January 30, 2023


Elegant Food

Grilled Cornish Hens – Women Can Grill

8 min read

Grilled Cornish hens is a kind of straightforward recipes I make once I need to make an incredible principal dish with out a whole lot of effort.

By Christie Vanover | Revealed November 14, 2022 | Final Up to date November 15, 2022

That is a kind of straightforward dinners that appears extravagant, however actually it’s an excellent easy recipe. I’ve included a cumin-lime French dressing marinade, however if you happen to’re working brief on time, you should utilize store-bought marinade, too.

2 grilled cornish hens on black plate next to grilled carrots and fresh herbs.

What’s a Cornish hen?

In keeping with the North American Meat Institute, Cornish hens are literally chickens.

In contrast to the 4-7-pound entire rooster you’re conversant in within the butcher aisle of your grocery retailer, cornish hens are a particular, smaller breed. They’re processed at a youthful age and often weigh between 1-2 kilos.

two raw cornish hens on slate.

Whereas you may even see them labeled as Cornish sport hens, they’re not really sport birds like quail, pheasant or squab. They’re farmed like chickens, however bred for a smaller closing product.

Most frequently, Cornish hens might be discovered within the freezer part at your market. They’re often are available packs of two and solely take 1-2 days to thaw within the fridge.

Like all chickens, they include two legs and thighs, that are darkish meat, and two breasts and wings, that are chicken.

Why would you grill Cornish hens as an alternative of bigger rooster?

Due to their petite dimension, Cornish hens make for a singular, individual-sized presentation.

Additionally they cook dinner extra rapidly and have a barely sweeter and extra tender taste and texture. Their small dimension additionally permits them to soak up marinade extra rapidly.


grilled cornish hens ingredients: cornish hens, sugar, salt, limes, garlic, olive oil, cumin, white wine vinegar, worcestershire.
  • Cornish Hens: Search for these within the freezer part of your native grocery retailer. They often are available 2 packs.
  • Olive Oil: This serves as the bottom of the French dressing.
  • White Wine Vinegar: When making the cumin French dressing for this recipe, I exploit white wine vinegar. See the notes beneath for different choices.
  • Sugar: Each French dressing wants one thing candy to steadiness the acid. This recipe makes use of granulated white sugar.
  • Garlic: Recent cloves are finest, however garlic powder or granulated garlic will also be used.
  • Kosher Salt: I want to grill with kosher salt. If you happen to solely have desk salt, use half as a lot.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: This helps brown the hen pores and skin because it’s cooking.
  • Cumin: Floor cumin is an earthy spice usually utilized in Latin cooking.
  • Limes: The juice of two limes provides sweetness and acid.

Substitutions: This recipe is extraordinarily versatile. You possibly can swap out the white wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar or pink wine vinegar and the lime juice for lemon juice or orange juice. You may also change the cumin and use lemon pepper or contemporary or dried herbs.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

The way to cook dinner Cornish hens on the grill

This recipe might be cooked on a gasoline grill, charcoal grill, pellet grill or Ninja grill. You’ll need to warmth your grill to 375-400F levels with an oblique warmth zone.

Fuel Grill: Flip 1-2 burners to medium warmth and depart one burner off. You’ll cook dinner the meals over the part that’s turned off. Whereas the lid is closed, modify the opposite burners till the grill’s temperature probe registers at 375-400F levels. Then, you may add the hens.

Charcoal Grill: Warmth your coals and push them to at least one facet of the grill. Add the lid and modify the vents till the grill’s temperature probe registers to 375-400F levels. The meals can be added to the facet of the grill with out coals. If you happen to’re utilizing a ceramic cooker or drum smoker, you may place the coals within the backside and use the deflector plate to dam the direct warmth.

Pellet Grill: Pellet grills are robotically setup to cook dinner with an oblique warmth zone, so that you’ll simply have to set the temperature to 375F levels. Pecan and hickory pellets style nice with Cornish hens.

Ninja Woodfire Grill: If utilizing a Ninja Woodfire Grill, it’s higher to make use of the smoker perform as an alternative of the grill perform. The grill setting cooks with direct warmth from the underside. The smoker perform makes use of oblique warmth. So set the perform to smoker and the temperature to 375F. You possibly can add pellets, if you wish to add woodfire taste.

  1. STEP ONE: In a small bowl, combine the French dressing and set 1/4 cup apart. The bulk can be used for marinating the Cornish hens, whereas the quantity you put aside can be used for basting the birds as they’re cooking.
  1. STEP TWO: Take away the thawed Cornish hens from their packaging and pat dry with a paper towel. Place hens in a zip-top bag. Add 3/4 cup of the French dressing to the bag. Seal it, eradicating as a lot air as attainable, and therapeutic massage the birds so that they take in the marinade. Refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
2 cornish hens in zip-top bag with marinade.
  1. STEP THREE: Take away the hens from the marinade and place the entire fowl on a preheated grill over oblique warmth. Prepare dinner them for about half-hour, rotating (not flipping) sometimes.
two marinated cornish hens on grill.

