Roasted Cornish Hens

9:29 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts

2 Cornish Hens, frozen in plastic

1 straight piece of "green" wood about one inch in diamater

4 Tbsp. dry rub
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pinch of salt
3 pinches fresh ground pepper
2 Cloves Garlic
3' of Twine or non coated, natural fiber string

The easiest way to make this recepie is to make your own dry rub at home, and grind the pepper before you hit the trailhead, or use your favorite from the store, just mind the sodium levels.
The morning of your hike, purchase the hens, which usually come frozen and sealed in plastic or remove them from your freezer. Remove any access pckaging (less the vaccum sealed packaging) and place the hens into a zipper sealed oven bag. The frozen hens usually last between 12 and 24 hours depending on the temps you'll be in. You'll be surprised how long these little birds stay frozen. On your hike, watch for any blowdowns that may still be green on your hike. You're going to need some green wood about 2 or 3 feet in length. When you reach camp, be sure to give at least 3 hours for prep & cooking and make sure you are in a fire safe area. As you get into camp, find a recent blowdown and make a spit from the recently downed, yet green wood. With that wood, build a spit above the fire and allow room for adjustments. Once the bird is thawed, remove the packaging and reserve.
Take your olive oil and rub the cavity of the hen, making sure to leave a little extra (about half) for later. Next, pour about half of the rub into the freezer bag, mince and add 1/2 the garlic and add the hen (or two) and then shake it like it ws a marocca !

Just before you place the hens on the spit, place your hand under your crossbar of the spit. If you can hold your hand below the spit for 5 seconds and less than 6 before it gets too hot you're ready to go.

Grab the hen while still inside the bag and manuver it so you can split it with the spit and rest it in your lap, still in the bag. take your twine and tie the legs over the spit, making a notch with your knife in the area where the twine will connect with the spit. Tie a bowline within your notch of the spit. Repeat the process for the front of the bird and repeat if your doing the process for the second bird.

Here comes the fun part! After the bird(s) are on the spit, make sure you rotate the birds every minute or so until they cook all the way through. You may add the rest of the rub by sprinkling over the top of the bird as they rotate, and after about an hour or so you'll have a nice crispy outside. Use your fingers to test the temp. inside the cavity, and with about 10 min. left, drizzle the rest of the olive oil slowly over the bird(s). this will cause the flames to rise and encrust the hens in a nice, crunchy exterior.

Remove from the fire, and double check the "doneness" from the bird and remove as cooked. Be sure to remove any twine and sticks before tearing into the bird.

This main course goes well with catnine tail roots, potatoes, and fiddleheads sauteed in olive oil. After the meal, place the remnants inside your freezer bag and pack out the waste, and enjoy!

Good luck, and hearty camping to ya!

7:13 p.m. on June 9, 2010 (EDT)
6,158 reviewer rep
1,625 forum posts

That recipe sounds really yummy! I want to try it at home. I hope you don't mind me adding an ultra light-weight version of this recipe:

Buy the chickens live and walk them to your campsite and butcher them there. This saves you having to carry the things in your pack. It might look kinda odd going down the trail.

Hmm...I could pack laying hens in the pack bags of a Nubian milk goat and have fresh milk AND eggs on the trail with a roasted chicken on the last day! Of course I am joking. But maybe...

5:24 p.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts

Heck yeah you can bring em in live. If yo do, be sure to cook the feet on the spit or laying on a flat rock. Love me some chicken feet.

6:36 p.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

ya'll are just makin me hungry!

I have not tried Cornish Hens yet, sounds very good though. I have carried in frozen steak, seafood, & chicken.

Nice recipe mahoosicmayhem, thanks.

10:33 p.m. on June 22, 2010 (EDT)
244 reviewer rep
5,245 forum posts

I like the wild variety called Grouse! I have slingshot hunted them in the past back in Wyoming.

12:29 p.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts


I love some grouse as well! In my own humble opinion here's nothing like cooking meat over fire in the middle of the woods...


You gotta try it, it's a nice first meal for a little bird. I have even stuffed the cavity with some cooked rice pilaf or cuscus for the last half hour or so.

7:16 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

So you cook it still in the bag? Forgive my ignorance but I have never used an oven bag, figured they would melt if exposed to fire.

10:40 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts


I don't cook the hen in the bag. I try to do all the prep in the bag prior to setting it on the fire as to keep the mess to a minimum.

11:41 a.m. on June 24, 2010 (EDT)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

Ok, that makes more sense lol. Kinda what I figured but since you said to put it on the spit with the bag still on I wasn't sure.

8:15 a.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts

This one makes my mouth water. I have had cornish hens cooked several different ways, but I think this one sounds the best. I can't wait to try! I wonder if a little onion salt rather than regular salt could give just a hint more flavor?


11:23 a.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
52 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

This does sound rather delicious. Personally, I'd pack a small instant read thermometer to check the doneness of the bird. Salmonella is less common in game birds, but it isn't unheard of. What's worse is Salmonella will incapacitate you in a matter of hours, not days like Giardia or Cryptosporidium.

Instant read thermometers weight merely ounces and are about the size of a wood pencil with a quarter-sized dial attached. Very cheap and very easy to pack.

2:28 p.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
25 reviewer rep
67 forum posts

I like the wild variety called Grouse!

I do too Gary I take mine neat...oh wait a min thats old bad!

2:49 p.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
263 forum posts

Prefer Old Grouse on the rocks. No therm needed.


Escuse me!

9:39 p.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
63 reviewer rep
190 forum posts


This is just a basic way to roast with things I usually carry in my cook kit. I'm sure onion salt will add some great flavor, and by all means let us know what you think! There are many ways to roast a bird...


Nothing wrong with bringing in a thermometer, and they are quite light.

I will say that no matter which bird you cook, take it easy on the Old Grouse, Ruffed Grouse, and the ultralight version of bourbon, Bookers. I don't want anybody getting all loopy and smearing hen all over the inside of the tent. That would not be good.

9:09 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
75 reviewer rep
306 forum posts

Good point mahoosicmayhem,

I sometimes forget when looking at recipes that one may have to limit their spice combos since they will be on the trail. I wish I could take all of my spices, but limit myself mostly to salt, pepper, garlic powder, italian seasoning. But I am interested in the "gourmet" meals that I have seen on here, this being one of them.


May 22, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Citrus Lentil Salad - Dehydrated Newer: Simple egg and potato breakfast
All forums: Older: Recommended rain jacket for S. Florida? Newer: Favorite Season/Favorite Weather? What gets you moving?