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Cornish Game Hens - Help

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Joined Jul 5, 2021
I have just started my smoking journey. I worked my way through college at a local steak house. I can say, with confidence, if it will fit on my grill I can cook it.
However, smoking is a different story. I use a Green Egg as my grill and a Weber Smokey Mountian for my Smoker. The last several times I have tried Cornish
game hens the meat has been very tender, fall off the bone, and favorable. The skin looks, and taste, like shoe leather. What am I missing??
 

civilsmoker

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Cooking at any temp below 350 will yield a rubbery skin. I smoke poultry at 350 to 400 f for bite thru skin. Welcome to SMF from Minnesota.
This, birds at 375... especially for corn hens, they cook quick so they need higher heat to crisp the skin.

It will also help if you air dry them in the fridge a couple hours before....dry skin goes crispy sooner
 

chef jimmyj

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All the above and add 1/2 - 1teaspoon Baking Powder to your Rub...JJ
 

tallbm

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I have just started my smoking journey. I worked my way through college at a local steak house. I can say, with confidence, if it will fit on my grill I can cook it.
However, smoking is a different story. I use a Green Egg as my grill and a Weber Smokey Mountian for my Smoker. The last several times I have tried Cornish
game hens the meat has been very tender, fall off the bone, and favorable. The skin looks, and taste, like shoe leather. What am I missing??
Hi there and welcome!

Yep welcome to the battle against poultry skin haha.
I normally tell people 325F+ to get edible and often crispy chicken skin but as the others are saying with these small birds you might have to go even higher in temp.

Something else you could do is smoke at a low temp for like 2 hours where the chicken will not be at risk of cooking (200F temp?) and then cook and finish on a hot grill. This way you are within safety margins on time but get plenty of smoke and edible skin.

I'm just throwing some things out there as I rarely cook cornish hens and never smoked any lol.
I do skin on whole chickens, turkeys, turkey parts, etc. so I can attest to 325F working for those.

I hope this info helps :)
 

SmokinEdge

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When smoking chickens, I have taken to hitting them with a propane torch about 3/4 to done. This crisps the skin and leaves time for sauce, if you want. It works great.
 

Fueling Around

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My only outdoor cooking of cornish game hen was in a large dutch oven so the skin didn't crisp, but took on the flavors of the potatoes, carrots, onions, and the stuffing.
I stuffed them with 2 boxes of Uncle Ben's wild rice blend and 2 pounds browned ground pork. There is way too much salt in the Uncle Ben's so it seasoned the hens, too.
 

SmokinAl

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I never could get good skin either on them until I got a Santa Maria setup, with a rotisserie. It seemed like they are so small by the time the inside is close to done if you try to crisp up the skin on a hot grill, they get dry inside.
I do love those little guys!
Al
 

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