Chinese Five Spice Cornish Hens

Chinese Five Spice Cornish Hens

We love Chinese five spice around here. We love Cornish Hens, too. Together, they make everyone happy. I like to keep a pair of Cornish Hens in my freezer for a quick meal. In the past, I cooked them whole, but now I almost always cut them in half. They cook faster. The portion size is more reasonable, and you can get a juicier bird because it cooks evenly.

You can grill or bake this delicious recipe for Chinese five spice Cornish Hens. Marinate them ahead of time for the best flavor. I recommend at least 4 hours to overnight. Save the leftover marinade to make a flavorful, dark sauce to pour on top. With two birds, you get four nice servings. It’s a romantic dinner for two (with leftovers) or an impressive meal for six. I like to bring out this recipe when the in-laws are visiting because it’s easy, but looks like I’ve worked all day.

I like to pair Chinese five spice Cornish Hens with some brown rice or fried rice, and some simply cooked vegetables like sautéed mustard greens with garlic and sesame or zucchini sautéed with soy and garlic.

I have to mention the photos in this post. They aren’t up to my usual standards, so don’t be surprised if the pictures change the next time I cook this recipe.  You see, I need to photograph all of my recipes in daylight if I want everything to look pretty. Sometimes that doesn’t happen…and I end up doing my best with a lamp and slow shutter speed.

Chinese Five Spice Cornish Hens

Chinese Five Spice Cornish Hens

Chinese Five Spice Cornish Hens

Chinese Five Spice Rock Cornish Hens

Chinese Five Spice Rock Cornish Hens


  • ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce or dark soy sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or honey)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot chili paste (optional)
  • 3 Rock Cornish Hens, cut in half lengthwise
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Combine all ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the Cornish Hens and seal, turning and squeezing just a little so the marinade coats the hens well. Refrigerate for 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Preheat oven to 425° F/ 220° C (or heat grill)

Remove the hens from the marinade and pat dry. Pour the leftover marinade into a saucepan.

Sprinkle the hens with salt and freshly ground pepper.


Arrange hens, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Roast until browned and cooked through, about 30-40 minutes and internal temperature is 160 degrees (hens will continue to cook when removed from the oven). Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

While the hens are cooking, cook the marinade on low heat until it reduces into a thick syrup. It should coat the back of a spoon. Spoon the sauce over the hens before serving.


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