Greek Braised Quail

5 from 10 votes
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If you are looking for a great way to cook small birds, braised quail is hard to beat. Because they are white meat, they don’t suffer from long, slow cooking like, say, ducks. And this Greek style recipe really makes the little birds shine.

A platter of Greek braised quail.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

This recipe has All Things Greek in it: Lemon, garlic, artichokes, olive oil, oregano, parsley, white wine.

The beauty of Greek food is how skilled that country’s cooks are with relatively limited ingredients. Much of Greece is hard to farm, hot and rocky, but the limitations created by that have made the food more imaginative.

Quail are hunted in Greece, and play a role in that nation’s cuisine. I cobbled together this rendition of braised quail from my library of Greek cookbooks. One I highly recommend is Diane Kochilas’ The Glorious Foods of Greece.

Nothing in this recipe is hard to find — even the quail. You can now buy quail in most supermarkets if you look in the freezer section. I used Mearns quail Holly and I hunted in Arizona.

Closeup of the platter of Greek braised quail.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

A great aspect of my braised quail recipe is that unlike most of my quail recipes, this one doesn’t require plucked quail. Skinned is fine, which is great for hunters; quail are notoriously hard to pluck.

Like most Mediterranean cuisines, the quality of your ingredients make the dish.

Use extra-virgin olive oil, Greek if you can find it. Use garlic you peel yourself. Lemons you zest yourself. Fresh parsley you chopped, and black pepper you ground. And ideally, your own stash of pickled artichokes, but I’ll totally forgive you for not having that one lying around; it’s a California thing.

I like a spoonful of little capers in there, but that’s up to you. I think it adds a nice salty bite. Oh, and use jarred Kalamata black olives if at all possible. Please don’t use those weird, canned Lindsay olives. Ew.

If you want to make this but don’t have quail, you can sub in the following:

  • 1 store-bought rabbit or 2 cottontails or 2 to 3 squirrels
  • 4 to 8 woodcock or snipe
  • 4 partridges or chukars
  • 2 to 3 Cornish game hens or ruffed grouse
  • 2 pheasants or blue grouse

Use a dry white wine you would want to drink. In a perfect world, you’d find a Greek Assyrtiko, but any crisp, dry white will work. Pinot grigio, unoaked chardonnay, Sancerre, Chablis or Albarino are other good options. If you are a beer drinker, pilsner is the way to go here.

Serve your braised quail with crusty bread or rice or potatoes. It will keep about a week in the fridge.

Braised quail on a platter
5 from 10 votes

Greek Braised Quail

This is an easy, one-pot recipe that has most of the celebrated ingredients of Greece in it. All are easily found in most supermarkets. The quail are often sold in supermarket freezer sections if you are not a hunter.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 to 8 quail (see headnotes above for substitutions)
  • Salt
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled but whole
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 Lemons, zest and juice
  • 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts
  • 12 ounces pitted black olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Black pepper to taste


  • Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut out the backbones of the quail. If you want to get fancy, remove the ribs as well. I do this so there's less fiddly stuff in the braise when you eat. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded pot like a Dutch oven. Salt the quail well and brown them in the oil, removing them to a bowl as they brown. It's OK if not every bit of the quail are browned, but you want some on both sides.
  • Add the onion and celery and sauté until translucent, but not browned. Add the garlic cloves, the quail back into the pot along with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, the oregano and the wine. Mix well and let the wine boil for a minute or three.
  • Just barely cover the quails with water, bring it to a simmer and add salt to taste. Add the lemon zest, cover the pot and put it in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Take the pot out of the oven and add the artichoke hearts, black olives and capers, if using. If the quail are not yet tender, which might be the case with wild birds, cover the pot and return to the oven until they are. This shouldn't be more than another 30 minutes or so.
  • Once the quail are tender, add in the parsley, lemon juice and black pepper. Serve with bread, rice or potatoes.


As I note in the recipe, wild quail will likely take 90 minutes to get tender. If you are using the alternatives, pheasants, grouse and partridges can take 2 hours, and rarely more than that, to get tender. If you are using these, don’t add the olives or artichokes until then, or they’ll disintegrate. 


Calories: 625kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1791mg | Potassium: 490mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1858IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. “P.Q.C.”is exceptional, incomparable! A Christmas gift asserting my need to take to Carissa Plains w/ Arlo and shotgun.

    I may try this recipe, although it’s fussier than my standard :“Gourmet Magazine” James Beard’s 1970’s“Quail California”: butterflied, garlic oiled, oak grilled 10-15 minutes.

  2. Excellent. I used grouse. Best I’ve ever had. I’ve cooked a lot of grouse.
    Only one that comes close is another Hank Shaw recipe that I can’t remember. But I skinned these birds and it was way less work than that recipe.

    Thanks Hank for sharing recipes like these.


  3. I did this last night and it was excellent! Thank you as always!
    I used Kalamata olives instead of black olives.

  4. Since it’s a Greek recipe I’m thinking one should stick a garlic clove up the back end if the bird is plucked and cooked whole. Another winner I’ll make with leftover 2020 AZ quail.

    Thx Hank!

    1. Hank, you are spot on with the recipe, We often add baby white potatoes to the pot as well. Let me know if you want to try some more of the family’s asyrtiko from Santorini, I’ve got some other rare grapes varietals as well such as Aidani and Katsano. Keep up the good work buddy.

  5. Hey Hank,
    I’m reading that the poultry should be tender before any add-ins. Makes sense to me but I’m not a hunter so I will opt for cornish game hens from the grocer’s freezer. I expect these will braise to tenderness easily in the initially stated time. I’m wondering if I can leave the little hens intact (instead of removing the back and ribs) and still get a good cook on them? I’d think the lower parts would braise and the breast would steam but still achieve fully cooked birds in the end.

    1. Chuck: You can give it a go, and yes, Cornish hens will cook very fast, maybe even in an hour, so adjust accordingly — count back in terms of when things need to go in, so in some cases you might be adding 20 or 30 minutes into the process.