Terrified of Cooking a Turkey? Try Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Grapes and Herbs

cornish game hens
Photo: Rebecca Gallop // A Daily Something
Cooking a whole bird may seem like a daunting task, so try your hand at mastering Cornish game hens.

I've never been a cook-a- whole-bird kinda girl. Ever since I was little, I've been terrified of the thought of touching a raw whole hen. But I do enjoy the end product, and they are gorgeous. I decided to try my hand at a Friendsgiving turkey alternative, and made these delicious little hens. Cornish game hens are a good place to start, because they're so small and manageable. Each guest receives a little hen on their plate, and there's no massive turkey to deal with. The roasted grapes are a scrumptious and beautiful addition to this dish. However, my husband prefers that I roast them separately, since they do tend to get smothered in chicken juices (which I enjoy).

cornish game hens

What You'll Need

Serves 4 (1 hen each)

  • 4 Cornish game hens
  • 1 large bunch grapes (leave half attached to vine, detach the rest)
  • 4 lady apples
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves, plus 4 sprigs
  • 2 onions, quartered with root end left on
  • 15 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, cut into 8 slices
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herbs de provence sea salt (a mixture of ½ sea salt, ½ dried herbs: lavender buds, oregano, summer savory, marjoram, sage, thyme, basil, and rosemary)



Step 1: Preheat oven to 450°F.


Step 2: Remove ½ of grapes from vine, rinse and dry. Place all grapes on roasting pan along with apples, onion, and garlic (reserving 4 cloves). Toss all with 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, thyme, and salt and pepper.


Step 3: Remove giblet from hens. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Place a tied bouquet of 1 sprig each of thyme, rosemary, and oregano, along with 2 slices lemon and 1 clove unpeeled garlic into cavity of each hen. Tie legs with kitchen twine.

prepping hens

prepping hens

Step 4: Place hens over grape/onion mixture. Drizzle each hen with 1 tsp olive oil and ½ tsp balsamic vinegar. Season with a generous sprinkle of herbs de provence sea salt.



Step 5: Roast hens at 450°F for 55-65 minutes, basting occasionally with pan juices, until thermometer reads 175°F. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before serving.

hen dish

Styling, recipe and photography by Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something.