Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens

Cornish hens are so dainty, they immediately feel like a fancy way to serve roast chicken for company. But these hens are just as lovely for a weeknight meal. The buttermilk brine infuses flavor and moisture to the hens, and can be done the night before.
Roasted buttermilk brined cornish hens in yellow roasting pan with red potatoes.
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5 from 4 votes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Brining Time 3 hours
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4 people
Calories 625kcal
Author Liren Baker


  • 2 Cornish hens 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds each
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • fresh thyme


  • Rinse the Cornish hens under cool water, including the cavity. Pat dry with paper towels, set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin and lime juice. Place the hens breast side down and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator. Let the hens brine for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Take the hens out of the brine and lightly pat dry with paper towels. Season the cavities with a little salt and pepper, and insert half a lemon and a sprig of thyme. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Brush the hens with melted butter, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan. If you wish, you can surround the hens with red potatoes, brushed with butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Place in the middle rack of the oven. Roast the hens for 50 minutes to 1 hour; until the skin is bronzed and the internal temperature in thickest part of the thigh is about 180°F.



The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.


Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 262mg | Sodium: 1540mg | Potassium: 839mg | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 925IU | Vitamin C: 15.8mg | Calcium: 243mg | Iron: 2.3mg
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