Quail as Food: How to Cook and Serve This Delicious Bird

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 27, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

The New World quails or Odontophoridae are small birds only distantly related to the Old World quail, but named for their similar appearance and habits. The American species are in their own family Odontophoridae, whereas Old World quail are in the pheasant family Phasianidae and are considered poultry.

Quail is a small bird that’s delicious and healthy. It’s a great source of protein and easy to cook. In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about quail as food. Quail meat is low in fat and high in protein, making it a great alternative to chicken. It’s also rich in iron and calcium, which are essential for a healthy diet. So, let’s get started!

What is quail

Quails: The Tiny Birds with Big Benefits for Your Diet

Quails are small birds that belong to the Galliformes family, which also includes chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. They are usually found in the wild, but people have been raising them domestically for over ten thousand years. Quails tend to be plump and easy prey, making them a popular game bird. They are also bred for commercial purposes, particularly in Japan, where they are a common food item.

What Makes Quail Meat a Healthy Food?

Quail meat is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that your body needs. It is also low in fat and high in protein, making it an excellent choice for people who want to maintain a balanced diet. Quail meat is rich in calcium, which is important for strong bones and teeth. It also offers a complete list of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly.

What Parts of the Quail are Edible?

Quail meat is usually found in the breast and legs. The rest of the bird, including the plume and nest, is not edible. Quail eggs are also a popular food item and can be found in specialty stores and some supermarkets.

How to Find and Cook Quail Meat?

Quail meat can be found in specialty stores or online. It is usually sold whole, but you can also find it in parts. When cooking quail, it is important to keep in mind that it is a small bird and can easily become overcooked. Here are some tips for cooking quail:

  • Roast or grill quail for the best flavor.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is cooked to the right temperature.
  • Marinate the meat before cooking to add flavor and keep it moist.
  • Serve with a side of greens or other vegetables to make a complete meal.

What Makes Quail Different from Other Birds?

Quails are the smallest members of the Galliformes family, making them unique in size. Unlike other birds in the family, quails tend to be plump and easy prey. They also have a particular diet that consists of seeds, grains, insects, and grit. Quails are similar to other game birds in terms of their meat, but they offer a complete list of important vitamins and minerals that other birds may not have.

Discovering the Unique Taste of Quail Meat

Quail meat has a unique flavor that is highly sought after in the culinary world. The taste of quail meat is often described as a combination of chicken and duck, with a slightly stronger and more pronounced flavor. The dark meat of the breast has a rich and flavorful taste that is different from the white meat of chicken. The texture of quail meat is tender and tiny, with bones that are easy to distinguish.

The Role of Diet and Preparation in Quail Meat Taste

The taste of quail meat is determined by a number of factors, including the bird’s diet, how it was raised, and how it was cooked. Quails raised on farms and fed a natural diet of plants and grains have a milder taste than those raised in the wild, which have a more intense and irregular flavor. Properly preparing quail meat is also important to bring out its desired taste. Quail meat is versatile and can be cooked in a range of ways, from boiled to grilled, and served with a variety of sauces and ingredients.

How Quail Meat Compares to Other Types of Meat

Quail meat is often considered a delicacy and is a popular choice for those looking for a new and unique food experience. Compared to chicken, quail meat has a richer and more flavorful taste, while also being smaller in size. Quail meat is also similar to duck meat, with a dark meat that is highly prized for its unique taste. Quail eggs are also a popular dish, with a flavor that is similar to chicken eggs but with a slightly more intense richness.

Popular Quail Meat Dishes

Quail meat is a common ingredient in many dishes around the world, with a range of flavors and preparations. Some of the most famous quail meat dishes include:

  • Escarole and quail soup: a typical Italian dish that combines the richness of quail meat with the bitterness of escarole.
  • Spicy quail: a popular dish in certain parts of the world, where quail meat is prepared with a spicy sauce and served with rice or vegetables.
  • Quail with grapes: a French dish that combines the sweetness of grapes with the richness of quail meat.
  • Grilled quail: a simple but highly accurate way to prepare quail meat, which brings out its natural flavors and textures.

Overall, quail meat is a highly versatile and flavorful food that is perfect for those looking to try something new and different. Whether you are a fan of game meat or simply looking for a new taste experience, quail meat is definitely worth trying.

Quail Cooking 101: How to Cook Quail Like a Pro

Before cooking quail, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Rinse the quail under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Remove any excess fat or feathers with a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
  • Season the quail with salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs or spices.

Cooking Methods

Quail can be cooked in various ways, depending on your preference. Here are some popular methods:

  • Grilling: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grill the quail for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Roasting: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Place the quail in a roasting pan and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Pan-searing: Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add some oil or butter to the pan and sear the quail for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy.

