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How to cook quails eggs

March 16, 2015

How to cook quails eggs -“How many?” Adil the farmer asks me. Actually he might just have gestured; his English and my Arabic are on a par. At 1 aed each (about 20 pence) I can afford to buy lots. He starts to count the dainty, speckled eggs into a plastic bag cushioned with strips of paper. The lady at my elbow asks “what do you do with them?”. This is part of the pleasure of shopping at the Farmers’ Market on the Terrace, the chatting, the friendly camaraderie, the exchange of information about food with people of many backgrounds and cultures.

My first ever quail egg could have tasted quite ordinary but I was won over by their stylish presentation at a party where the food was by fashionable London caterers ‘The Admiral Crichton’ in the private garden in a London square. The eggs nestled on straw in a wicker basket, some peeled, some still in their bluish, mottled shells. We’d been warned by our MD that the first cocktail would be very strong to relax our clients and get the party started with a bang. Food seemed sensible and these were immensely moreish. I was a lifelong fan from that moment.

My girls loved snacking on them when they were little – the perfect toddler fare – and their nimble fingers soon picked off the papery peel. As an easy starter to take to a friend’s house (who is wheat-intolerant) this weekend they were ideal. I arranged them on a white linen napkin inside a basket with a shot glass full of celery salt for dipping. Quails eggs can be used in any way you’d use chicken eggs but it’s nice to make the most of their Lilliputian size:

How to cook quails eggs -

Hard boiled quails eggs

Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a medium heat. Time for 2 1/2 minutes after they come to the boil and then drain and plunge immediately into lots of cold water.

Serving ideas: Peel and use in salads, dipped into celery salt, or with home-made mayonnaise. If you have a lot of patience you could make miniature Scotch eggs (thanks Kavey). Or pickle them.

Fried quails eggs

It’s quite hard to crack a quail egg without breaking the yolk. I peel off the end of the shell then pinch the membrane to break it. You can pour the egg out of the shell quite easily then. Otherwise carefully saw off the end with a serrated knife. Lightly grease a small non-stick frying pan and place over a low to medium heat. Slide the eggs gently onto the pan and cover with a lid (or large plate). Check after a minute (glass lids are great) and once the white is set firm, gently lift out with a fish slice.

Serving ideas: with shoe-string fries; on thin slices of toasted baguette with a sliver of crispy bacon or chorizo; or on rye bread rounds on small slices of smoked salmon.

Poached quails eggs

Gently crack your eggs as above onto a flat plate. Bring a small frying pan of water to a gently shimmer and slide the eggs into the water very carefully.  Keep the water at a temperature so it hardly bubbles. Remove the quails eggs when the whites are set. If using later plunge them into a bowl of iced water and reheat in simmering water for 30 seconds.

Serving ideas: mini eggs Benedict or Florentine; on top of tiny fish cakes; with baby asparagus and shaved Parmesan.

Farmers Market weekly shop vegetables and eggs

Last Friday’s Farmers’ Market haul

So you love quails eggs like I do (KP won’t touch them even though he adores hard-boiled eggs – that’s just weird)? Are you a quails egg virgin? Any other serving suggestions to add to this list?

P.S. All these pics taken on my iphone – do you think that matters? Would love your feedback.

  1. datewithaplate permalink
    March 16, 2015 9:45 am

    they’re such pretty little things

    • March 16, 2015 11:00 am

      Aren’t they – too pretty to eat…. only joking

  2. March 16, 2015 10:15 am

    Such a useful post Sally, buying a batch next farmers market for sure ☺️

    • March 16, 2015 10:59 am

      See you there Rupal – fight you for the quail eggs!

  3. ramblingtart permalink
    March 16, 2015 10:35 am

    Those are beautiful! I love quails eggs too. I use them in my medieval medicine presentations and little kids think they’re marvelous. 🙂

    • March 16, 2015 10:59 am

      You have so many strings to your bow! Need to know more about these presentations… do you show them leeches too?

  4. March 16, 2015 10:36 am

    My mother and granny used to make us eat (my sisters and I) quail eggs saying it will make us stronger! 😉 I love quail eggs, had a couple today for breakfast. My son calls them ‘chocolate eggs’. Haha!

    There’s a snack my great aunt made for us last December – boil quail eggs, peel, slice in half and keep aside. Finely chop onions, green chilli, garlic and ginger. Season with salt, pepper and turmeric. Take a spoonful of this mixture and combine with half an egg, dip in batter (flour, water, salt) and deep fry. We usually make these with regular chicken eggs for Ramadan and parties. She swapped them with quail eggs instead. Delish!

    • March 16, 2015 10:58 am

      What a delicious idea – sounds fiddly but worth it.

  5. March 16, 2015 10:43 am

    the real challenge is getting them into a mini Scotch egg, photography superb!!

