To make a simple brine for Cornish hens, combine 1/4 cup of granulated sugar with 3/4 cup of salt in 1 gallon of water, according to a recipe in the Seattle Times. Soak 4 Cornish hens in the mixture for six hours in the refrigerator.
To infuse the brine with additional flavor, add herbs, aromatics or citrus to the mixture. For example, make Kikkoman's citrus herb brine by combining 1/2 gallon of water with 1/2 cup of kosher salt, 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of soy sauce in a large pot. Stir the mixture thoroughly until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the juice of one orange and the juice of one lemon, along with three sprigs of chopped rosemary. Add the Cornish hens to the pot, cover it, and refrigerate the brining hens for a minimum of two hours, or as long as overnight.
Alternatively, make an Asian-inspired brine by combining 1 cup of kosher salt with 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 pound sliced ginger and 6 star anise. Halve 2 heads of garlic horizontally, and add it to the mixture along with 24 kaffir lime leaves and 1/2 cup of dried red chiles. Add 6 2-pound Cornish hens to the mixture, and let them brine in the refrigerator for 24 hours, as recommended by Food & Wine.