Cornish hens are not the easiest food to eat in a proper and formal setting. These diminutive game birds are so small that they are often served whole, as individual servings. When you’re served a Cornish hen at an upscale, formal event, don’t even think about using your hands to tear off the legs or wings. Proper etiquette dictates the use of a knife and fork to consume this juicy bird in an elegant manner.

Things You'll Need

Place your knife in your dominant hand and the fork in the other.

Pierce the hen with your fork to hold it down. Cut off a bite-sized morsel near where you pierced the fork, then rest the knife across the top right corner of your plate.

Switch the fork to your dominant hand, pierce the cut piece of meat, fork tines up, and eat.

Cut another piece using your knife and fork after you have finished chewing the first piece, and continue until you are finished.

Cut off the wings and legs from the torso as you go, but do not pick them up to eat with your hands unless you are in an informal dining setting. Carefully cut what you can from them without drawing attention to yourself and leave the rest alone.

Place your knife and fork across your plate with the fork tines face up and the knife blade facing the fork to indicate that you are finished with your plate.


  • When taking a break from eating to converse or drink, place your knife across the top right corner of your plate with the knife facing in and place your fork across the middle of the plate with the tines facing up.

  • If you are dining out in a formal restaurant, request to your server that the Cornish game hen be served cut in half to make it easier to eat in a polite manner.