When you want something different and impressive, our tender smoked quail recipe looks beautiful on the plate and tastes amazingly light and bright. The meat is delicious, tender, and sweet with a distinct and unique flavor perfectly complemented by the smoke and our easy brine.
🍽️ Why This Works
Fast. It is hard to find a meat you can smoke as beautifully as quail in sixty minutes. The birds are small and thin, making them fast from start to finish.
Exotic. Most folks aren’t used to eating these, so presenting your guests with smoked quail is both fun and intriguing. They are going to love it!
Beautiful. They are simply gorgeous. There is no other way to describe it. Plate it up with a couple of sides to wow your guests.
📝 Ingredient Notes
Quail | This recipe calls for four quail, but you should have two per person if it is the main entree and one per person if you are serving quail as an appetizer. You can easily double or triple the recipe for whatever will fit in your smoker.
Apple Cider Vinegar | Used as the acid for the brine. This adds flavor and has a tenderizing effect on the meat.
Water | Adds volume to the brine to cover all the meat.
White Wine | Makes the brine more effective and delicious.
Salt | Helps saturate the meat with flavor during brining.
Bay Leaves | Adds subtle flavor to the brine.
Seasoning | We use Seattle’s Garlic Seasoning. It’s perfect for quail.
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Smoker | We like to use the Big Green Egg or the Traeger. If you have a gas grill, just use a simple smoker box and you’ll be all set. Virtually any grill will work great.
Bag or Bowl for Brining | A sealable plastic bag works perfectly well.
Foil | For wrapping the legs to prevent drying out.
Step One: Mix the brine thoroughly. Place the quail in a bowl filled with the brine or place it in a sealed plastic zipper bag with the brine. If you use a plastic bag, make sure to set it down in a bowl to prevent messes. Let it sit in the mixture overnight.
Step Two: Remove the quail from the brine and rinse it thoroughly. Pat it dry.
Step Three: Toss it in the seasoning mix. You can use your seasoning mix of choice. You will find it easiest to place the birds in a bag and sprinkle the seasoning in. Then, shake the bag until they are evenly covered.
Step Four: Heat the smoker to 225° using indirect heat. Add the fruit wood of your choice for the smoke. You do not want the smoke flavor to overpower the delicate birds. Place the seasoned quail on the smoker grate and let it smoke for about 30 minutes.
Step Five: Wrap the legs in foil after thirty minutes to prevent them from drying out. Proceed carefully as the meat will be hot. Putting the foil on too early will just prevent the meat from cooking properly.
Step Six: Leave it on the smoker for an additional twenty to thirty minutes until it reaches your desired temperature. Fully cooked poultry is 165°.
❗ Recipe Tips and Tricks
Quail is a very lean meat. It can dry out quickly if cooked incorrectly. Make sure to wrap the legs after thirty to forty minutes to prevent that section of meat from becoming inedible.
🧑🍳 Storage and Reheating
Cooked quail can be kept in the refrigerator for two days in an airtight container. Reheat quail carefully to prevent drying out. You may wish to remove the meat from the bones for reheating.
Give yourself time to brine the meat at least overnight. This helps tenderize the meat and add moisture and flavor at the same time.
If you are mixing your own dry rub for the quail, mix it up when you put the meat in the brine and store it in a jar overnight so that everything is ready to go when it comes time to throw the meat in the smoker.
Additions and Substitutions
Change up the seasoning to change up the recipe. It’s that easy. You can go so many different directions with this. I’ve seen Mexican seasonings recommended, sweet dry rubs, BBQ sauce, a buttermilk brine and even just a simple salt and pepper seasoning approach.
You can use a similar approach and brine to smoke cornish hens.
You’ll enjoy this delicious smoked quail recipe served with Grilled Bourbon Peach Baked Beans, Grilled Baby Potatoes with Garlic, Grilled Baked Sweet Potatoes, or Grilled Peach & Arugula Salad. It goes well with biscuits, rolls or a hot crusty bread. You’ll also find that it is gorgeous on a bed of risotto.
The dish pairs well with a dry white wine like the one used for the brine.
❓ Recipe FAQ
It will take about 60-70 mintues total and you will need to wrap the legs in foil to prevent drying out.
It only takes 60-70 minutes from start to finish to smoke quail.
Any side dishes you love that pair well with poultry will work with quail. Potatoes, salad, fruit, roasted veggies, beans, and rice will all work well.
Since we use a dry white wine for the brine, we recommend serving this smoked quail recipe with a nice quality dry white wine to complement the meat’s flavor.
Seattle’s Garlic Seasoning. We like to use a combination of brining with a dry rub to get the most flavor and moist tenderness out of this meat.
225ºF is perfect.
You may have to find a market that specializes in game birds to purchase quail. Start by checking at your local butcher. If they don’t have it, they can usually point you in the right direction.
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- Bag or Bowl for Brining
- ¾ cup Water
- ½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ cup Dry White Wine
- 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 4 Quail
- 3 tbsp Seattle's Garlic Seasoning
- Combine the brine ingredients into a bowl and mix it well. Add the quail. Put in the refrigerator overnight.
- Heat smoker up to 225°. Add a fruit wood block or chips. This is one of those times where just a little goes a long ways. You want the complex flavor profile of the smoke without it overpowering this delicate dish. I usually aim for a very light trickle of smoke.
- Remove the quail from the brine and rinse it well with fresh water to remove any of the remaining brine. Pat it drydry.
- Season the quail with the Seattle's Garlic Seasoning or rub of your choice.
- Place the quail on the grate and smoke it for 30-40 minutes.
- Check the quail and wrap the legs with foil to slow down the cooking.
- Place them back on the grill and let them smoke for another 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°.