Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It’s the perfect dinner for two!

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Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens! Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two! | HomemadeHooplah.com

About Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens

I’ve talked a little before about the food power struggle we have in our house, and nine months later the battle still rages on.

Because you see, I live in a world full of flavors, seasons, and marinades (hence this little food blog) while an old friend of mine… well, doesn’t.

If he had his way, he’d have grilled fish all by itself without a spec of breading or even a dab of tartar. He’d have steak without a drop of sauce or just a hint of seasoning, though most of the time he’s perfectly fine without the herbs. He tells me that he just likes the taste of the meat and doesn’t need to add anything to it to make it better.

This is usually the point where I banish him from my kitchen for even daring to utter such blasphemy.

But then, that doesn’t really solve anything because we’re both still left hungry (and me apparently a little hangry).

So I do my best to find compromises between his tastes and mine. I’ll still season our dishes, but lightly. I’ll marinate, but nothing overpowering. Over the years I’ve learned how to keep a delicate balance on the flavor spectrum, and I’m always stoked when I stumble across a new recipe that sits somewhere within the neutral territory of our food power struggle… Β like, say, these buttermilk brined cornish hens.

Call me a culinary noob (you wouldn’t be wrong!) but I had no idea you could brine meats in buttermilk.

Turns out this is very much a thing, and you know what?

This thing totally works.

Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens! Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two! | HomemadeHooplah.com

The buttermilk brine has an amazing mix of flavors (like garlic, cayenne, and cumin) but the end result is a very subtle hint of flavor in the hens. Plus, once these little birdies are cooked the meat was some of the most tender and moist chicken I’ve ever had.

Like, seriously – it blew my mind just how well this chicken turned out.

The only tip I have for this recipe is that you should use real-deal buttermilk, purchased from the store. The first time I made this I tried using “homemade” buttermilk, where you add a 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or vinegar) per cup of whole milk and let it sit to curdle, but the end result was no where near as good as usingΒ the store-bought buttermilk. The true buttermilk was far more creamy, making an idealΒ base for holding all the spices, and did a far better job of prepping the meat for cooking.

Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens! Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two! | HomemadeHooplah.com

Another great perk about this recipe?

It’s the ideal dinner for two.

I can totally see myself making this again come Valentine’s Day, because what’s more romantic than calling for a cease-fire in the kitchen? I certainly can’t think of anything.Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens! Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two! | HomemadeHooplah.com

Recipe Details

Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens! Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two! | HomemadeHooplah.com
3.75 from 4 votes

Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens

15 mins prep + 50 mins cook
1383 kcal
Yields: 2 servings
Cornish hens cooked to tender perfection, all thanks to an extremely flavorful buttermilk brine. It's the perfect dinner for two!

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Rinse Cornish hens and gently pat with a paper towel.
  • Fill a large pot or bowl with buttermilk, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and lime juice. Whisk together.
  • Place Cornish hens in the milk mixture, using a spoon to coat the tops. Let Cornish hens brine for at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours, flipping the hens over half way through.
  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove Cornish hens from buttermilk and pat excess off with a paper towel. Discard buttermilk mixture.
  • Place Cornish hens in a shallow baking dish. Place lemon wedges inside hens, 2 wedges in each hen. Use cooking twine to tie up the legs. If cooking with potatoes, arrange around Cornish hens without covering the hens too much. Brush melted butter on hens and potatoes. Finish up by seasoning hens with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bake Cornish hens in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until top is golden brown and potatoes are soft.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

Recipe lightly adapted from Kitchen Confidante.

