Weighing just 150-200 g, quail is the smallest of Europe's game birds, but dwindling numbers have made them into a protected species in Britain.

The majority of birds sold in supermarkets today are farm-bred. The meat is richer in flavour than chicken but comparatively mild for a game species.

A key advantage is that, being so small, they cook quickly, in about 10-15 minutes, however their size also means that preparation can be fiddly.

They can be purchased part-boned, with the rib cage and breast bone removed, which makes them easier to stuff and eat.

For a main course serve two per person; one bird each will do for a starter.

When buying, make sure the breast is well covered by skin, to keep the flesh moist during cooking.


Quail can be grilled, barbecued, sautéed or roasted. Cooked portions are good served in starter salads. Whole quail are often stuffed and wrapped in a rasher of streaky bacon or vine leaf before roasting.

They can also be presented 'en croute', on a piece of fried bread, or resting on a large mushroom cap.