Cranberry roasted cornish hens are an easy, festive roast chicken recipe, perfect for small holiday dinners. Serve these cornish hens for any of the winter celebrations and enjoy this delicious, juicy chicken.
No one loves to spend their holiday stuck in the kitchen making an involved meal. At least, I don’t love that! Learn how to make roasted cornish hens in the oven for a hands off cooking approach.
Special doesn’t have to mean difficult! This caraway cranberry roasted hen recipe is so easy, it’s practically effortless. Plus, it results in a gorgeous and mouthwatering main course that is perfect for Christmas dinner.
And since cornish game hens are smaller than chickens you won’t be left with tons of uneaten food in your fridge if you are having a smaller dinner celebration.
- Easy to make
- Only a few ingredients
- Festive presentation and flavors
- Special enough for the holidays
- Simple enough for an easy chicken dinner anytime
- Perfect for smaller holiday celebrations but easily doubled to feed a crowd
- Lightly flavored with mild anise notes
You only need a handful of ingredients for this caraway cranberry roasted hen. To make it you need:
- cornish game hens
- caraway seeds
- olive oil
How to Make Roasted Cornish Hens
Full directions for this cornish hen recipe are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post. This is a visual walk through.
Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees F.
While the oven preheats, drizzle olive oil in a 9×13 baking dish until it coats the bottom of the dish.
Then, wash the hens and place them into the baking dish. Sprinkle the hens evenly with black pepper, salt, and caraway seeds. Now, pour the cranberries over them before covering the dish with foil.
Put the covered dish in the oven and bake it for 1 hour. After an hour, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Once it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the foil and bake the hens until browned.
Once the outside of the hens are golden brown, remove the dish from the oven. Let the hens rest for 10 minutes to redistribute the juices.
Serve them drizzled with the juices and cranberries from the bottom of the baking dish. Enjoy!
This dish is packed with tons of Old World flavor from the caraway seeds and doesn’t need any additions.
However, if you want to add even more aromatic flavor to your hens, you could grate some orange zest on or add a couple sprigs of thyme to the baking dish.
- This recipe doubles easily if you have a crowd.
- You can also halve the recipe to serve 2.
- Make sure you pat the hens dry so the skin browns well.
These little roasted chickens pair well with sides like:
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Fluffy dinner rolls
- Creamed spinach
- Instant Pot Carrots
- Any side you like with roast chicken!
If you have any leftovers, refrigerate them in an air tight container or wrap them tightly with foil. Make sure to get the hens refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. The leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Common questions for how to cook cornish hens recipe.
Cornish hens are the smallest commercially available chickens. Most weigh about 1 ¼ pound and are the perfect size to feed one person.
They are very similar to other chicken but you will notice a difference in taste and texture. Because of the small size and young age of these chicken, the meat is super tender and a little sweet. There’s also more white meat than dark meat.
You can find cornish hens at most grocery stores near the roaster chickens. They will either be sold fresh or in the frozen section at your grocery store.
More Chicken Dinner Ideas
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- 4 cornish game hens
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- Start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Next add oil to the bottom of a 9x13 pan, and spread it around. Place the hens on top.
- Add on the seasonings, making sure to get all areas of the game hens. Then top with the cranberries.
- Cover with foil tightly and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.
- Remove the roasted cornish hens, and then use a meat thermometer and ensure the chicken reads 165 degrees F. If they are not quite done, return to the oven to finish baking.
- Once they reach proper temperature internally remove foil and broil for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is golden in color.
- Serve with the drippings from the cranberries that are in the bottom of the baking dish.
Seasoning - you can season the cornish game hens with any spices or herbs you would like. I love the cranberry as well but it doesn't have to be added.
Covering Chicken - It is very important to cover the chicken with foil or it will dry out the meat.
Storing Leftovers - Store your leftover chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. I like to de-bone the chicken and then use leftover chicken for a chicken salad.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 715Total Fat: 51gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 337mgSodium: 694mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 58g