Skip to Content

Smoked Quail Recipe: A Delicious Culinary Adventure

I’ve included some videos below for those who prefer to watch rather than read.

Scrumptious homemade Smoked Quail Recip

If you’re looking to impress at your next cookout, smoked quail is a fantastic choice. Smoked quail, when prepared correctly, can be incredibly tender, flavorful, and juicy. Whether you’re using a pellet grill or a traditional smoker, the key to delicious quail lies in the right brine, rub, and cooking time.

You’ll learn how to use a buttermilk brine to keep the quail moist, add a savory rub, and even wrap the birds in bacon for an extra layer of flavor. Smoking quail at a low temperature ensures they cook evenly and retain their moisture, resulting in a dish that’s sure to wow your guests.

From selecting the best wood chips to mastering the perfect glaze, this guide will walk you through every step. We will also share tips on keeping the quail juicy and infusing it with just the right amount of smoke. With our easy-to-follow instructions, you’ll be making delicious smoked quail in no time.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

For your smoked quail, you’ll need some specific ingredients. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, don’t worry! There are substitutes you can use.


  • Quail: About 4 quails
  • Olive Oil: 3 tablespoons (Canola oil is a good alternative)
  • Minced Garlic: 2 cloves (Garlic powder works too)

Brine Ingredients

  • Kosher Salt: 1 cup
  • Water: Enough to dissolve the salt
  • Buttermilk: 1 cup (If you don’t have buttermilk, mix milk with a bit of lemon juice)

Fresh Herbs

You can use a mix of:

  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Parsley

If fresh herbs aren’t available, dried herbs can be used, but they might have a more concentrated flavor.

Cooking Oil

Spray cooking oil will help keep the quail moist and can contribute to a crispy skin.

Use a brine to marinate the quail. If you can’t find buttermilk, a mix of milk with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar will do the trick.

These simple ingredients will get you started on making delicious smoked quail. Make sure to adjust based on your tastes and what’s available in your kitchen!


  1. Prepare the Brine
    Mix 1 cup kosher salt with water until the water is clear. Add buttermilk and mix well. Place the quail in a ziplock bag and pour the brine over them to cover. Let the quail brine for about 2 hours.

  2. Rinse and Dry
    Rinse the brine from the quail under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.

  3. Preheat the Pellet Grill
    Set the pellet grill to 160°F and ensure it is set to full smoke.

  4. Smoke the Quail
    Place the quail breast-side up on the grill. Smoke them for 1 hour at 160°F.

  5. Adjust Temperature
    Turn the pellet grill up to 225°F. Spray the quail with cooking oil and flip them breast-side down. Smoke for an additional 30 minutes to help create crispy skin.

  6. Finish Cooking
    Continue to smoke the quail until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F, which should take about 1-1.5 hours.

  7. Serve
    Remove the quail from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your smoked quail!

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Use Fresh Quail: Fresh quail gives the best flavor and texture. Always check the date and the look of the meat.

Brining: Brining adds moisture and flavor. A simple mix of salt and water works well. You can add buttermilk for extra tenderness.

Rinse Well: After brining, rinse the quail thoroughly under cold water to remove excess salt.

Proper Smoking Temperature: Keep your smoker at 225°F for the best results. This ensures even cooking and a smoky taste.

Oil Up: Rub the quail with vegetable oil before smoking. This helps to keep the meat moist and enhances the flavor.

Single Layer: Make sure to lay the quail in a single layer in the smoker pan. This cooks them evenly and avoids crowding.

Best Wood: Use wood like apple or cherry for a mild, sweet flavor. Hickory can be used for a stronger smoke taste.

Monitoring: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Aim for 165°F to ensure the quail is fully cooked.


Cooling Off: Let the quail cool down before storing. This helps to prevent bacteria from growing.

Refrigeration: Store smoked quail in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freezing: If you need to store for longer, place the quail in a freezer-safe bag. It can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Reheating: Reheat smoked quail gently in the oven at a low temperature to avoid drying out.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

You can make smoked quail in many tasty ways. Here are some ideas:

Brine Variations:

  • Classic: Water, kosher salt, and sugar.
  • Buttermilk: Replace some water with buttermilk for extra flavor.
  • Herb-Infused: Add rosemary, thyme, and garlic to the brine.

Herb Rubs:

  • Cajun: Mix paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
  • Lemon Pepper: Combine lemon zest, black pepper, and sea salt.
  • Italian: Use dried oregano, basil, and garlic powder.

Cooking Methods:

  • Grilled: For a different texture, grill the quail instead of smoking.
  • Oven-roasted: Bake at 375°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Serving Suggestions:

Salad Pairing: Serve with a fresh salad of greens, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Rice Bedding: Lay the quail on a bed of steamed rice or fragrant rice pilaf.

Roasted Vegetables: Pair with roasted veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini.

Sauce Pairings:

  • Barbecue: A smoky BBQ sauce.
  • Butter Garlic: Melted butter mixed with minced garlic.
  • Honey Mustard: Sweet and tangy honey mustard.

Entertaining Tips:

  • Fancy Dinner: Serve with a side of mashed potatoes and green beans.
  • Casual BBQ: Add cornbread and coleslaw for a laid-back feel.

These ideas will help you create a delicious smoked quail dish that fits any occasion!

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.