If you love whole roasted chicken and you’ve never tried Cornish hens, you’re in for a treat. This smaller version of your favorite poultry is meaty and delicious and goes great with many side dishes.
A Cornish hen typically weighs two pounds or less and makes for a great protein. Some are even small enough that you can serve one per person at the dinner table.
Our favorite part of having this as a meal is having enough room leftover for the great sides that go with it. Below are a few ways you can make dinner extra special with your favorite Cornish hen recipe.
17 Side Dishes to Serve With Cornish Hens
Cornish hens can be paired with many things. From savory to sweet, we have you covered. Be creative and have a complete Cornish hen meal with sides that will blow your guests away.
1. Brown Rice and Thyme Stuffing
If you ask me to describe the perfect picturesque picnic, it would probably be in a small town off the coast of Maine with a bottle of wine and a basket decked out with Cornish hens and this brown rice and thyme stuffing.
Made with garden carrots, fresh thyme, straight from the earth leeks, and berries, this brown rice cranberry stuffing is simply perfect with Cornish hens.
2. Mushroom Rice
The earthly essence of mushrooms gives chicken just the right amount of freshness without being overwhelming. A great way to serve your Cornish hen is to try stuffing them with something a little less traditional, like mushroom rice.
After it’s cooked, stuff your chicken with the rice and mushroom combination before roasting. This gives the stuffing a rich moistness from the juices of the chicken. Or just have the mushroom rice as a side. Either way, it’s a fantastic pairing.
3. Classic Stuffing
If you’re not into “fancy” stuffings and would like to have a taste of Thanksgiving any given day, try a Cornish hen stuffed with classic bread stuffing.
There are many easy recipes for making your favorite bread-based stuffing but if you’re in the mood for something quick and easy, grab yourself a box of the StoveTop. It will hit the spot and maybe even conjure up some holiday memories.
4. Corn on The Cob
No shortage of sides go with a roasted Cornish hen but one of the best is corn on the cob. Packed with vitamins and reminiscent of summer BBQ’s you can have this hen and corn combo at any time of the year and feel satisfied.
Corn on the cob is great boiled, grilled, or even microwaved but if you prefer it off the cob, try making a delicious corn salsa to top your Cornish hens.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are the new fad food for those who are seeking a sweet treat that is full of vitamins C, B, iron, and fiber. This root veggie is sure making its mark.
Bathe your Cornish hen in a spice combination of coriander, cayenne, paprika, garlic, thyme, and cumin and bake in a cast-iron skillet with chopped sweet potatoes for an amazing weekday dinner.
6. Root Veggies
Sweet potatoes are fabulous with Cornish hens but think outside of your wheelhouse and get funky with your vegetable medley.
Cornish hens release a natural juice that coats root vegetables like potatoes, rainbow carrots, turnips, and parsnips in the most delectable way. Toss these vegetables together in a pan with your seasoned hens for a healthy and hearty meal.
7. Glazed Carrots
If you’ve always thought of carrots as crunchy, raw and/or flavorless, think again. Try making this glazed carrot side and pairing it with a Cornish hen and be mind-blown.
Steam your carrots until they’re soft but not mushy. You have a few options for cooking them (such as grilling) but you can simply cook them in butter in your skillet. Adding brown sugar and cooking this on medium heat will caramelize the sugar. The glaze it creates is simply delicious.
8. Mac and Cheese
A quintessential side dish all over the world, you can’t go wrong with mac and cheese.
Whether you like it classic and super cheesy or with some extras, think mushrooms and artisan cheese, your mac and cheese side dish will not disappoint when served with Cornish hens. The combo gives everyone in the family the satisfying meal they crave as well as enough protein and calcium to fill up for the night.
9. Scalloped Potatoes
Call it a potato version of mac and cheese if you will but this casserole-style side dish is so much more. Scalloped potatoes have their origins in England and are named for the way the potatoes in the dish are sliced.
Thin rounds of potato, layered and topped with cheese before baking, make a great side dish to a classic roasted Cornish game hen.
10. Brussel Sprouts
“Eat your Brussel sprouts” has always held a negative connotation but it shouldn’t! Brussel sprouts are not only nutritious, they’re absolutely scrumptious when prepared correctly.
Try grilling them or baking them in an oven. Top with a balsamic vinaigrette and some pine nuts and truffle oil if you’re into that sort of thing and serve them with your Cornish game hens. A perfectly elegant, well-rounded meal.
11. Homemade Dinner Rolls/Popovers
A Cornish game hen per person is just the right amount of food in my opinion but if you need a little something extra, try serving your whole little chicken with a dinner roll or popover.
If you’re not familiar with popovers, they’re an egg batter made bread that has a bread pudding-like quality. Dinner rolls and popovers sop up your Cornish hen gravy and give any meal that little extra something.
12. French Beans with Brick Hens
You can cook and serve green beans in a hundred different ways but let’s take a look at this unique method of cooking your Cornish hen and serving them with green or French beans.
Using an aluminum foil-covered brick as a weight on your Cornish hen halves to get the juices in your meat flowing. Bake in the oven at the recommended temperature and make a sage & lemon butter gravy that will be poured over your steamed French beans.
13. Nan Bread
For those of you who like Indian food, Chicken tikka or tandoori style chicken, is a fan favorite.
Combine spices like chili powder, cumin, garlic, and ginger to create a marinade that will mimic the flavors of India. Rub this over your Cornish hens before stuffing them with cinnamon, lemon, and onion Bake and serve with Nan bread for a truly surprising dinner.
14. Lentil and Barley Salad
Lentils and barley may sound too healthy to be delicious but you’re mistaken if you think this combo, tossed in a light dressing with pomegranate and feta, is not absolutely mouthwatering.
While many a salad will go well with Cornish hens, the texture of this earthy salad combined with hearty protein-packed chicken is just right in so many ways.
15. Creamy Crunchy Salad with Peas
This salad is a perfect addition to any meal at any event! If you’ve never tried making a pea salad, get on it. The combination of sweet peas and bacon complements a well-brined Cornish hen in a way that will ‘wow’ your diners.
Make a dressing out of mayo, mustard, and yogurt, and toss your cooked sweet peas and spices together. Top it off with crispy bacon bits and crunchy pecans for a truly powerful side dish.
16. Cranberry Sauce
There’s something about the tart and semi-sweet flavor of cranberries that just hits the spot when paired with poultry. Cornish hens and cranberry sauce is no exception to the rule.
While cranberry sauce is prevalent during the holiday months, you may be happy to know cranberry sauce is easy to make with just a bag of frozen cranberries and some sugar.
17. Orange Pomegranate Salad
For a salad side, that will impress your guests that pairs perfectly with Cornish hens, try making an orange pomegranate salad.
This Mediterranean inspired side dish gives your meal that little bit of sweetness and tart flavor that kicks your meal into gear. Using rounds of navel oranges, pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, and a combination of lime, cinnamon, and honey in your dressing, you’ll have a refreshing salad that knocks everyone’s socks off.
Tender and juicy, the subtle yet familiar taste of Cornish hens go amazingly well with the sides listed above as well as many more. The tender young chicken is not only manageable and tasty, it’s also less fatty than your standard broiler chicken making it healthier.
Let your creative self come out when experimenting with this crowd favorite. Try one tonight, you won’t regret it.