Roasted Cornish Game Hens {Paleo, Whole30}

Love love love me some Cornish game hens.  It’s like having your very own little stuffed piece of heaven.


I make whole roasted chickens often in a pretty similar way actually.  (See one of my fave recipes HERE.)  But Cornish game hens are fun ’cause they feel a bit special, like a rare treat.  Every so often, I get a hankering for a ‘special’ din and go for it.  This was one of those.  It was my pre-Thanksgiving din… maybe I was prepping my belly or something.  😉  Of course there’s no rule that says you need any sort of special occasion to bust out some hens!


Since my guy and I were traveling up until Thanksgiving day, our family planned to have our Thanksgiving feast on the Saturday after.  It’s not a common tradition, but it made it so we could all be together.  A “Thanks Again” of sorts.  Since we flew in super late the night before Thanksgiving- the morning of actually- I figured we’d just relax on Thanksgiving day, catch up on rest, and go big on Saturday.  Classic me though, I got the sudden need for something Thanksgiving-like that day and headed off to the store.  I couldn’t let a Thanksgiving pass without some sort of special feast.   Not wanting to make it too similar to the turkey and mashed potatoes we would be having on Saturday’s Thanks Again, I opted for some game hens, Hasselback potatoes, Brussels sprouts, salad, and pumpkin pie (the mister loves pumpkin pie).  Apparently I’d missed cooking on our vacay or something… my day of “rest and recuping” turned into a cooking-fest real quick! 😉


I was so excited about these hens though… I only make them maybe a couple of times a year at most.  Normally, I serve one per person- everyone gets their own mini bird.  I love it.  These guys were pretty big though- about  1 3/4 lb!  And since I’d made all this other food too, we decided to split one bird between the two of us and then enjoy the other hen the next day.  It was perfect.         


The stuffing is just for aromatics- it add flavors to the meat.  It’s not meant to be eaten like a turkey stuffing is… though of course you can grub however you may wish.  It’s not so great for grubbing though, fyi :)   


I figured some Hasselback potatoes would be the perfect fit- thinly sliced, rubbed with ghee, then finished with a good sprinkle of salt, pepper, crispy bacon, and chives.  The Brussels were simple- just sautéed with some coconut aminos and a light drizzle of maple syrup- the real stuff.  It’s one of my fave ways to have them.  Caramelized on the outside, soft on the inside.  The hens cook in a bit of broth with lemon slices- this creates a light flavorful sauce that can be drizzled over the top once done.  It’s adds flavor and moisture… not that it needs it.  These birds are TEN-DER.  Super delicious and moist.   


makes two hens


2 Cornish game hens, approx 1.5 – 1.75 lbs each

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 cup chicken broth or water

1 lemon, sliced

for rub…

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp herbs de Provence

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

for stuffing…

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopping yellow onion

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2-3 inches each



Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Clean up the hens, if needed


To make the rub…

Add all of the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and stir together


Add the lemon juice and olive oil

Stir well

Taste and adjust flavors as desired


For the stuffing…

This stuff is just for aromatics, but it adds a lot of flavor

Chop the onion, celery, and parsley


Pat the hens dry with a paper towel


Stuff the cavities with the onion, celery, parsley, and rosemary


Get it all super in there… stuffed tightly so things don’t fall out while roasting


Using your hands, spread the rub all over the hens


Place the hens in a large baking dish


Pour the broth or water in the dish and lay lemon slices around the edges

Sprinkle the hens with paprika, for color


That’s it- ready to roast!


Place in the oven uncovered

After 1 hour, check the temperature the thickest part of the thighs should read 165 degrees


Let them rest for about 10 minutes

Keep that sauce for drizzling… it’s good stuff!


One hen can be shared between two if you’d like, or you can serve one per person…

We cut one in two halves and saved the other for the next day :)


Serve with whatever goodies you like, drizzle with some sauce, and dig in!



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About Me

Hi, I'm Natalie! I like to cook, eat, and adventure. I live in a little home with an itty-bitty kitchen, a crazy feline, and a very hungry boyfriend. Lots of cooking and devouring goes down here. Farmer's markets inspire me, as do the seasons and travel. I create simple recipes using wholesome real food. Enjoy!

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