Grilled Cornish Hens with Fresh Herbs

We love doing these little chickens on the grill.

Well, mon mari loves doing everything on the grill and why would I complain about that?

I try to find hens that are small enough for single servings, although, sometimes, we have a bit leftover for lunch.

Use any fresh herbs you like.

Grilled Cornish Hens with Fresh Herbs

Total time: 70 minutes


  • 2 Cornish game hens or poussin (little chickens)
  • 2 tbs snipped fresh chives
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 3 tbs olive oil

Grilled Hens with Fresh Herbs


  • Put herbs and garlic into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Add enough olive oil to make a thin paste – it won’t hold together but it shouldn’t be like a vinaigrette.
  • Wash hens and pat dry with paper towels.  Carefully work your fingers between the skin and the flesh on the breast of the hens, loosening skin.
  • When it is nice and loose, as far as you can do it without tearing, spread the herb mixture under the skin.  Pat the skin back in place.
  • Spread more of the herb mixture on the birds, put any remaining herbs inside the birds.
  • Tie legs together with kitchen string and fold wing tips under back (at first joint) – keeps them from flapping. 
  • Cook hens on barbecue grill over indirect heat for 45 – 60 minutes or until done.
  • When done, remove from heat, cut string and serve – don’t forget finger bowls (it’s messy) and bone bowls (to keep your plates tidy).
  • Serve whole or cut each bird in half.

Print Recipe

We had thunderstorms last evening.

We needed the rain as it’s been very dry, but we could have skipped the wind.

It only lasted for about 10 minutes….

But that was enough to blow the flower pots off the pillars by the gates and a few pots of geraniums off the well.

It blew a few screens off the windows and dirt and leaves into the house… All over the beds I had just made up for our guests.

It also, apparently, blew the front gate open.

Mon mari let the girls out at the usual time while I was making dinner.

About 10 minutes later I realized that I didn’t hear any barking.

They always bark at night.

I, er, suggested that mon mari check on them. (I let them in and out, all day long. This one time, at night, is his job. Mine is to nag him into doing it.)

He came back a few minutes later, had a sip of wine, and said I didn’t see them. It’s really raining hard.

Bonnie hates the rain. She barks to come in immediately when it starts raining.

I went out to investigate.

The gate was wide open and there were no dogs in sight.

I called for a bit…. Nothing.

I went back inside, grabbed a jacket, my rubber garden shoes and went out to search in earnest.

Bonnie was slowly walking up the road to the gate, absolutely soaked.

I put her inside and went back out, calling for Guapa.

They’re always together.

Then I remembered the neighbors’ pool.

I ran back for my flashlight.

When I went out again, there was a very pathetic, brown and white dog doing a drowned rat imitation staring at me.

We went in the house.

Both dogs went to their respective beds and panted for the next 15 minutes.

I have no idea what they did but I’m guessing it was fun.

Although I did see paw prints in my herb garden…..

And 2 of my tomato plants were laying on the ground, stakes and all….

8 thoughts on “Grilled Cornish Hens with Fresh Herbs”

  1. Katie, dogs are like 2 year old toddlers! Sadly, that does not change until they are quite old, at that point they then slow down…however, their brains are still in full gear 2 year old mentality. At least that was how it was with our lab…bless her heart! They never the less bring much joy to one’s lives don’t they? And, life is never boring! Sure makes you wonder what your dogs were up to….

  2. Dan, yes, fresh. They’re very popular here…. Frozen meat, on the other hand, is rare LOL

    Ina, they are, exactly…. never grow up, That’s why we love them 😉

    Kate, running amok….. yup!

  3. The wind blew screens off the windows?! Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like that. No wonder you didn’t notice that the dogs were out making hay. Or something….

    You grilled cornish hens look fabulous!!

  4. I love French-style hens, or poulet. A bunch of fresh herbs, lemon and garlic, et voila…perfect! I am sure your hens were absolutely delicious. I bet my mon mari and petit garcon would love them too. Mon bebe is still too young yet. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipe. =)

  5. The kids will be happy to remake the beds and any other chores you have. Doing chores in France will be much more exotic than home! The chicken looks wonderful!

  6. Elizabeth, that’s a bit deceptive…. They’re not fastened like in North America. But it was very windy.

    Ree, thanks – they’re mon mari’s favorite summer grill dinner

    Jane,,, LOL

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