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Grilled Split Cornish Game Hens on a bed of Lemon vegan chickpea rice on a sliver plate.
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5 from 6 votes

Grilled Split Cornish Game Hens

Grilled Split Cornish Game Hens are marinated in a Moroccan Spice Rub and grilled to perfection in just under 30 minutes.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Marinating Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Mains
Cuisine: Moroccan
Servings: 4
Calories: 81kcal
Author: HWC Magazine
Cost: $12


  • Grill or Grill pan


  • 2 whole Cornish Game Hens about 1.5 pounds each or 680 grams

Moroccan Spice Blend (or can use store bought blend - 2 tablespoons)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin dried ground
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric dried ground
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder dried ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon dried ground
  • ½ teaspoon ginger dried ground
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder dried ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper dried ground (hold if like it mild)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • 2 tablespoon Moroccan Spice Blend see above for recipe
  • 2 tablespoon parsley dried or ⅓ cup fresh chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • parsley fresh (optional)
  • lemon slices (optional)


Moroccan Spice Blend Marinade

  • If you already have prepared Moroccan spice, skip to nextstep. To make homemade Moroccan Spice (ras el hanout), mix together the following ground dried spices… 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground chili pepper, ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (hold if you do not like spicy), ½ teaspoon black pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix together in a bowl.
    Dinner is served with Cornish hens over a bed of rice with lemon slices.
  • Add either fresh or dried parsley, fresh garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice to the 2 tablespoons of prepared Moroccan Spice mixture (ras el hanout) and stir well. Set aside.

Prepare your Cornish Hens for Grilling

  • Wash and dry your Cornish Hens well. Splitting the Cornish game hens helps them grill evenly too. It is very easy to do. In order to split a Cornish hen, you can either use culinary scissors or a sharp knife. Lay your bird back side up and with the breast side down. Make your first cut on either side of the backbone vertically along the bone. Removing the backbone is a good idea as they have lots of little bones. Then, on the front breast side of the hen just cut straight down the center of the breast. Then, you will have 4 even Cornish game hen halves. Discard the backbone.
    One cornish hen is whole and the other one is split in half.
  • Place your split Cornish hens in a sealed plastic bag or large bowl. Pour the Moroccan marinade over the split Cornish hens and rub them all over. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave them marinate at least 30 minutes. You can also put them in the refrigerator to allow them to marinate up to overnight.
    Moroccan marinade poured over the Cornish hen in a bag.
  • Prep the Grill. Clean the grill grates well. Preheat your grill to 300 to 300 – 350 degrees F or 148 degrees C – 176 degrees C.
  • Once the grill is preheated, put the Cornish hen skin side down first so that it gets a crispy skin. Place you Cornish Hens slightly off to the side and not under direct heat. Grill with the lid on.
    Cornish hens on the grill skin side down.
  • Flip after 15 minutes and cook until the skin is crispy about another 10 -15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees For 73 Degrees C. The juices should run clear. The cooking time will be around25 to 30 minutes depending on how your grill is. Our birds were cooked at 25minutes. Checking the temperature with the meat thermometer is your best measure.
    Cornish hens grilling skin side up after getting flipped.
  • Serve your Grilled Split Cornish Game Hens over our Vegan Chickpea Lemon Rice. Garnish with parsley if desired and enjoy!
    Dinner is served with Cornish hens over a bed of rice with lemon slices.


If you have a super hungry crew, teenagers or the football team dining with you, double the recipe so that each person gets 2 split Cornish Game hens halves. We served one half a Cornish Game Person per person with lots of delicious side dishes and everyone was happy.
Remember to clean your grill really well and oil the grates so that your Cornish Hens do not stick to the grill.
It is best to place your Cornish Hens a little off to the side so that are not in direct heat. This keeps the skin crispy and the meat tender.
Place the Cornish hen’s skin side down first so they get good and crispy. Do not be moving them all over the grill but just leave them cook in one spot for about 15 minutes. If you try to move them around sooner on the grill, they may stick, and the skin will tear. You will know they are ready to be turned, when they are no longer sticking to the grill. Your best tool in the kitchen is your meat thermometer. Once you get a reading of 165 degrees F or 73 degrees C in the thickest portion of all of the Cornish hens, you are done cooking. Do not use time as a measure as each grill has a different heating ranges.
We used culinary scissors to split our Cornish game hens, but you can also use a sharp knife. The bones are easier to cut than a full-grown chicken.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 81kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 158mg | Potassium: 59mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 166IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1mg