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Southern Fried Quail

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4.65 from 34 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.
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 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.

Fried quail on a vintage dinner plate.

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.

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 them 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 love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

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.
4.65 from 34 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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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