usually suitable for a single serving, making them perfect for individual portions.

2. Preparation Is Key

  • Thoroughly thaw the hen if it’s frozen, ideally in the refrigerator over a day or two.
  • Remove and discard the giblets, and rinse the hen inside and out, then pat dry.
  • For enhanced flavor, consider brining or marinating the hen for several hours before cooking.

3. Seasoning and Stuffing for Flavor

  • Cornish hens absorb flavors well; use a blend of herbs, spices, and aromatics for seasoning.
  • Common seasonings include rosemary, thyme, garlic, and lemon.
  • You can stuff the cavity with aromatics or even a small amount of traditional stuffing.

4. Perfect Cooking Techniques

  • Roasting is the most popular method; it yields a crispy skin and tender meat.
  • Cook in a preheated oven (usually around 375°F) and use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness (internal temperature should reach 165°F).
  • Basting during roasting helps keep the meat moist.

5. Resting and Serving

  • Allow the hen to rest for about 10 minutes after cooking to let the juices redistribute.
  • Serve as a whole for a visually appealing plate, or carve and plate for ease of eating.
  • Cornish hens pair well with a variety of side dishes, from roasted vegetables to creamy mashed potatoes.

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens with Root Vegetables

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Herb Roasted Cornish Hens

Herb Roasted Cornish Hens

  • Author: Janette Fuschi
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


Herb roasted Cornish hens with root vegetables might just be the perfect one pan dinner for two or a small group. Individual Cornish hens are crusted with fresh herbs, roasted on a bed of root vegetables and apple.


Units Scale
  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 orange, cut into wedges
  • 2 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 ounces parsnip, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 pound yams, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 sweet apple, peeled and cut into wedges


1. Preparing the Oven and Hens:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Dry the skin of the Cornish hens thoroughly with paper towels to ensure they will roast to a crispy texture.

2. Making the Herb Butter:

  • In a bowl, mix together the melted butter and apple cider.
  • Stir in the chopped rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, and black pepper to the melted butter mixture. Mix well to combine the flavors.

3. Seasoning the Hens:

  • Brush the herb butter mixture all over the hens, both inside the cavity and outside on the skin. Gently lift the skin and brush some mixture underneath as well. Reserve some of the butter mixture for the vegetables.
  • Place a garlic clove and a few orange wedges inside the cavity of each hen.
  • Tie the legs of the hens together with kitchen string to help them cook evenly.

4. Preparing the Vegetables:

  • In a separate bowl, combine the carrots, parsnips, yams, and apple wedges.
  • Drizzle them with the remaining herb butter mixture and toss to coat all the pieces evenly.

5. Arranging the Skillet or Roasting Dish:

  • Spread the seasoned vegetables in an even layer in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or roasting dish.
  • Place the seasoned hens on top of the vegetable layer.

6. Roasting:

  • Arrange extra garlic cloves around the hens and vegetables.
  • Roast in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness; the internal temperature should reach 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the hen’s leg.

7. Serving:

  • Once cooked, let the hens rest for a few minutes before carving or serving.
  • Serve the Cornish hens alongside the roasted vegetables for a complete meal.


  • Basting the hens halfway through the cooking process with the pan juices can help keep them moist.
  • For a more citrusy flavor, add extra orange wedges to roast alongside the hens.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Chicken, Main, Main Courses
  • Method: Oven Roasting
  • Cuisine: American, American-Italian


  • Serving Size: 1 hen
  • Calories: 650
  • Sugar: 10g
  • Sodium: 800mg
  • Fat: 35g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 20g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Protein: 50g
  • Cholesterol: 180mg

Keywords: chicken, comfort food, cornish hen, roasting, thanksgiving, Cornish hens recipe, roasted Cornish hens, herb butter poultry, autumn vegetable roast, sage and rosemary seasoning, apple cider glaze, easy holiday meals, gourmet home cooking, roasted yams and parsnips, elegant dinner recipes, Thanksgiving Cornish hens, cast iron skillet meals, flavorful chicken dishes, roasted root vegetables, garlic infused poultry

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