Cranberry BBQ Sauce Cornish Hens

These cranberry bbq sauce cornish hens are perfectly roasted and served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is one skillet deliciousness!

These cranberry bbq sauce cornish hens are perfectly roasted and served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is one skillet deliciousness!

As much as I love Thanksgiving I don’t always love all the planning that comes along with Thanksgiving. There is always so. much. food. And generally not enough people to actually eat all that food. A few years ago my husband was sick and we were unable to make up to his parents house for Thanksgiving. That left my husband and I to fend for ourselves. At that point it was too late to find a small turkey but I did manage to find some Cornish hens.

So I roasted them up and made ourselves dinner. It was the perfect Thanksgiving for two dinner. Plus there was no fighting over who got the dark and white meat since we each got our very own hen. It was fantastic.

These cranberry bbq sauce cornish hens are perfectly roasted and served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is one skillet deliciousness!

That’s why instead of making a big fat turkey for the blog I decided to share a perfect dinner for two option. This one skillet wonder of a meal cooks everything together and includes all you need for a delicious meal. Crispy roasted Cornish hens glazed with a homemade cranberry bbq sauce (made in the blender!) and served along side fingerling potatoes and brussels sprouts all roasted in the same pan. Since the Cornish hens are glazed with a homemade sauce I simply stuffed them with lemon and herbs. The flavor is subtle and totally perfect for Thanksgiving.

These cranberry bbq sauce cornish hens are perfectly roasted and served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is one skillet deliciousness!

Since you’re cooking everything in the same skillet make sure to pick fingerling potatoes that are are not too big. You want them to be able to roast for 55 minutes until they are perfectly soft. Now if you’re still not sold on Cornish hens for Thanksgiving I of course have a delicious herbed mayonnaise roast turkey that would be perfect!

BUT if you’re like me and hate large meal cleanup and plan on staying home for Thanksgiving I would say this is the meal for you. You get your poultry, potatoes, cranberry sauce (in BBQ sauce form) and vegetables all in one dish. Do it!

{Looking for more Thanksgiving dishes? Try my Thanksgiving sangria, on the stalk roasted Brussels sprouts or my pumpkin cornbread chicken sausage stuffing.}


Cranberry BBQ Sauce Cornish Hens

These cranberry bbq sauce cornish hens are perfectly roasted and served with fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts. This is one skillet deliciousness!

Yield: 2 servings plus 2 cups bbq sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes


For Cornish hens:

  • 2 (1-1/2 pound) Cornish hens
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound small fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • Cranberry BBQ sauce

For cranberry bbq sauce:

  • 1 (12 ounce) can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


For Cornish hens:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 12 inch cast iron skillet add Cornish hens. Season the outside of the hens with desired amount of kosher salt and black pepper. Stuff the hens with 2 pieces of lemon, 3 pieces thyme and 2 pieces rosemary. It doesn't have to be perfect just stuff it into the cavity until it fits.

In a small bowl add fingerling potatoes and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper. Take the remaining sprig of rosemary and minced the leaves. Add to the potato bowl. Toss to evenly coat and add to pan with the Cornish hens.

Add to the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. While the hens are roasting add the Brussels sprouts to the bowl the potatoes were in and drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season with kosher salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat.

After the 30 minutes of roasting remove the hens and add the Brussels sprouts to the pan with the potatoes and hens. Stir to combine with the potatoes. Glaze the cornish hens with cranberry bbq sauce.

Add back to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the Brussels sprouts are fully roasted, the potatoes are soft and the chicken is fully cooked. (Internal temperature 160 degrees)

Remove from the oven and serve hot.

For cranberry bbq sauce:
Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.

Add to a small skillet and simmer for 10 minutes to help combine the flavors.

Note: If you buy larger cornish hens you will have to adjust the cooking time. You will want to roast your hens longer and then add in the brussels at the end so they do not overcook.

27 Responses to “Cranberry BBQ Sauce Cornish Hens”

  1. #
    Dani @ The Adventure Bite — November 24, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Brandy!!! Oh my goodness I want to shove my face in that pan! We were planning a lazy thanksgiving too until last minute plans for the whole family at our place tomorrow ha! I’ve got to start cooking like….yesterday! I kind of wish it was just us and some cornish game hens. Pinning this!

  2. #
    Kacey @ The Cookie Writer — November 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Cornish hens are something I have never cooked but you make it look so easy! I love my cast iron skillet so this is a meal I could totally do! Plus, who does not love fingerling potatoes?!

