How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

We found three smoked Cornish hens recipes that will help you cook an ideal meal. Our instructions will guide you through the process.
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
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Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Last updated: September 01, 2023
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Have you ever eaten Cornish hens? Trusted Source Cornish game hen - Wikipedia Cornish game hen (also Rock Cornish game hen) is the USDA-approved name for variety of broiler chicken, produced from a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chicken breeds, that is served young and immature, weighing no more than two pounds (900 g) ready to cook. If you have, then you likely enjoyed them. There are several ways to prepare this delicacy, and one way that many have found remarkably delicious is smoking.

These hens are a smaller size when compared to a larger broiler chicken, and this makes them perfect for a quick meal. Smoked Cornish Hens are a delight, and in this post, we will consider why you should smoke them, some recommendations, and give you some of the best recipes for preparing them.

When liberally seasoned with spices and herbs, you are bound to enjoy them greatly. Come along then as we consider this delicacy.

Why smoke Cornish hens?

Why should you smoke Cornish hens? Well, these hens, as we have pointed out, come at a smaller size than your regular broiler chicken.

They are perfectly sized so that all the people you are preparing the meal get their own whole chicken without having to share.

Apart from that, these are also very easy to smoke, compared with several other types of meat. You can get them ready in just a few hours.

And the result of proper smoking is an excellently delicious, tender, and juicy delicacy. We provide you with some of the top recipes later in this post, and we expect that you will thoroughly enjoy the results.

Cornish hens smoking recommendations

How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

There are certain tips to keep in mind when preparing this delicacy. Some of the recommendations from expert chefs include:

  • Ensure that the brine ingredients are simple

It is important that the brine ingredients are simple because between the marinades, smoking, and brine, there is already enough flavor to go around. If the brine has too many ingredients, it can end up overwhelming the chicken flavor.

  • Butterfly the Cornish Hens

Butterflying your Cornish hens is highly recommended, especially if you want your chickens to cook faster. Apart from fast cooking, it also ensures that the hen cooks evenly. Therefore, invest in a good set of kitchen shears to cut your chickens. Reviews highly recommend the Wusthof Twelve-piece knife block set for preparing chicken. The set includes sharp and durable knives that will get the work done.

You should also get the right smoker accessories to ensure that you get the best from your smoker.

  • Rest the Hen for Five Minutes

After smoking the chicken, do not serve it immediately. Instead, let it rest for about five minutes. This time will prevent the juice from leaking when you cut through the chicken.

Smoked Cornish hens recipes

How can you prepare your smoked Cornish Hens? In this section, we offer some of the best recipes that we have tried. Try them to find the best one that you enjoy- although we bet that you’ll enjoy every one that we recommend.

Smoked Cornish hens recipe 1

How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

Before you smoke your Cornish Hens, you need to get several things in place. Here are the essentials for this recipe:

  • Cornish Hens (1 per person)
  • Brine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Rub

With these and the smoker in place, you are ready to use this recipe to prepare your smoked Cornish hens.

What to keep in mind

Apart from the ingredients, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:

  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Brine Time: 1½ hours
  • Cook Time: 2 Hours
  • Smoker Temperature: 230-260 Degrees
  • Meat Finish Temperature: 165 Degrees
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan

How to prepare

  • Step 1 – Prepare the brine

How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

Make the brine and add whatever you want to make it taste even better. To prepare the brine, use the following:

  • ½ gallon of cold water
  • ½ cup of kosher salt
  • ½ cup of brown sugar

You can also add whatever you usually add when making your brine.

To prepare the brine, fill a gallon pitcher with cold water. Then add salt and mix until the salt is completely dissolved in the water. After mixing, add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar is also completely dissolved in the mixture.

To add other stuff like your herbs and spices, you might need to heat water from the pitcher, include your spices and let the mixture simmer for some minutes. This will help to extract the flavor, then cool the water before re-introducing it to the original brine.

Cool the brine before using it on the chickens.

  • Step 2 – Brine the chickens
    How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

Cornish hens are often kept on the refrigerator before they are used. If that is the case, bring them out some days before you cook them so that they can naturally defrost. Then remove the foil and rinse them thoroughly in cold water.

