Skip to Content

Smoked Cornish Hens

Today, we’re diving headfirst into the delicious world of smoked Cornish hens. These petite poultry delights are a perfect canvas for a smoky, savory flavor that’ll make your taste buds do the cha-cha. So, grab your aprons and let’s get smokin’!

smoked cornish hens

How To Make Smoked Cornish Hens

We’re kicking things off with the main event – the recipe for smoked Cornish hens that’ll leave your guests begging for seconds. Trust me; it’s easier than it sounds!

  1. Prep the Hens: Give your Cornish hens a good rinse and pat them dry with paper towels. You want them squeaky clean.
  2. Seasoning Magic: Rub those little birdies with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a hint of paprika for that extra oomph. Don’t be shy; ensure you get that seasoning all over ’em.
  3. Fire Up the Smoker: Get your smoker up to around 250°F (roughly 120°C for you metric folks). We’re aiming for low and slow here.
  4. Wood Wonder: Pick your wood or pellet flavor. Hickory? Mesquite? Fruitwood? The choice is yours, and it’ll influence the final taste, so choose wisely.
  5. Smokin’ Time: Place those beautifully seasoned hens on the smoker grates, breast-side up. Smoke ’em for about 2-3 hours, or until they hit 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part. Baste ’em with some butter every now and then for that crispy skin.
  6. Rest and Serve: Once they’re done, let ’em rest for about 10-15 minutes. Then carve ’em up and serve. Voila! You’re the BBQ master.

Cornish Hen vs Regular Chicken – What’s The Difference

Now, let’s clear up a little poultry confusion, shall we? Cornish hens are like the cool, smaller cousins of regular chickens. They’re both chickens, but Cornish hens are typically younger and smaller. Think of them as the “teenagers” of the chicken world. Because of their size, they’re perfect for individual servings, making them a top choice for fancy dinners and special occasions.

cornish hen in smoker

What Kind of Seasoning To Use

Seasoning? Oh, that’s where the magic happens, my friends. You can go wild with creativity here, but I have a tried-and-true blend that never disappoints. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a touch of paprika. It’s like a flavor explosion in your mouth! But hey, if you want to switch it up, throw in some herbs, lemon zest, or your secret spice blend. The world’s your oyster, or should I say, your Cornish hen?

What Type of Wood/Pellets to Use

Ahh, the wood or pellets debate. It’s like choosing a soundtrack for your BBQ party. Here’s the deal: different woods offer different flavors. If you want that classic smoky taste, go for hickory. Mesquite adds a bold, almost spicy flavor, while fruitwood like apple or cherry lends a subtle, sweet twist. My advice? Experiment! Mix and match. Find your signature smoke flavor, and you’ll be the BBQ maestro in no time.

What should I serve

Great question! Cornish hens are versatile little creatures so you can pair ’em up with all sorts of delicious sides. Some classics include garlic mashed potatoes, buttery corn on the cob, or a crisp garden salad. But you know what’s my secret weapon? A zesty coleslaw with a tangy mayo dressing. It cuts through the richness of the smoked hens like a dream.

smoking cornish hens

Well, folks, that wraps up our smokin’ adventure in the world of Cornish hens. I hope you’re as excited to try this recipe as I am to share it with you. Remember, BBQing is all about having fun, experimenting, and indulging in some seriously finger-lickin’ good eats.

So, get your smoker fired up, grab those Cornish hens, and create some mouthwatering memories. And as always, happy grilling, my BBQ buddies! Until next time, keep the fire burning and the flavor smokin’! Thanks for joining me on this flavor-packed journey.

Smoked Cornish Hens

Indulge in the succulent flavors of our smoked Cornish hens recipe. Elevate your cooking skills and create an unforgettable dining experience.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings 4


For the Hens:

  • 4 Cornish hens
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted

For the Smoker:

  • 2 cups wood chips or pellets hickory, mesquite, apple, or cherry
  • Water for soaking wood chips


Prepping the Hens

  1. Start by thawing the Cornish hens if they are frozen. Allow them to thaw completely in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  2. Once thawed, remove the hens from their packaging and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  3. Mix the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika in a small bowl to create your seasoning blend.
  4. Rub the seasoning blend all over the hens, inside and out. Be generous, ensuring the seasoning covers the entire surface of the hens.

Getting the Smoker Ready

  1. If you're using wood chips, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before smoking. Drain them well before use.
  2. Prepare your smoker according to its manufacturer's instructions. Aim for a smoking temperature of around 250°F (120°C).
  3. If you're using a charcoal smoker, light your charcoal using a chimney starter or firestarter. Once the coals are hot and covered with white ash, spread them in the smoker's firebox. Add the soaked wood chips directly onto the hot coals.
  4. If you're using an electric smoker, preheat it to 250°F (120°C) and add the soaked wood chips or pellets according to your smoker's instructions.

Smoking the Hens

  1. Place the seasoned Cornish hens on the smoker grates, breast-side up. Ensure there's some space between them for proper airflow and smoke circulation.
  2. Smoke the hens for 2-3 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
  3. While smoking, baste the hens with melted butter every 30 minutes to keep them moist and develop a crispy skin.

Rest and Serve

  1. Once the hens reach the desired temperature, carefully remove the hens from the smoker using tongs once they reach the desired temperature. Be gentle; they'll be hot and juicy!
  2. Tent the smoked Cornish hens loosely with aluminum foil and let them rest for 10-15 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute and the meat to relax, ensuring a juicy, tender bite.
  3. Carve the hens into quarters or halves, depending on your preference.
  4. Serve your smoked Cornish hens with your favorite sides. Classic choices include mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, or a refreshing garden salad. Don't forget to savor every smoky, flavorful bite!
Recipe Rating