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Thanksgiving for 2: Wild rice and cranberry-stuffed Cornish hens

If I had my way, I’d never make turkey again on Thanksgiving. That stupid bird causes so many problems, and honestly, who even cares about the turkey when the sides are totally where it’s at on Thanksgiving.

I mean, maybe if you’re just grabbing whatever the store has (but I’m a bit obsessive and like to order my turkey to get an organic/free-range one at a certain weight) and are blessed with double ovens, but for me, waking up at 4 a.m. to get the bird in the oven and out in time to be able to cook all the other sides is just not exactly how I want to spend my holiday.

I’m slowly trying to convince my (very traditionalist) family that Cornish hens are where it’s at for Thanksgiving. These little guys (usually 1.5 to 2 pounds max) cook in just about an hour, and you still get a lovely roasted bird to put at the center of the table. The fact that they can be cooked at 425 degrees F also means you can put lots of other side dishes in the oven at the same time, unlike with their cousin Tom, who wants a nice, low temp and long cook time.

If it’s just a few of you at the holiday table, Cornish hens are the perfect way to celebrate.

wild rice and cranberry stuffed cornish hens
Image: Gina Matsoukas/SheKnows

Wild rice and cranberry-stuffed Cornish hens

Serves 2-4

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour  | Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 Cornish hens, about 1.5 pounds each
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup cooked wild or black rice
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • Leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 large russet potato, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kitchen twine


  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Rinse and pat dry the Cornish hens. Season liberally with salt and pepper, including inside the cavity of each bird.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cooked rice, cranberries and rosemary. Spoon the mixture into the cavity of each bird.
  4. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together, and place the birds in a 10- to 12-inch oven-safe skillet.
  5. If using, scatter the potatoes around the pan.
  6. Drizzle the tops of the Cornish hens and potatoes with the olive oil, season again with salt and pepper, and place in the oven for about 1 hour, until the skins are golden brown and the potatoes are crispy around the edges. The internal temperature of the Cornish hens should be 180 degrees F.
  7. Remove from the oven, and let rest a few minutes before serving.

More Thanksgiving recipes

The ultimate Thanksgivukkah menu
Gluten-free Thanksgiving menu
Thanksgiving cocktails

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