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Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens

Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens are the perfect main dish recipe if you’re planning to keep your holidays small and simple this year. Cooked to perfection with a delicious butter, herb, and spice glaze, this mouthwatering Cornish hen recipe pairs beautifully with your favorite vegetables and potatoes.

Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens

Keeping things a littler smaller this year? Looking to change up your traditional holiday menu? Whatever your reason to forego a traditional roasted turkey or baked ham, these mouthwatering truffle herb butter Cornish hens are definitely an upgrade. Drizzled in a delicious herb, spice, and butter mixture, then cooked atop comforting vegetables and yellow potatoes, these small hens are absolutely packed with flavor.

And don’t be worried if you’ve never cooked with Cornish hens before — it’s very easy! Cornish hens cook very similarly to roasted chicken, except the hens are usually split down the middle and feed only 1-2 people. I always recommend at least one Cornish hen per two guests, as they can easily be cut in half and made into two servings. This portioning makes it easy to plan for an either intimate gathering or a larger celebration.

Four oven baked cornish hens arranged on a white plate with carrots, onions and potatoes

Why you’ll love these Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens

  • It’s perfect for two. We all know how crazy 2020 has been, and COVID-19 is definitely impacting a lot of our traditional holiday plans. I know many couples and families are planning to have small, simple Christmases or New Years this year to avoid traveling and to continue social distancing. If you’re opting to stay home this Christmas or your holiday gatherings are more intimate this year, Cornish hens are a great option in lieu of a larger turkey or ham. Because each Cornish hen only yields enough for 1-2 servings each, you can ensure you don’t have too much (or too little) food for you and any number of guests.
  • It’s super easy to make. While this recipe does call for 50-60 minutes of oven time, it really only takes about 20 minutes to prep these delicious Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens. If you can chop ingredients, roast some vegetables, and stuff a chicken, you’re officially qualified to make this dish!
  • It goes great with your favorite sides. We all know that sides really are the greatest part of any holiday menu. Just like chicken, turkey, or ham, Cornish hens pair perfectly with all of your favorite holiday sides! Honestly, while I enjoy a good Thanksgiving turkey or winter ham, it’s the side dishes I’m always looking forward to, like my Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes and these amazing Honey Sriracha Brussels Sprouts.

Ingredients for this Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hen Recipe:

  • Cornish hens
  • Yellow onions
  • Carrots
  • Baby gold Yukon potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Lemon
  • Tarragon, minced
  • Garlic cloves, minced
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Truffle oil
  • Unsalted butter
  • Chicken stock
  • White wine

Step-by-step, 4x4 image showing how to dry Cornish hens and coat with herb and butter mixture before baking

How to make Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prep the Cornish hens. Open hen packaging and dry all over with paper towels. Tuck wings under chicken. Tie drumsticks together.
  3. Prep vegetables. In a large roasting pan arrange yellow onions, carrots, and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and an even sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stuff each lemon wedge into the cavity of the hens.
  4. Create butter and herb mixture. In a small bowl mix together rosemary, tarragon, thyme, garlic, garlic powder, onions powder, black pepper, kosher salt, truffle oil and unsalted butter.
  5. Coat the Cornish hens. Drizzle and rub butter mixture all over each hen until evenly coated. Add seasoned hens onto the vegetable potato mixture. Add chicken stock and white wine to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cook. Transfer the roasting pan to the preheated oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until the thermometer registers to 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast.
  7. Rest and serve. Remove hens from the oven and let them rest for 10-20 minutes. Serve with roasted carrots, onions and potatoes.
  8. I highly recommend making an easy gravy with your leftover pan drippings! I love following this simple method! 

Small Yukon potatoes, chopped carrots, and quartered onions arranged in a roasting dish

Four cornish hens set on top of carrots, onions and potatoes in a roasting dish before going into the oven

Still end up with leftover Cornish hens? Use them!

  • Slice the leftover Cornish hens and make the ultimate holiday leftovers sandwich. Ok, so I originally posted this recipe for the BEST Thanksgiving leftovers sandwich, but honestly, it still applies here! Toast your leftover rolls, find some sandwich bread, or even use a hamburger bun — all you need is something to pile your leftovers on to. Sandwiches are always an easy go-to solution when I have holiday leftovers.
  • Shred and add to a healthy, Chipotle-style burrito bowl. Christmas is always my last *holiday* meal of the year, and to be honest, by New Year’s Eve, I’m usually ready to be done with the heavy (but oh-so comforting and delicious) dishes so quintessential of the holiday season. Burrito bowls are a great way to transition out of the holidays because you can use any leftover meat to add protein with your favorite taco ingredients.
  • Meal prep for the week ahead. If you’re a meal prepper like I someday aspire to be, having sliced or shredded meat is great to toss onto salads or to pair with a healthy snack like nuts and cheeses. 
  • Use the leftover Cornish hens in chicken noodle soup or chili. The holidays may be coming to an end, but it is definitely still soup season. Save some Cornish hens to add to your next “chicken” noodle soup or chili night. 

Four oven baked cornish hens arranged on a white plate with carrots, onions and potatoes

Looking for more main dish recipes? Give these a try!

Other holiday recipes to try:

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Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50-60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1-1/2 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Oven

Description

Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens are the perfect main dish recipe if you’re planning to keep your holidays small and simple this year. Cooked to perfection with a delicious butter, herb, and spice glaze, this mouthwatering Cornish hen recipe pairs beautifully with your favorite vegetables and potatoes.


Scale

Ingredients

4 Cornish hens, about 1½ lbs each
12 medium yellow onions, quartered
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 lb baby gold Yukon potatoes, halved
Olive oil
Cracked black pepper
1 bunch rosemary
1 bunch thyme
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 tbsp rosemary, minced
1 tbsp tarragon, minced
10 thyme sprigs
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp truffle oil (can substitute olive oil)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup white wine


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prep the Cornish hens. Open hen packaging and dry all over with paper towels. Tuck wings under chicken. Tie drumsticks together.
  3. Prep vegetables. In a large roasting pan arrange yellow onions, carrots, and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and an even sprinkle of salt and pepper. Stuff each lemon wedge into the cavity of the hens.
  4. Create butter and herb mixture. In a small bowl mix together rosemary, tarragon, thyme, garlic, garlic powder, onions powder, black pepper, kosher salt, truffle oil and unsalted butter.
  5. Coat the Cornish hens. Drizzle and rub butter mixture all over each hen until evenly coated. Add seasoned hens onto the vegetable potato mixture. Add chicken stock and white wine to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cook. Transfer the roasting pan to the preheated oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until the thermometer registers to 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breast.
  7. Rest and serve. Remove hens from the oven and let them rest for 10-20 minutes. Serve with roasted carrots, onions and potatoes.

Notes

The truffle oil is the *fancier* touch for this recipe for the holidays, but it can be swapped with olive oil if needed.

Keywords: Truffle Herb Butter Cornish Hens, cornish hens, cornish hen recipes, how to cook cornish hens, holiday main dish, christmas main dish

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