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Preparation, uses, and tips

Thaw quail in the refrigerator overnight. Never thaw at room temperature. Quail may also be thawed by immersing in cold water; leave the bird in its original wrappings or place it in a watertight bag. Change water every 30 minutes. Quail should thaw in an hour or less.

For quick-thawing raw or cooked quail, use the microwave at its Defrost or Medium-Low setting, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Turn quail as it thaws. Because quail are small, take care they do not begin to cook.

Wash quail thoroughly in cold water before cooking; pat dry with paper towel.

Quail is done when its flesh gives to pressure and the internal temperature reaches 145°F (62°C).


Mix together 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sprinkle over outside of whole quail and inside body cavity. Place quail in a shallow pan, breast side up. To preserve moistness, cover bird with bacon or salt pork, if desired. Roast in 350°F (180°C) oven for 45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 180°F (82.2°C), basting occasionally. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.


Split birds in two down the back and flatten slightly with a mallet. Dredge in flour and herbs and spices. Sauté in oil 3 minutes per side. Do not overcook.


Preheat broiler. Line broiler pan with foil for easy cleanup. Spray rack of broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray, if desired. Place quail halves on a rack set in the broiler pan. Position oven rack so quail halves on broiler rack are 6 inches (15cm) from the heat source. Broil on each side until quail gives under pressure or has an internal temperature of 145°F (62°C).


Place quail halves on a prepared grill with a rack about 8 inches (about 20 cm) from the heat source. Grill, turning frequently (using tongs to prevent piercing skin), about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Homemade or bottled barbecue sauce (or other glazes) may be brushed on quail during last 10 to 20 minutes of grilling time.

To test the temperature, place your palms above the coals or heat source at cooking level. If you have to remove your hands after 2 seconds, the temperature is hot; after 3 seconds, medium hot; and after 4 seconds, medium. More than 4 seconds indicates the grill has not reached cooking temperature.

Buying and storing tips

Check the “Sell By” date on the package. This date indicates the last day the bird should be offered for sale. Meat and poultry should be prepared as soon as possible after the date of purchase, and used beyond the Sell By date only occasionally, if at all. Fresh quail should be odor-free and have clean skin with no pinfeathers. Frozen quail should be wrapped in an airtight package.

Store fresh quail in its original wrapping, over-wrapped with aluminum foil to catch any leakage. Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Raw quail can be refrigerated for 2 days. To store cooked quail, wrap in plastic or foil and keep in coldest part of the refrigerator for no more than 3 days.

Freeze fresh quail if you do not plan to cook it within 2 days of purchase. Store in original wrapping over-wrapped with foil, or wrap in foil or freezer bags. Be sure to press the air out of the package before freezing. Frozen quail can be stored in the freezer for 3 months. Cooked quail may be frozen in the same manner unless they are in a dish made with sauce or gravy. In that case, freeze the quail in a rigid container with a tight-fitting lid.

If it is not served immediately, either keep cooked quail hot, between 140 and 160°F (60 and 71°C), or refrigerate it at 40°F (4.4°C) or lower. When transporting cooked quail to another dining site, place it in an insulated container or ice chest until ready to eat.


The bobwhite American quail is hunted and enjoyed in the South. The most commonly available quail is farm-raised and can be purchased at specialty stores fresh or frozen.

Nutrition Highlights

Quail (meat only, raw), 1 bird (92g)
Calories: 123
Protein: 20g
Carbohydrate: 0.0g
Total Fat: 4.2g
Fiber: 0.0g
*Excellent source of: Iron (4.4mg), Selenium (16mcg), and Niacin (7.5 mg)
*Good source of: Zinc (2.4mg)

*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.

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