Posted: Nov 17, 2012 10:00 AM
When you think of Thanksgiving, you no doubt think of turkeys. But that doesn't mean everyone likes them. And it also doesn't mean you can't venture outside of your poultry comfort zone and try serving something new as your entree like a Cornish hen.

Cornish hens

Serves 4

Recipe from

Treat your anti-Turkey guests to something new on the holiday or just celebrate the day with something unexpected this Thanksgiving and serve tasty Cornish hens. Not only are they delicious, but they also cut cooking time in half! Plus, if you pair them with delicious cornbread stuffing, your family and friends will be begging for seconds and even thirds!


  • 4 Cornish hens (1-1/2 pounds each)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, cut into 8 slices
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 large Spanish onion, sliced


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Remove the giblets from the hens. Rinse well, inside and out, then pat dry.
  3. Carefully slide your fingers between the skin and flesh of each hen's breast.
  4. Rub the flesh with a small amount of olive oil, salt and pepper. Slide a sage leaf and a slice of garlic under the skin on each side of the breast
  5. Cut the onion into large rings and place in an oiled roasting pan. Place the hens on top of the onions.
  6. Lightly fill the cavities with cornbread stuffing (see recipe).
  7. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Tuck the wings under the bodies.
  8. Rub the hens with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  9. Roast the hens for about 40 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced. Allow the hens to rest 10 minutes, covered loosely with foil. Cut off the strings. Spoon the stuffing and any extra stuffing into a serving dish, then carve the hens.

Cornbread stuffing

This medley of fall favorites is good enough to serve on its own but also adds a winning note of flavor to Cornish hens.


  • 8 tablespoons, or one stick, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage with fennel, casing removed
  • 6 sage leaves, minced
  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples, cored, unpeeled, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 4 cups crumbled cornbread or corn muffins
  • 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock


  1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, sage, salt and pepper and sauté until soft, or about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the sausage and cook through until brown. Add the apples, sauté until soft. Add the dried fruit and apple juice and reduce the juice over medium-high heat. Taste for additional seasoning.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Let cool 10 minutes. Mix in the cornbread and gradually add the stock until the mixture is moist and holds together when you press a bit between your fingers.
  4. Loosely stuff the hen cavities with the dressing and roast it accordingly.

Note^ If you have more stuffing than you need for the hens, place it in a buttered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp on top.

Learn more about this recipe at

More Thanksgiving entertaining ideas

Simple Thanksgiving table settings
How to host a Thanksgiving potluck
Start planning Thanksgiving