Buttermilk Grilled Quail Recipe

Buttermilk Grilled Quail Recipe

This recipe makes a no-fuss, eat-with-your-hands kind of meal to enjoy on the patio this summer. Marinated quail on the grill and a fresh potato salad can’t be beat this time of year.

I enjoy eating plucked birds with crispy skin as much as any other wild game, however, I always find a few birds in the freezer that didn’t get plucked.  I use this opportunity to drown the meat in a flavorful marinade, ideal for skinless birds.

Soaking the quail in buttermilk overnight not only adds flavor, but also acts as a tenderizer. I use garlic and paprika to enhance this simple marinade and give the meat a more appetizing color.

For a side, I like the seasonality of sugar snap peas. In early summer they’re sweet and crunchy, perfect for serving raw. Mix them into your next potato salad for a healthy twist on this deli classic.

Serving size


Time to make

Marinate 1 day in advance


Buttermilk Grilled Quail

8-10 whole quail, spatchcocked

3 cups buttermilk

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp. sea salt, plus extra

1/2 tsp. cracked pepper, plus extra

2 tsp. smoked paprika, plus extra

2 tbsp. grapeseed, avocado or canola oil for cooking

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup garlic-infused buttermilk (reserved from marinade)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tsp. fresh dill, minced

2 tsp. fresh parsley, minced

2 tsp. green onion, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Potato Salad

2 lbs. baby red potatoes, cut in half

1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, thinly sliced

3 large eggs

1 tbsp. fresh dill, minced

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

1 tbsp. green onion, minced

1/4 cup buttermilk ranch

Salt and pepper to taste

Also works with

pheasant, partridge, turkey tenderloins, squirrel

Special equipment



Buttermilk Grilled Quail:

  1. For best results, marinate the spatchcocked quail in buttermilk 24 hours in advance.
  2. To make the marinade, use a mortar and pestle to smash the garlic and sea salt into a smooth paste. If you don’t have this hand tool, you can grate the garlic or use a knife to mince finely. Add the garlic to a large bowl and whisk in the buttermilk and cracked pepper. Remove a 1/2 cup of this garlic-infused buttermilk and set aside in a separate small bowl to make the ranch dressing.
  3. Stir the smoked paprika into the big bowl of buttermilk marinade and add the quail. Mix the meat with the marinade thoroughly and use a ziplock bag to store. Put it in the fridge until you’re ready to grill.
  4. Pull the quail out from fridge and bring to room temperature before grilling. Drain excess marinade and gently pat the meat dry with paper towels. Pour about 2 tablespoons of cooking oil into a small bowl and season with sea salt, pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika. Brush each bird with the seasoned oil to keep from sticking to the grill and to add more flavor and color.
  5. Preheat a grill to high heat or burn charcoal down to coals. Lay each bird face down and close the lid. After 3 minutes, flip and baste the birds with more seasoned oil. Close the lid and grill another 4-5 minutes or until cooked all the way through.
  6. Serve the grilled quail with potato salad and buttermilk ranch dressing.


Buttermilk Ranch

  1. Take the 1/2 cup of reserved, garlic-infused buttermilk and whisk in the mayo, and 2 teaspoons each of the dill, parsley and green onion. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper if needed. This should yield roughly 3/4 of a cup. Set the buttermilk ranch aside until ready to serve.


Potato Salad

  1. The potato salad can also be prepared a day in advance. Cut the potatoes in half or quarters if needed so each piece is roughly the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a few generous pinches of sea salt and the potatoes. Cook until tender but still firm, about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Bring another pot of water to a boil and carefully ladle in the eggs. Set a timer for 7 minutes to have soft boiled eggs. Add an additional 30 seconds for extra large eggs. While boiling, prepare a bowl of ice and add water. When the timer goes off, remove the eggs and set inside the ice bath for a few minutes to cool down. Crack, peel and roughly chop the eggs.
  3. In a large bowl add the boiled potatoes, chopped eggs, sliced sugar snap peas, and 1 tablespoon each of dill, parsley and green onion. Pour in roughly 1/4 cup of the buttermilk ranch and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper and add extra herbs or ranch if desired. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.