Raising quail has proved to be a very effective way to stock our freezer. Learn all about the taste of quail and the amazing benefits of raising these small birds on your homestead.
I’ve written quite a few blog posts about quail eggs here on this website. But did you know we also raise our quail for meat purposes? These tiny birds are ridiculously proficient at providing our family with meat and eggs in a short time. Here’s a quick run-down of common quail meat questions.
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Questions I answer in this post:
- What is a Quail?
- What does quail meat taste like?
- How much meat do you get from quail?
- How to cook quail for tender meat?
- How to reduce the taste of wild quail?
- Health benefits of quail and raising them at home.
What is a quail?
Quail is a small species of game bird. There are nearly 100 different varieties of quail worldwide, some wild and some domesticated. I’ve seen some reports that quail all have 5 feathers on top of their heads. This isn’t accurate and applies only to certain varieties.
China is the number one quail farming country in the world. However raising quail is quickly gaining popularity in the United States. Due to their small size, rapid growth, and ability to provide your family with eggs and meat, they are a popular choice amongst those wanting to be more self-sufficient.
Quail are also raised for game purposes, such as training bird dogs.
What does quail meat taste like?
Quail meat tastes similar to dark meat chicken – but even though there is a similar flavor to chicken (and duck meat), it is not exactly the same. Personally, I find quail to be much more flavorful than your typical store-bought poultry.
Quail also has a slight “wild” flavor to it. The gamey, or wild, taste isn’t very strong and can be solved by properly preparing the birds (see below on how to cook). The quail breasts are the most tender and flavorful part of the bird. Where chickens have white meat for breast meat, the quail has all dark meat breast. The legs can (and should) be eaten, but there is not as much meat here. The quail bones are very tiny and tend to get soft during cooking.
In my opinion, farm-raised quails who have been raised in grassy fields verses battery cages have a more intense flavor. I think this may be due to the foraging of natural food sources when allowed to live on grass.
How much meat do you get from quail?
Like I mentioned earlier, there are many breeds, and your quail meat rates will vary with each breed. The Jumbo Coturnix Quail breed is our bird of choice when it comes to raising for meat. This bird ends up being twice the size of a regular quail at the time of processing.
Our Jumbo Coturnix typically weigh between 12-14 oz live at the time of processing, and a standard quail only about 6 oz. (You can see why we prefer the Jumbo Coturnix for meat.) This is a lot less when compared to how much chicken meat you get from one bird. However, I consider the meat quality of quail meat to be superior to that of chicken.
The Best Way to Cook Quail for Tender Meat
The cooking process for quail can be as simple or complex as you prefer. We eat quail for the main course once or twice a week. The first step I would start with however is a brine. A brine is a simple mixture of water and salt. You can also add fresh herbs and seasonings to the brine to further infuse flavor. Soaking your quail meat for even a few hours in a basic brine helps to enhance the flavor and tenderness.
One of the best (and easiest) ways to prepare quail is in the air fryer. This process is so simple and only takes about 15 minutes. You can leave the skin on or remove it. Rub the bird all over with olive oil or butter. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. I typically stick with a little salt and pepper (just be cautious of over salting if you’ve soaked in a brine first).
Place the whole bird in the basket and cook on 380 degrees for about 15 minutes – or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees F. My air fryer holds 4 of the jumbo coturnix quail at a time. (Check out why I love this air fryer so much here).
Cooking quail in a cast iron pan is another good option. I particularly like using this method to cook quail pieces since I can flip them and crisp up each side. You want to cook them over high heat quickly to avoid drying them out.
Here are a few more recipes that I’ve tried and loved as well.
How to reduce wild taste of quail?
Since the quail bird does have a slightly wilder taste than your grocery store chicken, you may want to take steps to reduce that. Like I mentioned earlier, the wild taste is very mild, but if you’ve never eaten wild game, this may be off-putting to you.
Try soaking the quail meat in a glass bowl of water in the fridge for several hours. You can also make a simple salt-water brine, which helps tenderize the meat as well.
Health Benefits of Quail
Quail is a great source of vitamins and minerals in a small package. Each bird is packed with protein and less calories than chicken. This low-calorie content is due to quail meat being learner than chicken meat – meaning that it contains less fat.
Quail meat is a good source of iron, vitamin c, vitamin b, and amino acids. To read further on quail meat vs chicken meat, check out this article here: Chicken meat vs Quail meat – In-Depth Nutrition Comparison
Benefits of Raising Quail at Home
Raising quail at home is an excellent way to provide your family with quality meat and eggs. Quail are extremely quick growers, which means within just 8 shorts weeks you can have a new batch of farm-raised quail ready to go (as long as you have an incubator – check out this post for recommendations). Around the 8-week-old mark, your quail hens should also start laying eggs. And they are extremely efficient layers, usually laying around 300 eggs per year!
And while you cannot free range quail, you can raise them in a better environment than a lot of quail farms do. The small size of quail makes them an excellent choice for raising at home, especially if you are limited on space.
I really can’t think of a of better animal to start with if you are wanting to take some steps in the self-sufficiency/homesteading lifestyle.