Cornish Hens stuffed with Cornbread dressing on your mind? Kudos🎉 You are going to make the best Thanksgiving Dinner ever! Pair it with these Most-loved Thanksgiving Sides and these delectable and Most Popular Thanksgiving desserts for the best party!
This stuffed cornish game hen recipe is the perfect match if you are thinking about a low-key Thanksgiving party with few guests and more fun. Anyway, I think roasting a whole Turkey is way too much pressure on the belly (not complaining about that, though 😀)
The recipe starts with making the stuffing for cornish hens. And, in this recipe, I've made Everyone's favorite Southern Cornbread Dressing.
Besides that, I've glazed the cornish hens with Butter, Maple Syrup, lemon juice, and a pinch of ground cinnamon.
By the time it roasts, your home will be filled with this rich citrusy, buttery, sweet aroma of maple and lemon juice.
What are Cornish hens?
Cornish hens are a breed of chicken that are smaller than normal chickens.
When I say smaller than usual chicken, think young chicken 4 to 6 weeks old. They shouldn't weigh more than 900 grams or almost 2 pounds.
They taste pretty much the same as regular chicken. They are easy to cook and served as a whole.
Is cornish hen healthier than chicken?
Yes. That's a no-brainer. 😎
Because Cornish hens are smaller in size, therefore, they contain less fat which means fewer calories. They are high in protein and Vitamin B12.
They are rich in niacin, which helps lower cholesterol and boosts the brain’s functioning.
Roasted to perfection in the oven, you can also make cornish hens in the air fryer.
In fact, you can also make cornish hen in a dutch oven/ Slow cooker/ Instant Pot.
Stuffed cornish hens for Thanksgiving/holidays
Customizing these Stuffed cornish hens with bread stuffing is also easy, and you can add the stuffing according to your liking.
What to stuff cornish hens with?
There are endless possibilities when it comes to the stuffing, the most common being cornish hen stuffed with wild rice. You can also make Mushroom stuffed cornish hens, Sausage stuffed cornish hens, or Simply Cheese Stuffed Cornish hens.
Perfect for serving on special occasions like Thanksgiving and during the holiday season this recipe makes a person feel incredibly special.
Imagine getting one single whole roasted chicken on your plate! Isn't that exciting? This reminds me of these Easiest No-Bake Layered Pumpkin Pie Cheesecakes, where you don't get just one piece of the pie but an entire Mini Cheesecake.
How to cook stuffed cornish hens
Step 1: Make the Stuffing
Follow the instructions for Southern Cornbread Dressing Recipe with sage pork sausages, cremini mushrooms, fresh herbs, and condensed cream of Chicken Soup.
Step 2: Make the Glaze
Before you roast the cornish hens or stuff them, you should make the glaze. Start by combining Pure Maple Syrup, Softened Butter, and Lemon Juice in a small bowl.
Step 3: Baking Cornish Hens
- Make sure you remove cornish hens from the refrigerator and allow them to thaw for at least 30-minutes.
- Remove Giblets from the cornish hens and rinse them thoroughly. Pat them dry using a paper towel.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a roasting rack on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
- Grease the roasting rack with non-stick cooking spray.
- Season the cavities with salt and pepper.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup of stuffing loosely into the cavity of each cornish hens.
- Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together. Tuck the chicken wings under the chicken.
- Arrange the cornish hens on the roasting pan keeping space for the Air to circulate.
- Brush the tops of these cornish hens with melted butter and sprinkle some salt and pepper.
- Roast for 20-25 minutes.
Step 4: Reduce Temperature and Continue Roasting
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and continue roasting for another 40-45 minutes. Baste the cornish hens with maple and lemon glaze every 10-minute.
Step 5: Check the cornish hens and get them out of the oven
Use an Instant read thermometer at the thickest part (thigh) of the cornish hen and check if the temperature registers 180 degrees F. Make sure the juices run clear. Allow them to rest for 10-minutes and serve them to your guests.
PRO TIP: Save the drippings from the pan you bake in and drizzle them all over the meat before serving. 🤞
How long to cook Stuffed Cornish hens
You need to cook Stuffed Cornish hens until the juices run clear. And that's not it. To be extra sure, you'd need to use an Instant read thermometer at the thickest part of the cornish hen (especially the thighs) and check the internal temperature of the cornish hens. If it reaches and internal temperature of 180 degrees F then it means that your Stuffed cornish hens are fully cooked.
Do you cover Cornish hens when baking?
Yes buts only of you find your cornish hens browning really fast. Every oven works differently.
It depends on the power wattage of your oven. If it browns quickly, then you do need to cover your cornish hens with aluminum foil before baking.
