Maple-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

When this lovely dish starts cooking, it smells like the holidays.  With the sweetness of the orange and maple, and the evergreen-like scent of the rosemary, you’ll love the warmth it brings to your kitchen.

Maple-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens from The Foodie Army Wife

To begin, heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Measure out 1/3 cup each of orang juice and real maple syrup.



Pour them into a small saucepan, and add 2 Tablespoons white cooking wine.



To that, add 1 teaspoon of dry rosemary leaves.

Bring this to a gentle simmer, and let it cook for about 10 minutes or so.



Meanwhile, take the poor, defenseless hens, and cut them in half. This is one of the few things I use kitchen shears for, but a warning: BE CAREFUL.

They are very sharp and the kitchen shears know no difference between YOUR flesh and hen flesh. I know….I speak from trip-to-the-emergency-room experience, many many moons ago. It was also the very first time my daughter fainted at the sight of blood…but that is a totally separate and inappropriate story. (Thankfully I wasn’t cooking…I was cutting pipe-cleaners for a craft project. Just thought I would clarify.)

The Moral of the Story: BE CAREFUL!!!!!

Cut them all in half, along the breastbone and the spine, creating two pieces from each.



Now, zest an orange.



Dry the hens with a paper towel.



Take a hen half, and gently pull the skin up from the breast, creating a pocket.
Then take 1/6 of the zest and spread it in the pocket, all over the meat.



Take the shears now, and snip off the tip of the wing. There is no meat on it, and all it will do is burn. Place the half in the baking dish, skin up. Repeat with all.



By now, the glaze is bubbly and cheerful, and your kitchen is smelling amazing. Turn off the heat.



Give the tops of the hens a light salt & peppering.



Next, brush them with 1/3 of the glaze. Now they are ready for the oven.



About 20 minutes into the baking, brush on another 1/3 of the glaze, and again another 20 minutes later.



Let the hens bake for a total of 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees, or the juices run clear.



Maple-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens


  • 3 Cornish Game Hens
  • 1/3 c orange juice
  • 1/3 c real maple syrup
  • 2 Tb white cooking wine
  • 1 tsp dry rosemary leaves
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh zest of 1 orange

Combine syrup, orange juice, wine and rosemary in a small saucepan Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and let cook gently for a few minutes. Meanwhile, cut hens in half, down the center of the breasts, along the breastbone, and along the spine. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Gently pull skin up from breast, creating a pocket. Spread 1/6 of the orange zest in that pocket, over the meat. Place in a baking dish, skin up. Repeat with all 5 remaining halves. Salt and pepper the tops of the hens. Brush 1/3 of the glaze over the hens. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat reads 180 degrees (or until juices run clear.) Half way through the baking, brush another coating of glaze on, and again when hens are almost done.


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