Indulge in the rich and smoky flavors of our mouthwatering Smoked Cornish Game Hens. These succulent birds are expertly prepared, tenderly smoked to perfection, and guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds. Experience an unforgettable dining experience with this delectable dish that will leave you craving for more.

Traeger Smoked Cornish Game Hens

Traeger Smoked Cornish Game Hens

These Traeger smoked Cornish game hens are a delicious and flavorful meal that is perfect for a quick family dinner. The miniature size of the hens makes them easy to cook and they absorb more of the smoky flavor from the Traeger, resulting in a tasty and tender bird.

To prepare the hens, start by rubbing them with a simple dry rub made with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure to coat every crevice of the bird with olive oil before sprinkling on the dry rub. For added flavor, stuff the cavity of the hens with smashed garlic cloves and lemon slices.

Next, let the seasoned hens rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. This allows the flavors to infuse into the meat.

Preheat your Traeger or pellet smoker to 225°F and place the hens on the grill. Smoke them for 45 to 60 minutes before increasing the temperature to 375°F. Cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Remove the smoked Cornish game hens from the Traeger and cover them with foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes, allowing the internal temperature to rise to 165°F.

Serve these delicious birds whole as an entire bird per person or cut each bird in half to share. These smoked Cornish game hens can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

For reheating, you can use an air fryer at 340°F for 15-20 minutes followed by 5 minutes at 400°F to re-crisp the skin. Alternatively, you can reheat them in an oven at 380°F for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy these Traeger smoked Cornish game hens with some air fryer parsley baby potatoes or jalapeño popper mac and cheese for a delicious and complete meal.

Small chickens or Cornish game hens

Small chickens or Cornish game hens

Cornish game hens are smaller in size compared to regular broiler chickens, making them perfect for a quick family dinner. These hens are a cross between Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chickens and are bred specifically for their meat. They reach slaughter weight at a younger age and have larger breasts, resulting in more delicious meat.

To prepare the smoked Cornish game hens, rub them with a simple dry rub mixture of garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure to coat the hens with olive oil and sprinkle the dry rub inside the cavity as well. Stuff the cavity with smashed garlic cloves and lemon slices to infuse flavors into the meat. Let the birds rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate.

Preheat your Traeger or pellet smoker to 225°F and smoke the hens for 45 to 60 minutes. Then, increase the temperature to 375°F and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Let the smoked Cornish game hens rest covered with foil for 10 minutes before serving.

The smoked Cornish game hens can be served as whole birds for each person or cut in half to share. You can store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze them for up to 2-3 months. When reheating, you can use an air fryer at 340°F for 15-20 minutes followed by 5 minutes at 400°F or bake them in the oven at 380°F for 20-25 minutes.

If you don’t have a Traeger smoker, you can try making air fryer Cornish game hens with a dry rub for a crispy skin. Additionally, you can explore other recipes like smoked beef back ribs or jalapeño popper mac and cheese to complement your smoked Cornish game hens.

Ingredients for the Traeger game hens

Ingredients for the Traeger game hens

For the dry rub:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the hens:

  • 4 Cornish game hens
  • Olive oil, for rubbing
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed but mostly intact
  • Lemon slices

Note: You can also add bacon on top of each hen and reserve the drippings for soup.

How to smoke game hens on the Traeger

Smoking game hens on the Traeger is a simple and delicious way to enjoy these miniature birds. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to smoke game hens on your Traeger:

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1. Prepare the game hens: Rub olive oil all over the Cornish game hens, making sure every crevice is coated. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then sprinkle the dry rub all over the hens, including inside the cavity.

2. Infuse flavors: Smash garlic cloves slightly and stuff them inside the cavity of each game hen. Add lemon slices to further infuse flavors into the meat. Cover the birds and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

3. Preheat Traeger: Preheat your Traeger or pellet smoker to 225°F. Once it reaches temperature, place the hens on the grill.

4. Smoke the game hens: Smoke the Cornish game hens for 45 to 60 minutes at 225°F. This allows them to absorb plenty of smoky flavor from the Traeger.

5. Increase temperature: After smoking for an hour, increase the temperature of the smoker to 375°F and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the birds reaches 160°F.

6. Rest and serve: Remove the smoked Cornish game hens from the Traeger and cover them with foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes so that carryover cooking brings their internal temperature up to 165°F. Serve them whole as individual portions or cut each bird in half if desired.

Smoked Cornish game hens are perfect for a quick family dinner that’s packed with flavor. They can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for longer storage. Reheating them is simple, either in an air fryer or oven. Enjoy these delicious smoked game hens alongside your favorite sides for a complete meal.

Step 1: rub the game hens

Start by combining garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix them thoroughly to create a dry rub.

Rub olive oil all over the Cornish game hens, making sure to coat every crevice of the bird.

Sprinkle the dry rub over the hens, including inside the cavity. This will help to season the meat and add flavor.

