Make this Smoked Cornish Hens for a delicious dinner idea. The meat turns our juicy, tender and full of smoky flavor.

Close up image of two Cornish Hens on a platter with sprigs of rosemary
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Smoker Recipes always create the best flavorful meat and side dishes. This easy step by step Cornish Hen recipe is perfect for the holidays or any day of the week.

If you love smoking Cornish game hens, then check out this Smoked Turkey Recipe or Smoked Ham Recipe. You will love the taste and how simple these recipes are to make.

What are Cornish Hens?

Cornish Hens are the perfect size to serve as a holiday meat. They are cooked tender and juicy and taste similar to regular chicken. This is an impressive meal to serve to guest with your favorite side dishes.

Usually one Cornish Hens will serve one person for a crowd pleasing meal idea.

Ingredients: 

Smoked Cornish Hens ingredients - Cornish Hens, oil, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, lemon, rosemary
  • Cornish hens, about 1.5-2 pounds each 
  • Vegetable Oil 
  • Cloves garlic, minced
  • Paprika
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried Thyme 
  • Dried Rosemary
  • Lemon, halved 
  • Sprigs Fresh Rosemary (optional) 

For the full list of ingredients and recipe, scroll to the bottom for the recipe card.

Variations Ideas:

  • Seasoning – Feel free to substitute the dried seasoning with fresh herbs to create a delicious dry rub.
  • Marinade – Make a delicious marinade with BBQ Sauce, garlic powder, brown sugar, and orange juice.

Step by Step Instructions: 

  • Step 1 – Preheat your smoker to 225°F and prepare the grates for direct smoking. 
  • Step 2 – Choose your wood for smoking. Fruitwoods like apple or cherry work well with Cornish hens. 
  • Step 3 – In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, dried thyme, and dried rosemary to create the rub. 
Combining the seasoning in a bowl
  • Step 4 – Pat the Cornish hens dry with paper towels. 
  • Step 5 – Apply the rub mixture all over the hens, including the cavity. 
Rubbing the seasoning blend over the uncooked Cornish Hens
  • Step 6 – Insert half a lemon and a sprig of fresh rosemary into the cavity of each hen, if using. 
  • Step 7 – Place the prepared hens directly on the smoker grates, breast side up. 
Placing seasoned Cornish Hens in the smoker
  • Step 8 – Close the lid and smoke for about 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F. 
  • Step 9 – Remove the hens from the smoker and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy! 

Expert Tips: 

  • Crispy Skin – If you like crispier skin, you can increase the smoker temperature to 350°F for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Be sure to keep an eye on it to avoid burning. 
  • Rotate Cornish Hens – If your smoker has hot spots, consider rotating the hens halfway through to ensure even cooking. 
  • Cooking Time – The Cornish hens are small, so they’ll cook relatively quickly compared to larger poultry. Make sure to monitor the internal temperature of the hens for doneness. Cooking times may vary depending on the size of the hens and the smoker. 
  • Meat Thermometer – We recommend to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the Cornish hens.
  • Rest Cornish Hens – After removing the fully cooked Cornish hens from the smoker, allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.
Two Cornish Hens on a white platter with sprigs of Rosemary and slice lemons

Serving Suggestions:

Cornish Hens can be served with many different side dishes. We love making our side dishes in the smoker for a complete meal idea. Some of our favorites include Smoked Asparagus, Smoked Potatoes, and Smoked Green Beans.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How to Store Leftovers:

Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days.  

What Flavor of Wood Chips is Best:

We like to use fruitwoods like apple or cherry but you can also smoke with pecan, hickory, or mesquite. Feel free to also use a pellet smoker to smoke Cornish Hens.  

How to Know When Cornish Hens are Cooked:

The best way to know when you Cornish Hens are cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Check in the thigh to make sure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

How to Reheat:

We recommend reheating in the oven for the best results. You can reheat in the microwave in intervals of 30 seconds until heated through.

Close up image of smoked Cornish Hens

More Easy Smoked Recipes:

We love hearing from you. If you make this Smoked Cornish Hens Recipe, please leave us a comment or a star review.

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Smoked Cornish Hens

5 from 2 votes
Make this Smoked Cornish Hens for a delicious dinner idea. The meat turns our juicy, tender and full of smoky flavor.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Calories 584

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat your smoker to 225°F and prepare the grates for direct smoking.
  • Choose your wood for smoking. Fruitwoods like apple or cherry work well with Cornish hens.
  • In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, dried thyme, and dried rosemary to create the rub.
  • Pat the Cornish hens dry with paper towels.
  • Apply the rub mixture all over the hens, including the cavity.
  • Insert half a lemon and a sprig of fresh rosemary into the cavity of each hen, if using.
  • Place the prepared hens directly on the smoker grates, breast side up.
  • Close the lid and smoke for about 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165°F.
  • Remove the hens from the smoker and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

If you like crispier skin, you can increase the smoker temperature to 350°F for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Be sure to keep an eye on it to avoid burning. 
If your smoker has hot spots, consider rotating the hens halfway through to ensure even cooking. 
The Cornish hens are small, so they’ll cook relatively quickly compared to larger poultry. Make sure to monitor the internal temperature of the hens for doneness, as cooking times may vary depending on the size of the hens and the smoker. 
Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5-6 days.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 584kcal, Carbohydrates 4g, Protein 39g, Fat 45g, Saturated Fat 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat 14g, Monounsaturated Fat 17g, Trans Fat 0.1g, Cholesterol 227mg, Sodium 720mg, Potassium 590mg, Fiber 1g, Sugar 1g, Vitamin A 333IU, Vitamin C 20mg, Calcium 41mg, Iron 2mg

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Carrie. Welcome to Grill on a Dime!

I’m on a mission to help you cook delicious meals without busting your budget. From the Best Blackstone recipes, to grilling, and easy smoker recipes, together we are going to cook real food, with easy ingredients… for real families!

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