Pronounce it: kway-ell

Originally native to the Middle East, quail are now found across Europe. It's a small bird, so one will serve one person as a starter, and you'll need two as a main course. It has a fairly high proportion of lean, meaty flesh to bone, and a delicate flavour.


All year round.

Choose the best

Look for birds that are plump, with unblemished, fresh-looking creamy/yellow skin with a pink tinge - avoid any that seem dry, or smell 'off'. If you are buying a farmed quail, the best are organic or free-range, reared in the traditional way. Quails are sold boned or unboned. Boned have more room for stuffing, and make for slightly less messy eating.

Read more about animal health and welfare in farming at Defra, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Prepare it

Take the quail out of the fridge around 1 hour before cooking. Using kitchen paper, wipe the outside of the bird and inside the cavity. As quail has quite lean, dry meat, it can be marinated at this point. Otherwise, season inside with salt and pepper then, if you like, push in some flavourings or stuffing (fruit-based stuffings such as plum or prune work well). Tie the legs together with string. As well as brushing with melted butter or oil, you can also wrap the breast with pancetta, Parma ham or vine leaves to prevent it from drying out.

Alternatively, you can spatchcock them before cooking (particularly for grilling or barbecueing as they will cook faster that way). Remove any ties, cut out the backbone with a pair of kichen scissors, then use the flat of your hand to push down along the length of the bird, flattening it out. Then push two skewers across the width of its body, going in through the leg on one side and coming out through the leg on the other; the skewers will keep it flat while cooking.

Store it

Keep the quail in the fridge, on a tray, covered with foil or greaseproof paper. Make sure it's on the bottom shelf, so that any juices don't contaminate any other food; it's particularly important to keep the quail away from any other cooked meats or food that will be eaten raw. Eat within two or three days.


Cook it

Roast (20 minutes). Grill (15-20 minutes, turning frequently).


Try chicken, turkey or grouse.

Skills & know how

As well as helping you decide what to cook we can also help you to cook it. From tips on cookery techniques to facts and information about health and nutrition, we’ve a wealth of foodie know how for you to explore.

About BBC Good Food

We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your foodie needs.

Our recipes

All our recipes are tested thoroughly by us to make sure they’re suitable for your kitchen at home. We know many of you are concerned about healthy eating, so we send them to a qualified nutritionist for thorough analysis too.

Tell us what you think…

Love the new look or think we’ve missed the mark? We want to hear your thoughts – good and bad – to make sure we make the new website as useful as possible.


Subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine and get triple-tested recipes delivered to your door, every month.


Discover the dates and details of all the BBC Good Food Shows.


See your favourite chefs on Sky Channel 247, Virgin TV 260 and find their recipes at

Good Food Apps

Download the BBC Good Food Recipes, tips & cooking tools app and get good food on the go.