Smash garlic cloves slightly and stuff them inside the cavity of the Cornish game hens. The smashed garlic cloves should remain mostly intact.

Add lemon slices to the cavity as well. This will infuse flavors into the meat from inside.

Cover the birds and let them rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. The longer they rest, the more flavorful they will be as the flavors infuse into the meat.

Preheat your Traeger or pellet smoker to 225°F. Once it reaches temperature, place the Cornish game hens on the grill.

Smoke them for 45 to 60 minutes at this temperature, allowing them to absorb smoke and develop a smoky flavor throughout.

Increase the temperature of your smoker to 375°F. Cook the hens for another 20 to 30 minutes or until their internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Remove smoked Cornish game hens from the Traeger and cover them with foil. Let them rest for 10 minutes, which will allow the internal temperature to rise to 165°F.

After resting, it’s time to dig in! You can serve the hens whole as an entire bird per person or cut each bird in half and share.

Step 2: stuff them

Step 2: Stuff Them

Once the Cornish game hens have been coated in olive oil and seasoning, it’s time to stuff them with citrus and garlic to infuse even more flavor into the meat.

To begin, smash the garlic cloves slightly, ensuring that they remain mostly intact. Then, stuff the smashed garlic cloves inside the cavity of each Cornish game hen. Next, place lemon slices inside the cavity as well. This will help to further enhance the flavors of the meat from the inside out.

After stuffing the hens, cover them and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. The longer they are left to marinate, the more flavorful they will become.

By taking this extra step to stuff the hens, you are ensuring that every bite is filled with delicious citrus and garlic-infused flavors. It’s a simple technique that adds a lot of depth to the overall taste of the dish.

Step 3: marinate

After rubbing olive oil on the Cornish game hens, it’s time to marinate them. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle this dry rub over the hens, making sure to coat every crevice of the bird, including inside the cavity.

Next, take several garlic cloves and smash them slightly to break them open. They should remain mostly intact. Stuff these smashed garlic cloves into the cavity of the Cornish game hens along with lemon slices. This will help infuse additional flavors into the meat from inside the cavity.

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Cover the birds and allow them to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours. The longer they marinate, the more flavorful they will become as the flavors infuse into the meat.

Step 4: smoked on the Traeger

Once the hens are seasoned and ready, it’s time to smoke them on the Traeger. Preheat your Traeger or another pellet smoker to 225°F. Make sure you have enough wood pellets for a good amount of smoke flavor.

Once the smoker is up to temperature, place the hens on the grill grates. Make sure there is enough space between each bird for proper airflow and even cooking. Close the lid and let the magic happen.

Smoke the Cornish game hens for about 45 to 60 minutes at 225°F. This low and slow cooking method allows the smoke to penetrate every inch of the bird, giving it that delicious smoky flavor throughout.

After smoking for an hour or so, it’s time to increase the temperature. Crank up the heat on your Traeger to 375°F. This higher temperature will help create a nice brown crust on the skin while ensuring that the meat cooks through to a safe internal temperature.

Cook the hens at 375°F for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 160°F. It’s important to use a reliable meat thermometer to check for doneness. Insert it into thickest part of the breast or thigh without touching bone.

Once they’ve reached their desired temperature, remove the smoked Cornish game hens from the Traeger and transfer them onto a platter or cutting board. Cover them loosely with foil and let them rest for about 10 minutes.

This resting period allows the juices in the meat to redistribute and ensures that you’ll have tender and juicy hens when you’re ready to serve.

During this resting time, carryover cooking will continue to raise the internal temperature of the hens to 165°F, which is the recommended safe temperature for poultry.

After 10 minutes, remove the foil and admire your beautifully smoked Cornish game hens. They should have a gorgeous golden brown color on the skin and a tantalizing aroma that will make your mouth water.

Now it’s time to dig in and enjoy! You can choose to serve each whole bird to individual guests for a fun family-style dinner, or you can cut each bird in half and share them.

These Traeger smoked Cornish game hens are perfect on their own as the star of the meal, or you can pair them with delicious sides like air fryer parsley baby potatoes or jalapeño popper mac and cheese for a complete feast.

If you have any leftovers, these smoked Cornish game hens can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat them, simply use an air fryer at 340°F for 15-20 minutes followed by 5 minutes at 400°F. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the oven at 380°F for 20-25 minutes.

Step 5: cover and rest

Step 5: Cover and Rest

After smoking the Cornish game hens, it’s important to cover them and let them rest for about 10 minutes. This allows the carryover cooking to take place and allows the internal temperature of the meat to rise to 165°F.

Covering the birds with foil helps to trap in the heat and moisture, ensuring that they stay tender and juicy. As they rest, the flavors will continue to develop and meld together, resulting in a more flavorful and delicious final product.