    • March 16, 2015 10:57 am

      Thank you! I’m daunted but excited about a quail Scotch egg. Have to feel the fear and do it anyway soon 🙂

  6. March 16, 2015 10:48 am

    I am a quail egg virgin. I’m not a great fan of boiled eggs unless they are mashed with copious amounts of mayo and sandwiched between 2 layers of bread. Quail eggs just seem too …don’t know the word, but alien perhaps? 😮

    • March 16, 2015 10:56 am

      I think you and KP would get on! Try one – I think you’ll like them – especially dipped in copious amounts of mayo 🙂

  7. March 16, 2015 11:06 am

    I love quail eggs too, especially when the yolk is nice and runny 🙂 Great post Sally, and your photography is amazing!

  8. March 16, 2015 11:12 am

    They look always superb, Sally 🙂

  9. March 16, 2015 11:48 am

    I couldn’t help but smile, Sally – my very first quail’s egg was served by The Admirable Crichton too! And in exactly the same way that you describe. I’ve enjoyed some nostalgic memories this morning, all thanks to you.

    I’m very impressed by the iPhone pictures by the way.

    • March 16, 2015 1:34 pm

      What a bizarre coincidence! London in the early 90s eh? Thanks for the kind comment about the pics – it’s so easy to use.

  10. March 16, 2015 11:54 am

    I found peeling the eggs once cooked quite a challenge. That was the bit that was most tricky in creating the mini scotch eggs I think! How lucky you can get them so cheaply and from a market where people talk, I love those kind of markets!

  11. March 16, 2015 12:02 pm

    Quail’s eggs are such beautiful little things. I’ve only ever bought them once and they ended up going to waste because my family wouldn’t try them and I didn’t know how to cook them! I shall remember this post next time!

  12. March 16, 2015 12:16 pm

    I love quail eggs, but always forget to buy them when i go shopping…



  13. ginger and scotch permalink
    March 16, 2015 12:20 pm

    That is for the tips Sally – I must remember the 2.5 min cooking time. It’s the idea of peeling quail eggs that always puts me off buying them.

  14. March 16, 2015 12:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing this Sally. I has never even crossed my mind I could fry quail eggs or poach them. Since I was a child we were just hard boiling them, they were perfect for lunchboxes 🙂

  15. March 16, 2015 12:34 pm

    Quails eggs make frequent appearance at my dinner parties as a nibble with fizz. I made my own dukka recently as an alternative to celery salt and it went down very well.
    iPhone photos are great- I usually do the same for my food blog, as time is of the essence. I leave the editing of DSLR shots for my travel/ photography blog.

  16. March 16, 2015 1:04 pm

    Haven’t eaten quail eggs before and every time I saw them here in Dubai, I wondered how to cook them. Still doubtful if that is up my alley but will surely make my little one taste it. Can’t leave him away from all the wonderful food that I shy away in eating. You have wonderfully shared the ideas which are going to be truly helpful for a novice like me. Pictures are great too, Sally!!!

  17. March 16, 2015 1:07 pm

    The first time I ever had quails’ eggs, I was still a child of perhaps nine. My new stepmother boiled them and made what we call salsa rosada (mayo, ketchup and a little Tabasco) for dipping them in. Perfect picnic at the beach fare. Last weekend I boiled and peeled 72 of those pretty babies, made my salsa rosada and brought them to a friend’s house as an appetizer. They went over very well! Miniature Scotch eggs have been on my to-do list for ages! Thanks for the reminder and all the useful quail egg instructions, Sally. Your photos are always stunning, no matter what the recording device.

  18. March 16, 2015 1:08 pm

    Oh I love quail’s eggs – but as for cooking them myself, they have always fallen into the “life’s to short” category for me ;o) What impresses me the most is when a restaurant or caterer serves soft-boiled quail’s eggs with perfectly runny yolks. Swoon!

  19. March 16, 2015 1:25 pm

    Quail’s eggs are delicious! I love the raw yolk (if you’re able not to break it) on beef tartare…

    • March 16, 2015 1:32 pm

      I meant to add steak tartare into my post and forgot. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

  20. kstienemeier permalink
    March 16, 2015 2:01 pm

    I just love quail eggs too Sally. So versatile and tasty. Hard to crack though 😉 and the blue insides and spotted outer shells are fabulously pretty, one feels so elegant just eating them.

  21. March 16, 2015 2:49 pm

    Sally, I’ve had so many quail eggs back when I lived in the Philippines. There’s a street food called “kwek kwek” which is basically hardboiled quail egg that is coated in a batter of flour and then deep fried. The fried egg, fresh out of the frying pan, is then briefly dipped in spicy vinegar mix and then popped in the mouth.

  22. March 16, 2015 2:54 pm

    Quail egg is my go to no brainer school snack for the LittleMan.

