Cornish Hens With Port-Cherry Sauce

This elegant Cornish hen recipe is a festive alternative to turkey for your next holiday meal.

Health DECEMBER 2004

  • Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 hen half plus 3 tablespoons sauce)
  • Cook time: 45 Minutes
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes


  • Hens:
  • 2 (1 1/2-pound) Cornish hens
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (available at specialty-food shops)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Sauce:
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup port or other sweet red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • Additional thyme sprigs (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Remove giblets and necks from hens. Rinse with cold water; pat dry. Remove skin; trim excess fat. Split hens in half lengthwise. Combine paprika, next 3 ingredients (through pepper), and 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme; rub on hens.

3. Place hen halves, breast sides up, in a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place a thyme sprig in the cavity of each bird.

4. Insert a thermometer into meaty part of a thigh, avoiding the bone. Bake at hens at 400° for 35 minutes or until thermometer registers 165°. Transfer hens to a platter; cover with foil.

5. To prepare sauce, place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour drippings from broiler pan into bag; let stand 10 minutes until fat rises to top. Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner. Drain drippings into a small bowl; discard fat. Set drippings aside.

6. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes.

7. Combine broth, port, 1/4 teaspoon chopped thyme, cornstarch, cherries, reserved drippings, and any juices accumulated on platter; add to pan, and cook 5 minutes. Serve hens with sauce; garnish with additional thyme sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 272
  • Fat: 7g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 2g
  • Protein: 33g
  • Carbohydrate: 13g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 147mg
  • Iron: 2mg
  • Sodium: 243mg
  • Calcium: 29mg

Go to Full Version of

Cornish Hens With Port-Cherry Sauce Recipe