Fun Food Fridays: Dutch Oven Cornish Game Hens

I’ve always been a big fan of Cornish game hens. When I was little, I thought they were the perfect kid-sized chicken — and I could eat the whole thing! For this latest camping trip, the “Royal” Family decided to try out a new recipe of cooking the game hens in the Dutch oven.


  • 2-3 Cornish game hens, thawed
  • Carrots
  • Salt & pepper
  • Large bag of charcoal briquettes
  • Cooking oil

First off, make sure your Dutch oven has been properly seasoned, according to manufactures” instructions. Nothing is worse than spending time on a meal and then, in that first bite, having it taste like hot metal!

Make a pile of ALL the charcoal briquettes in the fire ring. Light them according to the instructions on the bag. Keep an eye on the time — our bag said the briquettes would be hot and ashy grey in about fifteen minutes. It took 20.

Wash the birds and remove any giblets. Our birds didn’t actually have the heart, neck and gizzards inside, but always be sure to check it.

The oil keeps the birds from sticking.

Rub the inside of the Dutch oven with cooking oil, making sure to evenly coat the sides and bottoms. Place the game hens directly on the bottom of the oven, breast-side up. Liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Surround the game hens with carrots. We used baby carrots, but large cooking carrots would work as well. Put the lid on the oven.

Sprinkle them with whatever spices you enjoy the most.

When the briquettes are hot, flatten out the pile. Place the Dutch oven (ours had built-in legs) directly over a single layer of briquettes. You want to make sure the bottom of the oven rests evenly on the briquettes and there are no hot spots or areas without heat.

Carefully place a single layer of briquettes on the lid of the oven. You want to work kind of quickly but you also need to make sure the briquettes are spaced evenly on the lid. Push any remaining briquettes against the sides of the oven.

Dinner is cooking!

Cook 40-45 minutes.

I recommend checking the birds at 40 minutes. We didn’t check them, but took them off at 50 minutes. Most of the bird was moist, but the breast meat was a bit dry.

Kim’s Recommendations:

For our first time, this recipe was excellent! My only complaints were that the carrots caramelized and stuck to the bottom of the oven so I didn’t get to eat any of them. The salt and pepper added some flavor, but not a lot so I recommend sprinkling the birds with your favorite seasoning mix as well.

I did get to eat one carrot and it was very tasty!

Next time, we’ll try it with larger carrots, putting an onion quarter inside each of the birds, and cooking with a sprig of rosemary on top. I figure we’ll also stuff garlic cloves into the birds as well. We LOVE garlic in my family.

I also recommend using a pair of LONG metal tongs to move the briquettes around. We had short metal tongs and long leather gloves but ESP Boss still got scorched! If you’re planning on doing a lot of Dutch oven cooking, also invest in a Dutch oven hook to remove the oven lid from the coals.

The tongs were just too short for the job!

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