Crispy Quail

I grew up in Virginia when we still had coveys of wild bobwhite quail and knew where to find them. I went to college in Tucson AZ in the mid-seventies and found huge numbers of Gambel’s quail. Although huntable populations of quail are harder to come by, they’re still my favorite bird to hunt and eat. Please don’t pack your quail around in a game bag on a hot October day. Stop by the cooler and get them on ice ASAP.

Crispy Quail


  • 12 quail split in half along the breastbone – back removed
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup Japanese breadcrumbs or substitute any breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • oil for frying


  • Season split quail halves with salt and pepper. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, Tabasco and mustard and blend until smooth. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients except oil and stir. Place quail in buttermilk mixture, then flour mixture, then back to buttermilk, then into the flour mixture again. You’re double dipping your quail. Heat oil to 360 – 370 degrees in a large, heavy pot. Using tongs, carefully place (not splash!) quail halves, 2 – 3 at a time, into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  • Cooking Tip: I’ve had folks tell me about how they soak their quail in buttermilk or saltwater to take out the gamy flavor. If your quail is gamy, it’s probably been mishandled and may not be fit to eat, buttermilk or not. When in doubt, throw it out.

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