Recipes & Cooking  |  10/17/2022

Gamebird Gourmet // Herb and Citrus Grilled Quail


Marinated and grilled to perfection for an irresistible taste

Story and photos By Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley

Any time I can cook wild game over the fire and eat it with my bare hands is a good meal. Quail offer such an opportunity, as these birds are irresistible off the grill. For this recipe, I marinate the birds for 24 hours in a bold mixture of fresh herbs and citrus. The marinade not only adds flavor but also helps to keep the meat moist by acting like a brine. Then cook quail on a hot grill for a slight char for fragrant, succulent meat.

This is drinking food at its finest. Enjoy with a cold mug of ale along with other finger-friendly sides and snacks, such as pub chips, steamed artichokes and stuffed mushrooms.

Recipe: Herb and Citrus Grilled Quail

Servings: 2-3
Prep Time: 24 hours 
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

  • 6 whole quail, skin on
  • 2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary, leaves only
  • 8 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Grated zest of 2 medium oranges
  • Juice of 2 sweet oranges
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil, plus extra
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup of chardonnay wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt, plus extra
1. To make the marinade, rub rosemary leaves between your fingers/palms and then place into a large bowl. Next add thyme, oregano, garlic, orange zest, orange juice, ¼ cup of olive oil, lemon juice, chardonnay, cumin, shallot and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Whisk and set aside.

2. Cut each quail open down the back, then lay them breast side up and push down with the palm of your hand to flatten. Place birds inside a large zip-top bag. Whisk marinade again and pour it into the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. Refrigerate for 24 hours, and flip the bag occasionally.  

3. Take quail out of the refrigerator one hour prior to cooking. Preheat grill for direct, high-heat cooking. Remove quail from the marinade and brush off excess herbs, which will just burn on the grill. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub each bird with olive oil and a light dash of salt. Grill skin side down first until browned and slightly charred. Then flip to grill the other side until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes total. Serve immediately.

Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley is associate editor of Nebraskaland Magazine and a frequent contributor to Quail Forever Journal. She and her husband run the wild game cooking blog

This story originally appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Quail Forever Journal. If you enjoyed it and would like to see more delicious quail recipes in the pages of Quail Forever Journal, become a Quail Forever member today!