Cornish Hens With Orange Apricot Glaze

These Cornish Hens with Orange Apricot Glaze are so rich and savoury! Perfect for a small gathering!

In the strangeness that is 2020 or ‘the year of Covid 19’ you may find yourself with a much smaller holiday gathering.

So if you are looking for a tasty alternative to roasting a 20 pound turkey – these hens might be for you!

Cornish Hens have more flavour than chicken or turkey. They are more moist and almost half way between white meat and dark meat.

Portion-wise, if you are serving a variety of sides and perhap as few courses 1/2 a half will make a nice portion size. Having said that – if you have big strapping appetites at your table it is not unheard of for someone to polish off an entire hen. So- be prepared!

This recipe uses an orange scented brine, some orange in the glaze and some orange notes in the dressing. I was afraid it might be too much orange but it definitely wasn’t. It adds a bit of sweet richness all around but I am not sure you would even pick out the orange flavour overtly.

At any rate- we were all moaning and licking your fingers as we devoured our little Thanksgiving feast!

Table setting Cornish hens, stuffed with Root Vegetable casserole and baked squash.

I would certainly say the hens with the dressing and jus from the roasting pan had far more flavour than your average roasted turkey.

I am not dissing turkey! I love me a good holiday bird but I am just saying this recipe holds its own!

What to Serve With Cornish Hens With Orange Apricot Glaze?

I served them with these Root Vegetables au Gratin.

Serving of layered beets, sweet potato, Yukon Gold potatoes, cheese and panko crumb topping.
Root Vegetables au Gratin

And Roasted Acorn Squash with Sage Butter.

Two roasted acorn squash halves with butter and sage.

And then we topped it off with this Maple Cream Tart. I literally dreamt about this the night after I had it! My first reaction to maple desserts is the thought of a cloying sweetness – but not this one! It is like maple custard!

Maple Cream pastry tart decorated with acorn pastry cutouts and whipped cream.
Two stuffed Cornish hens on a platter with celery leaves and sage garnish.

Cornish Hens with Orange Apricot Glaze

This small scale holiday recipe is not short on flavour!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Brining Time: 1 d
Servings: 6 servings


  • 3 Cornish Hens
  • ½ cup orange juice to be used at the time of roasting the hens
  • ½ cup water to be used at the time of roasting the hens


  • 2 cups orange juice
  • juice of 2 mandarin oranges
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 cup coarse salt Kosher or Pickling salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Orange Apricot Glaze

  • 1 pkg dry onion soup mix about 1 oz or 30 grams
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup orange juice


  • ½ recipe Orange Cranberry Pecan Bread in 1/2" cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 small onion
  • ½ cup celery diced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme or 1/2 Tbsp dried
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper



  • Mix all brine ingredients together. Clean cavities of hens and rinse thoroughly.
  • Put hens in a large container and pour brine over them. Hens should be submerged or almost submerged. You may need to use 2 containers.
  • Refrigerate hens in brine for 24-48 hours. If hens are not completely submerged turn them over every 12 hours.
  • An hour or so before you start to cook them, drain the brine and pat the hens dry.


  • Sauté onion and celery in butter until soft and translucent. About 8 minutes.
  • Add the thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Mix vegetables with the bread cubes and cranberries. Pour in orange juice and stir to moisten the mixture.


  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Stuff hens with the dressing. Position hens in a large roast pan. Add the ½ cup each or orange juice and water.
  • Tent the hens loosely with foil and roast 40 minutes. Mix the glaze ingredients while hens are roasting. Remove foil and brush on the glaze. Return hens to the oven and roast another 20 minutes or so uncovered.
  • Internal temperature of the hen should reach 180° and dressing should reach 165°. If not using a thermometer check that the leg joint moves easily and juices run clear.
  • Strain the pan juices and reserve to drizzle over hens when serving.


Calories: 580kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 237mg | Sodium: 394mg | Potassium: 634mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 536IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg
Cornish Hens With Orange Apricot Glaze

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