How Much Does a Cornish Game Hen Cost?

Last Updated on March 11, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Cornish game hen is a small, tender bird prized for its moist, flavorful meat. But with its reputation as a gourmet ingredient, how much does Cornish game hen cost compared to regular chicken?

This article breaks down Cornish hen pricing, where to buy it, budget tips, and more. After reading, you’ll know exactly what to expect when buying this delicious poultry!


To recap, keep these tips in mind when budgeting for Cornish hens:

  • Expect to pay $4 to $8 per pound for fresh Cornish hens. Frozen averages $3.50 to $5 per pound.
  • Check weekly sales, buy in bulk, or purchase directly from farms to get the best deals.
  • Frozen hens offer big savings with minimal quality loss.
  • Chicken is more budget-friendly at $1.99 to $3.99 per pound for everyday cooking.
  • Cornish hens are worth the occasional splurge for their unique rich flavor and single-serve portions.

Knowing the typical retail cost and smart shopping strategies lets you enjoy deliciously juicy Cornish hens without breaking the bank!

How Much Does a Cornish Game Hen Cost?

In stores, fresh Cornish hens can range from $8 to $13 per hen, depending on the source. Organic, free-range, or premium birds certified humane may cost up to $18 per hen. Due to their size, Cornish hens are often sold in pairs, with prices around $14 to $26 for two. Frozen hens are slightly cheaper at $7 to $10 each.

So per pound, expect to pay $4 to $8 for fresh Cornish hens, and $3.50 to $5 for frozen hens. This is similar to the per-pound cost of other premium poultry like organic chicken or free-range turkey. For easy reference, here’s a price comparison:

  • Regular whole chicken (3-5 lbs): $1.99 to $3.99 per lb
  • Organic/free-range chicken: $3.99 to $6.99 per lb
  • Fresh Cornish hen: $4 to $8 per lb
  • Frozen Cornish hen: $3.50 to $5 per lb

Pat’s Meat Mart offers game hens for $7.00 per hen, with a $7 deposit.

Farmingdale Meat Market has a special online sale price for cornish game hens of $2.99 per pound, with a regular price of $3.99 per pound.

Perdue Farms offers a bulk bundle of Cornish hens at a sale price of $29.99 each, with a regular price of $49.99.

Overview of Cornish Game Hen

Cornish game hen refers to a young chicken under 5 weeks old that weighs under 2 pounds. They are called “game hens” because their small size resembles game birds like partridge or pheasant. Compared to a regular broiler chicken of 3-5 pounds, Cornish hens are petite and dainty. Their small portions and tender flesh also make them a perfect single-serving meal for many.

Factors Influencing Cornish Hen Prices

Several factors account for the higher retail price of Cornish hens compared to regular chickens:

Specialty Poultry Demand

As consumer interest grows for premium specialty poultry raised humanely and sustainably, suppliers can charge more for these niche products. The high demand allows them to recoup the higher production costs.


Smaller birds like Cornish hen require specialized processing. Each bird must be individually weighed, packaged, and labeled – unlike large batches of identical broilers. This labor-intensive process increases costs.

Short Shelf Life

You might also like our articles about the cost of a rack of lamb, ground turkey, or filet mignon.

With their delicate flesh, fresh Cornish hens last just 2-3 days in the fridge. Their short shelf life limits the distribution range, keeping supplies low. Limited availability lets retailers charge higher prices.

Seasonal Production

As heritage breeds, Cornish cross hens mature slower than commercial broilers engineered for fast growth. Hens are usually ready for market between 4-5 weeks, compared to 6 weeks for broilers. This lower supply during peak seasonal demand also elevates prices.

Where to Buy Cornish Game Hen

Despite being a gourmet ingredient, there are ways to buy Cornish hen without overspending:

Check Weekly Sales

Stock up when hens go on sale, often during the summer grilling season or the holidays. Look for weekly deals like “Buy one get one free” or $2 off per pound. Stock the freezer so you always have hen at a discount.

