BBQ Quail Recipe and Tips for Grilling Quail

Grilled quail and herbs
To BBQ a quail, marinate your quail for 3 hours in the fridge. Preheat the grill to high heat, and remove the bird from the fridge, letting it come to room temperature before cooking. Grill quail for 5 to 7 minutes per side until the internal temperature of the breast is 160°F, and the temperature of the legs is 190°F.

Quail is a small game bird with tender meat and a delicate flavor. These little birds belong to the pheasant family and weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, making them perfect for the grill!

Why Grill Quail on the BBQ?

Grilled quail has a unique texture and flavor that’s difficult to get with other cooking methods. Grilling quail is a quick and efficient cooking method and requires less preparation than most other cooking methods. 

When grilling quail, the high heat helps to caramelize the skin, resulting in a moist and flavorful bird.

Grilling quail is a healthy option because it requires less oil or fat and allows you to monitor the internal temperature of the bird to ensure it’s perfectly cooked. 

This easy-to-follow BBQ quail recipe will help you to produce the most succulent and delicious quail you’ve ever tasted! The marinade tenderizes and enhances the bird’s flavor, producing the perfect dinner.

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grilled quail on plate with potaotes

Garlic and Herb Grilled Quail Recipe

  • Author: Patrick
  • Total Time: 45 minutes


Tender, juicy, and crispy grilled quail starts with preparing the marinade. The marinade infuses the bird with moisture and flavor, softening the meat, so it’s juicy after grilling. Whether you’re a hunter or meat lover, you’ll fall in love with this recipe. This small game bird is tender, flavorful, and easy to make.


Units Scale
  • 4 semi-boneless quail (sleeve-sheared)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped sage
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, and herbs. Coat the bird with the marinade and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Remove the quail from the fridge at least 15 minutes before grilling to allow it to come to room temperature. Season the skin with salt and pepper and place it on the grill.
  4. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side or until the whole quail is golden brown. Use a reliable meat thermometer to test for doneness. The temperature of the breast should be 160°F, and the temperature of the leg should reach 190°F.
  5. Remember these small game birds can easily overcook, so keep a close eye on them. Remove them from the grill once they reach the correct internal temperature.
  6. Tent the grilled quail with aluminum foil, and rest for 5 to 7 minutes before serving. Resting will allow the juices to reabsorb into the meat.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Rest Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes


  • Serving Size: 1 quail
  • Calories: 673kcal
  • Sodium: 579mg
  • Fat: 40g
  • Saturated Fat: 15g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 45g
  • Cholesterol: 196mg

Target Internal Temperature for BBQ Quail

Quail is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145°F (medium rare).

However, many home cooks prefer to cook quail to 160°F (medium-well) while others cook it up to 180°F (very well-done). If you cook quail well beyond the recommended safe temperature, it can dry out and become tough.

Best Grill Temperature for BBQ Quail

The ideal temperature for grilling quail is between 350°F and 400°F. Always monitor the internal temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure the meat is done before removing it from the grill.

How Long Does it Take to BBQ Quail?

The time it takes to BBQ quail will vary depending on its size and the preferred level of doneness. Generally, it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to cook quail on the grill to perfection.

Top Tips for Grilling Quail

To ensure tender and juicy quail while grilling, you should follow these tips:

  • Use minced garlic in the marinade. This will help add moisture and flavor to the grilled quail.
  • Marinate the bird for at least 3 hours in the fridge. You can marinate quail overnight.
  • Let the marinated quail sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before placing it on the grill to ensure more even cooking.
  • When grilling quail, ensure it reaches a safe temperature using a meat thermometer.
  • Be careful not to overcook the bird as it can dry out and become tough. Your quail will be fully cooked when the juices run clean, and the meat becomes firm to the touch.
  • Let the bird rest for at least 5 minutes before serving for the juices to redistribute and make the meat extra tender.

What to Serve with BBQ Quail

When grilling quail, using the right marinade, garnishes, sauces, and side dishes can help take your meal to the next level. For the best results, use a marinade and spices that will complement the delicate flavor of this game bird:

Marinades for Quail

Here are a few marinades that work well with BBQ quail:

  • Asian Ginger-Cilantro Marinade: This marinade uses fresh ginger, which has an enzyme that softens the meat. Combine all the ingredients and marinate overnight. Drain the marinade and grill quail for a flavorful bird bursting with spicy flavors.
  • Mediterranean Marinade: This marinade has a classic Mediterranean flavor with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic, black pepper, salt, and allspice.
  • Pomegranate Molasses marinade: Molasses has a warm, sweet-sour-smoky flavor, and paired with the yogurt in this marinade will help give you a unique backdrop of flavor for the bird.

