Monday, November 15, 2021

Cornish Hen #Recipe by Maya Corrigan #Thanksgiving

Orange-glazed Cornish hens are especially good on Thanksgiving when you don't have enough people for a turkey dinner. They work well for any festive occasion, and they're easy enough to make for an everyday dinner. 

This recipe uses marmalade made with sugar. It can be the low-sugar type, but not marmalade made with corn syrup or artificial sweeteners. 

Serves 4.


4 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 Cornish hens approximately 1.5 pounds each
Vegetable cooking spray
Orange slices for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

To make the glaze:
Combine the marmalade, the vinegar, and the thyme in a microwavable cup.
Microwave the mixture for 1 minute at half power. 
Stir to mix the ingredients. Microwave for 30 seconds at half-power.
Repeat the 30- second microwaving until the mixture is soft enough to brush on the hens.
Set it aside and keep it warm.

To prepare the hens:
Discard any giblets. Rinse the hens under cold water and pat them dry. Remove the skin and split the hens in half lengthwise.

Coat a rack with vegetable cooking spray and put it in a shallow roasting pan. Place the hens on the rack, with the meaty side up. 

Brush the hens with half the glaze mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Brush the hens with the remaining marmalade mix, and bake an additional 20-25 minutes. 

If you have larger hens, increase the baking time. 

Check the temperature of the hen by putting a thermometer into the thigh. It should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit when done. Take the hens out of the oven, cover with foil, and let them sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

Serve with an optional garnish of orange slices.

Just as pretty as any turkey, and Cornish hens won't leave you with days of leftovers!

Do you enjoy eating Cornish hens? 


This recipe appears in my 4th Five-Ingredient Mystery, The Tell-Tale Tarte. The book's title derives from an Edgar Allan Poe story about a murder, “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

The victim and suspects in The Tell-Tale Tarte include an actor famed for his one-man Poe show, an author who riffs on Poe stories, a professor who specializes in Poe, and an aspiring writer and Poe lookalike. When café manager Val Deniston serves a tarte Tatin at a book club dinner, the dessert reveals a fraud, embroiling her and her grandfather in the investigation of a murder. The search for the killer takes Val and Granddad to the home of the bestselling author, Rick Usher. Stranded there by an ice storm, they spend a harrowing night in the “House of Usher.” Then, in the shadow of Poe’s tomb, they try to prevent another murder and mete out some POE-etic justice.

Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.

Sign up for Maya's newsletter on her website. One subscriber wins a book each time a newsletter goes out. Check out the easy recipes, mystery history and trivia, and a free culinary mystery story on the website.

Book covers of the 7 Five-Ingredient Mysteries by Maya Corrigan


  1. We do enjoy Cornish hens - especially now that it's just hubby and I. The recipe sounds yummy and I think it would be great to use cooking them on the grill too.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks for your comment, Kay. I love grilling when it's warm enough. I haven't tried grilling hens, but I'll suggest it to the family grill master. ~Maya

  2. I've made Cornish hens for smaller Thanksgiving dinners, but simply roasted them. This orange glaze looks great! I'm going to try it.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Mary Ellen. I hope you like the way the hens turn out.

  3. Yes, that's exactly what we've done on the few occasions it's just been the two of us, including the orange slices! Dh prefers Cornish hens over turkey anyway, and it's so festive. I often add Dijon mustard to the glaze, very tasty!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lynn. I'll try adding Dijon mustard the next time I make Cornish hens. ~Maya

  4. I've never had Cornish hens so I'll try this recipe. The long-running joke in our family is my husband's answer to my question of "what would you like for dinner?" It's always "pheasants under glass" so I'll tell him the Cornish hen is the equivalent of a pheasant under glass. :)

  5. These sound delicious. I'll have to look for Cornish hens.