Buy Direct from Local Farms

Eliminate retailer markups by purchasing hens directly from local farms during harvest season. You’ll enjoy farm-fresh quality for $2 to $3 per pound less. Check farmers markets or sign up for CSA boxes.

Purchase Large Quantities

Buy family packs or bulk discounted hens when cooking for groups or meal prepping. Club stores like Costco offer 40% lower prices for buying 10-15 hens at once. Split the pack with friends or portion and freeze.

Opt for Frozen Hens

Frozen hens are just as tasty when cooked properly but keep an extra few weeks in the freezer. The convenience offsets the small compromise in freshness.

Substitute Other Birds

Try poussin, quail, or squab for a similar flavor at a lower cost. Or use chicken legs, which offer the most tender, juicy meat on a chicken.

Is Buying Cornish Worth It?

Cornish game hen CookedIs premium pricing fair for what is essentially just a small young chicken? To many gourmets, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The succulent flesh, roasted crispy skin, and rich flavor of Cornish hens have no equal. Their petite size also makes them perfect for single servings, letting each guest enjoy their own whole bird.

If cost is no concern, indulging in Cornish hens delivers an unmatched fine dining experience. Holiday meals and dinner parties offer great excuses to splurge.

For everyday cooking though, chicken still can’t be beat for value and versatility. But the occasional Cornish hen remains an excellent treat that adds excitement to mealtime.

When pricing out poultry, deciding between taste and cost comes down to personal priorities. Carefully sourcing hens at discount and buying only for special occasions keeps these flavorful birds affordable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is a Cornish cross hen?

Cornish cross hens, also called Cornish game hens, usually cost between $4 to $8 per pound at retail when purchased fresh. The average weight of a Cornish hen is 1 to 2 pounds. So when buying a single fresh Cornish cross hen, expect to pay $8 to $16 on average.

Premium and organic cross hens can sometimes cost over $10 per pound, making an individual hen $12 to $20. Buying frozen Cornish cross hens brings the price down slightly to an average of $7 to $12 each. Checking for weekly sales and purchasing in bulk can lower the per-hen cost. But in general, due to their status as a specialty gourmet bird, Cornish cross hens command higher prices than typical broiler chickens. Their rich flavor and tender meat make the added cost worthwhile for most hen fans.

How old are Cornish game hens when butchered and sold?

Cornish game hens are the youngest commercially sold chickens available. They are butchered and sold at just 4 to 5 weeks old. This contrasts with broiler chickens raised for meat, who are typically butchered at 6 to 8 weeks old. The Cornish hen’s extremely young age when processed accounts for its petite size and tender, delicate meat. The earlier butchering also intensifies the flavor compared to more mature chickens. By law, any chicken butchered before 4 weeks of age cannot be sold as a “Cornish game hen” but must be labeled as “poussin” or “spring chicken.” So when you buy a Cornish hen, you can count on it being 4 to 5 weeks old or older. The short lifetime and rapid growth timeline are what define these small gourmet birds.

Is a Cornish hen just a small chicken?

While similar, Cornish game hens and chickens do have some distinct differences:

  • Size – Hens weigh 1-2 lbs, vs. 3-5 lbs for a regular chicken.
  • Age – Hens are 4-5 weeks old at slaughter, vs. 6-8 weeks for broilers.
  • Flavor – The younger age and smaller size concentrate the flavor and juiciness.
  • Texture – Hens have more tender meat and soft cartilage.
  • Raising – Hens are typically free-range rather than mass housing systems.
  • Price – At $4-$8 per pound, hens can cost up to twice as much as chicken.

So while Cornish hens are genetically the same species as chickens, their petite size, specialized raising, and early butchering age create a very different eating experience. The succulent meat, crispy skin, and rich flavor profile make Cornish hens less “chicken” and more a delicacy poultry dish that justifies their premium price tag.

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