Cornish Hen Calories & Nutrition

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPTPublished: June 22, 2023

Cornish hen is a commonly preferred substitute for traditional chicken in numerous dishes. It is a great option for a healthy meal, served as the main course along with vegetables, rice, or potatoes.

However, it is important to know the nutritional value of Cornish hen and how it measures up to chicken in terms of calorie and macronutrient content.

In this article, you will find a comprehensive analysis of the nutritional value of Cornish hen, including calories, protein, fat, and other essential information. Additionally, we will discuss various ways to incorporate Cornish hen into your diet.

Cornish Hen Calories Protein Nutrition

What Is a Cornish Hen?

A Cornish hen, also known as a Cornish game hen, is a small breed of chicken, weighing about 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) each. They have a plump and tender texture with a rich, flavorful taste.

These small birds are often used in recipes and dishes that call for individual servings. They are popular for special occasions or intimate dinners because of their petite size, making them a visually appealing choice.

Cornish Hen vs Chicken

Despite its name, a Cornish game hen is not a game bird but a crossbreed of small domesticated chickens from England. Cornish hens are typically brought to market at a younger age, which is another reason for their smaller size.

A typical Cornish hen is less than half the size of a standard chicken and can fit in your hand. By comparison, regular chickens are larger and heavier, making their meat slightly tougher than Cornish hens.

Here are the technical differences between Cornish hens and standard chickens according to the USDA:

  • Cornish Game Hen: an immature chicken younger than five weeks old weighing two pounds or less.
  • Broiler Chicken: a chicken younger than ten weeks old weighing three to five pounds.
  • Roaster Chicken: a chicken between 8 and 12 weeks old weighing five pounds or more.
Cornish Hen vs Chicken

Cornish Hen Nutrition

Cornish hens are typically served whole due to their small size. When consuming them, you can eat the breast, back, thighs, drumsticks, and wings.

Therefore, the nutrition facts usually represent a combination of all the different types of meat.

Cornish Hen Calories, Protein, & Fat Content

In general, a 4 oz serving of Cornish hen provides about 19 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, and roughly 200 calories. There are no carbs in Cornish hen unless you add a glaze or batter.

Due to their young age and small size, Cornish hens are slightly leaner compared to their larger counterparts. The table below shows how Cornish hen nutrition compares to regular chicken.

Table 1: Cornish Hen Calories & Nutrition Information (per 4 oz serving)
  Protein Fat Calories Protein:Calorie
Cornish Hen 19g 14g 200 0.380
Broiler Chicken 19g 18g 240 0.317
Roaster Chicken 19g 19g 250 0.304

Nutrition information from Tyson

Cornish Hen Calories Comparison

The Cornish hen is relatively low in calories compared to other whole chicken varieties. However, it must be compared with other protein sources and individual chicken parts to understand whether it’s a healthy food.

Table 2 below compares 4 ounces of Cornish hen nutrition to chicken breasts, thighs, red meat, and fish. Additionally, the table includes a column that displays the protein-to-calorie ratio, where a higher number indicates a more efficient protein source.

Table 2: Cornish Hen Nutrition vs Other Protein Sources
  Protein Fat Calories Protein:Calorie
Skinless Chicken Breast 26.0 1.5 120 0.867
Tilapia 22.8 1.9 109 0.837
Skinless Chicken Thigh 22.0 8.0 160 0.550
93% Ground Turkey 21.3 9.3 169 0.504
Pork Chop 23.3 10.8 189 0.493
Atlantic Salmon 23.0 15.3 229 0.402
Sirloin Steak 22.8 16.3 236 0.386
Whole Cornish Hen 19.0 14.0 200 0.380
85% Ground Beef 21.3 17.0 238 0.358

It’s worth noting that Cornish hen isn’t as lean of a protein source compared to skinless chicken breast or thighs. There are also other meats and fish that have fewer calories.

Interestingly, the calorie-to-protein ratio of a whole Cornish hen is similar to that of a sirloin steak. Like steak, Cornish hen can be a flavorful alternative to some of the more bland protein sources.

How to Cook Cornish Hen

There are several different ways you can cook a Cornish hen. Remember that cooking times vary depending on your kitchen equipment and the hen’s size. Using a meat thermometer to ensure the hens are fully cooked and safe to eat is always a good idea.

Here are a few popular methods:

Oven Roasted Cornish Hen

Roasting is a traditional way to cook a Cornish hen. Preheat your oven to around 400°F (200°C). Rub the hen with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs or spices.

Place it on a roasting rack in a baking dish and roast for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Baste the hen with its juices or a marinade during the cooking process to keep them moist.

Air Fryer Cornish Hen

Air frying is a popular method for cooking poultry because it produces crispy results with less oil. Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes.

Season with the hen with olive oil, salt, pepper, and preferred herbs or spices. You can also marinate it beforehand for extra flavor if you wish.

Place the seasoned Cornish hen in the air fryer basket, breast-side down, with enough room for air to circulate. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes, then flip and continue cooking for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the hens reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Grilled or Smoked Cornish Hen

Cooking Cornish hen on the grill or in a pellet smoker can yield delicious results with smoky flavors. In addition, most grills and smokers have adequate room to cook multiple hens at once, saving you on meal prep time.

Here’s how you can cook Cornish hens on a grill or pellet smoker:


Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Season the Cornish hens with oil and your preferred herbs or spices. Place the hens on the grill, breast-side down.

Grill the hens for 12 to 15 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Monitor the hens to prevent burning and adjust the cooking time as needed.

Once cooked, remove the hens from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Pellet Smoker:

Preheat your pellet smoker to around 375°F (190°C). Season the Cornish hens with oil and your preferred herbs or spices. Place the hens on the smoker grates, breast-side up.

Close the lid of the pellet smoker and let the hens cook for about 50 to 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Once cooked, remove the hens from the smoker and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Depending on the type of smoker and the pellets used, you may get some additional smoky flavors during the cooking process.

More Healthy Protein Sources

If you’re looking for a nutritious and delicious meal, consider trying Cornish hen. However, it may not be a regular addition to most people’s meal plans.

To help diversify your protein sources, here are some other nutrition profiles to consider.

With this information, you’re on your way to being a meal prep master! But why stop learning now? Check out some of my other informative content below.

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By |June 22, 2023|Nutrition|Comments Off on Cornish Hen Calories & Nutrition Compared to Chicken
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