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Citrus Rosemary Cornish Hens

Smoked cornish hens are delicious and the perfect-sized chicken but to make them even better, these are marinated in citrus juices, olive oil and rosemary.
Course Entree
Cuisine Hot Smoking
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Author Jeff Phillips


  • 4-6 each Cornish hens (18-20 oz. each)
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced garlic (about 2-3 heads or you can use the jarred stuff.)
  • 3 each oranges , medium
  • 3 each lemons
  • 3 each limes
  • 1/4 cup rosemary , chopped
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt , coarse ground
  • 1/4 cup black pepper , coarse ground
  • 1/4 cup Jeff's Texas style rub


  • Make the marinade by adding 3 cups of olive oil to a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Zest about ⅓ cup each of the oranges, lemons and limes.
  • Squeeze the oranges, lemons and limes to get about 1 full cup of juice.
  • Add the zest, juice, chopped rosemary, minced garlic, salt and pepper to the olive oil and stir well to combine.
  • Halve the cornish hens by removing the backbone and the keel bone along the breast.
  • Add the half chickens to a lidded container and pour the marinade over the chicken to cover. Place the chicken in the fridge for 12 hours.
  • Do not rinse when finished. Sprinkle a thin layer of Jeff's Texas style rub onto the skin side of the chicken halves.
  • Setup your smoker for cooking at about 275°F if possible using orange wood, or any citrus/fruit wood or even pecan, oak or hickory if that is all you have.
  • Smoke cook the cornish hens skin side up for about 1 hour and 15 minutes at 275°F or until they reach 165°F in the thickest part as measured by a meat thermometer.
  • When the chicken is done, it can be served immediately.