  23. عادل ابوطالب permalink
    March 16, 2015 4:43 pm

    مرحبا سلي جميل بيض السمان

  24. March 16, 2015 5:44 pm

    Thank you Sally, an informative post for me as I have never tasted them. Trust someday I do get enough courage to pick up some from the market and give them a try😉.

  25. March 16, 2015 5:57 pm

    I never realised that quails eggs could be so versatile!
    I’ll definitely try to incorporate them into more dishes

  26. March 16, 2015 7:05 pm

    I am a quail egg virgin but am very curious to try them. Can you cook them in a curry?

  27. March 16, 2015 7:06 pm

    I used to LOVE having quails’ eggs when I was little, but I only cooked them for the first time very recently after discovering them at the farmers’ market (they went in the wonderful Ottolenghi royal potato salad, one of my all-time favourite potato dishes, though I’d only ever used chopped hens’ eggs for it before). I made a mess of the timings, easily done I suppose, and ended up with them hard-boiled rather than nice and gooey, though thankfully that suited the pregnant potato salad-eaters 🙂 Will pin this for future reference, very useful, thanks 🙂

  28. March 16, 2015 8:07 pm

    I’ve never had quail eggs, but they are such an impressive little egg!

  29. March 17, 2015 4:48 am

    Great post, Sally – I happen to love quail eggs and I agree that they lend themselves to much more elegant presentations than their chicken counterparts 😉

  30. March 17, 2015 8:36 am

    Quails eggs are so cute, I love them! I’ve eaten them a few times at other people’s houses or restaurants, but never cooked them myself. I think I will try boiling them following your directions. I love your serving suggestion of arranging them in a basket wit a shot glass of celery salt for dipping!

  31. March 17, 2015 9:11 am

    What a beautiful haul you brought back! Wow. And quail eggs are one of my favorite things. I love how they’re small and they taste better than regular eggs. Thanks for the tutorial. I would love to get a bunch like this and try them each way!

  32. March 17, 2015 9:32 am

    Quail eggs are yum; i made some oeufs en concotte a couple years back with them. They are ridiculously expensive in all grocery stores… but picked up 20 of them from the farmers market for a bargain!

    Iphone pics… ah! Did you see that amazing advertisement on Sheikh Zayed Road- a huge picture, crisp and crystal clear in quality- stretched over a 30-40 storey building…. taken by the iphone 6…. says it all.
    Great device! Great pics!

  33. Alyson permalink
    March 17, 2015 10:50 am

    And thank you for bringing them Friday…… they were lovely. We will be getting some Friday if they are at the market.

  34. March 17, 2015 11:15 am

    I think your photos look great! I use my iPhone too 🙂

  35. March 17, 2015 1:26 pm

    Like most of the comments you’ve received, I’m a big fan of quail’s eggs. I love them en gelee….I tend to buy them from a traiteur but I might make them for the blog:)

  36. glamorous glutton permalink
    March 18, 2015 2:26 am

    I love quails eggs, they’re so pretty. I have to admit if I’m serving lots of people I buy them ready peeled from Waitrose! Love the iPhone photos, mine always look a little grainy. GG

  37. March 19, 2015 4:32 am

    Quail eggs are just so darned cute! But I do find the peeling of them to be sort of a pain. As for the iPhone photos, every time I drag out my DSLR I think I must be insane. Generally, the phone does a better job (though of course one does lack a bit of control).

  38. March 19, 2015 12:49 pm

    These quail eggs are beautiful on a Spring themed dinner, keep that in mind for your Easter meals 🙂 And no I don’t think there’s anything wrong with iPhone pictures, I often interchange between my DSLR and iPhone and I think that’s totally fine. I like to keep it “real” 🙂

  39. March 19, 2015 2:49 pm

    I love Qual’s eggs too but rarely buy them! Now, I know what to do with them & how to use them too! Thanks for the easy ways to cook, fry & poach them too!
    I love the photos from your I-phone! 🙂

  40. March 20, 2015 4:43 pm

    Brilliantly useful post, especially as I am popping some on a savoury Easter cake. I wasn’t sure of the timing but I knew exactly where to come for help. 🙂 I’m not a quail’s egg virgin but they are certainly not cheap enough for me to eat them as often as you. Yours are a bargain! Great iPhone pix too

  41. March 21, 2015 3:15 pm

    I ♥ Quail eggs but I have never cooked them myself! Thanks for the post; I am going to try and cook some!

    • March 23, 2015 8:54 am

      They are exceedingly easy to eat!

  42. March 25, 2015 10:38 am

    Almost impossible to come by here in Johannesburg, unless you know a farmer nearby, but I do think they are very pretty!

  43. March 30, 2015 10:49 pm

    I thought about raising either chickens or quail, I would love to be able to do so sometime in the future. 😀

  44. Petiebird permalink
    April 5, 2015 11:53 am

    And I discard a dozen or two every day. What a shame.


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