Lemon-crumb Cornish hens with potatoes and leeks

Total Time
1 hr
15 min
45 min
Cornish hens are a simple, elegant meal that can easily be prepared for a fancy weeknight meal or for your next gathering. Although we remove the skin from the hens (all except the wings), the flavor is replaced with a delicious lemon-crumb topping. Cornish game hens are readily available in supermarkets, fresh or frozen. If you can’t find fresh hens, simply thaw the frozen hens overnight in the refrigerator. They need to be completely thawed before cooking. Cornish hens are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F when measured in the thickest part of the thigh and the juices are clear.


White bread

2 slice(s), firm, sandwich bread, made into crumbs (1 cup)

Grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp

Fresh parsley

1 Tbsp, fresh, minced

Lemon zest

3 tsp, grated

Uncooked skinless Cornish hen

2 pound(s), or skinned and halved. 2 (1-pound)

Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp

Uncooked red potato(es)

1 pound(s), small, whole

Uncooked baby carrots

9 oz, about 2 cups

Uncooked leek(s)

2 medium, cut in half lengthwise, root end intact, and cleaned

Olive oil

1 Tbsp, extra-virgin

Fresh thyme

1 Tbsp, fresh, chopped

Table salt

½ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp, coarsely ground


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray an 11 x 16-inch roasting pan with olive-oil nonstick spray.
  2. Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, parsley, and lemon zest in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Brush the top of the hens with the mustard, then top with the bread crumb mixture, pressing gently so the crumbs adhere to the hens. Place the hens in the roasting pan; spray the tops lightly with olive-oil nonstick spray.
  4. Combine the potatoes, carrots, leeks, oil, thyme, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange the vegetables around the hens in the roasting pan. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh of the hens registers 165°F and the vegetables are tender and browned, about 45 minutes. Yields: 1⁄2 hen and 1⁄4 of vegetables per serving.