Recipes » Main Dish Recipes » Southern Fried Quail

Southern Fried Quail

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4.7 from 36 votes
Southern Fried Quail are a delicacy straight out of my childhood. Simply seasoned, deep fried, and served with cheese grits on the side for an authentic southern dinner.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Fried quail on a vintage dinner plate.

Southern Fried Quail are a delicacy straight out of my childhood. Simply seasoned, deep fried, and served with cheese grits on the side for an authentic southern dinner.

These Southern Fried Quail are straight out of my experience growing up in rural south Georgia from the 1950s through the early ’70s. It was a completely different world from today.

Fried quail on a vintage dinner plate.

Granted, we were somewhat isolated in our little corner of the state. There was one small town (pop. about 2000) and the rest of the citizens were widely scattered throughout the various farms in the county.

There were no cell phones, no computers, no video games. We got three television channels and then only if the antenna was positioned just right. Life was slower, much more mellow and there was time. Time to share with family and friends. Time to relax. And time to just play.

Living Closer to Nature

I’ve written before about how we spent long, hot summers gathering everything possible from the garden and freezing or canning it to use during the winter. Back then in our little corner of the world, people grew much of what they ate. There were always peas to be picked and shelled. Butterbeans, too.

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And of course, the always dreaded corn shucking. That wasn’t my favorite because you had to do it outside where the heat and mosquitoes tormented you until your task was finished.

We’d snap green beans, blanch and freeze them. And the same for squash. Summer also was the time for making pickles. Bread and butter pickles were always my favorite.

Hunting and Fishing

Besides gardening and growing vegetables, people raised their own cows and pigs and they also hunted and fished. All the men in my family were hunters and fishermen and they kept our tables and freezers supplied with fish, game, and birds year round.

We had a steady supply of catfish, bream, and trout along with venison, dove, and quail. Quail was my favorite of the wild game because they had less of that gamey taste.

A while ago I started craving some southern fried quail. It had been years since I’d had any and, since we don’t have as many hunters in the family now, I started looking around for a source. To make a long story short, I finally found farm-raised quail at Whole Foods.

Let me tell y’all something – quail are not inexpensive when you purchase them at Whole Foods. Whew! There was some sticker shock for sure! And to think we used to have this classic southern recipe for the cost of a few shotgun shells.

About the Ingredients

  • Fresh or Frozen QuailIf you’re lucky enough to live in area where hunters still take to the woods to shoot game birds, you’ll be able to enjoy really fresh, wild quail. Otherwise, look for them in the frozen meats or ask your grocer to order some for you.
  • FlourPlain, all-purpose flour for dredging the birds.
  • Peanut OilI typically use peanut oil for frying because it has a high smoke point.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Southern Fried Quail

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Prepare the Quail

Quail in a pan coated with salt and pepper.

Rinse the quail and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Generously season each bird with salt and pepper both inside and out.

Dredge the Quail in Flour

Seasoned quail being dredged in flour.

Place the seasoned quail in a pan or bowl and sprinkle over a generous amount of flour, turning the quail in the flour to thoroughly coat the birds.

Heat the Oil

Meanwhile, in a well-seasoned black iron skillet, heat the oil. You’ll want the oil to a depth of about 1-inch for frying the quail.

Quail frying in a cast iron pan.

Add the prepared quail to the hot oil and fry, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over. If you’re frying a larger quantity, you’ll need to cook them in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Fried quail on a vintage dinner plate.

Serving Suggestion

My favorite way to serve fried quail is with a generous portion of cheese grits and roasted asparagus on the side. They make a lovely presentation placed on top of the grits on a decorative serving platter.

Tips

  • Make sure you thoroughly pat dry the quail so that the flour will stick well and any excess water won’t make the oil pop.
  • Do season them well with salt and pepper. If you want to try changing the seasoning, feel free. I’ve given you the traditional seasonings and methods here.

FAQs

What does quail taste like?

Some people say it tastes similar to duck, but I think it’s almost the same flavor as dark meat chicken. I suppose it would be fair to say that its flavor is sort of a cross between duck and chicken.

What goes well with quail?

Since quail are similar in appearance and taste to chicken, you can serve anything you’d normally pair with fried chicken.

Is quail healthier than chicken?

I’ve read in various sources that quail contains 4 times the vitamin C as chicken, 3 times more iron, more vitamin A, and is higher in minerals and amino acids.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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Recipe

Fried quail on a vintage dinner plate.

