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Wild Rice Stuffed Cornish Hens

Print Recipe
4.80 from 15 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Brine Time 2 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs
Yield 4 -8 servings
Category Main Dish
Cuisine American
Author Lauren Grant


Golden brown and buttery, these roasted cornish game hens are stuffed with a flavorful wild rice stuffing for an elegant and impressive dinner.


Cornish Hens:

  • ¾ cup Morton kosher salt, or ½ cup table salt
  • 4 Cornish game hens, each about 1 ½ pounds if possible, trimmed of extra fat, giblets removed
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

Wild Rice Stuffing: 

  • ¾ cups wild rice blend*
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped shallots
  • ¼ cup minced carrot
  • ¼ cup minced celery
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


  • For the hens, dissolve salt in 3 quarts cold water in a large pot or bucket. Add hens, cover and refrigerate 2–3 hours. Remove hens, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry; prick skin all over breast and legs with point of a paring knife.
  • Mash together 5 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon sage, thyme, rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl; set aside.

Wild Rice Stuffing

  • Meanwhile, for the stuffing, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in rice, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked and fluffy, about 40 minutes. 
  • Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high. Add shallots, carrot, and celery; season with ¼ teaspoon salt and a pinch pepper; cook until vegetables are softened and starting to brown, 6–8 minutes. Stir in sage and cook 1 minute.
  • Add cooked rice, cherries, parsley and vinegar, reduce heat to low and cook until warmed through. Remove from heat and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to stuff hens.
    mixed rice, carrots, celery, dried cranberries and fresh herbs in a nonstick skillet

Cornish Hens

  • For the hens, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400ºF (204ºC). Place a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet (at least 19-by-13–inch). Reheat stuffing in a sauté pan until steaming. 
  • Spoon ½ cup hot stuffing into cavity of each hen; tie each hens legs together with 6-inch piece of kitchen twine. Leaving as much space as possible between each hen, arrange them breast side down and wings facing out, on prepared rack-lined baking sheet. Roast until backs are golden brown, about 25 minutes. 
    cornish hens on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet
  • Remove sheet from oven, spread 1 teaspoon herb butter over back of each hen. Turn hens breast side up and wings facing out, and spread 2 teaspoons herb butter over breast and leg area of each hen. Return pan to oven, add 1 cup water to sheet pan, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the stuffed cavity registers about 150ºF (65ºC), about 20–30 minutes. 
    butter and herb-coated cornish hens on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet
  • Remove pan from oven again and spread 1 teaspoon herb butter over breast and leg area of each hen. Return sheet to oven, add another ½ cup water to sheet and increase oven temperature to 450ºF (232ºC).
    herb-roasted cornish hens on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet
  • Roast until hens are spotty brown and cavity registers 160ºF (71ºC), 15–20 minutes more, depending on hen size. (You can also check thickest parts of breast, which should register 165ºF, and thickest part of thigh, which should register 170ºF). Remove hens from oven, spread remaining butter over each hen and rest 10 minutes.


  • Meanwhile, pour drippings into a liquid measuring cup. Skim 3 tablespoons fat off top and add to a small saucepan over medium heat. Skim and discard remaining fat from drippings.
  • Add flour to saucepan with fat and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly add remaining drippings, wine, and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, 5–8 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine mesh strainer into a serving dish or gravy boat.
  • Serve cornish hens with gravy. 


1 large pot or bucket
1 nonstick skillet


Wild Rice Blend: this is a dry rice blend made of a mix of red, black, brown and wild rice.
Serve with jus instead of gravy: pour hen “jus” from baking sheet into small saucepan, spoon off excess fat, add wine, and simmer over medium-high heat until flavors blend, 2–3 minutes. Drizzle about ¼  cup sauce over each hen and serve, passing remaining sauce separately.
Cut down on cook time: make the wild rice stuffing while the hens brine! This way it’s done and ready to go when the hens are. Just be sure to reheat the wild rice stuffing before stuffing the hens.
Don't have Morton kosher salt? This kosher salt guide will help you make the substitution with what you have.


Serving: 1/2 henCalories: 447kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 28gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 488mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 1g
Keywords Cornish game hen recipe, Cornish hen brine, Cornish hen recipe, How to cook cornish hens, Roasted cornish hens, Stuffed cornish hens, What is a cornish hen
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