Serving Suggestions

Once your quail is cooked to perfection, it’s time to serve it up! Here are some serving suggestions:

  • Serve the quail with a side of roasted vegetables or a fresh salad.
  • Top the quail with a flavorful sauce, such as a red wine reduction or a honey mustard glaze.
  • Pair the quail with a glass of your favorite red wine or a cold beer.

With these tips, you’re ready to cook quail like a pro. Enjoy!

Feeding Your Quails: What You Need to Know

When preparing food for your quails, it’s important to be consistent and careful. Here are some tips on how to prepare their food:

  • Make sure their food is fresh and available at all times.
  • Provide them with a balanced diet that includes equal parts of vegetables, grain, and insects.
  • Read the label of the food you’re buying to make sure it contains all the necessary elements and materials.
  • If you’re adding extra food to their diet, make sure it’s appropriate for their size and energy needs.
  • Always provide them with fresh water.

What to Avoid

There are some foods that quails should avoid, such as:

  • Foods that are high in fat: Quails require a little fat in their diet, but too much can be harmful to their health.
  • Large pieces of food: Quails require smaller pieces of food, so make sure to chop up vegetables and other foods into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Inconsistent diets: Quails need a consistent diet to maintain their health and meat production.
  • Vegetarian diets: Quails are omnivores and require a diet that includes both plant-based and animal-based food.

Special Diets

If you’re raising quails for meat production, you may want to consider a special diet to increase their meat production. A diet that is high in protein and energy will undoubtedly increase their meat production. However, it’s important to read up on the specific requirements for your quail breed and be careful not to overfeed them.

The Nutritional Benefits of Quail Meat

Quail meat is highly nutritious and is considered a healthier option compared to chicken. It contains numerous minerals and amino acids that are essential for the body’s proper functioning. Quail meat is a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscle. It also helps in managing the body’s nutritional level and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Quail meat contains a high level of vitamin C, iron, and calcium, which are essential for the body’s immune system, respiratory and digestive functions. It also contains vitamin A, which is not found in chicken meat. The presence of choline in quail meat helps in managing cholesterol levels and ultimately protects the heart.

Improves Glucose Production

Quail meat contains certain carbohydrates that help in improving glucose production in the body. It also contributes to the production of energy and helps in preventing certain diseases caused by a lack of active glucose in the body.

Higher Nutritional Value Compared to Chicken

Quail meat is a better option compared to chicken as it contains a higher nutritional value. Quail eggs are also highly nutritious and are known to increase the body’s immunity and improve respiratory and digestive functions.

Good for Weight Management

Quail meat is low in fat and calories, making it an excellent choice for people who want to manage their weight. It also contains potassium, which helps in managing blood pressure levels and ultimately protects the heart.

Japanese Quail Meat

Japanese quail meat is a single source of high-quality protein that is hard to find in other foods. It is also rich in minerals and amino acids that are essential for the body’s proper functioning. Japanese quail meat is known to help in the process of building muscle and increasing the body’s nutritional level.

Quail Vs Chicken: A Nutritional and Taste Comparison

When it comes to nutritional content, quail meat takes the lead compared to chicken meat. Quail meat is higher in vitamin C and iron, and it provides vitamin A, which is not present in chicken meat. Quail also contains more minerals and amino acids than chicken meat, making it a better choice for those who are looking for a more nutritious option. Here are some things to note about the nutritional content of quail and chicken meat:

  • Quail meat has a lower fat content compared to chicken meat, which makes it a good idea for those who are watching their weight or trying to eat healthier.
  • Quail meat requires a simpler dressing process compared to chicken meat, which allows for a wider range of ways to cook it.
  • Quail meat has a higher protein content compared to chicken meat, which is necessary for muscle growth and repair.

Production and Farming

The debate on whether quail or chicken is a better option for farming and production is a subject of discussion among food lovers. Here are some points to evaluate:

  • Quails are smaller in size compared to chickens, which means they require less space to live and grow. This makes it easier to farm quails in residential areas or small farms.
  • Quails reach maturity earlier than chickens, which means they have a shorter production time and can yield more carcass per year.
  • Quails can be raised in cages or small shacks, which makes it simpler to house them and reduces the mess in the farm.
  • Chickens, on the other hand, have a higher yield of meat per carcass compared to quails, which makes them a better option for commercial production.

Taste Comparison

The taste of quail and chicken is a subjective argument, and it varies from person to person. However, there are some noticeable differences in terms of taste and texture:

  • Quail meat has a gamey taste that some people prefer, while others find it too strong.
  • Quail meat has a mineral taste that lends it an earthy flavor, which some people find appealing.
  • Quail meat retains its moisture better compared to chicken meat, which makes it a good option for grilling or roasting.


So, there you have it- everything you need to know about quail as food. Quail is a great way to get some protein and other nutrients into your diet, and it tastes great, too. You can cook it in so many different ways, so it’s a great way to explore new flavors. Plus, it’s a great way to get some extra vitamins and minerals into your diet. So, don’t be afraid to try it!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.