Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter

Little chickens!  My husband just loves these and I must admit I am sort of a sucker for cornish game hens myself.  I love to serve these for dinner parties – they are no more difficult than a regular roast chicken and there is something so fun about everyone getting their own little hen.  As with chicken there are about a million ways to prepare cornish game hens.  The meat tends to be a bit more tender so I try to not overwhelm it but this herb butter subtly infuses herb flavor while basting the hen for you.  The result is a nicely browned, aromatic little chicky that took all of 2 minutes to prepare.  This would be perfect for Christmas Eve dinner – the smell of roasting chicken will permeate the house and make your whole family smile.


Cornish Game Hens with Herb Butter 

  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons chopped herbs (I used thyme, sage and rosemary but any mix would work)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 heads of garlic, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 cornish game hens

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  In a small bowl mix the butter with the herbs and then season with salt and pepper.  Stuff the hens with a half a head of garlic each.  Use your fingers to separate the skin from the breast meat at the top of the hen, being careful not to break the skin.  About a tablespoon of butter under the skin of each hen and then use the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to rub all over the top of the hens, making sure to cover the legs, wings and breasts.  If you have kitchen twine, tie the legs together.

At this point you can put the hens back in the fridge and roast them the next day.  If you are ready to cook them place them in a roasting pan or on a cookie sheet- they should each have some room on either side of them for the heat to circulate.  Use two pans if they don’t have enough room.  Cook the hens for 50 minutes (a meat thermometer should read 180 degrees at the leg).


Using a spatula lift out the hens and let them rest on a cutting board covered in tin foil for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile pour all the juices from the roasting pan off into a sieve over a small sauce pan and cook the juices over high for 3 minutes or so until slightly reduced to a sauce like consistency.  Serve alongside the hens.

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