Cornish game hens are a close relative to chicken and pheasant. This is an elegant but easy recipe for the slow cooker; Cornish game hens with Grand Marnier sauce. Perfect for a special occasion or special dinner, easy enough for every day!
What Are Cornish Game Hens?
While Cornish game hens sound exotic, the are not actually “game” at all, and are really just young chickens. They are sometimes referred to as Rock Cornish Game Hens. They generally weigh around two pounds, and are killed much younger than chickens, between four and six weeks. (This post was originally posted on December 17th, 2011 and has been updated to contain nutritional information. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
Where can you find Game Hens?
Although they sound like something you can only find on an autumn shoot at your English cousin’s estate, game hens are found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. If you’ve never seen them there, it’s probably because you didn’t notice them! You can even find them at big box stores like Costco.
How much does one game hen serve?
This is entirely subjective. Some recipes call for one hen per person, and some one for every two people. That will depend on how hungry or how big your family’s or guest’s appetites are. Or how much you plan to serve with the hens. My family of four, all adults, split two hens between the four of us.
How do you prepare game hens?
Preparing the game hens is similar to preparing a whole roasting chicken. the advantage is, they are already pretty clean, with the giblets usually removed. Pat them dry.
Season well with salt and black pepper. Stuff the cavity with fresh sage and thyme for extra flavor.
What’s the best way to cook game hens?
You can roast the game hens in the oven, which actually takes less time than the slow-cooker. But the slow cooker or Crock-pot does have the advantage of freeing up oven space if you’re preparing other dishes. I’ve included both methods here.
Can you make Cornish game hens in a crock pot or slow cooker?
The original recipe I posted back in 2011 was for the slow-cooker. I’ve updated the recipe to include oven roasting instructions as well. You’ll end up with more liquid when you cook them in the slow-cooker, so it will take longer to reduce into a sauce.
What do you serve with Cornish Game Hens?
I love to serve these Game Hens with Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice, which has a wonderful autumn feeling. Brussels sprouts are a classic vegetable for the fall. Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Candied Pecans is elegant and seasonal. My favorite super easy dessert for entertaining is Lemon Posset.
How to make the Grand Marnier Sauce.
The cooking and basting liquid will turn into a glossy and delicious sauce. Whether you decide to use the Crock-pot or roast the birds in the oven, the marinade amounts and ingredients are the same. However cooking them in a slow-cooker results in more liquid, which means it will take longer to reduce down into a sauce. Strain the juices to remove any bits of herbs or skin. Heat over a medium heat until sauce is reduced by half and is about as thick as maple syrup. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk in 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier and 4 Tablespoons butter. Spoon or pour sauce over the birds just before serving.
I hope you enjoy this easy and elegant recipe for Cornish game hens!
Cornish Game Hen with Grand Marnier Sauce
Grand Marnier Sauce
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier divided
Roasted Game Hens
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Mix zest and juice of one orange, soy sauce, garlic, honey, brown sugar, and salt together in a bowl.
- Pat dry the game hens, season with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavities with fresh sage and thyme leaves. Tie or truss legs together.
- Place game hens in a small roasting pan. Pour sauce over the hens and cover. Roast at 425 F. for 20 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350 F. and continue roasting an additional 60 minutes or until thermometer inserted in thickest part of leg reaches 160 F. See below to finish the sauce.
Game Hens in the Slow-Cooker or Crock-Pot
- Mix zest and juice of one orange, soy sauce, garlic, honey, brown sugar, and salt together in the slow cooker.
- Split the birds down the back and flatten them out and put in slow cooker, breast side down.
- Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. Flip birds and continue cooking an additional 1 1/2 hours.
For the Grand Marnier Sauce
- Remove birds from crock pot or roasting pan and strain the juices.
- Heat the remaining juice/marinade over a medium heat until reduced by half and slightly thicker. This will depend on how much liquid you have left. There will be more liquid if you cooked the birds in a slow cooker. You want the sauce to be about as thick as maple syrup. Remove pan from heat.
- Finish sauce by whisking in 4 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon of Grand Mariner. It will be glossy and coat the back of a spoon
- Finish birds by browning skin under broiler for a couple of minutes until the skin in golden brown.
- Spoon some sauce over each bird.