Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Garlic Recipe

Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Garlic are so easy to prepare and so moist and tender.  Very simple to make, makes an elegant presentation when served, impressive served for special occasions like a romantic dinner for two, plus makes a great family dinner.  What makes these so tasty is the basting, especially with the caramelized sauce as the hens are cooking.  This enhances the skin color, as well.

This delicious Cornish Game Hen with Lemon and Garlic recipe, comments, and photo were shared with me by Karen Calanchini, Food Stylist and Photographer, of Redding, CA.

Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Garlic Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Resting Time:
10 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Garlic Recipe
Servings: 2 servings
  • 1 Cornish Game Hen*
  • Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium)
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1 to 2 lemons (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Place non-stick aluminum foil on baking sheet.  Salt and pepper both sides of the Cornish game hen.

  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine soy sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and butter.  Heat in microwave until butter has melted and you can smell the garlic.  Carefully remove from microwave.

  3. Baste both hen halves, on each side, with the prepared marinade and place on the prepared baking sheet.  NOTE: The hens can now go back into the refrigerator until cooking time.  Remove 1 hour before cooking to allow hens to come to room temperature.

  4. Heat the broiler of your oven and move oven rack up to the second notch below the broiler element.  Broil hens on one side until you see the marinade start to bubble and the skin starting to brown; baste again, turns hens over, baste, and broil until starting to brown.  Using oven mitts, remove Cornish game hens from the oven.

  5. Turn the oven to 375 degrees F.  Move oven rack down to roasting position.

  6. Place the partially cooked Cornish game hens back in the oven (cut side down), and baste again.  Roast until the hens, are done, or until a thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.  (juices will run clear when cut with the tip of a knife).  Baste frequently with accumulating juices.

  7. Remove from oven and baste again with the remaining juices that have browned nicely on the foil.  Cover cooked Cornish game hens loosely with a piece of aluminum foil for about 10 minutes.  Baste again on both sides, and place on individual serving plates.

  8. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Notes

*  Have your meat cutter cut one (1) Cornish game hen in half.  Remove inside bag from each half prior to preparing.

Thermapen Internal Temperature Cooking ChartI get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking.  I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer. Originally designed for professional use, the Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world.  I only endorse a few products, on my web site ,that I like and use regularly.

You can learn more or buy yours at: Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer.

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Cornish Hen    Dinner    Garlic    Lemons   

Comments and Reviews

3 Responses to “Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Garlic Recipe”

  1. sue

    Made this tonight. It was excellent, but the amount of basting liquid recipe makes was way more than we needed for 1 split hen. Also, broiling it at 500 degs. created a huge blast of smoke every time the oven was opened, although, given the amount of browning, it was not too close to the heating element. No times were given for broiling each side, nor for how much time the hens needed to finish in the 375 oven. At least approximate times might have been helpful. As it was, I had to keep opening the oven for the “frequent” basting and to check the temperature of the hens. All of that made this a rather fussy recipe.

    • Linda Stradley

      The recipe is correct and how I used to make my hens for years. Now, I skip the broiling step because it is less work.

      Cornish Game hens come in many sizes, at least here they do, and it depends on where I source them.  After broiling a few minutes, then roasting at the given oven temp, they do not take very long to cook, and that is why the thermapen is used.  If you skip the broiling step, and just roast at 375 degrees, as I do now, I like to give them an hour, because I like them really browned.  I have never had the smoke issue coming out of my oven as you mentioned.  I only baste, twice at the most.  I love the broiling first as it gives them that deeper flavor.

      As far as the amount of marinade, I usually nuke the remainder until it boils, then serve alongside the hens for extra sauce or use for another application. – Karen Calanchini (10/25/17)

  2. Deyon

    I am gonna be trying his tonight wish me luck


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