Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe (2024)

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My Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe is a lovely way to celebrate the fall season with a meal that tastes like a blended harvest. This dinner recipe is easy to make and delicious enough that it could even pass for a holiday dinner. Save it to Pinterest now so you can make it!

Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe (1)

Fall is just such a romantic time of year, isn’t it? The colors in the trees, in the sunrise and chill in the cool breeze with the warm sunlight…I am a lover of sweater weather and all the texture, warmth and romance that comes with it. Most of all, I think I’m a lover of the fall foods. Is there anything better than fresh, hot cider on those chilly evenings? Or maybe amulled wine? If you’re lucky, you still have some vegetables coming in from the harvest too and they happen to make a perfect addition to some beautiful oven roasted Cornish hens or even whole chickens for a delicious dinner.

Harvest mealtimes

I recently developed this Maple Cider Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe for Omaha Steaks for social media. I’ve partnered with them this year and we have been getting amazing steaks, chicken and fish throughout the year. When they asked me to work with the Cornish Hens, I knew I wanted to make a recipe that would really celebrate the season – the harvest and maybe the hunt too? And I truly loved it so much I felt like it was worthy of sharing on the blog here. The colors in the recipe, the coziness of it all just reminds me of the season.

We don’t hunt and we only use our chickens for egg production so whole chickens is not something we have often. However, if you are having a meal where you celebrate the harvest or a fall gathering of friends or even just a cozy Sunday dinner with your little family, this Maple Cider Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe may be for you.

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The taste of Cornish Hens and cooking with them

If you have never eaten Cornish Hens before then you might think they taste exactly like chicken. Well, they do taste somewhat like chicken but I find them to have a slightly more gamey flavor while also being more delicate. Perhaps a delicate game bird is a contradiction but that is how I perceive their flavor. As long as they are not overcooked, they are moist, tender and incredibly flavorful even without doing much to them.

When it comes to cooking my Cider Maple Cornish Hen recipe I like to roast these on a high temperature to help produce the nice flavor of the skin and preserve the juices. Because of this, this recipe can be made in 1 hour. They only take about 40-45 minutes to cook. Also, I find that one Cornish Hen can feed about two to three people depending on appetites. For my little family, two hens are all that are needed and they fit together well in a 9×13 casserole pan or baking dish. I like the nice high edges on the dishes to add in plenty of vegetables.

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Built in accompaniments

Speaking of vegetables, I start off by adding in potatoes and onions on the bottom of the pan. Whenever you’re roasting any kind of meat you want a nice layer of vegetables on the bottom of the pan. This does two things. 1. It allows airflow to the bottom of the bird to cook the bottom. 2. It provides you with a built in side side dish and some extra flavor.

In this case, I started with the potatoes, onions and some fresh herbs. Then halfway through I added in mushrooms and apples. I love this earthy combination and I think this recipe feels so seasonal to me because of this. Our apples have just come off the trees here and at the surrounding fruit farms. It is also so rainy here that there are an abundance of mushrooms growing throughout my property. (They’re all poisonous but still provide inspiration. Please never eat mushrooms you find randomly growing outside.)

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The Cider Maple basting sauce

I’m calling this a basting sauce for my Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe but really there isn’t much in the way of actually basting. The sauce gets cooked during the first 20 minutes while the hens are in the oven and then is poured over them after 20 minutes. I then spoon the pan sauce over them at the end too. It is really a simple sauce to make and is literally just a combination of apple cider, pure maple syrup and some corn starch or flour. It really does not get any easier.

Seasoning the hens

The Omaha Hens come pre-seasoned but I have a perfect chicken seasoning mix that will work well on these birds that you can use. It includes garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, dried oregano, dried thyme and dried parsley. I’ve included it in the printable recipe below for you. You can always use a poultry mix grinder too if you want to make it really easy. Just please remember to pre-season them somehow.

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Making a gravy

If you want to make a gravy for the Maple Cider Oven Roasted Cornish Hens you can do so by simmering the strained pan drippings in a small sauce pan with a little corn starch or flour. Start with one table spoon at a time until you get to the desired consistency and remember it will continue to thicken as it cools. I did not do this because the Cornish Hens were moist enough all on their own, but now I feel kind of silly for passing up any opportunity to have gravy. I have full instructions on the last step in the printable recipe below.

