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Grilled Cornish Hens with Sesame Chicken Marinade and Dipping Sauce

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Grill cornish hens in a sesame chicken marinade and serve with a delicious sesame dipping sauce.  Spatchcocking the cornish hens help them to cook fast on the grill for fun summer meal.

chicken marinade

I have been dying to cook cornish hens for years.  I think I saw them at Walmart during our first year of marriage and suggested we try them.  My husband was convinced that there wasn’t nearly enough meat on the hens to feed us (ahem, him) so I passed them up.   A decade later and I finally got my chance to cook Tyson’s Cornish Hens.

cornish hens

Tyson cornish hens are sold in a two pack at Walmart.  I found them in the center aisle of the meat department in the refrigerated bunkers.  I love peeking in those bunkers to see what fun food they hold – like the cornish hens!

cornish hens

I bought two packs so that I had 4 hens total to feed our family of four.  One hen was more than enough to feed one adult and the kids ended up splitting a hen.

chicken marinade

Basically the hens are like little whole chickens and they are too cute and fun to cook.  I decided to use a method called spatchcocking  and a favorite chicken marinade to prepare the hens.  Since it’s grilling season, the grill was our preferred cooking method.

chicken marinade

Start by mixing up the dip and chicken marinade.  Both the chicken marinade and dip use a lot of soy sauce.  I picked up Kikkoman Soy Sauce at Walmart when I was getting the hens.

soy sauce

I found the Kikkoman in the aisle with the other Asian foods.  Look closesly because from June 1 until September 30th, you can score a $2 off coupon on a neck hanger on the Kikkoman soy sauce bottle when you buy both Tyson Cornish Game Hens and a 10 ounce bottle of Kikkoman.   I bought way too small of a bottle so make sure you get a big one.  This recipe is heavy on the soy sauce.

chicken marinade

Mix together your marinade.   You are also going to need sesame oil and it’s really gives both the chicken marinade and the dipping sauce a depth of flavor so don’t skip it.  Soy sauce and sesame oil together are divine.

chicken marinade

Next, I prepared the hens by removing the back bone from each bird.  This method is called spatchcocking and you are basically butterflying the bird.  We’ve done this before with whole chickens and it’s not easy, but it was super easy and quick with the cornish hens.  Spatchcocking allows you to cook the whole bird quicker and it makes grilling the hens super easy.  I used kitchen shears and just cut down each side of the back bone.  Start at the top, where the head would be, and cut down.  It gets tough around the hips so you may have to pull a little to get the back bone to come off.

chicken marinade

Once all the back bones are removed,  put the hens in a large bowl with a top or a large food safe back and toss them in the marinade.   Let the hens marinate for 2-4 hours, tossing in the marinade every hour or so.


While the hens marinate make the dipping sauce.  The sauce isn’t a necessity, but it’s my absolute favorite part of this recipe.  The dipping sauce needs to sit for the flavors to meld so make it an hour or two before you start grilling.

cornish hens on grill

When you are ready to cook, the hens grill up pretty quickly.  We grilled them on low heat for 15 minutes on each side.  They were so moist and juicy.


We cut the hens in to either 4 or 8 pieces to make them easier to eat.   My husband repeatedly exclaimed over how delicious they were!  I’m pretty sure this is not the last time that Tyson Cornish Hens will grace our dinner table.


Yield: 4

Tyson Cornish Hens Due

Tyson Cornish Hens Due
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes


  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
  • For the Cornish Hens:
  • 4 Tyson Cornish Hens
  • 1 cup Kikkoman Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder


  1. Make the dipping sauce by mixing all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Prepare cornish hens by removing the backbone with kitchen shears. Place hens in a large bowl or plastic bag.
  3. Whisk together Kikkoman soy sauce, sugar, water, red pepper flakes and ginger powder. Pour the marinade over the hens. Toss the hens in the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
  4. Heat grill on high heat. Remove hens from marinade and discard marinade.
  5. Turn heat down to low on the grill and cook hens for 15 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
  6. Cut hens in to 4 or 8 pieces for easier eating.

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  • Antionette Blake
    June 6, 2014

    I like Cornish Hens but only if they are fresh, the frozen ones are old and don’t taste or cook well. Thanks for sharing again with us at the #WWDParty. Have a great weekend!

  • Lina
    June 4, 2014

    Camille, you hit a home run with these! They’re so beautiful and I can actually taste them through your writing! I too have wanted to try Cornish hens, but never have. You’ve convinced me here, and I want my first try to be on the grill in this fantastic marinade. Wow! Thanks for sharing!

    • Camille
      June 5, 2014

      Thanks, Lina! They were fun to cook and delicious to eat. We’ll definitely be having more this summer.