One question I’ve often heard is: What’s the difference between a Cornish hen and a chicken?
At first glance, they might look pretty similar, but there are some key differences between the two. I’ve done my research. Now I am ready to break down what sets them apart, from their size to their taste.
So, if you’ve ever wondered about the Cornish hen vs. chicken debate, stick around, and I’ll clear things up for you.
What Does Cornish Hen Mean?
Cornish Hen still falls in the chicken category that has white, black, or red feathers. They breed this type of chicken for so long in an environment that is easier for them to survive. Cornish are female chickens in any size and are poor egg-layers, so they are only useful for their meat. Backyard enthusiasts and private farms usually raise them.
Here is a video about making cornish hens:
Different types of Cornish Hen
To serve the demands of the consumers, hybridized Cornish hens came out for commercial production. Hence, two types of hybrid corn hens are now available in the market.
Commercial Cornish Hen is a cross breed of White Rock and Cornish Chickens. Another name for this kind of chicken is Rock Cornish Hen or Cornish Game Hen. You may also call them Poussin, taken from a French word that denotes a young chicken that only weighs 1.5 pounds or below.
This hen can sell either male or female in the market. Buying this type of chicken meat could be a luxury since its excessively expensive than regular chicken. Their feather is white in color; they grow very fast and do not need much feed.
Do you know that these Cornish game hens are the result of crossbreeding the short-legged, plump-breasted Cornish hen with other types of chicken? These young female Cornish Hens or Indian Games as another name weighs about 2 pounds and goes to the market at 4-5 weeks of age.
You will notice that they all sell in the same size. It seems to be that the ready-to-cook meat gives each of you a personal whole chicken during dining.
No wonder these are pricey; most farms let it roam free range eating No-GMO feeds. That answers the question of why it’s rare to see in the market. Fancy restaurants include Cornish in the menu for attractive presentation and convenient preparation.
Cornish Hen VS Chicken: What is the big difference?
We already know that Cornish hens are those miniature chickens that you can usually taste at expensive restaurants or sophisticated parties. It’s rare to find it in local supermarkets, but if you do, it would probably be sold at a high price. While a regular chicken, on the other hand, is a kind of farm bird that belongs to the red jungle fowl group. As their main purpose is livestock, chicken is the most common animal on the farm.
Age, Weight, and Packaging
Cornish hens are processed when they’re between 5-6 weeks of age. Therefore, their weight can’t be more than 2 pounds. If you find one in the supermarket, they’re usually packed frozen. Because they are too small, it’s impossible to sell them boneless.
On the other hand, they categorize regular chickens according to their age. They could be broiler-fryer, roaster, rooster, and for stews. Unlike Cornish hen, you can pack regular chickens in various ways.
You’ll find in the grocery store different options of cut for your convenience. You can choose from drumsticks, wings, whole, breast, and even boneless. Here are the usual market chickens:
- Broiler-Fryer has an average of 10 weeks and weighs about 3 pounds; they are raised mainly for meat production. You can prepare it in any manner you like.
- The roaster has an average of 4 months and weighs about 6 pounds; defined as an older chicken, it gives more meat than others and usually being roasted whole.
- Stewing chickens are 10 months old and above, weighing around 6 pounds; they are laying hens that have already passed their prime. Their meat is tougher and a little bit stringy.
- Rooster is a mature male chicken that offers lean meat. It has coarse skin and dark meat. It’s also tough too, so it requires longer boiling. You can barely see it in the grocery.
Taste and Cooking Process
Cornish hens taste the same as the regular chicken although their size is smaller. Hence, they’re perfect for individual serving. Since they are still young, you’ll find them tender when cooked. They could be less flavorful than regular chicken, but they turn out best for grilling and roasting.
Do you know that cooking Cornish hen for just one person is quite a luxury? Try preparing a marinated Cornish hen that’s rubbed with rich spices. You can even put your favorite stuffing inside.
Meanwhile, broiler-fryer chickens are also very tender and big enough to serve 4 people. Cook them as you like frying or grilling. Roasters are perfect for roasting and are tastier than broiler-fryers.
Stewing chickens have tougher meats to cook since they’re already reached a mature age. Therefore, you need to cook them slowly for more soup.
For health benefits, Cornish hens are an advantage. Since they’re younger, they contain less fat and calories. So, if you want lean meat, this is your pick. This white chicken meat has a high level of niacin. The regular chicken has dark meat that is rich in riboflavin.
