Meat & Poultry

Roasted Cornish Hens with Vegetables

55 min Cook
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While we were living in Greece, I remember my uncle Kosta hunting in October and November and bringing back various small birds, and my aunt Smaroula would prepare them and serve them at family gatherings.  I neither hunt nor know how to find game poultry so the next best thing that reminds me of these childhood memories are Cornish hens since they are so small.  They taste exactly like chicken; in fact, they are chickens, but just a different breed than those 3 and 4-pound chickens you find in the grocery store in America.  I lived in Greece, Kuwait, UAE, and Saudi Arabia and the breed of chickens there were in the 1.5 to 2-pound area; in other words, you had the choice of buying 800 grams, 1000 grams (1 kilo), or 1200 grams of chicken, depending on what you were cooking.  I remember the boneless skinless chicken breast would fit in the size of my palm; instead of the monstrosity of chicken breasts in the US that you can cut into 4 small filets.  I hope it’s the breed and not the hormones that make the American chickens so huge!


I like baking and roasting in the traditional Greek round pans we are widely used throughout Greece.  I don’t remember my mother ever having square pans in Greece; from cakes to roasts to casseroles, she would use the round pans.  I always bring several pans back from Greece as I love the round pans more than the square baking pans.  

Cornish hens with vegetables

Roasted Cornish Hens with Vegetables

Roasted Cornish Hens with Vegetables

The combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and paprika was one of my dad’s most favorite spice blends that he would use primarily when roasting or grilling. The only addition I have made is the Aleppo Pepper Flakes because it gives it a bit of a sweet taste with only a hint of heat.
prep time
20 min
cooking time
55 min
total time
1 hour 15 min plus 10 min rest time


  • Baking Pan

  • Bowl

  • Silicon brush


  • 2 Cornish hens (about 1.25-1.50 pounds each)

  • 2 Carrots, Tournée cut, or rolling cut

  • 25 White Mushrooms

  • 4 shallots, quartered, with root intact

  • 12 garlic cloves, whole

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice, divided

  • 2 Tbsp White Wine

  • 2 tsp. Aleppo Pepper Flakes, divided (Optional)

  • 2 tsp. paprika, divided

  • 2 tsp. oregano, divided

  • 2 tsp. garlic powder, divided

  • 1 tsp. sea salt (or to taste), divided

  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or to taste), divided


Preheat your oven to 450°F ( about 220 C degrees).
Toss your mushrooms, carrots, garlic cloves, and shallots with 2 Tbsp. olive oil. 2 Tbsp. White Wine, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 tsp. Aleppo Pepper flakes, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. sea salt and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper (or to taste).
Combine the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and the remaining spices you used for your vegetables in a small bowl. Brush the Cornish hens with olive oil & lemon mixture. Twist the wings to tuck under the bird and using cooking string tie the legs together; this way the ends of the wings and the legs will not burn. I usually tie in a bow, so that it is easy to untie before plating and serving.
Place the hens in a large baking pan. I use the traditional Greek round pans. Arrange the prepared vegetables around the hens and place them in the oven. Reduce the heat to 400°F. (about 200 C degrees).
Bake 55-65 minutes or just until hens reach 165°F with a thermometer and the vegetables are soft and tender.
Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil and let the hens rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Enjoy! Bon Appetit! Kali Orexi!


I like to serve 1 whole Cornish hen per guest as it makes a dramatic presentation and this way the guest enjoys both the white and dark meat. You can either serve it whole or take scissors and cut the hen in ½ so that the guest doesn’t have to fight the hen during dinner. Place the two halves on the plate surrounded by vegetables. You can also serve ½ hen per guest, instead of one hen, depending on your appetizers, and side dishes.

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