Smoked Cornish Game Hens

READY IN: 3hrs 20mins
Recipe by Timothy H.

For a luscious poultry treat, smoked Cornish game hens can't be beat. These little birds are richly flavored, juicy and smoke like a charm. In my opinion, a smoked game hen beats smoked chicken every time. To add flavor, the game hens are marinated in a basic brine containing apple juice, herbs and spices. Slow smoking with apple, cherry or peach wood gives these little birds a light smoky flavor. If you are a fan of smoked poultry, these smoked Cornish game hens will be something to cheer about. Juicy, tender and full of flavor, they will become an all time favorite.

Top Review by CalGal

Tried this this past weekend. I omitted the dill and used my own spice preferences. Added to the marinade diced onion instead of powder, whole black, red & white peppercorns, whole allspice, chipotle powder, brown sugar and sprigs of fresh thyme. I'm glad I waited and didn't review this right away. I smoked two game hens over hickory, our favorite. Initially, I thought the apple juice marinade made the meat too sweet and didn't care for it, But when I brushed on some BBQ sauce it all came together. The depth and nuances of the apple cider soak really came to the forefront. All in all, this came out pretty darn good. I'll use it again, but it really needs the BBQ sauce to shine. I use Sweet Baby Ray's.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Combine the brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove the brine from the heat and chill down to 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the game hens by cutting along each side of the backbone, removing it from the carcass. Push down on the breast to flatten, and then remove the ribs if you like.
  3. Marinate the game hens in the fridge overnight. Remove the birds from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Smoke the Cornish game hens at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 to 4 hours, or until the thigh temperature reaches 175 degrees. Allow the birds to rest for half an hour after smoking before splitting through the breasts and serving.
  5. Optionally, the game hens can be indirect grilled, or grilled over medium low heat 45 to 75 minutes, or until 175 degrees is reached.

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