These juicy roasted lemon pepper Cornish hens are full of flavor. This recipe is incredibly easy and budget-friendly! If you are new to Cornish game hens, you will love this tasty dinner recipe!

S roasted Cornish game hen on a bed of spinach.

Your family is going to love this fun, flavorful dinner. No more fighting over who gets the legs or the wings! Everyone can have their own when you make this delicious Roasted Cornish hens recipe.

Tender and juicy, the lemon pepper flavor makes every bite of these roasted Cornish game hens taste delicious. If your little ones don’t like lemon pepper, I include several flavor options so they can have a flavor they like.

Why we love this lemon pepper Cornish hen recipe:

  1. It is easy with just a few simple ingredients.
  2. Cornish game hens are budget-friendly.
  3. You can roast the hens separately or toss your favorite vegetables onto the pan to save time and cook them together!
  4. I include other flavor variations.

If you love making Cornish games hens, you need to try this incredible Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens recipe!

Allergen Information:

This homemade roasted Cornish hens recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, and oat-free.

Ingredient Notes:

  • Cornish game hens are usually found in the frozen meat section. They often come in a two-pack.
  • Lemon pepper seasoning – Most are gluten free but always read the labels.
  • Avocado oil – or light oil.
  • Lemons – fresh is always better if you have lemons on hand.

You may also love these Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Wings!

A raw cornish hen on a cutting board.

How to oven bake Cornish hens:

IMPORTANT: If your hens are frozen, thaw them for 2 days in the refrigerator before baking. You can not bake frozen Cornish hens.

Photos of the lemon pepper marinade and brushing it on the hens.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350º F. Combine the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic in a bowl. Place the hens on a sheet pan.

👀 Sandi Says: If you like a pretty presentation. Use cooking string to tie the feet together.

Step 2: Brush the lemon mixture over the hens. Try to get under the skin so the flavor can cook into the meat. I like to put up the skin near the cavity and brush the marinade in under the skin.

The hens with lemon pepper seasoning on top.

Step 3: Sprinkle the lemon pepper seasoning over the marinated chicken.

The baked cornish game hens on a sheet pan.

Step 4: How long should Cornish hens be cooked at 350º F? Cook the hens for 50 minutes at 350º F. After 50 minutes, insert a meat thermometer into several areas. The hens are done when their internal temperature is 165º F.

You can also cook Cornish hens in your air fryer! Check out my easy Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens recipe!

Try these fun flavor variations!

You can use another seasoning if you do not like lemon pepper. Here are a few delicious ideas:

  1. Instead of lemon pepper, use thyme and basil with garlic butter.
  2. Use a barbecue rub instead of garlic and lemon pepper.
  3. Swap out the lemon for orange juice and thyme to make this sweeter.

If you like to use a slow cooker, try my Slow Cooker Cornish Hens recipe!

Storage/Freezing Options:

Any leftover baked Cornish hens should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They will keep fresh for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them in a zip-style freezer bag.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What temperature should Cornish hens be cooked at?

I roast my Cornish hens at 350º F.

How do you prevent Cornish hens from drying out?

Allow the roasted hens to sit for 5 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat.

How do you know when the game hens are done roasting?

You will know the hens are done cooking when the internal temperature is 165º F.

How do you get the skin crispy on a Cornish hen?

Brush the lemon pepper butter over the outside of the hens; it helps the skin get crispy while baking.

The roasted game hens on a sheet pan.

More Gluten-Free Dinner Recipes:

Love This Recipe?

If you made and enjoyed this recipe, I would be incredibly grateful if you could leave a comment below. This will help others know this recipe is delicious. Thank you!

A roasted Cornish game hen on a bed of spinach.

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Lemon Pepper

Sandi Gaertner
This delicious easy roasted Cornish hens recipe is so easy to make. Flavored with a tangy lemon pepper seasoning.
5 from 2 votes
an egg free allergen icon
gluten free allergy icon
nut free allergen icon
soy free allergy icon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Meal Recipes
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 555 kcal


  • 9×13 pan


  • 2 Cornish hens * see note
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  • Remove the hens from their packages and be sure there are no packets of organs in the cavity.
  • Spray a small sheet pan or 9×13 pan with oil.
  • Place the hens into the pan. Optional: You can use bakers twine to tie the legs together if you like. If you plan to roast vegetables with the hens, add those to your sheet pan too.
  • Place the butter, garlic, lemon juice, and salt into a small microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 20-25 seconds until the butter is melted.
  • Brush the hens with the butter mixture. Be sure to gently lift the skin and brush the mixture under the breasts as well so the flavor bakes in nicely.
  • Sprinkle the hens with lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully baste more of the butter mixture over the hens.
  • Bake an additional 30-40 minutes until the internal temperature of the hens is 165º F.


  1. Do not use a frozen Cornish hen. They will not absorb the flavor and will cook unevenly. To thaw a Cornish hen, remove them from the freezer and store in the refrigerator 1-2 days until thawed. Do not thaw the birds on the counter.
  2. You will know the hens are fully cooked when they have an internal temperature of 165º F.
  3. The cooked hens will keep up to 3 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the extra meat. I recommend removing the meat from the bones before freezing.

Flavor variations:

You can use another seasoning if you do not like lemon pepper. Here are a few delicious ideas:
  1. Instead of lemon pepper, use thyme and basil with garlic butter.
  2. Use a barbecue rub instead of garlic and lemon pepper.
  3. Swap out the lemon for orange juice and thyme to make this sweeter.


Please know that every gluten free flour blend has a different starch to grain ratio. If you use a blend I didn’t test, you may need to adjust your moisture levels in your baked goods.


Serving: 1half henCalories: 555kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 39gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 16gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 257mgSodium: 528mgPotassium: 555mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 599IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 2mg
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Nutrition Disclaimer

Nutritional information is an estimate provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the actual nutritional information with the products and brands you are using with your preferred nutritional calculator.

5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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