Grilled Quail

Roasted quail
keiichihiki / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 16 mins
Marinate: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 31 mins
Servings: 4 to 5 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
584 Calories
42g Fat
2g Carbs
51g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 5
Amount per serving
Calories 584
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 42g 54%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 171mg 57%
Sodium 503mg 22%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 51g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 10mg 55%
Potassium 534mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Instead of the traditional ham or turkey this holiday, change things up a bit with this recipe for grilled quail. A marinade of olive and peanut oils, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and tarragon add delicious flavor to these petite birds, and grilling creates a nice smokiness and char. The result is a dish that tastes similar to grilled chicken or grilled turkey.

Quail are part of the pheasant family and are considered game birds; they are small and plump, weighing just one to two pounds each. In the United States, the meat is mainly white (while in Europe it is dark) and delicately flavored. Since quail is lean, it is best marinated before grilling or cooked by a moist-heat method. When buying the quail, make sure to ask your butcher to remove the backbones from the birds so that they lie flat. You'll want to plan on two quails per person since they are so small, and three to five hours marinating time.

Although the marinade is simple, it imparts a nice tang from the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, as well as a subtle anise flavor thanks to the tarragon. If tarragon is not your favorite, feel free to substitute it with another herb such as thyme, rosemary, or fresh parsley. And you can omit the peanut oil and make up the difference with more olive oil if needed.

Serve the marinated grilled quail over a bed of arugula for a nice presentation. This main dish pairs nicely with traditional holiday sides as well as wild rice stuffing, roasted potatoes, creamy polenta, and grilled asparagus or zucchini.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, or additional olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed, from 1/2 lemon

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon tarragon

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 8 to 10 quail

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Mix together all of the marinade ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup.

  3. Place the quails in a shallow baking dish and pour over the marinade. Turn the quails to coat with the marinade mixture. Cover the dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 hours.

  4. Let the quails stand for at least half an hour to reach room temperature before grilling.

  5. Preheat the grill ​to high heat. Remove the quails from the marinade and place, skin-side down, on the hot grill. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, turn over, and cook for an additional 7 to 9 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.

  6. Remove the quail from the grill and serve.

  7. Enjoy.