Grilled cornish game hens with chimichurri

Crispy grilled Cornish game hens with chimichurri come loaded with flavor.

Grilled Cornish game hens with chimichurri

Grilled Cornish game hens are a delightful and flavorful meal that are perfect for outdoor cooking or indoor grilling. These small birds are a perfect size for individual portions, making them a great option for a dinner party or family gathering. With their delicate texture and rich, savory flavor, they are a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike.

What is a Cornish game hen?

Cornish game hens are often considered a luxurious dish, but they are surprisingly easy to prepare and cook. These birds are a cross between the Cornish and White Rock breeds and are prized for their tender meat and small size. They are a great alternative to chicken and other poultry, offering a unique flavor and texture that is sure to impress your guests.

One of the keys to cooking the perfect grilled Cornish game hen is to start with a high-quality bird. I look for birds that are fresh and have not been frozen, as this will affect the flavor and texture of the meat. I also look for birds that have been raised on a natural diet, without any added hormones or antibiotics, for a healthier and more flavorful meal.

Making the chimichurri

Making chimichurri is super easy and can be done in just a few minutes. If you’ve never had it before it goes great on just about everything. Its base of oil and vinegar combined with herbs and garlic really pair well with poultry, fish and beef.

All of the ingredients for the chimichurri can be hand chopped but I add everything into my Kitchen Aid food processor and pulse it together. I like doing that because it’s faster and more convenient.

Then I add olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic cloves, fresh cilantro and oregano and season with kosher salt and black pepper. You can use the chimichurri right away, but for best results, I let the flavor meld together for atleast an hour in my fridge. As it sits, the flavors will intensify and get even better.

Grilled Cornish game hen with chimichurri

First spatchcock your Cornish hens. If you don’t know what spatchcocking is , basically you are removing the back bone with a sharp knife by cutting on either side and pulling it away. This allows your hen to lay flatter on the grill and cook more evenly. This step isn’t crucial but I like to do it if I have the time.

Pat your birds dry with a paper towel to get rid of any excess moisture and drizzle on a little olive oil making sure to rub it all over each one. Next season the bird generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. You can also use some herbs if you want but the chimichurri has so much flavor there isn’t much need for anything else.

Now it’s time to fire up the grill! I use Fogo Charcoal and get them pretty hot and then wait about 15 minutes for the coals to die down a bit. After the grill is preheated to about medium heat, oil the grates to prevent the hens from sticking. Place the bird on the grill, breast side up and cook them for 10-12 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. You can keep flipping them back and forth for a few minutes each until they get up to the right temperature.

Once the birds are around 150 degrees add your homemade chimichurri right on top and give it a flip, after a few minutes add some to the back side and flip again. Once the internal temperature of the hens are at 165 in the deepest part of the breast, its time to eat.

Grilled Cornish game hens with chimichurri

When the bird is cooked to perfection, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute and will help keep the meat tender and juicy. Serve the hen with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a crisp green salad.

In addition to being delicious, grilled Cornish game hens are also a healthy option. They are low in fat and calories, and are a good source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. They are also a great option for those following a gluten-free or low-carb diet, making them a perfect choice for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Another great thing about grilled Cornish game hens is that they can be cooked a variety of different ways to suit your taste. Try marinating the birds in a tangy citrus or spicy BBQ sauce for a bold and flavorful dish, or stuff them with a mixture of herbs, breadcrumbs, and cheese for a delicious twist on the traditional recipe.

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Grilled cornish gamehens with chimichurri

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  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x


  • 2 Cornish Game Hens
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1 tablespoon of SPG (salt, pepper, garlic powder)


  • 1/2 cup of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup of parsley
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar 
  • 1 juiced lime
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves 
  • 1 pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (Optional) 


  1. Spatchcock your Cornish hens by removing the backbone.
  2. Coat each hen with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 
  3. Then grill each hen , flipping occasionally to cook both sides. 
  4. Once the internal temperature of the hens are around 150 degrees internal, add chimichurri to both sides. 
  5. Continue cooking the hens, flipping them back and forth on the grill adding more chimichurri if desired. 
  6. Once the hens have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the breast, remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

Making the chimichurri

  1. In a food processor combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic cloves, fresh cilantro, parsley, kosher salt and black pepper. 
  2. Pulse in your food processor until chimichurri is blended together and slightly chunky. 
  3. The chimichurri can be served right away or for best results refrigerate for atleast 1 hour. 
  • Author: Jordan Hanger
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Latin American

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