Marinated Cornish Game Hens Recipe

Marinated Cornish Game Hens recipe are delicious for entertaining, easy to prepare ahead of time, and then bake right before serving!

Being prepared for entertaining is really what makes a get-together successful. When I’m not prepared, I’m scattered, frustrated, and grumpy. Who wants to be around a grumpy hostess? (My family for sure does not).

If you’ve never split a cornish game hen, watch the video above. It’s really easy!

Know what to cook.

Part of being prepared is not only knowing what you are going to cook, but making sure that it’s easy and dinner-party worthy.

Marinated Cornish Game Hens Recipe

So I’m sharing a delicious recipe that our friend Jenny has made for us for many years for her dinner parties. I can see why now … 24 hours ahead of time you marinate the Cornish Game Hens (very easy), and then pop in the oven 1 hour before you’re ready to serve. You do baste them every 15 minutes, but that’s easy. Give one of your kids the job! :)

I’ve made them both ways … blending the marinade, and then not blending (just mixing). Both delicious!

I made these hens on Christmas Day and our entire family loved them. The flavor is … well, you decide. Fantastic!

All I know is that I was asked over and over to make them again.

Marinated Cornish Game Hens Recipe

Here’s my list of tips that help me get prepared and stay on track for a dinner party.

Be prepared:

-Choose a main dish that you can prepare ahead of time, that takes very little of your time the day of the dinner. (You marinate this recipe ahead of time, up to 24-36 hours.)

-Get your shopping done 1-2 days ahead of time.

-Make a list and cross things off as you complete them.

-Make a list of what items need to go in the oven, with a time frame.

-Tell yourself you are not going to run to the store. Use what you have; fight the “perfectionism” inside of you.

-Know what your guests are bringing. KNOW YOUR MENU. Write it out and place it on the refrigerator so you can keep checking it.

-Have any condiments, butter, or extra food items you’ll need, in dishes, ready to put on the table.

-Get prep work done ahead of time.

-Count backwards and plan out your time for what needs to be done at certain times.

-Know in advance what you want to wear.

-Use my 10-minute Countdown Method.

They are delish!

Have you ever cooked Cornish Game Hens?

Marinated Cornish Game Hens

Delicious recipe good enough for company! Be sure to double the sauce ingredients for every 2 hens you cook.


  • 2 game hens split in half
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced
  • 2 TBS toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 3 TBS lime juice


Lay hens skin side down in glass dish. Prick each several times with a fork. In blender or food processor, blend all above ingredients until smooth, about 1 minute.

Place hens in a ziplock bag (you can double bag), pour marinade over, seal bag and refrigerate 6-24 hrs, turning occasionally.

Transfer hens to a 9×13 baking dish, single layer, skin side up. Reserve marinade.

Roast at 400 for 1 hour. Baste with marinade every 15 minutes.

Serve right away!

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Marinated Cornish Game Hens

32 comments on “Marinated Cornish Game Hens Recipe”

  1. Your tips on being prepared are almost exactly what I do when hosting a party. If I’m hosting buffet style, several days in advance I lay out all of the serving bowls and platters on the table. If I am hosting a sit down dinner, I set the table a the day before. Anything that I can do in advance I will do! I have made cornish game hens before, but for some reason haven’t made them in a few years. I am so excited that you shared your friend Jenny’s recipe! It looks delicious, and I can’t wait to make it!

  2. I love cornish game hens, and most people don’t realize how cheap they are, I get them at our local Aldi’s at a great price. I have to try your recipe, looks so flavorful!

  3. you make it look so easy! I’ve never been brave enough.

  4. We love cornish game hens and this looks like a fabulous recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

  5. Looks good. But I think computer gremlins are playing with the instructions a bit. #1 is missing on my screen and #3 must be a typo? Not sure what a leg ziplock could be.
    Do you do the splitting of the hens? Any important tips are doing that successfully?

  6. I have always wanted to try and cook them. Will try this weekend. Just wondering….there is nothing written after the number 1 in the list of instructions. Something else I should be doing?

  7. My husband loves cornish game hens and Ive never thought to marinate them so long before! They look great, look forward to trying it out.

  8. Great tips Sandy! I follow so many of these as well. Here are some more that have helped me:

    * Clean as you go, so the mess doesn’t show. Leaving it until an hour before the company comes will cause us to go into panic mode and take away our joy & peace in hospitality.

    * Confirm with guests 24 hours before a dinner party. A friendly e-mail reminder, text, or phone call helps those with hectic & busy schedules. It also helps the hostess to adjust the amount of food served.

    * Be forgiving when someone needs to cancel. Don’t easily take offense. Remember the times when you had too much on your “plate” or really needed to be at home, etc.

    * Don’t focus on what would make the dinner better, when you have no way of getting what you think is “better”. Example: If I could serve Lobster with the steak it would be the best meal. If only we had more furniture and a bigger house, we would have the best dinner parties.

    YOU make it better by your smile, warmth, kindness, personality, etc. Those things can not be bought & are better than any of the finest foods & decor.

    Just some simple thoughts I hope helps someone. May you have a wonderful day Sandy. Your blog is wonderful!

  9. Glad you provided that video, because I definitely have never split cornish game hens. Looks super easy and yummy!

  10. Your recipe looks great!! Hopefully I will be brave enough to try it sometime.. :)

  11. I have cooked these little game hens a lot for special occasions, but not with this marinade. Click. Print. :-D

  12. These are great tips! I have never cooked cornish game hens but I do love to eat them. They look wonderful!

  13. No, I have never cooked cornish game hens! This sounds like an excellent marinade. Now I want to try them for myself!

  14. I served cornish game hens at one of my very first dinner parties. Your tips would have been very handy as would a meat thermometer! They were not cooked through and I was so embarrassed, I haven’t made them since! That was about 20 years ago, I think I should give them another go!

  15. Beautiful chicken and love these helpful party tips.

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  17. Great post! My kids love the “cute chickens” because of their size. :)

  18. These look so easy to pull off and juicy.

  19. Great tips!
    Being prepared is so important. It really helps to keep my stress level down and makes entertaining flow smoothly, even if everything doesn’t turn out “perfectly”. I couldn’t live without my lists. My husband thinks it’s so funny how I have lists for everything:).
    The cornish hen recipe sounds delicious too. I’ll be giving it a try. I usually stuff mine with rice or cornbread stuffing, but I’ll look forward to trying it this way too. I love any recipe where I can get some of the work done ahead of time.

  20. We had guests this weekend and made these for dinner. They were so good and so easy to make! I loved the flavor of the marinade! My hens were actually done in about 45 minutes as opposed to an hour.

  21. Love Cornish hens. My go to recipe for them is a pack of Lipton onion soup…but this sounds new and tasty.ibe never thought about cutting them before. What do you or your friend typically serve with this when entertaining? Thanks.

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  24. Have you ever made this recipe and not split the chickens?

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  26. I just saw this recipe and want to cook it tonight. Can I still marinate it in less than 4 hours?

    • I think it would be fine to marinate in 4 hours, Linda. Of course, there’s going to be more flavor the longer you can marinate (but you know this). Just keep basting it! :)

  27. Hi, just want to make sure that when you say “roast at 400 degrees “, that means I would just bake at 400 degrees. Is that correct? 

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