Rotating them 1 / 4 flip each 10 minutes will assist them brown evenly.

using tongs to rotate cooked cornish hen on grill.
  1. STEP FOUR: After about half-hour, begin basting them with the 1/4-cup of French dressing that you just put aside. Proceed grilling the hens for about Quarter-hour, or till they’re golden brown and the inner temperature reaches 165F levels.
basting cornish hen on grill.

PRO TIP: When checking the inner temperature of poultry, place your instant-read thermometer within the thickest a part of the thigh with out touching the bone.

The way to serve grilled Cornish hens

As soon as the hens are golden brown, take away them from the grill and place them on a platter. Garnish with contemporary herbs for a reasonably presentation. Serve them entire or minimize them in half and serve with a pair facet dishes like Grilled Carrots or Grilled Acorn Squash Rings.

2 grilled cornish hens on black plate next to grilled carrots and fresh herbs.


Identical to a rotisserie or Grilled Complete Rooster, you may pull any remaining meat from the bones and retailer it within the fridge for as much as 5 days. You may also freeze the meat in an hermetic container for as much as six months.

If you happen to save the meat in small baggies, it makes for an ideal fast protein snack. You may also use the leftovers in quiche, tacos or on a sandwich or wrap.

GCG Professional Pitmaster Suggestions

  • Make the cumin French dressing marinade and set 1/4 cup apart for basting
  • Marinate the hens for a minimum of 4 hours
  • Grill over oblique warmth so the hens don’t burn
  • Baste with French dressing on the finish to assist crisp up the pores and skin and add coloration

Regularly Requested Questions

How lengthy does it take to cook dinner Cornish hens on the grill?

If you happen to cook dinner over oblique warmth at 375-400F levels, it’ll take about 45 minutes for Cornish hens to succeed in an inside temperature of 165F levels. Use a meat thermometer to examine for doneness.

Are you able to smoke Cornish hens on a pellet grill?

Completely. You possibly can cook dinner these on any grill. Simply set the temperature of your grill to 375F levels, utilizing pecan or hickory pellets.

Is Cornish hen more healthy than rooster?

Cornish hens are little chickens. They’re a particular breed of rooster that’s processed at a youthful age, so they’re smaller. Apart from that, the energy, fats and protein values are the identical. The one benefit of consuming the Cornish hens from a dietary standpoint is that as a result of they’re little birds, they’ve much less pores and skin, which is the place many of the fats worth comes from on a rooster.

How do you spatchcock Cornish hens?

Identical to any fowl, you may spatchcock a Cornish hen to hurry up the grilling course of. To do that, use a set of kitchen shears to chop out and take away the spine. You’ll need to chop alongside the edges of the spine to take away it. Then, place the minimize facet down and press down with the heel of your hand to flatten the fowl. Place it on the grill pores and skin facet up. It should take much less time, so keep watch over it.

What to serve with Grilled Cornish Hens

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2 grilled cornish hens on black plate next to grilled carrots and fresh herbs.

Grilled Cornish Hens

Grilled Cornish hens is a kind of straightforward recipes I make once I need to make an incredible principal dish with out a whole lot of effort.

Recipe by Christie Vanover

Prep Time 6 hours

Prepare dinner Time 45 minutes

Servings 4


Cumin Lime French dressing

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp floor cumin
  • 2 limes


  • Make French dressing: In a small bowl, mix the oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, Worcestershire sauce, cumin and juice of two limes.

  • Marinate: Take away the hens from the packaging. Place in a zip-top bag. Add 3/4 cup of the French dressing. Seal the bag, eradicating as a lot air as attainable. Therapeutic massage the French dressing into the hens. Marinate within the fridge for 4-8 hours, flipping a minimum of as soon as.

  • Grill: Warmth grill to 375-400F levels with an oblique warmth zone (see above). Take away the hens from the marinade. Place on the grill over oblique warmth and grill for half-hour, rotating (not flipping) sometimes.

  • Baste: After half-hour, baste with the marinade that you just put aside and proceed cooking for about Quarter-hour, or till the inner temperature registers at 165F levels.

  • Relaxation: Take away from the grill and relaxation for 10-Quarter-hour earlier than serving.


You need to use any kind of selfmade or retailer purchased French dressing for this recipe.  You’ll want 1 cup complete – 3/4 cup for the marinade and 1/4 cup for basting. 
To forestall sickness, by no means baste the birds with the French dressing that was used because the marinade. As a substitute, use the 1/4 cup that wasn’t cross contaminated with the uncooked poultry. 
The dietary values have been adjusted to account for almost all of French dressing that can be discarded after the hens are marinated. To scale back the grams of fats, benefit from the grilled cornish hens with out consuming the pores and skin. 


Energy: 562kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 39gFats: 42gSaturated Fats: 10gPolyunsaturated Fats: 7gMonounsaturated Fats: 22gLdl cholesterol: 227mgSodium: 731mgPotassium: 574mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 258IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 40mgIron: 2mg

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