  3. #
    Ginny McMeans — November 24, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Cornish Game Hens are such an elegant go-to. People are always impressed and this recipe looks fantastic! The sauce is wonderful too.

  4. #
    Stephanie — November 24, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    That sauce sounds awesome! What a yummy meal!

  5. #
    heather @french press — November 24, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    you may have just convinced me to forget the turkey and do cornish hens – what a wonderful non-traditinal holiday meal

  6. #
    The Food Hunter — November 24, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Wow this sounds amazing ….that sauce. I have to try it.

  7. #
    Lauren @ Wicked Spatula — November 24, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    This is perfect! That sauce sounds delicious

  8. #
    Joanie@ZagLeft — November 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    What a fantastic recipe, Brandy! Not everyone loves or wants to cook a huge turkey for Thanksgiving and what a wonderful option this is. Cooking it all in one-pan is a huge bonus too.

  9. #
    Chrisy @ Homemade Hooplah — November 24, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    That WHOLE pan has my name on it! We’re covered for Thanksgiving (boo hiss) but I am SO making these for Christmas!

  10. #
    Jessica (Savory Experiments) — November 24, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    We love Cornish Hens at our home, but I forget about them frequently. Now I am craving them!

  11. #
    Stacey @ Bake.Eat.Repeat. — November 24, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Cornish hens are such a great substitute for a big turkey and these look perfect! So crispy, plus one pan meals are always the best!

  12. #
    Jennifer Stewart — November 24, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    This is such a great recipe. I showed it to the kids and they were excited that they each got their “own” chickens!

  13. #
    Michelle | A Dish of Daily Life — November 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    I’ve never made cornish hens before but in a few years we are going to be empty nesters and I may not feel like doing a turkey just for my husband and I. Plus you make them look so delicious!

  14. #
    Sabrina @ Dinner, then Dessert — November 25, 2015 at 1:16 am

    This sounds like a great substitute for Thanksgiving dinner! And the photos looks delicious!

  15. #
    Lisa @ Healthy Nibbles & Bits — November 25, 2015 at 2:29 am

    These cornish hens look phenomenal, Brandy! This is such a perfect alternative to turkey on Thanksgiving!

  16. #
    Sarah Walker Caron (Sarah's Cucina Bella) — November 25, 2015 at 7:27 am

    What a fantastic idea for a dinner for two! I wouldn’t limit this one to Thanksgiving though. With those tasty roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts, I would love this anytime!

  17. #
    Amanda | The Chunky Chef — November 25, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Every time I go past the freezer section at my grocery store I am so tempted to pick up a pack of cornish game hens… they’re so elegant and perfectly sized!! This looks perfect and I love your photography 🙂

  18. #
    Angie | Big Bear's Wife — November 25, 2015 at 9:25 am

    So we just had a local restaurant start advertising that they were going to be making Cornish hens and I was so super excited and then I came here and saw this and now I’m double excited because I use to LOVE Cornish hens!! I haven’t made them in forever but yum!! I actually would love to have Cornish hens over a Turkey! That’s actually perfect for people that don’t want to cook a huge turkey!

  19. #
    Vânia — November 25, 2015 at 11:20 am

    This looks delicious, it looks like a restaurant dish, very nice, and easy to do!

  20. #
    Kirsten/ComfortablyDomestic — November 25, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Such a perfect feast for two. That cranberry bbq sauce would be perfect on so many things! Ribs, chicken wings, pork roast, meatloaf…

  21. #
    Kristen — November 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    I love Cornish hens but with a large family, I usually have to settle for bigger birds like turkeys and chickens. Your birds look wonderful. That cranberry bbq sauce sounds amazing.

  22. #
    Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen — November 25, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    What a fantastic idea for a Thanksgiving for two. I love the flavors you used, and they look delicious!

  23. #
    Kim Beaulieu — November 26, 2015 at 3:59 am

    These are freaking gorgeous. I love cornish hens. We used to eat them every Sunday when the kids were little. I could gobble these right up.

  24. #
    Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious — November 26, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Thanksgiving in a single pan? I am ALL IN!

  25. #
    Brenda@SugarfreeMom — November 26, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Cornsh hens was a grat idea since your hubby was sick last year. I always go to my moms so we never have left overs for the next day. I’ve learned to cook a turkey and all the fixings the day after. Happy Thanksgiving!

  26. #
    Dalpa — November 27, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    so nice… Your birds look wonderful.

  27. #
    Kellie @ the suburban soapbox — November 30, 2015 at 7:52 am

    What a great dinner! So easy and the flavors are awesome!

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