38 Best Sides to Serve with Cornish Hens

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Wondering what sides to serve with Cornish hens? You have come to the right place! From classic sides, to vegetable sides, to the best sides for the holidays, here is your complete list of the best side dishes! You’re sure to find something you’ll love to serve with these delectable little birds!

Two Cornish hens on a cutting board with rosemary.

Cornish game hens are such a thing of glory!! They are super easy to make and are a great weeknight meal, but can also be elevated for the holiday season or a fantastic main course for special occasion dinners….with minimal effort!! They are just so versatile!

The tender meat is so juicy and delicious and Cornish hens take WAY less time to cook than a whole chicken or turkey.

Need an EASY Cornish game hen recipe? You have to try my simple recipe for Air Fryer Cornish Hens (pictured above!). You won’t believe how easy and delicious it is!


A Cornish hen is just a smaller breed of chicken weighing between 1-2 lbs. The little Cornish hens mature quickly and they typically have large breasts and fatty skin. They can be male or female.

Whole Cornish hens can be found in most local grocery stores in the United States. In Europe, the equivalent is the Indian Game which is a British breed of game chicken.


  1. Keep it simple: Cornish hens are flavorful little birds that just need a little spice. Rub the hens with olive oil and simple spices like sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and lemon zest. Fresh herbs (like fresh thyme and fresh rosemary) are delicious, too!
  2. Seasoning: Season your hens on the outside AND inside! Make sure you get all the spices into the cavity of each hen for maximum flavor inside and out! I like to throw a lemon slice into the cavity as well!
  3. Crispy Skin: For crispy skin, be sure to use paper towels to pat down the hens until completely dry before adding seasonings.
  4. Checking for Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of each hen to ensure it’s cooked through. You are looking for an internal temperature of 165°F. The hens should be golden brown on the outside!


Mashed Potatoes

There isn’t anything more classic to serve with Cornish hens than these perfect, rich, buttery mashed potatoes!

Mashed potatoes and gravy in a bowl sprinkled with chives.

Roasted Potatoes

Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, these roasted potatoes make the perfect, classic side for Cornish hens.

Roasted potatoes on a baking sheet--a great side for Cornish hens.
Photo Credit: Well Plated

Wild Rice Casserole

Wild rice and Cornish hens are a classic match, but this wild rice casserole adds a little something special!

Mushroom and wild rice casserole in a yellow baking dish by the Pioneer woman.
Photo Credit: The Pioneer Woman

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

This recipe for pan fried Brussel sprouts with bacon and balsamic is easy to make and so delicious!! With just 5 ingredients, it’s a super simple side dish that pairs perfectly with Cornish hens!

Photo Credit: Bensa Bacon Lovers Society

Macaroni and Cheese

Outrageously cheesy, ultra creamy, and topped with a crunchy Panko-Parmesan topping, this mac and cheese recipe pairs perfectly with your delicious hens.

Macaroni and cheese topped with a breadcrumb topping in a baking dish.
Photo Credit: Mom on Timeout

Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed mushroom cooked in garlic butter until golden brown. Pair these with a potato dish for the perfect elegant dinner.

Photo Credit: Drive Me Hungry

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

These Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sweet Potatoes are drizzled with a sinful bacon and maple glaze!

Photo Credit: Simple Delicious Food

Dinner Rolls

Soft dinner rolls are the perfect accompaniment to a dinner with Cornish hens. You can be brave and make your own, or opt for store bought.

Dinner rolls in a glass pan.
Photo Credit: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Garlic Bread

This perfect crusty garlic bread is made in the air fryer and could not be easier!

Garlic bread made in the air fryer with a butter knife.


Winter Tossed Salad

This winter salad recipe is tossed with a light citrus vinaigrette and loaded with bacon, cranberries, red onion, toasted pecans and crumbled feta cheese. 

Mixed winter salad with spinach, bacon and cranberries in a blue bowl.
Photo Credit: The Seasoned Mom

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella Salad with crusty bread, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and the best homemade vinaigrette dressing. This would be awesome with Cornish hens in the spring or summer.

Panzanella salad in a large bowl with bread, tomatoes and herbs.
Photo Credit: Natasha’s Kitchen

Creamy Cole Slaw

This coleslaw is a cinch to make and perfect to serve with hens…especially in the summer!

A bowl of creamy coleslaw on a table with a red napkin
Photo Credit: Daring Gourmet

Corn Salad

Corn and hens go hand and hand. This corn salad is light, fresh and a perfectly refreshing side for Cornish hens.

Sweet corn salad on a plate with feta and tomatoes.

Simple Arugula Salad

If you are looking for a perfect, light side to serve, this arugula salad will not disappoint. Serve it on it’s own, or add a starch on the side for a well-rounded meal.

A bowl of arugula salad in a large bowl with parmesan and lemon.


Sweet Potatoes

These sweet potatoes are mashed with butter, maple syrup, and thyme…yumm!!

Mashed sweet potatoes in a black bowl topped with butter.
Photo Credit: Once Upon a Chef

Sautéed Kale

Sautéed with bacon, garlic and onions, this kale is a nice hearty veggie to serve with your hens.

Sauteed kale in a bowl topped with bacon.
Photo Credit: Spend with Pennies

Eggplant Parmesan

This Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe is lightened up a bit with baked (instead of fried) panko-crusted roasted eggplant, and layered up with a zesty combination of marinara, cheeses and fresh herbs.