Tips for making the Maple Cider Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe

  • The Omaha Cornish Hens came pre-seasoned. However. I will give you my roasted chicken seasoning in the recipe below and it will work perfectly for this recipe.
  • As I mentioned above, you can make this same recipe with just one roasted chicken if you like. The cook times will be different. If you want to use a whole chicken, roast the chicken at 425 degrees for 20 minutes per pound. Cover for the last 30 minutes of the process.
  • Please make sure to use 100 percent Pure Maple Syrup for the recipe. Do not use pancake syrup. They are not the same.
  • You can add additional vegetables as you like as long as you can fit them in the pan. Carrots would be wonderful and even some vegetables like turnips would be good as well.
  • When it comes to saving and storing the Cider Maple Cornish Hens, store the hens separately from the vegetables and the sauce. Store everything in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. You can reheat int he microwave or the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remember to spoon some of the sauce over the chicken so it does not dry out. If the sauce has solidified a bit due to the fat content being refrigerated, don’t worry, that will melt when everything is reheated.
  • If you need a good roasting pan for this recipe or other chicken recipes, I like this one from Staub {HERE} that I have apparently ordered before but cannot seem to find. The one photographed is from a Chrissy Teigen Target collection a few years ago.

Looking for more dinner recipes?

If you are looking for more seasonal dinner recipes or just more dinner recipes in general, try these!

  • Maple & Plum Skillet Pork Chops {HERE}
  • Gouda & Apple Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken {HERE}
  • Braised Apple Cider Turkey Breast {HERE}
  • Roasted Fennel and Brussels Sprouts Salad {HERE}
  • Pumpkin Chorizo Soup {HERE}
  • Apple Gouda Sausage Pasta {HERE}

Thank you so much for visiting today, friends! I hope you love my Maple Cider Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe. You can find a full, printable recipe below with all the ingredients and steps. Happy Eating!

Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe (6)

Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe (7)

My Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe is a lovely way to celebrate the fall season with a meal that tastes like a blended harvest. This dinner recipe is easy to make and delicious enough that it could even pass for a holiday dinner. Save it to Pinterest now so you can make it!

Print Pin Rate

Course: dinner

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Cider Maple Cornish Hen, Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen, Cider Roasted Cornish hen, Oven Roasted Cornish hen

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 4 - 5 people

Author: Rachel


  • 1 9x13 large roasting pan/baking dish


  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • 3-4 large yellow Dutch potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 - 1/3 yellow onion, quartered
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Divide by tablespoons
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, plus more leaves for topping
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch or 4 tbsp flour for thickening the Cider mix
  • 6 sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 large apple. sliced
  • Fresh parsley, fresh thyme for topping
  • Additional sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Seasoning rub

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh cracked pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

  • Combine seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.

  • Prep the Cornish hens. Some Cornish Hens come with giblets. Remove those before proceeding and toss. Pat hens down with a paper towel.

  • Rub the seasoning mix onto the Cornish Hens, lightly cover and set aside for about 10 minutes while you cut the vegetables.

  • Line the bottom of the roasting pan or baking dish with the onions, potatoes and two sprigs of thyme. Place the hens onto of the vegetables and drizzle on the extra virgin olive oil. (One tablespoon for each bird and one for the vegetables.)

  • Roast uncovered for 20 minutes.

  • Meanwhile combine the apple cider and maple syrup in a pan over the stove. Bring to a rolling boil and then simmer. Add corn starch or flour and whisk until it dissolves. Continue to simmer until the hens are done baking for the first 20 minutes.

  • When the 20 minutes are up, remove the hens from the oven and drizzle ½ cup of the cider mix over each hen. Add the mushrooms and slices of apples. (You can reserve some apples for mixing in when the dish is finished cooking.) Lightly cover with tin foil and return to the oven for 20 minutes.

  • When the time is up, remove the tin foil and bake for another 5 minutes to caramelize the cider and maple more. If you want the skin crisper, broil for 2-4 minutes. Watch it so you don’t burn the skin.

  • Remove and drizzle the sauce over the hens. Sprinkle with more thyme, fresh parsley and additional sea salt and pepper to taste.

  • *If you want to make a gravy from the drippings, combine them with the other half of the cider mix in a sauce pan on the stove over low heat. Mix in 1 -3 tablespoons of flour or cornstarch and whisk to dissolve. The more you add the thicker it will be. I recommend about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cider Maple Oven Roasted Cornish Hen recipe (2024)


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