Southern Fried Quail

Southern Fried Quail are a delicacy straight out of my childhood. Simply seasoned, deep fried, and served with cheese grits on the side for an authentic southern dinner.
4.67 from 36 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 480kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 8 whole quail
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 cups Peanut oil for frying

Instructions

  • Rinse the quail and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Generously season each bird with salt and pepper both inside and out.
  • Place quail in a pan and sprinkle over a generous amount of flour, turning the quail in the flour to thoroughly coat the birds.
  • Meanwhile, in a well-seasoned black iron skillet, add enough oil to cover the pan to a depth of about 1 inch.
  • Bring the oil to frying temperature (about 325) over medium-high heat.
  • Add prepared quail to the hot oil and fry 4 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown all over.
  • Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Notes

Availability: Quail may not be generally available in your local grocery store, but if you ask they’ll gladly order some for you. A word of warning – they may not be entirely budget-friendly.
Tips:
  • Make sure you thoroughly pat dry the quail so that the flour will stick well and any excess water won’t make the oil pop.
  • Do season them well with salt and pepper. If you want to try changing the seasoning, feel free. I’ve given you the traditional seasonings and methods here.
Serving Suggestion:
  • Serve with anything you’d normally pair with fried chicken. You can make the meal as casual or fancy as you want.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 480kcal | Protein: 43g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 471mg | Vitamin A: 530IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 9mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on January 14, 2011. It has been updated with additional information.

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Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I really like this quail recipe and I also enjoyed everyone’s comments.
    I’m from the south and this “Southern Delicacy Recipe” was very interesting to me.
    Keep up the great work!

    Derrell Cook
    Buena Vista, Ga.
    31803

  2. I am SOLD! I’m cooking some quail tomorrow and this is just what I was looking for! I have everything I need already… even the peanut oil!
    I dont know if you grew up in Moultrie (I did) but it sure sounds like the same place. Fond memories… fried quail, fried bream, fried dove, even fried squirrels (a bit tough but really good)! Sweet tea or Coke (Coke= Coca~Cola/Pepsi/RC/Nehi/Dr. Pepper… all soft drinks were Cokes)
    I subscribed.
    Thank you SO much!
    JB

  3. Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is collecting links to dishes using duck or other game birds. I do hope you link this in. It would be great if you checked out some of the other links – there are some good ones already. Cheers

  4. My father was raised in North Carolina and was a bird hunter. It wasn’t sport, it was putting meat on the table. I was born and raised in Oklahoma and he continued to bird hunt for the family. I have eaten my share of fried quail, and I loved it. Mom made cream gravy to go with it and mashed potatoes. When Dad would go pheasant hunting in Kansas, we would have Mom’s special recipe for that. She would cut up the pheasants, lightly dredge them in flour, brown them in butter ( I am sure she used margarine, not butter) and then lay them on top of a deep bed of sour cream (at least 2 inches deep) in an 8 quart pot. She would cover the pot, then bake this in a slow oven, maybe 300 for about 1 1/2 hours. The pheasant would fall off the bone, and it and the accompanying sour cream “sauce” would be served over rice. I am also pretty sure she used “Minute Rice”. No apologies, it was utterly decadent. Mom also cooked quail this way at times. My husband is not a hunter, so I adapted the recipe to use chicken breasts or tenders. We call it Chicken Stuff, and it is so rich and delicious it is reserved for birthdays and holidays.
    I love your blog.

  5. Lana the onething about quail now days is the grocery sales the Texas a&m type an not the bobwhite . If you want any bobwhite quail please feel free to E-mail me . I am a state licensed quail grower & sale to the public.

    1. You’re right. These were not bob whites that I got at the grocery store. They were Texas type quail. Different taste, too.

      1. Bobwhites are Native to Texas but you have to hunt them you can not buy them. Pharaoh Quail usually from Georgia not Texas is what you are buying.

  6. I hardly ever buy quail. I have no idea why, this looks so easy and delicious. Nice work. I grew up on deer and moose which is really hard to find here so i never make it.

  7. Your wonderful post brings back such memories for me. Shelling butter beans (the very young, difficult ones) all afternoon every afternoon at my grandparents farm with plenty of time for easy conversation. Hunting for quail (if the truth be told, I didn’t like it) with my father and the 4-10 he bought me. And then eating those quail and cracking teeth on all the pellets! Fried quail is new to me — Mom always cooked them in a wine cream sauce — but I love love love your recipe.

