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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!

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.

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.

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.