What temperature should Cornish hens be cooked at?
How to Serve?
Cornish Hen is served as a whole. One hen for one person.
What are the Perfect Sides to go with Cornish Hen?
Roasted Cornish Hens will taste good with almost anything ….. almost anything you can think of! My personal favorite is mashed potatoes (served in a southern way). But here are a few other items you could choose from:
- Glazed Carrots - Maple glazed carrot makes a classic side with stuffed cornish hens.
- Hasselback Potatoes - Another fancy potato dish you could serve as a side.
- Mac and Cheese - Kids love cheesy mac and cheese with these stuffed cornish hens
- Fresh Broccoli and Corn Salad - A healthy broccoli salad works so good with this.
- Dinner Rolls - I love to keep Pillowy soft dinner rolls as a side with this.
- Mushroom Quinoa - Instead of rice, I like to use quinoa with Oyster Mushrooms.
- Sweet Potatoes - I like to serve my Cornish hen with Sloppy Joe stuffed sweet potatoes.
Tips to Make Best Stuffed Cornish Hens
- When coating the hens with the seasoning, use your hands so that you can ensure that the whole chicken is covered with it.
- Make sure you keep the roasting pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Make sure you baste (brush) the cornish hen with maple and lemon glaze every 10-minutes.
- Using a digital thermometer to check if the hens are done will be much more helpful than you having to guess. Your hens will turn out perfectly and will not be over cooked or under cooked.
- Do not forget to save the leftover drippings from the pan so that you can drizzle it over the hens when you serve them.
Refrigeration- You can store the leftovers for up to 4 days in the fridge.
Freezing – If you want to store the leftovers in the freezer, they can be kept for up to 3 months.
How to reheat and serve again – The Roasted Cornish hens can easily be reheated in the microwave. Try to keep some of the pan drippings too so that when you reheat it, the hens won’t dry out.
Some More questions which you might ask:
1. How do you know when a Cornish hen is done?
The typical way to know a cornish hen is done is to ensure that the juices run clear.
If you have a cooking/ food thermometer, check the internal temperature of the hens. It should be 180 degrees F in the thickest part, which is the thigh. This is the most foolproof way to ensure your cornish hen is done.
2. How to keep Cornish hens from getting dry?
In order to keep the Cornish hens moist, let the chicken rest for about 8 minutes before you carve it.
3. How to make the skin extra crispy?
About 12-24 hours before you plan on roasting the hens, sprinkle some salt all over them. Then when you bake it, the skins will be crispy.
4. What else can I make with these hens?
You can save the leftover hens can be used to make a variety of things. You could use them to make sandwiches or salads.
More Recipes you can try:
- Crispy Whole Roasted Duck
- Roasted Whole Cauliflower
- How to cut a whole chicken into Small Pieces
- Oven Baked Chicken Thighs with Apricot Jam Recipe
- Sheet Pan Harvest Baked Apple Chicken with Sweet Potatoes
Cornish hens stuffed with cornbread dressing
- 2 cups Southern Cornbread stuffing
- 1 cup lemon juice 2 large lemons
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 small cornish hens Not more than 2 pounds (i recommend 1.4 pounds each)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Thaw the cornish hens in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours before cooking
Make the stuffing
- Make the southern cornbread dressing as per the instructions.
Make the glaze
- In a small bowl combine the ingredients for glaze and keep it aside.
Bake Cornish Hens
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Rinse the cornish hens with running water. Pat them dry using a paper towel.
- Season the outside of cornish hens lightly with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a roasting rack on the rimmed baking sheet. Grease the rack with non-stick cooking spray.
- Clean the hens and remove the giblets. (inside stuff)
- Season the cavity of cornish hens with salt and pepper.
- Spoon ½ cup of stuffing into the cavity of the cornish hens. Spoon them loosely. Packing more than that will make the stuffing fall off.
- Tie the legs closely using kitchen twine. Arrange the cornish hens in a way that leaves space for the air to circulate.
- Quickly combine unsalted melted butter with freshly minced garlic, chopped rosemary, and chopped thyme to make herbed butter
- Brush the top and sides of the cornish hens herbed butter.
- Roast in the lower rack of the oven for 20-minutes.
- Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Roast for an additional 45-50 minutes or until the juices run clear.
- Baste the cornish hens with maple and lemon glaze every 10-minutes.
- NOTE: if you find your cornish hens turning too brown too quickly, cover them with foil after the 15 or 20-minute mark.
- Make sure you check the internal temperature of cornish hens using an instant-read thermometer. Ensure the thickest part of the meat (the thighs) reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.