    1. Yes, sometimes I really miss that easier, slower life and I regret that my grandchildren will probably never know that kind of existence. It sounds like your mother’s recipe was much more elegant a treatment than my fried-chicken-like method. I’d be really interested in seeing her recipe if you have it available to share.

  8. Whew! I knew you were my kind of gal when you had a recipe for quail! Now I know a good way to do them, I usually just roast em quick like a chicken.

    Found your site on Tasty Kitchen, and I love it!

    1. So glad you found the blog, Kate. This is really the same way that I make fried chicken and honestly it tastes just about the same. Except that the quail are just a little sweeter. Hope you’ll visit here again and find something interesting to try.

  9. I really enjoyed reading about your childhood. Thanks so much for sharing. Have you read the book by Midred Armstrong Kalish called ‘Little Heathens: Hard times and high spirits on an Iowa farm during the great depression?’ I know I don’t know you very well, but it seems like you might enjoy reading it.

    On another note, every time I go to Whole Foods I experience sticker shock! Yet I keep going back…haha

    1. Hi! No, I haven’t read that book, but sounds interesting. My grandmother occasionally talks about life during the Great Depression.

  10. My dad and I loved to go pheasant, quail and dove hunting. None of us were too keen on eating dove, but our neighbors across the street loved them and got all that we could hunt. My favorite to hunt is pheasant, but my favorite to eat is quail (pheasant is a VERY close 2nd). Mom used to make “Sunday Quail”, which she called Smothered Quail and we just could not get enough of it. Mom always cut up the quail, but having it whole is a much better idea because they are so small! I went pheasant hunting this year and hope to do the same next year but would sure like to add quail to the agenda! I love your story and recipe. Brought back lots of good memories.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. Allt hose old memories are so precious to me and I love sharing them. I’ve never had pheasant or smothered quail – just fried. That was the standard old southern treatment for most any kind of meat, you know.

  11. I had an old roommate that use to go hunting and would bring home quail for dinner. I just remember they had the tiniest little drumsticks. LOL I remember he fried them too. Thanks for the memories Lana! :)

    1. Yes, those little drumsticks are so teeny tiny. I usually serve two quail per person, but healthier eaters would probably enjoy more :-)

  12. Wow, I love quail…and this looks like a great recipe. Now I just need to figure out how to buy it in the Midwest (Whole Foods will be my first stop!).

    1. If they don’t have it at your Whole Foods, they (or any other grocery store) can special order it for you, I’m sure. My Publix store offered to special order, but it was a little less expensive at Whole Foods – go figure!

    2. I get mine at the game bird breeder farm near me about 6.00 per bird already dressed I’m too old to go out and chase em any more.

  13. well now this just makes me want to go load my shotgun – yep, spent many afternoon rustling through thorny scrubs with my quail hunting dog, many times to come home and thankful Momma had chicken on the table… sat a many afternoons in corn fields listening to footballs games waiting on doves too… ya got a mean streak in ya gal – have not had quail in a while and now I have a hankering… nothing better than these fried, tasty sweet birds

    1. Well, if you have a place to go hunting take advantage of it, Drick. You wouldn’t believe what they charge for quail at the grocery stores!

  14. i remember my dad hunting quail when i was a child but i don’t remember how my mother cooked it – maybe in some kind of cream sauce. Yum Lana!

    1. I have lots of memories of my Daddy going hunting and bringing home lots of quail and doves. The doves were too dark for my taste, but I could really put away some quail.

  15. There are enough quail in my freezer to float a battleship. And, Uncle J is going hunting tomorrow. That will mean more. More. More. And, I don’t like to cook them.

    Nowadays, the cost of quail includes the cost of reserving the hunt at one of the local hunting preserves, the multi-years of dog training, and vet bills, not to mention the equipment and gear. If I go, it takes me about one box of shells per bird.

    It’s about the most expensive meat that hits our table. But it sure is tasty and fine eatin’…… until you bite down on a piece of shot that didn’t get picked out.

    Come on down and cook these birds for me.

    Miss P

    1. You’re so right! It’s a much more complicated proposition than it used to be. The men used to just grab their guns and a hunting vest and take off to the woods. They’d come back with a “mess” of birds that were dropped off to be cleaned “on halves.” Mama would pick them up the next day and either cook them or freeze them. Not quite so simple any more.