Chicken vs. Cornish Hen – What’s The Difference?

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Cornish hens and Chickens are the same animals but have some key differences that set them apart. If you have been to a dinner party or a five-star restaurant, you might have come across the words Cornish chicken, or a whole-cooked, small chicken served individually along with other dishes might have crossed your sight. This small-sized chicken is called Cornish hen.

With the advancement of the culinary world and changes in the ways of cooking and food preparation, the popularity of Cornish hen has seen a net increase in its popularity. On the other hand, Chicken has always been the preferred source of meat for people worldwide, especially those who have a taste for white meat. According to the survey, 102,060 thousand metric tons of chicken meat were produced in 2021.

So, we love Chicken so much that we created a whole new variety of Chicken to meet our needs. But most of us haven’t heard of Cornish hen, and if we have, we don’t know what it is. If you are among these people, sit back and enjoy this article as we lay out the difference between Chicken and the elegant Cornish hen, along with some good ways to prepare Cornish Hen.

What Exactly is Cornish Hen?

Cornish Hens result from crossing Cornish Game hen with Rock Cornish Hen. These distinct hen breeds sound similar but have various distinct features that set them apart. Cornish Game hen is a name for broiler chicken produced by crossing Cornish and White Plymouth Rock chicken. Cornish Game hens are similar to Cornish hens as they are both butchered young and are usually eaten when they are smaller compared to normal broiler chicken. 

These tasty birds are usually served one piece per person, which means they are quite small. “But how exactly can they get so small?” you may ask. It’s because two specific types of chickens are selectively bred frequently to ensure that the genes responsible for their small size are passed on to the next generation at each crossing. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of crossbreeding.

The Chicken used as the base for the Cornish hen hails from Cornwell, England. This was the Cornish Chicken, and it was bred to fight. It might sound a little crazy for us, but chicken fights are quite popular in south-east Asian countries, especially India and Pakistan. People bet a lot of money on these fights and invest extensively to ensure that their Chicken is the strongest and a worthwhile opponent.

So, due to this extensive investment, the Cornish Chicken was born. But it was not the best at fighting and winning, so people started using it for its meat instead. White Plymouth Rock chicken is the typical traditional Chicken you see at a barn in movies.

The Differences

When we cross these two Chicken, the result is a normal sized chicken with a normal height and weight, but more meat. Yes, they are not smaller in size as most of us might’ve believed them to be. Additionally, the dual-purpose Chicken usually has a lot less meat around the thighs, legs, wings and chest.

Another difference between the Cornish hen and a normal chicken is their speed of growth to become fully grown chickens. Cornish Hens generally grow at a much faster rate than the traditional Chicken and yield more meat, especially around the chest area. Cornish hens also have thicker skin with more fat deposited under it, and this extra fat keeps the meat from getting dry during cooking.

When we talk about Chicken, we have to wait at least eight to ten weeks before eating them. Cornish Chicken is eaten usually at four-eight weeks of age; they also weigh less than Chicken as they have had less time to grow. One more thing to keep in mind when talking about Cornish hens; They can be either male or female; the hens don’t need to be female.

Serving Method and Weight 

The Cornish hen weighs around two lbs. at the time of butchering. This early butchering ensures that the hen’s meat remains tender and juicy. Early butchering also ensures that the bones of the hen are smaller, this combined with their larger meat content, makes them the perfect option for a graceful party night. 

This makes sense because you can’t serve a whole chicken to a single person; finishing it would become a full-time job. Because a whole chicken can roughly weigh around seven lbs. if roasted. So we have to cut them into smaller pieces to ensure that they can be eaten with ease. Cornish hen is usually served whole and is enough to fill up a hungry person, but not overdo it. 

Ways of Selling 

Chickens are butchered late, so they are bigger; this makes them versatile because you can sell them whole or cut them up and sell different parts. This can be seen when we buy Chicken, and we can usually find individual chicken parts. But if you buy Cornish hen, you’ll usually get the whole, and you’ll also have to pay more than Chicken. 


When it comes to taste, there is a difference in opinion among people. Some people believe that Chicken has a stronger flavor than Cornish Chicken; others believe that there is essentially no difference in their taste. But you’ll have to buy one for yourself and eat it if you really want to find out. 

So What’s the Difference Between Chicken and Cornish Hen?

To summarize the main points we have covered, here is a list. 

  • Cornish Hen is butchered at a young age compared with Chicken, due to which Cornish hen has more tender meat than Chicken.
  • Cornish Hen has more lean muscle mass than Chicken, and they also have smaller bones.
  • Cornish Hen is sold whole; it is also usually eaten whole. On the other hand, Chicken might be sold and eaten cut into pieces.