Rosemary Roasted Cornish Hens

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Rosemary roasted Cornish hens make an elegant presentation when you are trying to impress guests. Cornish hens are a great alternative to turkey or chicken.

Many people serve them during the holidays but they are available and ideal year-round.

Pin Rosemary Roasted Cornish Hens to make later.

Roasted Cornish hen on a blue plate with roasted vegetables.

Ingredients for Roasted Rosemary Cornish Hens

  • Cornish Hens
  • Butter
  • Rosemary
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Baking Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper


You can make some substitutions if you want.

  • Use baby carrots in place of sliced carrots.
  • Frozen pearl onions can be used instead of slicing an onion.
  • I’ve used red potatoes in place of the baking potatoes.
  • Thyme could be substituted for rosemary.

You could also make these Cornish hens following this recipe for Roast Chicken with Lemon and Herbs.

What is the difference between a Cornish hen and a chicken?

Well, a Cornish hen is a chicken. The comparison isn’t that easy though. Cornish hens are a chicken breed from England. They are smaller and often considered a single serving due to their size.

They usually weigh no more than two pounds when they are purchased. Cornish hens are fancier and more delicately flavored than chicken, or even turkey.

It is my humble opinion that Cornish hens are underrated and underused. Growing up, my Mom made Cornish hens on a fairly regular basis.

Then for years I kind of forgot about them, having them every now and then but it is just one of those meals that always seem to be saved for a special occasion.

What can I serve with Cornish hens?

In addition to the vegetables, you could also serve bacon-wrapped string beans or green beans with shallots.

Four roasted Cornish hens in a baking dish with vegetables.

When can I serve Cornish hens?

When kids came along and once, while at the grocery store, I saw Cornish hens.

I thought my kids would like them since they love chicken. Well, they were a hit and I started serving them more frequently. 

Sometimes I will serve them to the family for special occasions or holidays like Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving, in addition to a few times a year.

I like serving these Rosemary Roasted Cornish hens to company because it’s a welcomed surprise. And, as I already mentioned, they are a nice surprise because people forget about them.

So many times folks will say to me, “I love Cornish hens but always forget about them”.

Cornish Hens and vegetables ready to go into the oven.

I was looking for a new way to make Cornish hens and since my garden is overflowing with fresh rosemary I knew that had to be involved.

Because the hens are so small, as opposed to a larger whole chicken, they need to be treated delicately.

Butter and rosemary in a saucepan.

I didn’t want to overpower them with flavor so I melted butter with rosemary to infuse it and once everything was prepared and in the pan, I poured it over the hens first and then the vegetables.

I also put a couple of rosemary sprigs in the pan with the vegetables to impart a subtle flavor throughout the dish.

Rosemary roasted Cornish hens Twitter image.

What wine can I serve with Rosemary Roasted Cornish Hens?

This dish was a total hit with the family. A classic Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine to pair with this cornish hen recipe. Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are also nice choices.

If you’d like red wine try Pinot Noir or Merlot. They are nice and light and would compliment the rosemary flavors.

Rosemary Roasted Cornish Hens

Rosemary roasted Cornish hens are a nice change from the same old meals.
5 from 19 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 springs fresh rosemary
  • 8 carrot peeled and evenly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion roughly chopped
  • 5 baking potatoes cut into 1 – 2 inch slices
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 cornish hens thawed, rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Preheat oven to 375℉.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter with rosemary springs. Remove from heat once melted.
  • Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
  • Spread out chopped vegetables and rosemary in the bottom of large baking dish.
  • Place the hens on top of the bed of vegetables. Pour melted rosemary butter over each hen and vegetables.
  • Bake for 50-60 minutes, until juices run clear.
  • Let hens rest before serving. Serve each cornish hen on a plate with vegetables.

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  1. I think I’ve only had cornish hens maybe once or twice. I forgot about them! This is such a lovely and elegant holiday meal.

  2. I am hosting a dinner party and I was trying to plan an elegant and fancier menu. This recipe is PERFECT! Beautiful and delicious!

5 from 19 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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