During this resting period, you can prepare any side dishes or set the table for your family dinner. The anticipation will build as you wait for those perfectly smoked Cornish game hens to be ready for serving.

Once the birds have rested and reached their final internal temperature of 165°F, it’s time to dig in! Whether you choose to serve each person a whole bird or cut them in half to share, these smoked Cornish game hens are sure to impress with their smoky flavor and juicy meat. Enjoy!

Step 6: serve!

Step 6: Serve!

Once the smoked Cornish game hens have rested and reached an internal temperature of 165°F, it’s time to dig in! You have a couple of options for serving these delicious birds.

You can serve them whole as an entire bird for each person, which makes for a fun family dinner. Or, if you prefer, you can cut each bird in half and share it.

The choice is yours! Either way, these smoked Cornish game hens are sure to be a hit at your next meal. Enjoy the smoky flavor and tender, juicy meat that comes from cooking them on the Traeger. Serve them alongside some tasty sides like air fryer parsley baby potatoes or jalapeño popper mac and cheese for a complete meal.

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Remember, if you have any leftovers, you can keep the smoked Cornish game hens in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat them, simply throw them in an air fryer for 15 to 20 minutes at 340°F and then 5 minutes at 400°F to re-crisp the skin. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can reheat them in the oven at 380°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Enjoy your delicious Traeger smoked Cornish game hens and savor every bite!

Expert tips for success

Expert tips for success

1. Make sure to coat the Cornish game hens thoroughly with olive oil and seasoning, including inside the cavity, to ensure even flavor distribution.

2. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the birds are cooked thoroughly and reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

3. Letting the seasoned birds rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours, will help enhance the flavors and make the meat more tender and flavorful.

4. If you prefer a crispier skin, increase the temperature of the smoker in the final 20 to 30 minutes of cooking or add an additional 45 to 60 minutes of smoking time at 225°F.

5. After removing the hens from the smoker, cover them with foil and let them rest for 10 minutes. This allows the carryover cooking to raise the internal temperature to a safe level while keeping the meat juicy and tender.

6. Leftover smoked Cornish game hens can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days or frozen for 2-3 months. Reheat them in an air fryer or oven to re-crisp the skin before serving.

7. Experiment with different flavors by adding herbs or spices to your dry rub or stuffing different ingredients inside the cavity of the hens, such as onions or herbs.

8. For added smoky flavor, try using flavored wood pellets in your Traeger smoker, such as cherry or hickory.

Leftovers

If you have any leftover Traeger smoked Cornish game hens, they can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. To reheat them, you can use an air fryer or oven. If using an air fryer, place the hens in the air fryer at 340°F for 15 to 20 minutes, followed by 5 minutes at 400°F to re-crisp the skin. If using an oven, preheat it to 380°F and heat the hens for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Sides for Traeger smoked Cornish game hens

When serving Traeger smoked Cornish game hens, it’s always nice to have some delicious sides to accompany them. Here are a few ideas:

1. Air Fryer Parsley Baby Potatoes: These crispy potatoes are the perfect side dish for the game hens. The parsley and salt infuse into the potato skins, creating a flavorful and crispy texture.

2. Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese: This creamy and spicy mac and cheese is a great complement to the smoky flavor of the game hens. Every bite tastes like a jalapeño popper, and it’s sure to be a hit with your family.

3. Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens: If your Traeger smoker is out of commission or if you prefer a different cooking method, try making air fryer Cornish game hens with a dry rub. The air fryer will give them a wonderful crispy skin.

4. Smoked Beef Back Ribs: If you’re looking for another meat option to serve alongside the game hens, these smoked beef back ribs are a fantastic choice. They’re cooked to perfection on the Traeger until they just about fall off the bone.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Feel free to get creative with your sides and choose dishes that you know your family will enjoy!

What else is cooking?

If you’re looking for other delicious recipes to try, there are plenty of options to complement your smoked Cornish game hens. Here are a few ideas:

– Air Fryer Parsley Baby Potatoes: These crispy potatoes seasoned with parsley and salt make the perfect side dish. Simply cook them in the air fryer while your Traeger is smoking the hens.

– Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese: This creamy mac and cheese with a spicy twist is a great accompaniment to the smoky flavor of the Cornish game hens.

– Air Fryer Cornish Game Hens: If you don’t have access to a smoker, you can still enjoy delicious Cornish game hens by cooking them in an air fryer. The result is tender meat with a crispy skin.

– Traeger Smoked Beef Back Ribs: For BBQ lovers, these beef back ribs smoked on the Traeger until they fall off the bone are a must-try recipe.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started. Feel free to explore more recipes on A License To Grill and find your next favorite dish!

In conclusion, smoked Cornish game hens offer a unique and flavorful twist to traditional poultry dishes. The smoky aroma and tender meat make them a delightful choice for any occasion. Whether enjoyed as a main course or incorporated into other recipes, these hens are sure to please even the most discerning palates.

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