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Cornish Game Hens – Peach Glaze


  • Use 1 chimney of fully lit Kingsford Charcoal Briquets.
  • Place the empty, foil-lined water pan in the cooker.
  • Smoke the Cornish game hens breast-side up on top cooking grate at 275°F.
  • Cook 60-90 minutes until 150°F in the breast.
  • Brush with peach glaze twice at the end of cooking.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Cornish game hen in the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Cornish game hens sound fancy, but they’re just small chickens weighing between 1 and 2 pounds. They are young, very tender, and perfect as a single serving for each guest at a fancy dinner. But we don’t do fancy dinners here at The Virtual Weber Bullet, so we’re going to enjoy them for what they are—delicious little chickens we can smoke using the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Here are some photos I took on August 8, 2020 when I cooked Cornish game hens on the Weber Bullet.

Video: Cornish Game Hens – Peach Glaze

This video demonstrates the steps described in this article.

Preparing The Cornish Game Hens

Mary's organic and free-range Cornish game hens

Up to four Cornish game hens will fit on the 18.5″ WSM cooking grate.

Cornish game hens are often sold frozen, so defrost using one of these methods:

  • On a rimmed baking sheet pan in the refrigerator.
  • Fully submerge in cold water in a container placed in the refrigerator.
  • Fully submerge in cold water in the kitchen sink or in a container on the counter. Let sit 30 minutes, then drain and replace the water. Repeat until thawed.

Remove the Cornish game hens from their packaging and drain any liquid. Pat dry with paper towels inside and out. These little guys don’t include giblets, at least not the ones I’ve seen, but do a quick cavity search just to confirm.

Four unwrapped, patted dry Cornish game hens on cutting boardTrim any excess skin from the neck and excess fat from around the cavity opening.

About 30 minutes before cooking, generously sprinkle inside and out with a favorite rub. For these hens, I used Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ All-Purpose Rub.

SYD BBQ All-Purpose Rub

  • 2 Tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine thoroughly. Makes about 1/2 cup of rub.

Tie the legs together using kitchen twine for a neat appearance.

Rubbed and tied Cornish game hens

Allow the chicken to sit at room temperature while you fire-up the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker.

Firing-Up The Cooker

Light a full Weber chimney starter of Kingsford Charcoal Briquets. Spread the hot coals evenly over the charcoal grate. You’re ready to start cooking.

Cooking The Cornish Game Hens

Cornish game hens go into the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Assemble the WSM. Wrap the water pan with foil and place it in the WSM, but leave it empty.

Open the top vent fully and leave it that way throughout the entire cooking session. Start with the 3 bottom vents fully open. You want the WSM to run around 275°F. Adjust the bottom vents as needed to maintain this temperature.

Place the Cornish game hens breast-side up on the top cooking grate and replace the lid.

Add 2 fist-sized chucks of mild smoke wood on top of the hot coals. I used cherry wood, but oak, apple, or other mild fruit wood is acceptable. There is no need to soak the wood or remove the bark before use.

Two fist-sized chunks of cherry smoke wood

Cook the hens until they register 150°F in the thickest part of the breast measured with an instant-read thermometer. It’s hard to measure thigh temp as it’s a very small target, but it’s likely to be 170°F or higher by the time the breast hits 150°F. Total cooking time is 60-90 minutes.

Almost finished Cornish game hens

Here’s how the temps and vent settings went during the cooking session.

Time Lid Temp Meat Temp Vent 1 % Vent 2 % Vent 3 %
2:30 pm 100 100 100
2:52 pm 248 100 100 100
3:07 pm 278 100 100 100
3:30 pm 274 127-132 100 100 100
3:45 pm 275 140 100 100 100
4:00 (b) 274 150 100 100 100
4:05 (b) 274 150 100 100 100

(b) basted with peach glaze

Note that the vent percentages represent the way I set the vents at the time indicated.

Glazing The Cornish Game Hens

Peach glaze in a mixing bowl

When the hens reach 150°F, brush them with the peach glaze and leave them in the cooker for another 5 minutes. Bring them in the house, brush with another coat of glaze, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

First coat of peach glaze applied

Here’s the recipe for the peach glaze. It comes from award-winning barbecue chef Melissa Cookston.

Peach Glaze

  • 1/2 cup peach preserves
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

If the peach preserves are chunky, run them through a food mill or press them through a mesh strainer to make them smoother. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Makes about 3/4 cup of glaze.

Puny Poultry Packs A Powerful Punch

Cornish game hens on rimmed baking sheet

These little guys are delicious! Serve with leftover peach glaze on the side. The hens were moist and tender, the combination of the rub and glaze provide some sweet and some heat, but not too much heat. I shared one of these with my neighbor, she loved it and said I should go into the catering business!

Close-up of peach-glazed Cornish game hen

Quick and easy, Cornish game hens on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker are a fun addition to your poultry repertoire!

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