Side Dishes to Serve with Quail

Since quail has a mild, gamey flavor, you don’t want it overpowered by bold sides. Grilled or roasted quail pairs well with lights salads and veggies: Here are some of our favorites:

  • Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms: This dish is easy to prepare and flavorful. You can use tasty fillings like cheese, chopped nuts, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
  • Creamy Polenta: Polenta is a versatile Italian dish that pairs well with hearty dishes, such as short ribs, beef stew, and grilled quail. This creamy side is easy to make and cooks fast.
  • Cheesy Asparagus Bake: This dish is the perfect option if you have picky eaters at the dining table. The crunchy asparagus combines with gooey cheese to create a heavenly, fuss-free side dish.

Best Sauces to Serve with Quail

These incredibly easy sauces add an instant flavor boost to grilled quail:

  • Alabama White BBQ Sauce: Both creamy and tangy, Alabama white sauce is typically served with grilled or smoked chicken. This easy and versatile sauce can also be paired with tender grilled quail for a delicious summer dinner.
  • Garlic Sauce: Cuddle up with this delicious sauce spooned over grilled quail. This yummy sauce offers more than just a touch of garlic and pairs well with grilled quail, creating a hearty and cozy meal.
  • Pomegranate Orange BBQ Sauce: This sauce uses pomegranate, honey, and orange juice to add flair to your meat dishes. These sweet ingredients are mixed with garlic, fresh herbs, and spices such as cinnamon, peppercorns, allspice, and rosemary. Brush this BBQ sauce on your grilled quail to add another layer of flavor.

How to Garnish Quail

To garnish quail, you can try any of the following methods:

  1. Cut the quail meat into small pieces and place them on a plate. Garnish them with a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as basil or parsley, and serve with lemon slices along the edge of the plate.
  2. Slice the grilled quail into thin slices and put them on skewers. Grill the skewers until the quail is cooked to your liking, and then garnish with citrus slices.
  3. Serve the quail as the main dish, accompanied by a variety of garnishes, such as sautéed vegetables, roasted potatoes, or a salad. You can also drizzle the quail with a sauce or finish it with a sweet glaze.
  4. Arrange the quail on a bed of greens, such as mixed baby greens or arugula, and garnish with slices of fruit or nuts.
  5. If you are serving the quail as part of a larger meal, consider incorporating the garnishes into the overall presentation. For example, you could place the quail on a bed of grains or beans and surround it with a garnish of smoked vegetables.

Remember to be creative and have fun with your garnishes. The key is to find flavors and textures that complement the quail and enhance its overall taste and presentation.

Wine Pairings for BBQ Quail

There are several things to consider when choosing a wine pairing for BBQ quail.

First, grilled quail has a mild flavor, so choose a wine that won’t overpower it. Secondly, since quail are usually served with glazes and sauces, the wine you choose should have good acidity to neutralize the richness or sweetness. Lastly, quail is often served as an appetizer, so you want a light wine without too much alcohol.

Consider pairing your BBQ quail with any of the following wines:

  • Chardonnay: The creamy texture of Chardonnay balances well with the mild flavor of grilled quail.
  • Pinot Noir: The fruity flavors of Pinot Noir complement the mild flavor of the bird.
  • Riesling: Riesling has a sweet taste that helps to counteract the richness of sauces.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: This is another good option for BBQ quail because it has a refreshing, herbaceous flavor that will help brighten the meal.

What are Substitutes for Quail?

If you are looking for substitutes for quail that can also be grilled, some options to consider include:

  1. Poussin: Poussin, also known as a baby chicken, has a similar size and texture to quail and can be grilled using similar methods.
  2. Cornish Game Hen: Cornish hens are a small breed of chicken that is similar in size to quail and can be grilled similarly.
  3. Pigeon: Pigeon, also known as squab, can be grilled and has a similar flavor and texture to quail.

What is the Difference Between Cornish Game Hen and Quail?

Although Cornish game hen and quail are little birds, they are different in size. Quails typically weigh around 6-8 oz per bird. Cornish hens are the young chicken of the Rock Cornish chicken breed and weigh approximately 2 pounds on average.

You may need several quails to make a satisfying meal, but you can feed up to three people with just one Cornish hen.

What are the Benefits of Cooking Quail?

There are several benefits to cooking quail, including:

  1. Low cooking time: Quail has a relatively short cooking time compared to other meats, making it a quick and convenient option for a quick summer meal.
  2. Flavor: Quail has a slightly gamier flavor than chicken, which can appeal to some people. It is also lean meat, with relatively low levels of fat.
  3. Nutritional value: Quail is a good source of protein, and it is also rich in minerals such as iron, zinc, and selenium.
  4. Versatility: Quail can be prepared using various cooking methods, such as roasting, grilling, or frying, and it can be served as a whole bird or in smaller pieces.
  5. Presentation: Quail can be presented in various ways, making it a visually appealing option for a meal.

Overall, quail can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet, and it is a versatile and convenient meal option that is delicious when cooked on the barbecue.


At heart, Patrick is a passionate cook, adventurous eater, recipe writer, and bargain hunter. He aims to provide creative ideas on how to how to cook amazing food with everyday ingredients in a hassle-free manner.When not writing or standing over a grill, Patrick enjoys traveling and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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