A baking dish with eggplant parmesan topped with parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
Photo Credit: Gimme Some Oven

Roasted Asparagus

This oven roasted asparagus recipe is such an easy and delicious spring side dish. The vibrant, crisp-tender spears bake in under 15 minutes!

Roasted asparagus on a plate with spices and a sauce on the side.
Photo Credit: Love and Lemons

Roasted Carrots

These air fried carrots are tossed in a sweet and savory glaze that’s a cinch to make. This is a perfect weeknight side dish, but also special enough for your holiday table!

Air fryer roasted baby carrots on a white plate.

Roasted Broccoli

This air fryer broccoli is a quick and easy side dish with just a few ingredients that pack a serious flavor punch!

Air fryer roasted broccoli in a bowl topped with lemon and parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower Mash

This delicious mashed cauliflower is flavored with garlic and herbs and the perfect low carb side dish!

Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a bowl with butter and fresh thyme.
Photo Credit: Downshiftology

Green Beans and Tomatoes

This is my absolute favorite holiday dish. You can make it easily in the crockpot too!

Pioneer woman's green beans and tomatoes in a large blue bowl.
Photo Credit: Pioneer Woman


Deviled Eggs

It’s not a party until you break out the deviled eggs! This classic appetizer is quick and easy. The dry mustard gives this recipe the punch it needs.

Classic deviled eggs on a red egg platter.

Bacon Wrapped Brussel Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are wrapped in strips of bacon, then brushed with a maple, brown sugar glaze and baked until golden brown.

Bacon wrapped brussels sprouts on a plate with a white sauce.
Photo Credit: The Recipe Critic

Whipped Ricotta Crostini

Rich, creamy ricotta cheese whipped with fresh herbs and topped with a mixture of fresh tomatoes and basil.

Ricotta crostini topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs.
Photo Credit: Lemon Tree Dwelling


Creamed Spinach

Made with frozen spinach and heavy cream, this easy yet elegant, yet simple side dish can even be made ahead of time. 

Creamed spinach in a white bowl with a spoon.
Photo Credit: Once Upon A Chef

Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice Baked Potatoes are a classic, must-make side dish any time of year, but the just scream EASTER to me!

Cheesy twice baked potatoes on a plate with a spoon.
Photo Credit: The Cookie Rookie

German Potato Salad

This is a warm potato salad, German-style! Slices of boiled potatoes are tossed in a warm, tangy-sweet bacon vinaigrette.

German potato salad in a large bowl topped with bacon and dill.
Photo Credit: Recipe Tin Eats

Orzo Salad

Orzo is tossed with sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh herbs, then dressed with a tangy, lemony dressing. You will LOVE this!!!

Orzo salad with olives sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs in a large white bowl and wooden spoon.

Au Gratin Poatatoes

A classic side dish and this recipe is amazing and SO SO easy!!! It’s my go-to!

Au Gratin potatoes in a blue and white baking dish.
Photo Credit: Pioneer Woman


Cranberry Sauce

Flavored with orange juice and orange zest, this cranberry sauce is a must on your holiday table.

Cranberry sauce in a small dish with orange zest, a perfect side for Cornish hens for the holidays.
Photo Credit: Once Upon a Chef

Classic Dressing

The best dressing recipe made with bread, onion, celery, butter, and fresh herbs. Perfect served alongside Cornish hens at your holiday table.

Cornbread dressing in a glass pan being scooped out with a spoon.
Photo Credit: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Roasted Root Vegetables

Delicious root vegetables are tossed in olive oil and a few fall spices, then popped into the air fryer for 20 minutes! This side dish couldn’t be easier and it looks gorgeous on a holiday table!

Air fryer roasted root vegetables in a bowl topped with herbs.

Mushroom Rice

Rice infused with earthy mushrooms and and tossed with caramelized mushrooms makes the PERFECT side dish for your holiday hens!

Mushroom rice in a large pan with a wooden spoon.
Photo Credit: Recipe Tin Eats

Fennel and Leek Gratin

Rice infused with earthy mushrooms and and tossed with caramelized mushrooms makes the PERFECT side dish for your holiday hens!

Fennel and Leek gratin in an iron skillet topped with lots of cheese.
Photo Credit: Every Last Bite


Baked Apples

These delicious Air Fryer Baked Apples are tossed with lots of cinnamon and caramelized to perfection, then tossed with cinnamon whipped cream!

Air fryer baked apples in a large white baking dish topped with cinnamon whipped cream.

Peach Crisp

A layer of juicy, fresh peaches are topped with a crunchy topping with oats and pecans. Perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to finish off your meal!

A skillet with peach crisp topped with lots of oats and pecans with a wooden spoon.

Chocolate Lava Cake

Chocolate lava cakes with their deliciously rich molten chocolate center come together with 6 simple ingredients. It’s a surprisingly easy dessert that always impresses.

A chocolate lava cake with chocolate oozing out topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Photo Credit: Sally’s Baking Addiction
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Hopefully this post has given you some good ideas on great side dishes to serve with Cornish hens! Need a perfect Cornish hen recipe? Start with my Perfect Air Fryer Cornish Hens1

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  1. Soooo many tasty ideas in this roundup! And your air fryer Cornish game hens look divine – can’t wait to try them!