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  • Lemon-Rosemary Cornish Hens

Lemon-Rosemary Cornish Hens

By ​Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD​ | November 4, 2020 | Rally Health

Serves 4

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Many holiday meals often center around turkey, but Cornish hens are equally dramatic and a great option to consider if you’re serving a smaller crowd. Their smaller size also means they need to go in the oven only about 1 hour prior to serving, compared with a large turkey, which may require 4 to 5 hours to cook. Leave the skin on while baking to keep the poultry moist and flavorful. Then, remove before carving and serving. 


3 lemons, divided

2 sprigs rosemary, halved

2 (1¼ to 1½ lb) Cornish hens 

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp minced garlic

½ tsp kosher salt, divided

½ tsp pepper, divided


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 

2. Cut two lemons into ½-inch-thick slices. Place lemon slices in the bottom of an 11x7-inch baking dish, and top with rosemary spring halves. Place hens, breast side up, on top of lemons and rosemary. 

3.  In a small bowl, grate remaining lemon to get ½ tsp zest, and squeeze to get 2 tsp juice. Add oil, rosemary, garlic, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Rub oil mixture over hens and under skin. Sprinkle top of hens with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. 

4. Bake hens at 450 degrees for 45 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh reads 165 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove skin from hens before cutting. 

NUTRITION FACTS (per ½ cooked hen): Calories 200; Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 2g); Cholesterol 120mg; Sodium 250mg; Total Carbs 1g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Total Sugars 0g, Added Sugars 0g); Protein 27g.

​Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD​
Rally Health