On Cornish Game Hens: A Thanksgiving Upgrade

Or downgrade if you think about the sizes we’re talking about…MINI CHICKENS!! And oh so good! Yup, just spoiled the ending of this post – DE-LICIOUS! It even came complete with stuffing!!! I was originally just going to make the stuffing and leave it to the next day, but then I realized I was halfway through making the whole dish…why not just DO IT?! So I did it, and I’m really glad I did. Gotta say…NAILED IT!

Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018

But first – moving update! We are now two weeks into the new place and are now 90% unpacked! Just a few more things to hang and set up, but then we’re all set for unpacking and setting up our Christmas decorations in preparation for this year’s Christmas party! It’ll be our 5th year in a row throwing this spectacular festivity, and I’m already toying around with what I’m going to serve. Obviously, all-time favorites will make another reappearance (bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, and brie in my new brie warmer!!), but I’m thinking about recreating Eddie’s ginger sheet cake (huge hit from last year, so I may try my hand at it to see if it’s going to replace the funfetti cupcakes I usually make) and definitely going to be making bruschetta again because that’s an easy finger food! Oh – and always a pony keg of Spotted Cow and dinner catered from Spiro’s! I’m getting SO excited about this as I think about it! Oh, and did I mention that this will be the first Christmas party we’ll be hosting as a married couple? Yeah, it’s gonna be a good one!

Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018

Okay, but back to the game hens because, YUM! The roasting itself was incredibly easy and I’m not sure why I haven’t tried to do this sooner, but there it is…The biggest hurdle I knew I was going to have was with regards to the stuffing – I am just incredibly picky and frankly, stuffing isn’t my favorite because it’s a texture thing. I don’t like the oysters in it, I don’t like it when it’s too soggy and a big coagulated mess, I just, in general, don’t really like overcomplicated stuffing…it’s just not for me, you know? So I got VERY excited about the recipe I found on Bon Appetit (my usual go to these days), and it ROCKED! Herbaceous, simple, clean, it was just EXCELLENT! Especially when I paired it with the basting butter I used to baste the hens (I made sure to baste some of the stuffing that was poking out)! AH-MAZING! Just the perfect amount of gooey and crunch. The one thing I think I’ll do next time, because I saw this AFTER I made it on Food Network, is to run butter underneath the skin as well as on top (and more salt/pepper all over the skin)! YUM! The only other caveat I found was that I tried this with sliced bread…don’t. Get an unsliced loaf of white bread so you can slice it yourself – use thick chunks too, about 1/4 inch thick cubes, because that’s going to toast a little nicer than the thin pieces I used. And then I think next time, I would do more of a gravy for serving, rather than reusing the basting butter – and yes, gravy is my FAVORITE thing about Thanksgiving. Hands. Down. But roasting these little guys has given me the confidence I need to try and roast a whole chicken, and then make my own chicken stock…it’s going to happen, so keep your eyes peeled out for that! Hoping all of you have an incredibly delicious and safe Thanksgiving! – Cooking Maggie

Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018

PS. Given that Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, there will be no Throwback Thursday Remake this week – next Tuesday will include a remake (Bon Appetit’s Lasagna) AND a new recipe (HOMEMADE PASTA NOODLES)! So there’s that! Also, I am going to be a series of Sugar Cut Out Cookies that will look like Tuggs! I saw a tutorial on instagram and got very INSPIRED! So I’ve got enough flour, sugar (both regular and powdered) to make more cookies than I’ll ever need to see or make over the course of a lifetime, but my inspiration is so much so that I have been researching colors for royal icing, the best recipe for the icing, the best way to make cut out cookies so they keep their shape, the correct timing of the cookies, etc. It’s been a very lengthy ordeal and I think I’m ready! Just waiting for the cutouts to arrive!

Simple is Best Dressing from Bon Appetit

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Game Hens

  • 2 cornish game hens*
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 stick of soften butter
  • Olive Oil

Basting Liquid

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • Your favorite stuffing – I used the Simple is Best Dressing from Bon Appetit
  • Optional: Kitchen twine
  • Optional: Gravy – I’m still looking for the perfect recipe – if you have one, SEND MY WAY!


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and slightly grease a 13×9 baking pan (glass or metal) with butter or olive oil.
  2. Melt the butter for basting in a small sauce pan over low heat, and add in all the spices. Mix well, and set aside.
  3. Remove the innards, rinse the inside of the bird, and pat dry all over (including the insides). Carefully smear butter all over the breast meat, underneath the skin, and then on top of the skin, seasoning with salt & pepper.
  4. Add your preferred stuffing (it should be cooled) inside of your game hens. Optional: Tie the legs together with twine, and tuck in the wings. Baste the hens with a little of the basting liquid, and place in the middle of your oven.
  5. Bake for 1 hour (or until thigh/breast reach 165°F inside), basting the hens every 15 minutes.
  6. Tent with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


* You can find frozen cornish game hens in your frozen meat section – they also should come in pairs!

Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018Cornish Game Hens 11-19-2018

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