Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Apple Butter and Bourbon



Ready In:

3 hours



Good For:



About this Recipe

By: Demond Mullen

While turkey will always be a staple on our holiday table, we also use this time of year to give some other types of poultry some love and affection. Enter the Cornish Game Hens: these gamey little birds are delicious, easy to season and marinade, and cook in no time flat! And because they don’t often make an appearance on the holiday table, they are always a pleasant surprise for poultry lovers everywhere.

In our recipe we generously season our Cornish Game Hens with  SWEEETHEAT Southern Spice Blend and then marinate them overnight. This extra special marinade is a combination of SWEEETHEAT Smoked Apple Butter, Bourbon, and a little bit of molasses, giving it the perfect balance of sweet and smokey. Stuff these birds with apple, lemon, onion and fresh thyme and then roast them to perfection! The best part is that these birds should be ready in under an hour! And if you want to add a little extra punch of flavor, garnish with some thinly sliced apples and lemon before roasting!


A simple blend of Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, honey, lemon juice, and salt, our Smoked Apple Butter (like all of our products) are made from the downhome southern tradition. Our Smoked Apple Butter can be used as a spread, as a glaze on meat, or added as an addition to some of your favorite baked goods.

And If you’re looking for other recipes to make this Fall, check out one of the recipes below:


Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Smoked Apple Butter and Bourbon


  • 2 Cornish Game Hens (1 ½ – 2 Pounds)
  • ½ Cup SWEEETHEAT Smoked Apple Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Bourbon
  • 1 Tablespoon Molasses
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoon SWEEETHEAT Southern Spice Blend
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Small Lemon
  • 1 Small Onion
  • 1 Apple (Honeycrisp or Granny Smith preferred)
  • A Few Sprigs of Thyme
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive oil for roasting

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

Make the Smoked Apple Butter Bourbon marinade by combining SWEEETHEAT Smoked Apple Butter, bourbon, molasses, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Step 2

Season both sides and the inner cavity of the hens with SWEEETHEAT Southern Spice Blend, salt, and pepper. Place in a zip lock bag. Pour marinade over seasoned hens and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to overnight). Remove Cornish game hens from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before cooking.

Step 3

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Step 4

Using tongs, remove Cornish game hens from the Ziplock gag and shake off excess marinade. Pat dry with a paper towel before adding to hens (breast side up) to a cast iron skillet or roasting pan.

Step 5

Cut apple, lemon, and onions into wedges. Place one of each wedge and two sprigs of thyme in the cavity of each hen. Add remaining wedges of apple, lemon, and onion to the pan, surrounding the hens.

Step 6

Drizzle olive oil over hens, apples, lemon, and onions and place in the oven to roast for 45 – 50 minutes or until the Cornish game hens reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Step 7

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

Step 8

Optional: Garnish roasted Cornish game hen with a few thin slices of apple and additional thyme sprigs.