Roast Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce

Roast Cornish Hens with Cranberry Thyme Sauce

Continuing with the red theme of the Valentine’s Day dinner I served last Saturday, I chose this recipe for the main course. It’s based on a highly rated recipe from with several modifications.

Roast Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Roast Cornish Hens with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce


  • 4 1-1/2 to 2 pound Cornish games hens
  • 5 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 12 ounces low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup white grape juice
  • 3/4 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries


  1. Rinse hens and pat dry. Trim off excess skin from around cavity. Reserve skin. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under back.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Blend 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, and 2 teaspoon thyme in small bowl. Spread skin of each hen with 1/4 of butter mixture and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Roast hens for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375ºF and continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170ºF, about 30 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved skin and sear until deep brown, about 4 minutes. Discard skin. Blend remaining 2 tablespoons butter and flour in small bowl. Add broth, grape juice, cranberry concentrate, and remaining 2 teaspoons thyme to skillet. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, whisking often, about 9 minutes. Whisk in flour mixture and cranberries. Simmer until sauce coats spoon, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer hens to plate, spoon sauce over and serve.


Instead of cutting the hens in half, I left them whole. It takes a little longer to cook, but I think it makes a nicer presentation. Also, once you remove the bones, half a hen really isn’t very filling, so everyone got their own bird. Because I roasted them whole, there was no need to sear them before placing them in the oven. I didn’t feel so much butter per hen was required, so I reduced that quite a bit. Finally, I adjusted the recipe to serve 4 adults. For smaller appetites, you may still want to consider half a bird per person (but still roast them whole).

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