This elegant but simple recipe for slow cooker Cornish hens is paired with a rich Grand Marnier sauce and can be easily adapted for the oven. It’s perfect for a special occasion or romantic dinner, but easy enough for any day!
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What Are Cornish Game Hens?
While Cornish game hens sound exotic, they are not actually “game” at all. Cornish hens are really just young chickens.
They generally weigh around two pounds, and are processed much younger than chickens – between four and six weeks. They are sometimes referred to as Rock Cornish Game Hens.
Are Cornish hens healthier than chicken?
Cornish hens are healthier than chicken because they have less fat and fewer calories. They are high in protein and B12.
Where can you find Cornish game hens?
Although they sound like something you can only find on an autumn shoot at your English cousin’s estate, Cornish 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 Cornish hen serve?
This is entirely subjective. Some recipes call for one hen per person, and some suggest one for every two people. That will depend on how hungry you and your guests are, or how many sides you have for the Cornish hens.
My family of four, all adults, split two hens between the four of us.
How to Cook Cornish Hens in Slow Cooker
Preparing the game hens is similar to preparing a whole roasting chicken. They are already pretty clean, with the giblets usually removed. Simply remove the packaging and pat them dry.
Season well with salt and black pepper. Stuff the cavity with fresh sage and thyme for extra flavor. Split the birds down the back and flatten them out. Put them in the slow cooker, breast side down.
Mix the zest and juice of one orange, soy sauce, garlic, honey, brown sugar, and salt together and pour over the Cornish game hens in the crock pot.
Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. Flip birds and continue cooking an additional 1 1/2 hours.
This Cornish hen crock pot recipe can be easily adapted to the oven, and I’ve included instructions for both in the recipe card below. Cooking in the oven takes less time than the slow cooker. But cooking crockpot cornish hens frees up oven space if you’re preparing other dishes.
How to Make the Grand Marnier Sauce
The Cornish hen cooking liquid can be transformed into a glossy and delicious Grand Marnier sauce!
Strain the cooking juices into a saucepan, removing any bits of herbs or skin. Heat over a medium heat until the 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.
Recommended Sides for Cornish Hens
I love to serve these slow cooker Cornish 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.
I hope you enjoy this easy and elegant slow cooker Cornish hen recipe!
This post was originally posted on December 17th, 2011 and has been updated to contain nutritional information.
Cornish Game Hen with Grand Marnier Sauce
- 2 Cornish game hens cleaned and patted dry
- kosher salt and pepper to season the birds
- 1 Orange zest and juice
- 4 Tablespoons soy sauce gluten free, tamari or coconut aminos
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
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 2 tablespoons 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.
I love slow cooker entrees like this one! Thank you!
I’m really enjoying your recipes. I made the Grand Marnier cornish game hens last night the sauce was delicious. I made the oven version since I don’t have a slow cooker currently. My wife is not a fan of chicken but she loved the dish with wild rice and Brussels sprouts.
thank you so much Bill for you kind comments! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
Cynthia, thanks for sharing this scrumptious sounding recipe! I’m making out my shopping list right now, can’t wait to fix this!! I just have a question about the 2 Tablespoons of Grand Marnier, are they both whisked into the 4 T of butter to finish the sauce? Thanks in advance 🙂
I have the same question. Recipe calls for 2T, but then only says to whisk 1 in with butter to finish the sauce. I”ve read it over and over to figure out where the other 1T goes.
Sorry! Typo! It should be 2 T to finish the sauce. (you could even add three if you’d like!) Thanks for pointing it out.
Sorry! Typo! You whisk both tablespoons into sauce to finish it. Thanks!