Nutrition

Calories: 1383kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 93g | Fat: 87g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Cholesterol: 524mg | Sodium: 3092mg | Potassium: 2357mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1620IU | Vitamin C: 68.9mg | Calcium: 498mg | Iron: 5.6mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I'm not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating




30 comments

    • Greg

    Tried your buttermilk brine (overnight) with game hens roasted on a Weber kettle rotisserie. Four hens, legs trussed, skewered though the side, each spitted at a quarter turn from its mate. Used small split red oak logs over natural charcoal, in Weber’s coal baskets on each side, with a sturdy foil drip pan in the middle filled with a layer of halved red potatoes tossed with EVO and with some aromatics and fresh herbs. Cooked uncovered. Browned fairly rapidly, but didn’t burn. After about one hour 20 minutes, instant read thermometer showed between 140-170 degrees. Fire had burnt down, so I covered the kettle – settled at 350 degrees. Let it roast covered for 20 minutes, took off the grill and spit and let rest ten minutes. Quartered the hens and served family style on a cutting board edged with a well. Perfectly done and delicious. I was worried that the hens would taste too smokey, but the flavor had only an hint of smoke. Juicy, and attractively-colored. Drip pan potatoes were a hit. Will definitely do this again.

    • Derrell
    • 5 stars

    I’m male and I taught my daughters to use spices . So all men aren’t spice haters . Some of these men would hate to see me cook . I started cooking at a young age and have even taught women how to cook . I’m 77 now and don’t have anyone but myself . Loveyour recipes . Derrell

    • Susan

    I have followed your two weeks of recipes so far- made a few of my own adaptations- but it’s been awesome! THANK YOU!!!

    • Abeer

    My hubby is the exact opposite… He adores marinades and spices. The spicier, the better! πŸ˜‰
    Btw, your pictures are gorgeous!

    • CourtneyLynne

    Omg your recipe sounds pretty delicious!!! So gotta give it a try!

    • Kimberly Ann @ Bake Love Give

    These look amazing! What a delightful Valentine’s meal (or any night) idea!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

    Oh, YUM, look at that gorgeous browned skin! What a great idea to brine it in buttermilk!

    • Rachel

    I love cornish game hens! Cuter than chickens.

    • Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    That skin looks PERFECT!! I would probably eat that part first before digging into the rest πŸ™‚ HNY!!

    • Shadi

    OMG Chrisy these look so good! I have never had cornish hen but if this is for two, that means I can have a whole hen for myself? Isn’t that like, awesome? Will definitely ask Kyle to get some cornish hens and try this recipe!

    • Yep, a whole hen! πŸ˜€ Thanks Shadi!

    • Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy

    I love cornish hens….so perfect for dinner parties. Everyone gets their own bird!! This sounds like a great way to prepare them to….I’m sure it keeps them nice and moist!!

    • True, I can’t wait to make these when we have guests over πŸ™‚ And the buttermilk was a big help – the hens cooked perfectly.

    • Marye

    These look wonderful! I can relate with the need to find a delicate balance with the flavors. It can definitely be a challenge!

    • I know, right? Hard to please everyone at once πŸ™‚ Thanks Marye!

    • Joanie @ Zagleft

    What a perfect meal for a date night. I’ve never made a brine with buttermilk but I have heard that it delivers the most tender meats. You’ve convinced me to give it a try!

    • Indeed Joanie – I was blown away with how well the buttermilk did. Highly recommend it!

    • Kacey @ The Cookie Writer

    Funny story! My Aunt would make my Uncle these homemade hamburgers all the time and he would gobble them up. Then one day he saw her making them and was outraged that she was “sabotaging” him with that “garbage” she put in. He was a very picky eater. From that day on she was not allowed to put any seasoning into his hamburgers! He was the best, and no matter how many times my Aunt told him she always made them like that he would never listen! So I feel your pain, haha. Luckily my an old friend of mine eats everything so he would be game (ahaha!) for these!

    • LOL, that is so typical! Honestly, I still season our food quite a bit… I just don’t always tell him πŸ™‚ He never knows the difference and usually has more nice things to say when I do use spices. Is what it is I guess πŸ˜€

    • Ali @ Home & Plate

    I’m intrigued by the buttermilk brine. I imagine they are so tender and the meat is fall off the bone. What a perfect recipe for winter.

    • That they are Ali πŸ˜€ an old friend of mine and I had these on Christmas day – was a perfect dinner!

    • Candy

    I have never tried a brine with Cornish hens. Makes sense don’t know why I haven’t tried this. Going to now.

    • I highly recommend it Candy πŸ™‚ If you try it, I hope it works out!