This easy recipe delivers moist and tender roasted Cornish game hens with nicely crispy skin. The roasted hens are infused with flavor from a homemade seasoning salt made with delicious herbs and spices. The entire dish is easily made in one cast iron pan.
Recipe and ingredient notes:
- If you buy frozen game hens, be sure to let them thaw fully before cooking them. It will be difficult to cook them properly if they are still partially frozen on the inside.
- It's really important to get the Cornish game hens completely dry because only dry skin will get nice and crispy in the oven.
- Here is the recipe for my homemade seasoning salt. (The seasoning salt is made with salt, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, onion powder and Hungarian paprika. For a seasoning recipe with smoked paprika, try this smoked paprika chicken!)
How to make it:
See full ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below!
Step 1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Briefly rinse the Cornish game hens with cold water, then pat them completely dry with paper towels. Brush the dried game hens with vegetable oil.
Step 2. Rub them with seasoning salt.
Step 3. Place vegetables into 1 large or 2 small cast iron pans. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle them with seasoning salt.
Step 4. Set the hens on top of the vegetables. Transfer the pan(s) into the oven and roast until the birds' internal temperature measures 165 degrees F. (about 1 hour). About 50 minutes into the roasting time, baste the chicken skin with the drippings that have accumulated in the pan.
Turn on the broiler and broil the hens for 3 to 5 minutes to really crisp up the skin.
Frequently asked questions:
The bottom line is that a Cornish game hen is simply a small chicken. The USDA has specific age and weight requirements as to what can be called a Cornish game hen but simply put, that's all it is, a small chicken.
The words "game" and "hen" have no actual meaning here because Cornish game hens are not game birds and they can be either gender.
What about the "Cornish," you ask? Well, apparently most chickens that are bred in the U.S. today have some type of Cornish root, so therefore nearly all chickens you find here are indeed Cornish.
There are a few good reasons and all of them have to do with the small size of the birds:
• The meat of a Cornish game hen is more tender than that of a larger chicken.
• Cornish game hens cook faster than chickens.
• Because there is less meat to penetrate, Cornish game hens absorb any flavorings you rub on them better and faster.
More delicious chicken main course recipes:
- Crispy Lemon Pepper Panko Chicken26 Minutes
- Thai Pineapple Yellow Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk50 Minutes
- Oven Pulled Chicken Thighs2 Hours 20 Minutes
- Chicken Paprika Soup (with Leftover Rotisserie Chicken)30 Minutes
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Full Printable Recipe
Cast Iron Roasted Cornish Game Hens
- measuring spoons
- knife and cutting board
- paper towels
- pastry brush
- one large or two small cast iron pans
- digital meat thermometer (recommended)
- 2 Cornish game hens, fully thawed
- a little bit of vegetable oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons homemade seasoning salt
- 1 small onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 carrots, cut into chunks
- 3 red potatoes, cut into chunks
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Rinse the Cornish game hens briefly with cold water, then pat them completely dry with paper towels.*
- Brush vegetable oil onto the birds, then rub seasoning salt on them (about 1 teaspoon for each). Set aside for a moment.
- Place the vegetables into 1 large or 2 small cast iron pans. Drizzle a little bit of oil on the vegetables, then sprinkle them with the remaining ½ teaspoon of seasoning salt.
- Set the hens on top of the vegetables.
- Transfer the pan(s) to the oven and roast everything, uncovered, until the thickest part of the game hens' thigh meat registers 165 degrees F. (about 1 hour). About 50 minutes into the roasting time, baste the chicken skin with the drippings that are in the pan.
- Turn on the broiler and broil the hens for 3 to 5 minutes to really crisp up the skin.
Nutrition Information (Estimated):
Nutrition values provided on this website are generated from a nutrition database and are estimates only. The accuracy of the nutrition information for any recipe on this website is not guaranteed. Nutrition values can vary quite a lot depending on which brands are used.