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Chef John's Grilled Game Hens

Rated as 5 out of 5 Stars

"The idea for these grilled game hens is borrowed from my highly successful Cornell chicken experiments, and uses a similar acid/salt/oil/egg concoction. This time the part of egg is played by mayo. Needless to say, you can season this a million ways and use any combination of hot chilies, but the little kick the habanero adds is really nice."
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3 h 55 m servings 417
Original recipe yields 4 servings


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  1. Blend jalapeno pepper, habanero pepper, garlic, vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, mayonnaise, and 2 teaspoons salt together in a blender until marinade is smooth.
  2. Place halved hens in a large bowl. Pour marinade over the chickens and turn to coat completely. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
  4. Remove hens from marinade, shaking off any excess, place hens on a plate, skin-side up. Discard remaining marinade. Season skin-side of hens with salt.
  5. Cook hens on the preheated grill, turning occasionally, until skin is crisped, meat is no longer pink at the bone, and juices run clear, about 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).


  • Cook's Note:
  • You can substitute chickens for the Cornish game hens.
  • Nutrition:
  • The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the marinade ingredients. The actual amount of the marinade consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 417 calories; 33.3 1.6 26 154 1277 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 5
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this was super tasty.. game hen is $2.49/lb here in socal.. and i can get chicken quarters for $0.69/lb so that's what i went with.. i used 4 thighs and 1 drumstick and it was very tasty.. bf sa...

For the marinade, I used a whole head of garlic, oil, apple cider vinegar, an egg, salt, pepper, Thai green curry paste, and capers. Blend. Spatchcocked the Cornish hen. Placed in a zip lock w...

I don’t very often review recipes unless they are out of this world amazing. THIS WAS! I didn’t take the seeds out of the peppers and it was awesome otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. Gav...

I made this with chicken drumsticks instead of cornish hens. They came out fantastic. I was a little leery about how spicy they would be but maybe I was lucky with the peppers. They had a wonde...

Fantastic! So simple yet so good. The jalapeño was amazing.