It’s common knowledge that all poultry meat is rich in protein that is vital for the development of your muscles and they are a good source of vitamin B as well. Vitamin B that aids in avoiding cataracts, heart disorders, and skin ailments. Vitamin D makes sturdy bones, while Vitamin A is important in maintaining good eyesight.
Is a crossbreed of White Rock and Cornish chicken breed
Origin is the Red Junglefowl family
Feather color is red, white, and black
Have various colors
Matures in 4 weeks
Matures in about 10 we
Slaughtered within 5 weeks
Slaughtered at least 6 weeks
Weighs around 2 pounds
Weighs around 4 pounds
Packed in whole
Packaged in whole, half, cuts, boneless
Usually Cooked in whole or half
Could be cooked whole, half, or in cuts
Here are recipe ideas for Cornish Hens and Chicken using the different methods of cooking.
1# Roasted Cornish Game Hens for Rosemary and Garlic
- 4 Cornish Game Hens
- Salt and Pepper
- Lemon cut into 4
- Fresh Rosemary
- 3 tbsp. oil
- 1/3 cup of wine
- 1/3 cup chicken broth
- Preheat oven for 450 deg. F before rubbing the hens with oil. Then gently season with salt and pepper. Be careful not to tear the skin. Next, place a lemon wedge and rosemary inside the hen cavity. Get a large roasting pan and arrange, surrounded with garlic. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
- Reduce the temperature into 350 deg. F. Get a bowl and start mixing the wine, chicken broth, and oil. Pour the mixture evenly on the hens. Roast for another 25 minutes. When hens are golden brown, and juices are clear, basting with the pan juices every 10 minutes.
- Transfer it on a serving platter pouring any remaining cavity juice into the roasting pan. Then tent with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Transfer the remaining pan juices and garlic into a pan and let it boil until it reaches sauce consistency. Cut the hens as you like and pour over the sauce.
2# Grilled Chicken Breast
- Oil for your base marinade
- Lemon Juice to tenderize the meat
- Brown Sugar for additional flavoring
- Seasonings (your choice; I used curry for mine)
- Using the marinade ingredients, marinate your chicken breasts overnight.
- When it’s time, grill the breast for about 8 minutes on each side.
- Let it rest for about 5 minutes before cutting them.
- Serve them with your favorite side dish.
3# Chicken Stew
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 carrots, coin sliced
- 1 stalk chopped celery
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ pound boneless chicken breast
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Baby potatoes quartered ¾ pounds
- 3 cups chicken broth
- Chopped parsley for garnishing
- Melt butter in the medium heat before adding carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper after stirring. Cook until vegetables are tender before adding garlic. Stir more 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add flour making sure to coat all the vegetables. Add the chicken, bay leaf, thyme, chicken broth, and the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Let it simmer until potatoes are tender.
- Remove the chicken from the pot; shred it into small pieces before returning it back.
- Garnish with parsley before serving. Enjoy!
How can you tell if a Cornish hen or chicken is fresh?
Check the packaging for any holes, tears, or punctures. If the packaging is damaged, the Cornish hen or chicken may have been exposed to air and contaminants. Another way is to look for the “sell by” or “use by” date on the packaging. If it’s close to or past the date, the Cornish or chicken may not be fresh.
What are some health benefits of consuming Cornish hen or chicken?
Cornish hen or chicken has several health benefits, as it is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body. Additionally, chicken is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
How long does it take to cook?
The cooking time for a Cornish hen or chicken depends on the method of cooking and the weight of the bird. For roasting a Cornish in the oven, it usually takes about 1 hour to cook at 375°F (190°C). For a whole chicken, it can take about 1.5 to 2 hours to cook at the same temperature.
Can Cornish hen or chicken be cooked using a slow cooker or instant pot?
How do you store Cornish hen or chicken to ensure its freshness?
To ensure the freshness of Cornish hen or chicken, it is important to store them properly. it should be refrigerated or frozen immediately. If you’re not going to use it within 2 days, it is recommended to freeze it. If you’re storing the Cornish hen or chicken in the refrigerator or freezer, make sure to use an airtight container or zip-lock bag.
I know we have different preferences, but for me, in Cornish hen VS Chicken, I would choose the regular chicken. Cornish hen is not practical for my style. With a big family like mine, I couldn’t afford to enjoy expensive food like a Cornish Hen. One Cornish hen, of course, won’t be enough.
While the regular chicken is big enough to serve a family with kids, it sells cheaper than a Cornish. There is nothing more advantageous for a household than high-quality meat that has a reasonable cost. Besides, chickens are very versatile to cook and are commonly available in any local store. How about you?
Whatever recipe we do not want, health is not good if there is no quality water.