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posted November 29, 2021

Smoked Cornish Hens

Ready for a dinner that tastes as good as it looks? These smoked Cornish hens are individually portioned and stuffed with delicious sage sausage stuffing for a perfect holiday meal.

Smoked cornish hen on a serving dish with text overlay - Smoked Cornish Hens.

What are Cornish Hens?

A Cornish hen is a small broiler chicken breed from England. The hens are not prolific egg producers, so breeders keep them primarily for their meat. They are quite small in size (only a couple of pounds each), and each hen can usually feed one person (versus a chicken being able to feed 2-4).

Cornish hens are juicy and tender, even more so than a regular chicken, though they tend to taste quite similar. If you are looking for a way to fancy up your dinner a bit, a smoked Cornish hen will give you that “wow” factor while still presenting your guests with a meal that won’t be gamey or difficult to procure.

Chicken broth being poured over stuffing mixture.

Smoked Cornish Hens

These savory Cornish hens bring all of the flavor in a beautiful package. These Cornish hens are stuffed with mom’s classic stuffing, making the whole hen a complete meal.

Cornish hens are ideal for plated dinners where each guest gets their own amazing serving of tender and juicy meat, crispy golden skin, and the tastiest stuffing! I love to make these for special occasions, especially during the Christmas season during a nice, sitdown meal. You just can’t beat the gorgeous presentation of these hens!

Hey Grill Hey Chicken Seasoning being sprinkled on four cornish hens.

How to Smoke Cornish Hens

Let’s get these Cornish hens in the smoker, shall we? Here’s the process on smoking Cornish hens.

  1. Preheat. These hens can be cooked on any smoker that can maintain consistent temperatures. I cooked them on my Camp Chef SmokePro. Choose a light-flavored hardwood for this smoke. I recommend alder, maple, pecan, or apple. Light the grill and preheat to 325 degrees F.
  2. Stuffing. Make the stuffing (recipe included in the card below!). Once the stuffing is prepared, stuff the mixture into the cavities of the Cornish hens. If you have additional stuffing, place it in a cast-iron skillet.
  3. Prep. Drizzle olive oil on the cornish hens and rub to evenly coat. Next, season with Hey Grill Hey Chicken Rub. (If you don’t have Chicken Rub on hand, I’ve recommended other rubs to try in the tips section below).
  4. Smoke. Place the seasoned hens (breast side up) and the pan of stuffing on the grill grates. Close the lid, and smoke for around 45-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meat and stuffing reaches 165 degrees F.
  5. Enjoy. Remove the hens to individual serving dishes and enjoy!

Four seasoned cornish game hens on the grill grates of a smoker.

How Long to Smoke Cornish Hens

It will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to fully smoke a Cornish hen with your smoker running consistently at 325 degrees F.

As with everything else cooked on the grill, pay attention to temperature and not to time. These Cornish hens are fully cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the breasts AND the stuffing.

Tips for Making Stuffed Smoked Cornish Hens

Here are some tips for making your smoked Cornish hens the best of the best.

  • Try a mayo rub! If you’re feeling adventurous, mix 3 Tablespoons Chicken Rub with 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise and use a spatula to rub over the hens. The seasoning blend with mayonnaise creates a paste that is built for browning. The mayo has enough fat to help the skin crisp and the meat stays juicy but has more staying power than butter (which just melts off during the cooking process). You really won’t taste “mayonnaise flavor” because the cooking process changes the flavor to the point where it just all blends together into a delicious seasoning.
  • Save the extra stuffing! The recipe included makes more stuffing than can fit inside the 4 Cornish hens. Don’t let it go to waste, pour it into a cast-iron skillet and cook the stuffing alongside the hens on the grill. Built-in side dish!
  • Make your own seasoning blend. If you want to save a step, use my Chicken Rub and get all of the flavors in one bottle. If you want to make seasoning from scratch, you can make this Lemon Herb Chicken Seasoning a go, or make the easy chicken rub in the printable recipe card below.

Two smoked cornish hens on a bed of stuffing.

More Smoked Poultry Recipes

Ready to make all the delicious chicken and turkey recipes on the smoker? Let Hey Grill Hey help! These are a few of our absolutely, positively favorite recipes on the site.

Smoked Cornish Hen Recipe

Here’s hoping this smoked Cornish hen recipe brought you and your loved ones some joy (and full tummies!) this week. Make sure to leave a comment below letting us know how the recipe turned out for you. We love to hear from you!

Two smoked cornish hens on a bed of stuffing.

Smoked Cornish Hens

Taylor Shulman
Ready for a dinner that tastes as good as it looks? These smoked Cornish hens are individually portioned and stuffed with delicious stuffing for a perfect holiday meal.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 1 hr
Total Time : 1 hr 20 mins
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 2107kcal


Mom's Stuffing

  • 1 loaf Italian bread (sliced into 1/2 inch thick strips that are no longer than 2 inches)
  • 1 pound sage sausage (casing removed)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup granny smith apples (peeled, cored, and diced)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken broth
  • 4 stalks celery (finely diced)
  • 1 small white onion (finely diced)
  • 2 Tablespoons sage (chiffonade)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper


  • Preheat. Preheat your grill to 325 degrees F and set it up for indirect cooking (meaning there is an area with no direct heat underneath the grates). If cooking on a smoker, use light hardwoods like alder, maple, pecan, or apple.
  • Make the stuffing. In a Dutch oven add sage sausage and brown over medium-high heat. Add in the butter followed by the diced onion and celery and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sage, salt, pepper, apples, cranberries, bread, chicken broth, and eggs.
  • Stuff. Stuff the bread mixture inside the cavities of the Cornish hens. Add any additional stuffing to small ramekins or an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet.
  • Season. In a small bowl, combine the Chicken rub and mayonnaise. Pat the outside of the hens dry, then apply the wet rub, using a rubber spatula or a backside of a spoon to help distribute the seasoning paste.
  • Smoke. Place the pan of stuffing and the Cornish hens, breast side up, on the grill, and close the lid. Cook for 45-60 minutes. You want an internal temperature of at least 165 F in the thickest part of the breasts AND in the stuffing.
  • Serve. Remove the Cornish hens to your serving platter and rest (without covering) for 5 minutes before serving.


Easy Chicken Rub
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder


Calories: 2107kcal | Carbohydrates: 71g | Protein: 107g | Fat: 152g | Saturated Fat: 58g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 28g | Monounsaturated Fat: 56g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 651mg | Sodium: 3638mg | Potassium: 1850mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 42g | Vitamin A: 1235IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 127mg | Iron: 8mg
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