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Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens, Brined and Herbed

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens, brined and rubbed with a herb paste from my garden.


  • 4 (1.5 pound) cornish hens


  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 quarts water

Herb rub

  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sage, minced
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon (roughly 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Brine the hens: In a container large enough to fit all the hens, mix the salt and sugar in the water until dissolved. Submerge the hens in the brine, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  2. Prep the hens: Put the herb rub ingredients in a small bowl, mix to combine, and set aside. Remove the hens from the brine, and pat dry with paper towels. Be thorough - wet hens won't brown! Loosen the skin covering the breasts of the hen by carefully running your finger under the skin. Get a little of the herb rub on the breast meat where you just loosened it, and spread it all over the breast. Rub the hens with the rest of the herb rub, making sure to get some inside the cavity as well. Truss the hens and put them on the spit. It helps if you have four sets of forks for your spit for this. Put the hens on in two sets of two - first bird on the spit feet first, then the second bird breast first, so the neck part of the backbone of the two hens are touching. Then use a fork to secure the first pair of hens. Repeat for the second set of hens. Let sit at room temperature while you prepare your grill.
  3. Prepare the grill: Set your grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pans in the middle, over the unlit burners.
  4. Cook the hens: Put the spit on the grill, put your foil pans under the hens, and start the spit spinning. Cook with the lid closed. It will take for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the hens. (It took 45 minutes for my 1 1/2 pound hens). Check the internal temp on the hens after 20 minutes, and every 10 minutes thereafter - you want 160*F to 165*F in the breast, and 170*F to 180*F in the thigh. Remove the spit from the grill (while wearing gloves!), and remove the hens from the spit. Cover the hens with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  5. Final prep and serve: Cut the hens in half - I find a half a hen to be a good serving for an adult, with one hen per person if they're a big eater. If you have poultry shears or kitchen shears, cut the chicken along one side the backbone, and then through the middle of the breast to separate the hen into two halves. If you don't have shears, use a large knife. On a cutting board, run a chef's knife through the cavity and split the chicken along the backbone, then turn it over and split through the breast.


See my Rotisserie Poultry Basic Technique for more details.

  • Prep Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Rotisserie
  • Cuisine: American