These grilled Cornish hens have an Asian twist! Rubbed with five spice powder and served with a sweet soy dipping sauce.

Okay, confession time. We’ve never grilled Cornish hens. I think we’ve grilled everything under the sun, but not a Cornish hen! So, I had to do quite a bit of research before we tackled this recipe. I learned a ton in the process.

Five Spice Grilled Cornish Hens with Mongolian BBQ Sauce #juicygrilledcornish #cbias #ad #chicken #grill

This is why I love working with ingredients that are new to me. It forces me WAY out of my comfort zone and helps me to learn new cooking methods or techniques along the way.

Each time I learn something like this, I’m that much closer to being an awesome contestant on Chopped! (KIDDING!) But seriously, I can do grilled Cornish hens with the best of them now. 

Five Spice Grilled Cornish Hens with Mongolian BBQ Sauce #juicygrilledcornish #cbias #ad #chicken #grill

A few things for you to know: 

  • Rock Cornish Game Hens are actually the result of two different varieties of chicken and are bred for their small size.
  • When grilling Cornish hens, I recommend following the Steven Raichlin method. This method calls for a quick sear over very hot heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Then, another 10-15 minutes of grilling per side over indirect heat. This method yields incredibly crispy skin, and succulent, juicy meat. More on that later!
  • Cornish Hens are usually around 20 ounces each and are about the perfect serving size for one person. My husband ate one by himself, and my son and I were able to share one. 
Five Spice Grilled Cornish Hens with Mongolian BBQ Sauce #juicygrilledcornish #cbias #ad #chicken #grill

Your grocery store will likely have Cornish hens in the frozen section! Typically, they come in a pack of two.

Five Spice Grilled Cornish Hens with Mongolian BBQ Sauce #juicygrilledcornish #cbias #ad #chicken #grill

When I got home, I experimented with the spice rub. I used five spice powder (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and fennel seeds), garlic, cayenne and ginger. I then prepared my Hens by removing them from the packaging and giving them a quick rinse on the outside and also in the inner cavity.

I placed them on a plate and patted them dry with paper towels, then trussed them up. You can truss a chicken without kitchen twine, follow this tutorial. Or, if you have kitchen twine, follow this tutorial.

After the Hens were coated with the spice rub, I let them sit and marinate in the rub for about 20 minutes. While they marinated, I made my super simple basting and dipping sauce using the Kikkoman soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger, and a few other spices. My husband got the grill fired up. If you have a gas grill. If you have a charcoal grill, you’ll want to pile ALL the charcoal on one half of the grill. 

The skin gets super crispy and blackened just with the quick sear. Watch carefully and make sure to move it to the indirect heat to finish. I have to gush a little because this method cooked them PERFECTLY. I sliced into the breast piece and it was juicy and absolutely delicious.

I dipped each piece in the mongolian grill sauce and groaned. I swear the words “This is SO good. Like this is REALLY good” left my lips more than ten times during dinner, and my family wholeheartedly agreed!

grilled cornish hens

By the end of the meal, we agreed on one thing. We are serving these Five Spice Hens to his family if we end up hosting Christmas at our house this year.

My husband’s family typically cooks something a little unique for Christmas dinner, and these have such a cool presentation and knock-out flavor. They’d be perfect!

grilled cornish hens
Five-Spice Rubbed Cornish Hens with Mongolian Barbecue Sauce

Five-Spice Rubbed Cornish Hens with Mongolian Barbecue Sauce

Yield: Serves 2

These little birds pack a powerful flavor punch. Rubbed in five spice powder, garlic and ginger and then basted with a soy-based Mongolian grill sauce, they are crazy delicious!


For the Hens

  • 2 Rock Cornish Hens (about 20 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons 5-Spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Mongolian Grill Sauce

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 green onion stalks, finely diced


  1. Remove Cornish hens from the package. Give them a quick rinse, and place on plate. Pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Truss the legs and wings to ensure even cooking.
  3. Mix together five spice powder, garlic and ginger, then evenly coat the hens with the spice mixture. Allow hens to sit and marinate in spice rub for about 20 minutes.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl, add olive oil, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, water and brown sugar. Stir, and microwave sauce for 1 minute. Add diced green onions, allow to sit.
  5. Prepare grill for both direct and indirect heat cooking.
  6. Grill hens over high, direct heat for 2-3 minutes each side. Make sure to oil the grill grates first.
  7. Switch hens to low, indirect heat and grill for 12-15 minutes each side, basting with Mongolian Grill Sauce each time the bird is flipped.
  8. Serve with remaining Mongolian Grill Sauce for dipping.


  • If you are using a charcoal grill, pile all the coals on one side of the kettle. Use this side for the high heat portion of cooking, then move the Hens to the side without coals for the remainder.
  • If you are using a gas grill, grill over bottom grate for high heat portion of cooking, then move up to top rack for indirect, low heat cooking.

Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 857Total Fat 50gSaturated Fat 13gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 32gCholesterol 337mgSodium 3687mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 4gSugar 23gProtein 65g

The nutrition for this recipe is calculated by an app and may be incorrect.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

(Pssssttt….. I loved the dipping sauce so much I used it to create an easy slow cooker chicken recipe).

Five Spice Grilled Cornish Hens with Mongolian Grill Sauce #juicygrilledcornish #cbias #ad #chicken #grill