Brined Cornish Hens

These Brined Cornish Hens are seriously juicy and delicious! If you’ve never brined anything before, trying it on smaller birds like these is a great way to start.

Brined Cornish Hens (AIP, Paleo)
Jump to Recipe

Have you ever brined anything before?  I hadn’t, until I was in search of a method to make Cornish hens juicy and delicious.  Ladies and gentlemen, this will take a bit more effort than just sticking the birds in the oven, but you will be rewarded with a succulent dish, not something all sad and dried out.

Before you even contemplate making this recipe, there is one thing you must do.  (Cue Mission Impossible music.)  You must locate a container, such as a large pot, which can amply hold two birds and still fit in the fridge.  Have you got one?  Then you, my friends, will have something lovely to serve during this month of lovely-food-serving.  Please read all instructions before you begin.

This recipe would be lovely with AIP Mashed Potatoes and a green salad.

We’re about to deep dive folks.  COURAGE!



Brined Cornish Hens

Recipe by Wendi’s AIP Kitchen – Course: Holiday, MainCuisine: AIP, Paleo, HolidayDifficulty: Difficult


Prep time


Cooking time





These Brined Cornish Hens are seriously juicy and delicious! If you’ve never brined anything before, trying it on smaller birds like these is a great way to start.


  • 1 gallon water

  • 1 C. Kosher salt

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • 2 Cornish hens about 1.5 pounds each, not injected with anything

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

  • 1 t. fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 t. sea salt

  • 1/2 t. pepper (omit for elimination phase of AIP)

  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil


  • Into a large pot, pour the water and Kosher salt.  Heat and stir until salt has dissolved, and the water is clear.  Take off the heat and let cool completely.
  • Four and a half hours before you want to serve, remove wrapping and any bags of organs from the cavity of each bird.  (You may want to do this in the sink.)  With kitchen shears, cut along one side of the back bone of each bird, and up the center of each breast to make four halves.
  • Place the birds in the container you located (above).  Pour the cooled salt water over the birds.  The birds must be completely submerged.  If the birds are floating up, you can put a weight on them, such as a plate, to keep them under the water, or you may even need to make more salt water!  It all depends on your container.  Now, put the entire mess into the fridge for two hours, and let those babies soak up the salt water. (The salt will loosen the protein molecules, the meat will retain liquid much like we do when we’ve eaten a lot of salt, and the whole thing will be tenderized. Yes, this is why we’re taking all this time and effort to brine those little beauties.)
  • After the hens have had a nice long bath, take them out of the fridge.  Spread your onion slices in the bottom of a 9 X 12 baking dish.  Pat the hen halves dry with a paper towel.  Nestle them side by side atop the onions in the pan.  Let them sit on the counter for 45 minutes to an hour to come to room temperature.  Meanwhile: 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼
  • In a bowl, combine garlic, rosemary, thyme, vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper (if using).  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Set aside.
  • An hour and a half before you want to serve, pre-heat the oven to 350º.  Liberally apply some of the mixture to the birds with a brush or spoon.  Bake uncovered for 15 minutes.  Baste again with the mixture.  Bake another 15 minutes.  Continue baking and basting at 15-minute intervals until the internal temperature of the thickest meat reaches 180º.  This will take about one hour and 15 minutes.
  • Serve!  (Remember to save the bones for broth.). Pat yourself on the back for all your hard work!  Seriously.  That was a lot. 😅

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Pin this! 👆🏼


  1. Sounds delicious! I have 2 questions though – what do you mean when you say ‘cut up the center of each breast?’ I understand cutting along the back bone – does it stay attached to one side or do you remove it completely? Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Glazed Honeynut Squash - Wendi's AIP Kitchen

  3. How critical is the brining? I am accustomed to brining but unfortunately, I am suffering from MCAS in addition to Hashimoto’s and would not be able to let the hens sit for more than an hour due to histamines building up. 🙁

    • Hi there! Ack, I’m sorry about the histamine buildup. I have not tried brining for a shorter amount of time, but certainly there are other ways to cook the hens! There’s probably a lovely way to bake them, maybe with some lemon and herbs(?). For this recipe, though, brining is the key. Happy weekend! -Wendi

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.