Garlic-Lime Cornish Game Hens

I’m so behind! I made this recipe 2 weeks ago… but it was a good one!

Before I get to the recipe, let me tell you why I have been MIA and am only now just catching up on blogging from 2 weeks ago! I had the please of going to home to Massachusetts a little over a week ago, for the wedding of my good friend Emily.

Emily and I have known each other since high school! It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on our 10 year reunion. When did I get so old? Anyways, the wedding was such a blast, and it was so fun catching up with all the Walpole ladies.

Over a decade has passed since the days of Sweet Sixteens, proms, slumber parties, and driving ’round the ‘burbs aimlessly, feeling like we owned the place. Yet somehow, when we all got together again, from all different states, all over the country, it was like no time had passed; nothing had changed. I loved every second of it.

Alright, nostalgia aside, let’s get to the recipe. Let me first say, I have never cooked Cornish hens before. I have never even roasted a whole chicken, for that matter. That being said, I totally cooked the hens upside down! They were still delicious, but of course the breast skin was not golden and crispy like it should have been. It was quite the travesty, but… now I know.

So if I’ve never cooked a whole chicken before, what possessed me to attempt Cornish hens, you may ask? Well I may or may not have mentioned before how fun grocery shopping with Nick is. I often get to the register, start unloading the cart, and find all kinds of crazy things that I know I didn’t put in there. Nick likes to make impulse purchases. Not too long ago, it was a frozen duck. Luckily that one came pre-stuffed, pre-sauced, and with a nice set of directions. Cornish hens were the latest impulse purchase. Unfortunately, unlike the duck, these didn’t come with instructions. So it was up to me!

As I started my recipe search, everything coming up seemed to be along the lines of your typical herb-roasted chicken. Good, but kind of boring. This recipe immediately caught my eye, and I decided I better take advantage of the summer flavors before it was too late!

Garlic-Lime Cornish Game Hens

(adapted from Cooking on the Side)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp grated lime zest
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine garlic, cilantro, lime zest, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl.

Slide your fingertips under the skin of the hens to loosen. Spread half of the herb mixture under the skin of each hen.

Brush butter onto the skin; season with coarse salt and pepper. Place hens in a shallow roasting pan. Roast hens about an hour until golden and cooked through (when an instant read thermometer registers 170°F – 175°F at the thickest part of the thigh), adding broth after 10 minutes and basting twice throughout the cooking time.

The hens were really good! Super juicy and the garlic, lime, and cilantro flavors were killer. If only I’d cooked them right side up! I don’t normally eat the skin, so it wasn’t a big thing for me, but I know Nick would have enjoyed them just a little more.

The next day (remember the fact that it was the NEXT day, this is important), I mixed the leftovers with mayo and made some “Corny Salad”. When I served it to Nick and told him my cute name for it… he ate the whole thing, then informed me he didn’t taste any corn in it. Sigh. Is it apparent his mind is constantly elsewhere lately? 😉 Still love him!


  1. Jennifer says

    I made this tonight and it was great. I cook hens all the time so this was a nice change from my usual recipe. although I made a few changes, I added butter to the cilantro mixture along with some fresh squeezed lime juice.

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