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Cornish Hen should be trussed before roasting to ensure even cooking and supremely succulent, tender meat. Here’s how to do it; it only takes a minute and a length of kitchen twine.

Two trussed Cornish hens on a wooden cutting board.

Just like roasted chickens and roasted turkeys, Cornish hens should be trussed for optimal results.

This ensures the bird cooks more quickly and evenly without drying out. It’s a simple technique that you can master, and suddenly you’ll find yourself trussing all the poultry in your life.

Table of Contents
  1. Trussing notes
  2. Step-by-step instructions
  3. Recipe tips and variations
  4. How to Truss a Cornish Hen Recipe

Trussing notes

  • Cornish hen: Also known as a Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish Hen, this type of poultry is a bit smaller than a standard chicken, usually under 2 pounds. But you can use this technique on any type or size of poultry you like; just cut more twine.
  • Twine: Unbleached cotton kitchen twine, also known as butcher’s twine, is strong enough to hold a turkey together but won’t burn. Pro tip: You can ask your butcher for a long piece so you’ll always have some on hand. Sometimes I find it at HomeGoods or I buy this twine on Amazon (Culinary Hill may earn money if you buy through this link).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Place the hen breast-side up, with tail end facing you. Fold and tuck the wings against the bird, and run the center of the string under the neck in the front of the bird. 
A Cornish hen being trussed.
  1. Bring the string up towards the wings and legs. Use your thumbs to tuck the wings back as you bring the string around towards the legs. Keep the string tight to force the wings firmly against the hen. The string should roughly follow the contours of the chicken breast. Bring the string around between leg and breast, then give it one overhand knot and pull tight. The wings will be solidly pinned down, and the hen’s breast will pop up. Note that this is NOT a solid knot – we just want to be able to tighten up on the string. 
A Cornish hen being trussed.
  1. Bring the ends of string down between the chicken’s legs, then cross the legs at the “ankles” above/behind the point of the hen’s breast. Make sure your previous knot is still pulled tight. Separate the strings, loop them around the outside of the hen’s ankles, then tie a square knot to finish it off. The legs should now be cinched in close to the body. Snip the extra ends of string, and discard them.
A Cornish hen being trussed.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Thaw completely: If you bought a frozen hen, make sure it is safely thawed before trussing and roasting. Thaw a frozen hen in a bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours (changing the water every 30 minutes) or in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before you need it. Make sure you place them on a tray to catch any juices that leak out of the packaging. Never leave frozen poultry out at room temperature, and never use warm water for thawing.
  • Stuff with herbs: Any roasted bird tastes even better with a few sprigs of fresh herbs and a lemon tucked inside the cavity.
  • Make ahead: It’s okay to truss the hen a day or two before you plan to roast it; just cover and store in the refrigerator.
  • Folded wings technique: This method is a little less tricky, and depending on the size of the hen, sometimes I do it this way, too: Working one at a time, grasp a wing and gently fold it away from you, tucking under the body to secure it. After that, just tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine. (A bow helps so you can untie it after it’s roasted.)

Cornish Hens with Stuffing

Roasted Cornish Hens with Stuffing make Thanksgivings extra special. An easy apple mustard glaze takes the place of gravy, and a classic bread stuffing soaks up all the flavors. Whether you’re feeding two or twenty,…

1 hour 10 minutes
View Recipe

More birds to truss

Two trussed Cornish hens on a wooden cutting board.

How to Truss a Cornish Hen

At first glance it may seem unnecessary, but trussing a cornish game hen for roasting ensures delicious, evenly-cooked poultry that looks as good as it tastes. Here I’ll show you how to truss a cornish game hen using twine, to make your best roast hen yet.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Total Time 3 mins
Servings 1 serving
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 907

Ingredients 

  • 1 (1 ¼ to 1 ½ pound) cornish game hen thawed (see note 1)
  • 2 feet unbleached cotton butcher’s twine (see note 2)

Instructions 

  • Place the hen breast-side up, with tail end facing you. Fold and tuck the wings against the bird, and run the center of the string under the neck in the front of the bird. Bring the string up towards the wings and legs.
  • Use your thumbs to tuck the wings back as you bring the string around towards the legs. Keep the string tight to force the wings firmly against the hen. The string should roughly follow the contours of the chicken breast.
  • Bring the string around between leg and breast, then give it one overhand knot and pull tight. The wings will be solidly pinned down, and the hen's breast will pop up. Note that this is NOT a solid knot – we just want to be able to tighten up on the string. 
  • Bring the ends of string down between the chicken's legs, then cross the legs at the "ankles" above/behind the point of the hen's breast. Make sure your previous knot is still pulled tight. 
  • Separate the strings, loop them around the outside of the hen's ankles, then tie a square knot to finish it off. The legs should now be cinched in close to the body. Snip the extra ends of string, and discard them.

Notes

  1. Cornish hen: Also known as a Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish Hen, this type of poultry is a bit smaller than a standard chicken, usually under 2 pounds. But you can use this technique on any type or size of poultry you like; just cut more twine.
  2. Twine: Unbleached cotton kitchen twine, also known as butcher’s twine, is strong enough to hold a turkey together but won’t burn. Pro tip: You can ask your butcher for a long piece so you’ll always have some on hand. Sometimes I find it at HomeGoods or I on Amazon.
  3. Thaw completely: If you bought a frozen hen, make sure it is safely thawed before trussing and roasting. Thaw a frozen hen in a bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours (changing the water every 30 minutes) or in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before you need it. Make sure you place them on a tray to catch any juices that leak out of the packaging. Never leave frozen poultry out at room temperature, and never use warm water for thawing.
  4. Stuff with herbs: Any roasted bird tastes even better with a few sprigs of fresh herbs and a lemon tucked inside the cavity.
  5. Make ahead: It’s okay to truss the hen a day or two before you plan to roast it; just cover and store in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 1henCalories: 907kcalProtein: 78gFat: 64gSaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 458mgSodium: 277mgPotassium: 1070mgVitamin A: 490IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 4mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for this idea, Meggan! The number of guests that I usually entertain is shrinking and serving Cornish game hens should be perfect!