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Grilled Cornish Hens with Herb Brine

Photo: Alison Miksch; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Hands-on time 45 mins
Total time 11 hrs

Makes 6 to 8 servings

If you don't own kitchen shears, that's ok--a pair of heavy-duty scissors will work just as well.


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 6 (20-oz.) Cornish hens
  • Parchment paper

How to Make It

  1. Process first 6 ingredients in a food processor 15 to 20 seconds or until well combined.

  2. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Place each hen, breast side down, on a cutting board. Cut hens, using kitchen shears, along both sides of backbone, separating backbone from hen. Discard bone. Open hens as you would a book; turn breast side up, and press firmly against breastbone with the heel of your hand until bone cracks. Tuck wing tips under. Place hens in a parchment paper-lined jelly-roll pan.

  3. Sprinkle salt mixture over hens, and chill, uncovered, 10 to 24 hours.

  4. Heat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Grill hens, skin side down and covered with grill lid, 8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°. Remove from grill, and let stand 5 minutes.