Rotisserie Cornish Hens on a Spit

by Emily Kemme
rotisserie cornish hens

Guys will be guys, and they are never more than guys when there is the high potential for heat, they get to stick long sword-like “tools” into innocent cuts of meat, and they can play with a new toy.

In this case, the new toy is a rotisserie attachment Dr. K bought to accessorize the grill. He claims he bought it because the rotisserie method of cooking is easy and pretty much hands off. That may be so, but I think he bought it for the sword — um, skewer, that is.

The first time he gave the new toy a test drive, he decided to make it fully loaded to see how far he could push the possibilities. Four Cornish hens on a spit was quite the sight to see. They turned out great. Make sure you brine the hens for two hours before roasting to assure the meat is tender and the skin crisps well. There is no key to timing on this recipe. The goal is crispy skin on the birds and the way to do that is dry the skin as much as possible before cooking. After removing from the brine, let the hens air dry. Then proceed with the oil and herb rub.

For Brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 T poultry rub

Mix brine solution in a large, sealable plastic storage container

Remaining ingredients

  • 4 Cornish hens
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, one softened, one melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 T minced parsley
  • 2 T minced sage leaves
  • 2 T thyme leaves, minced

Other tools: kitchen string, rotisserie grill apparatus

Add Cornish hens to brine solution in storage container. Top with water to insure hens are covered in brine. Cover and seal container and place in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.

If you are cooking the hens later, you may take them out of the brine after 4 hours and keep in refrigerator on baking pan until ready to proceed to next step.

Place softened butter in a medium bowl. Add garlic, parsley, sage and thyme and mash into butter to prepare a paste.

Remove hens from refrigerator one hour before planning to rotisserie. Loosen skin on breasts and rub 1 tsp butter herb mixture on each hen. Reserve remaining herb butter. Using precut lengths of kitchen string, truss legs. Trussing is an important step. It allows the juices to stay inside the bird and prevents the legs from catching on the pan as the chicken rotates. Rub remaining butter herb mixture on hen skin.

Prepare grill for rotisserie by removing grates and placing large aluminum foil pan beneath rotisserie area to catch juices.

Turn on grill to high 15 minutes before cooking. Thread hens on skewer and set on grill. Lower grill heat to medium, about 375 ° F.

Brush with melted butter while roasting. Cook hens until internal temperature registers 165 ° F and the skin is dark brown and crisped, about 1.5 hours. Remove hens from skewer and place on clean cutting board. Tent with foil and let rest so juices redistribute. Cut hens in half to serve.

Serves 8.

rotisserie cornish hens

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Kathleen O'Donnell January 12, 2019 - 8:35 am

Hi Emily,
We recently bought a countertop oven with a rotisserie and I’ve been experimenting with it. So far, I’ve roasted pork loin, eye-of-the-round and a small chicken.My son John says I’d rotisserie soup if I could.
I’m going to try your Cornish hen recipe. Thanks for posting that.

Kay O’

Emily Kemme January 12, 2019 - 8:57 am

Aren’t they the most convenient piece of equipment? Doug has also roasted a prime rib and whole chickens on it. He’s hankering to rotisserie a turkey next! Let me know what you think about the Cornish hens. I think the method helps make them juicier.


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