After thoroughly cleaning them, put them into the gallon of brine. You might choose to use another type of container depending on what you have available. Put the birds in the container and ensure that they are all completely immersed in the solution.

Put them in the refrigerator for the duration of brining.

  • Step 3 – Rinse from the brine solution

Brining should take about two hours. Afterward, remove the Cornish hens from the solution and rinse them in water. To remove the moisture, pat the chickens with a paper towel.

Do you want crispy chicken? Then it is best to dry the skin before you add any rub. Drying the skin is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is to place the chickens in the refrigerator on paper towels for a couple of hours.

When dried this way, you will have a crunchy taste all through the chicken.

  • Step 4 – Introduce seasoning

The next step is to season your hens. This is where the mayonnaise comes in. Apply it to all parts of the chicken.

If you want even more seasoning, you could include rubs. Use this on all parts of the Cornish hens.

  • Step 5 – Smoke the chickens

How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

This is the step that all our preparations have been leading to. Set up the smoker and ensure that it reaches the correct temperature. It is recommended to achieve temperatures of up to 260 degrees. This high temperature increases the time it takes the chickens to be done, improves the crispiness of the chicken, and ensures that the smoky flavor penetrates the meat.

The type of smoker that you use will affect your smoke time. If you are using a pellet smoker, you should be done in about two hours.

If the smoker does not reach the high temperatures we recommend, then you might have to use slightly over two hours to prepare the chicken. Check out some of the best smokers on the market here.

Traeger natural hardwood pellets are generally considered excellent smoking wood for your pellet smoker.

When smoking the chicken, here are some tips that you should keep in mind:

  • Ensure the Cornish hens are breast side down
  • Ensure that there is a smoky flavor by using smoking wood for at least one hour
  • Use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the chicken.
  • The Cornish hens are done when they reach 165 degrees in the thickest part.
  • Step 6 – Serve and enjoy

And voila – your Cornish Hens are ready to be enjoyed.

Smoked Cornish hens recipe 2

How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 Recipes

Another recipe that we have tried, to great success, is that which we will consider in this section.

Here are the steps to follow for this next recipe:

  • Start your smoker or grill following the instructions by the manufacturer. Ensure that the fire is going and turn up the heat to around 275 degrees
  • Brush the Cornish hens with oil and season them with the rub of your choosing.
  • Place the Cornish hens on the heated grill grates and close the smoker.
  • Cook for about thirty minutes at a temperature of around 275 degrees. After thirty minutes, increase the temperature up to 400 degrees.
  • Grill the hens until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Use a meat probe to determine this exact temperature.

Smoked Cornish hens recipe 3

  • How to Cook Delicious Smoked Cornish Hens: 3 RecipesSeasoners
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • ¾ cup of fresh orange juice
  • Two tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • Cornish hens
  • A teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Rub

How to prepare

  • Mix the salt, pepper, and dry rub, and use the mixture to season the Cornish hens. Cover and refrigerate for an hour
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan, add seasonings, broth, and orange juice, then simmer for around ten minutes.
  • Pre-heat the smoker and maintain a temperature of 275 degrees
  • Smoke the hens on the smoker for forty minutes. Then remove the cover and brush the chicken with the graze. Cover the smoker and wait for fifteen minutes
  • Remove the Cornish hens from the smoker and rest for about fifteen minutes before serving.

Simple smoked Cornish hens video recipe

Final thoughts

Are you thinking about trying smoked Cornish hens? If so, this post is just right for you. We have considered some of the best recommendations for anyone looking to prepare this. We have also provided two excellent recipes that will help you create a delicacy that will have you and your guests licking your fingers.

Why don’t you get the ingredients ready and have a go at preparing your smoked Cornish hens?


Cornish game hen - Wikipedia
Cornish game hen (also Rock Cornish game hen) is the USDA-approved name for variety of broiler chicken, produced from a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chicken breeds, that is served young and immature, weighing no more than two pounds (900 g) ready to cook.

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