Grilled Cornish Hens with Lemon-Thyme Butter


I butterflied fowl. I did it! And so can you. Learn how, here.

These cornish game hens grill up nicely, leaving beautifully crispy skin and moist, flavorful chicken underneath.  By spatchcocking the birds, the cooking time is drastically reduced and this becomes an easy weeknight meal.  Bonus: grilling means less clean up!


  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 bunch fresh Thyme
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper

Here’s what I did:

First, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Get your spatchcocked hens ready, patting dry with paper towels.

In a mini food processor, combine roughly chopped garlic, the zest of one lemon, a few sprigs of fresh thyme (stems removed), and 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and pepper.  Add in the butter and the juice of half the lemon.  Process until well combined.

Next, loosen the skin from the breast of the cornish hens. Use about one third of the butter mixture to work under the skin and onto the meat with your fingers.  Then smear another one third of the butter on the outside of the skin of the cornish hen, all over the bird.  Reserve the rest of the lemon-thyme butter for other uses.


Season the hens with salt and pepper.

Place the cornish hens on the grill, breast side down, directly over the fire.  Grill the hens on one side for 7-8 minutes.  Then flip the birds so the breast side is up and grill until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 7-8 minutes longer.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with lemon slices and more fresh thyme. Enjoy!

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