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Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens – An Easy Fun Twist on a Fancy Little Chicken

These spicy Cornish Hens will be your new favorite “go-to”dish for your next special occasion dinner, date night meal, dinner party (when you really want to impress guests) or, better yet, you just want an awesome dinner!!! I mean who doesn’t want their own personal half a chicken!!! The best part, the little underappreciated Cornish Hen, makes a very special, and unique meal, without costing a fortune.

Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens - An Easy Fun Twist on a Fancy Little Chicken

What is a Cornish Hen?????

Basically a Cornish Hen is a chicken! A very small and very tender chicken. The flavor is slightly different from a chicken. Cornish Hen tend to have a milder flavor and are more tender than a chicken. And, the best part, Cornish Hens have fewer calories and fat than chickens.

Each Cornish Hen weighs about 1 to 2 pounds, so, you’ll want to cut them in half so each person/guest will have a breast, leg, thigh, and yes, a wing! Cutting the Cornish Hen in half, and serving with a yummy side dish, is plenty to make a great satisfying meal that you don’t have to feel guilty about enjoying.

Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens - An Easy Fun Twist on a Fancy Little Chicken

WARNING: You need to be prepared that you will fall in love with this recipe!!!

How to make Spicy Cornish Hen

This is such a simple recipe that has so much flavor and will impress everyone. First step is to mix together all the ingredients: Garlic, Sea Salt, Sesame Oil, Honey, Peanut Butter, Ginger, Chili Garlic Sauce, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Rice Wine Vinegar, and Cayenne Pepper. Only use the Cayenne Pepper if you want it spicy. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the marinade for basting later. Another way to add some heat to the recipe is to use Hot Honey. If you haven’t tried Hot Honey yet, I have to say, you’re missing out if you like spicy food.

We like to cook one Cornish Hen for the two of us. It’s a great size for dinner and, this way, we each get a breast, leg, thigh and wing. The hen can be cut after it’s cooked but I find it’s easier to cut it before cooking and marinating. This way when the hen is completely cooked we can pull it off the grill (or out of the oven) and dinner is ready! I like to use kitchen scissors to cut the hen. It’s so easy and fast. Yes, you guessed it Amy is not doing this step!!!!

How do I prepare a Cornish Hen?

Another reason to cut the hen is so that when you marinate it, it’s easier to get all the marinade all over the hen. Plus, it takes less space in the fridge and less time to cook. We’re always looking at ways to save some time especially when working on dinner.

Place both halves of the hen in a zip lock bag or large casserole dish. Cover with the marinade and place back in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to overnight. The longer the hen is in the marinade the more flavor will get into the meat.

Should I Grill or Bake?

We wanted to grill the hen this time, mostly because it is sooooooo hot outside we didn’t want to heat up the house, but it’s really great baked (usually we bake them). Either way grilling or baking the flavor is so good and makes an awesome dinner. If grilling, I place the halves over direct heat on the grill to char it some. For baking, place the hen in a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 375 degrees.

When grilling, after the hen is lightly chard, move off the direct heat and baste each half with the 1/2 cup of reserved marinade that was set aside at the beginning.

Either way you decide to bake or grill make sure the hens internal temperature is a least 165 degrees.

We served our Cornish Hens with Cauliflower Rice. But they are really good with plain white rice, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli, asparagus or your favorite veggie.

Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens - An Easy Fun Twist on a Fancy Little Chicken


Cornish Hens can be cooked whole, cut in half, or spatchcocked. (Check out the step by step method of how to spatchcock) If you’re not familiar with the method, Spatchcock means that the hen is cut along the backbone and “flattened out” on a flat surface (like a cutting board or large plate).

We like to cut our hens in half. To cut them in half use the spatchcock technique. Then cut down the center of the breast. So each side has a breast, leg/thigh and wing.

For major flavor, marinate the hen overnight. Cornish Hens are smaller and are easier to get all the wonderful spice in the meat. Every bite will be wonderful!!!

Make sure to watch the hens while cooking/grilling, since they’re smaller they’re going to cook faster. It’s important to make sure the Cornish Hens are cooked all the way through and that it stays juicy.

Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens - An Easy Fun Twist on a Fancy Little Chicken

Sweet and Spicy Cornish Hens

Flavors of peanut, ginger, and garlic in this Sweet and Spicy Marinade bring out the delicate flavor of the Cornish Hen.



Course: Dinner, Main Course
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Calories: 565kcal

Author: Belly Laugh Living


Chicken Marinade

  • 1 Cornish Hen
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey (Hot Honey adds a nice spice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter We use Chunky Peanut Butter
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (Optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar


  • Mix Marinade (Garlic, Salt, Sesame Oil, Honey, Peanut Butter, Ginger, Chili Garlic Sauce, Onion Powder, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Rice Wine Vinegar)
  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to cut Cornish Hen in half. Cut down the center of the top of the Cornish Hen.
  • Flip the hen over and cut out the strip of bone down the center of the Cornish Hen.
  • Place both halves of the Cornish Hen in a Zip Lock Bag
  • Pour Marinade over Cornish Hen
  • Massage Marinade into the Cornish Hen. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. It’s better to marinate overnight but not necessary
  • Bake or Grill Cornish Hens. If Baking: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the Cornish Hen in a Casserole dish. Cook Cornish Hen for 45 minutes or until done -internal temperature of 165 degrees and the juices run clear. If Grilling: Place Cornish Hen on grill over direct heat for a few minutes. Grill until there is a nice char. About 3 to 5 minutes depending on how hot the fire is on the grill.
  • Move the Cornish Hen to the in-direct heat on the grill. Put cover down on grill. Check after 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Continue to grill until the Cornish Hens have reached 165 degrees internal temperature and the juices run clear.
  • Place Cornish Hen on a serving dish
  • Serve with Cauliflower Rice and Enjoy!!!


Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 1465mg | Potassium: 621mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 661IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg

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