Cornish hens are perfect for those who crave chicken but don’t have a big family to share it with. This chicken variety from Cornwall, England is slightly smaller and has a milder flavor.
What’s great about it though is that since it’s smaller, it can easily absorb flavor. That’s why I always give it a good rubbing of my favorite herbs and spices before roasting it.
And while a Cornish hen can only feed one hungry human, if you serve it with sides, it’s perfect for an intimate dinner for two.
Because it’s tender and savory, there are lots of side dishes that go well with Cornish hens, regardless of how you prepare them. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Mushroom Rice
Cornish hens are super savory, so you’ll want to pair it with something starchy to balance out its richness. Nothing fits the bill better than a bowl of mushroom rice!
Not only is this dish hearty, but the mushrooms also give it a nice earthy flavor. Whether you use white or brown rice, this dish surely pairs wonderfully with Cornish hens.
To make: saute mushrooms, green onions, and garlic in butter. Add cooked rice and chicken broth, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix until combined. Cover the dish and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Glazed Carrots
For me, the best flavor combination is sweet and savory. There’s just something so irresistible about it! That’s why I love serving glazed carrots with my Cornish hens.
Not only do they complement each other flavor wise, but texture-wise as well. The crunchiness of the carrots gives a wonderful contrast to the tenderness of the bird.
Glazed carrots are also easy to prepare. You simply saute pre-boiled carrots, brown sugar, and lemon juice in butter for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.
3. Roasted Red Potatoes
Here’s another starchy side that tastes fantastic with Cornish hens. Roasted red potatoes are yummy, filling, and easy to prepare. All you need is to coat red potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast until golden brown!
Here’s a tip when picking potatoes for this dish: opt for smaller red potatoes so they’re easier to eat. If you only have larger potatoes on hand, that’s okay too, but you’ll need to slice them into bite-size chunks.
4. Scalloped Potatoes
Call me biased, but when it comes to sides, potatoes are king. That’s why I’m featuring another potato dish! Much like Cornish hen, scalloped potatoes are rich, tender, and irresistible. They’re so alike, they taste perfect together.
Here’s how to make this drool-worthy side:
- Arrange thin potato slices into a greased baking dish.
- Layer with onion slices.
- Sprinkle some flour over the dish.
- Top the dish with butter and season with salt and pepper.
- Repeat steps 1 through 4 twice more.
- Pour warm milk over the entire dish. Bake the casserole at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.
5. Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Just like its cousin, sweet potatoes also taste fabulous when roasted. Sweet potatoes are already delicious, but when coated with Italian seasonings and parmesan cheese, they become even more flavorful.
This crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside veggie pairs wonderfully with Cornish hens. Not only does it balance out the bird’s savoriness, but it also gives a nice crunchy contrast to its tenderness.
6. Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese always tastes amazing with chicken, so it only makes sense to serve this creamy dish with Cornish hens.
Not only is it oh so yummy, but it’s also super hearty, making it an exceptional dish to round out your meal.
Want to give this classic comfort food a fun twist? Top the casserole with potato chip crumbles for a wonderful crunchy surprise!
7. Dinner Rolls
Buttery dinner rolls make a wonderful side dish to grilled Cornish hen. As you grill the bird, it oozes out super-rich and savory juices. That’s where dinner rolls come in.
Use the bread to soak up that beautiful juice and take a bite. Tastes like heaven.
8. Fresh Salad
If you want to give your Cornish hen contrasting textures and flavors, then go for a fresh salad. Regardless of what leafy greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, cheese, and dressing you add, a salad is always refreshing, crunchy, and flavorful.
And it’s healthy to boot! In short, it’s everything your Cornish hen needs.
9. Corn Pudding
Cornish hens may be English, but there’s nothing wrong with giving your meal a Southern flair. Corn pudding is a sweet and flavorful custard that balances out the savoriness of the bird.
But if you prefer, you can also serve a savory corn pudding with Cornish hen as well. To prepare: add some thyme and onions to the batter before baking your pudding.
10. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts may not be as highly desired as potatoes, but I think they also make a great side dish. When roasted to perfection, Brussels sprouts taste sweet, earthy, and nutty – flavors that work well with Cornish hen.
Just like Cornish hen, broccolini is also the smaller cousin of a more famous item. It might be the lesser-known relative, but broccolini is just as good as broccoli!
Not only is it nutritious, but it’s also yummy, especially when flavored with lemon and garlic.
To prepare: saute garlic in olive oil. Add pre-cooked broccolini and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Flavor the broccolini with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Serve and enjoy!
12. Corn on the Cob
Let’s end this list with something simple yet effective. Cornish hen is the star of the dish, and you don’t want to take the spotlight away from it. That’s why the humble corn on the cob works great with Cornish hen.
It’s sweet and juicy, but its flavors won’t overpower the bird. Plus, it’s also very filling, so it’s a fantastic dish to round out your dinner.