Hello, and welcome to the the February edition of the Smoking Meat newsletter. 

Last month we talked about keeping the meat really nice and juicy by not poking it, sticking it, cutting it, etc. while it is in the smoker.  This month we are going to allow you to put that into practice with an absolutely new and unique meat for the smoker.. so keep reading!

BTW.. if you missed last month's newsletter you can read it here:



How to Brine/Smoke Cornish Hens (better than Branson)

If you have ever been to Branson, specifically Dixie Stampede, then you are fully aware of the wonderful cornish hens that are served just prior to the show along with all of the fixins you could possibly eat.

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Well.. it is really good, but it isn't smoked and I am going to show you how to bring back memories of Branson better than you ever remembered before.. no kidding.

If you have never been to Dixie Stampede.. well, you have not missed anything just try the recipe and it will make you forget that Branson cornish hens even exist!

You will need about 4 cornish hens (sometimes called rock hens) about 1.5 lbs each or less. Now we are going to brine these babies and I am going to show you how to do that as well below but first make sure you have a clean 5 gallon pail or something similar. I buy new pails or buckets at Home Depot for a couple bucks and only use them for brining but you may use another alternative as long as it is absolutely sterile and clean. (i.e. not used for mop water or changing the oil, etc.).

Ok.. here is the brine recipe. Go ahead and get the ingredients and mix it up and then I will tell you how to use it. This brine recipe is the one posted at /brining-meat

Brine Recipe

  • 2 Gal Water*
  • 2 Cups Kosher Salt*
  • 3 Cups Sugar*
  • 1/4 Cup Zatarains Liquid Crab Boil**
  • 4 TBS Black Pepper
  • 1 TBS Dried Rosemary
  • 1 TBS Thyme
  • 1/4 Cup Molasses
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine (not Cooking Wine)
  • 1/4 Cup Worcestershire

*Essential Ingredients
**Makes it slightly spicy but really good

The ingredients with an asterisk are the necessary ingredients and all the rest is just optional to make it taste really good.

How to Brine the Cornish Hens

So you have mixed up the ingredients and maybe added a few ingredients of your own or even left off a few things based on your knowledge of your family's tastes.

Now place the cornish hens down in the brine using a plate or similar heavy object to hold them under the water. You will need to keep the brine mixture between 33 and 39 degrees and the easiest way to do this is to set it in your fridge however, you may not have room so you can use ice to keep the mix cold if you need to.

Let the hens brine for about 4 hours.

After 4 hours have expired.. remove the hens from the brine and rinse them really well under cool water paying special attention to the area under the wing and thigh.

Set the cornish hens aside and mix up a batch of Jeff's Naked Rib Rub if you have the recipe. If not then you can read some testimonies and order it at the link below:


That recipe is absolutely unbeatable and is so good on the cornish hens as well as ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, etc. however if you have a rub of your own then you can use that as well as long as it goes well with poultry.  Some rubs are specific to a certain type of meat so just be careful.

Once you have some rub mixed up, dust some all over the outside of the hen and then try to get some rub up under the skin as well anywhere possible for maximum flavor.

Note: Dust means you can see still see a little skin.. it is a lighter coating than you would put on ribs or pork shoulder.

How to Smoke Cornish Hens

Now for the fun part.. fire up the smoker or plug it in depending on what kind of smoker you use. I prefer wood and fire but I happen to know that there are a multitude of you who use propane and electricity as a fuel source and that is fine and good cause in the end the smoke makes any meat taste better than what you can do in the indoor kitchen.

You want to maintain a 225 degree fire for about 3 hours.. you should be able to place all 4 cornish hens on the top rack of the smoker or in close proximity so that all of them get equal heat and smoke.

I like to use mesquite for poultry but I have also had excellent success plum, oak, apple, cherry and hickory.

Use the type of wood that you and your family likes best and if this is your first attempt then you might try to come up with several types of hard wood or fruit wood and use a lighter on the edge to make some smoke. If you like the way the smoke smells then you will probably like how it tastes as well.

Be sure and use a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh or breast so you can pull it out of the smoker as soon as it reaches about 165 degrees.

Much higher than that and the meat will start to dry out.. the brining will help it to be a lot more juicy but we definitely do not want to lose any precious moisture.

How to Serve Cornish Hens

Once the hens are inside.. let them rest on the cabinet for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

I think this will be something that you will do again and again.. they seem to have more flavor than ordinary chicken and the meat is always more tender and juicy.

I like to fix these when company comes over.. everyone gets their own bird and it makes for a truly unique and memorable meal.

Add a baked potato, some rolls, corn on the cob, and blackberry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream and you might just think you died and went to heaven!

Jeff's Naked Rib Rub and BBQ Sauce Recipes

If you have not taken advantage of my special offer then you really should do that. I have two of the best recipes that you have ever tasted and I don't just talk.. I guarantee it. One is for the rub and one is for the sauce and let me tell you.. they are a winning combination.

Talk to anyone who has ordered and they will tell you that these recipes are worth every penny and you will save money in the long run since you will never have to buy the store-bought stuff again.

I have several testimonies at the site to prove what I am saying and furthermore if you order and within 30 days you decide it is not the best rub and sauce you have ever tasted in your entire life then I will happily refund your money.

Order the Rub and Sauce recipes.. both.. for only $18.95 or you can order them separately for only $9.95 each.

Read the testimonies HERE or Order Now

Thank You for Supporting Smoking-Meat.com!




  1. Scotty B December 27, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Question? Is it possible to stuff the game hens and then smoke them? Would it take extra time?

  2. jeff cox November 13, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Hey Jeff..first of all…nice first name :)~~ I have tried your Cornish hen brine recipe two ways. One the exact measurements on the spices…the other by adding an extra 1/4 cup of crab boil..MISTAKE! Whew weeee it was spicy! It was good (has to be good it was smoked) but mighty spicy. Thanks for the original recipe it was delish!

  3. phillip thorne May 26, 2013 at 2:04 pm - Reply


    I ordered your rub and sauce recipe and I am planning on smoking some Cornish Hens and I noticed that you have a different brining recipe for "How to Smoke Cornish Hens.. my way" versus "How to Brine/Smoke Cornish Hens (better than Branson)". I wanted to know if you prefer one over the other, which one would you use?

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