How To Cook Quails’ Eggs And Some Ideas For What To Do With Them

In this post:

  • how to cook soft and hard quails’ eggs
  • frying quails’ eggs
  • the quickest, easiest way to crack and shell a quail’s egg
  • a whole list of interesting ideas of things to do with quails’ eggs

For a post on how to store eggs (larder versus fridge) follow this link.

For a post on duck eggs follow this link.

How to cook quails’ eggs:

First bring your quails’ eggs to room temperature before cooking. Then:

To cook soft boiled quails’ eggs with still runny yolks:

(NB: not for children, pregnant women, the elderly or the unwell)

  1. fill a small saucepan to about 3cm (just over an inch) depth with water and bring it to the boil.
  2. Carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water and cover the pan.
  3. Simmer for a minute.
  4. Remove from heat and leave to stand for a minute.
  5. Drain in cold water until they are cool enough to carefully shell… and serve.

To poach quails’ eggs:

Peter Eaton, head chef at The Woodspeen, advises cook the eggs in their shell for 2 minutes 20 seconds (!) in lightly simmering water. Drain, and replace the hot water with cold. Cool under running water, and then shell carefully.

To cook hard boiled quails’ eggs:

  1. Again, boil your 3cm (just over an inch) of water.
  2. Lower in your eggs, cover the pan, and simmer for four minutes.
  3. Drain under cold water.

To cook fried quails’ eggs:

Simply break (see below, ‘cracking’), and fry until the white becomes opaque.
If you have an Aga you can do this directly on the hotter hob (oil it a little first).

how to fry a quail's egg
Simply break onto the frying pan or cooking surface.

How to crack – without breaking:

The best way to crack a quail egg is with a small, sharp knife. Gently tap the shell and then pierce the membrane beneath. To enable you to discard broken yolks you may want to break into an espresso cup first. Personally (as you’ll see from the photo at the bottom of this post) I don’t think it matters much if the yolk is broken.

The easiest way to shell a quail’s egg:

  1. Tap the eggs on a hard surface to get them to crack all over the shell.
  2. Begin to pick it off.
  3. Try to get your finger to rub away a little of the thin membrane under the shell which sort of holds the shell together. If you can peel that away, the shell will come with it. If you are lucky, you can get the handle of a teaspoon under the shell and the membrane, and the whole thing will come off in one.
  4. Hold under cold tap to get rid of any clinging remaining bits of shell.

Ideas for what to do with quails’ eggs

No matter how accomplished you become at the shelling, getting the shell off is a fiddle and a damn nuisance. It is only worth using quails’ eggs in a situation where the whole point is the very littleness of them – for example in canapés, or as a garnish, or as a sort of gastronomic witticism (as in the new potato salad where you are making fun of the fact that they are the same size as the potatoes). Here are some ideas of ways to use them:

  • Dip them into celery salt. At a funeral recently, my daughter came upon quails’ eggs served on mini-forks (you could use corn on the cob forks) with celery salt, black onion seeds, and sesame seeds – highly recommended.
  • dry fry two teaspoons of cumin seeds and crush them in a pestle and mortar with one teaspoon of good quality sea salt – Norður is gorgeous, this is enough for about a dozen eggs.  Dip your quails’ eggs in. A favourite of my daughter.
  • Serve on small pieces of toast with butter and patum peperium
  • Serve half a quail’s egg on top of a canapé of smoked salmon or caviar; or tuna or crab pâté
  • Serve a fried quail egg on top of a piece of fried paprika-ed bread, crisp bacon, honey-roasted ham, toast topped with smoked haddock or mackerel
  • Serve on top of mini-hamburgers
  • On blini with chives, tarragon and crème fraîche
  • Serve soft-boiled as mini Eggs Benedict
  • Use as a salad garnish
  • Incorporate into a salad of Jersey Royal potatoes the same size as the eggs, either with mayonnaise, chopped anchovies and green beans and a sprinkling of sweet smoked paprika; or, as Ottolenghi suggests with a minty white wine vinaigrette and frozen peas
  • Break onto herbed, buttered mushrooms (and even a little grated cheese) and bake in the oven 10-15 minutes at 180°C
  • Break, uncooked, as a garnish on a risotto
  • Almost hard-boil six quails’ eggs. mix four tablespoons of cream cheese with two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt and about twenty chopped black olives (NOT the type in brine – Crespo dried are good). Divide over six toasted slices of French loaf scraped with olive oil. cut the eggs in half, push into the cheese mix a bit like rabbits ears. Dust with sweet, smoked Spanish paprika.
  • Wrap in bacon and dip in a hot sauce such as Sriracha, or for a milder effect substitute the Sriracha for a light sprinkling of Aleppo pepper.
  • In little cups of Serano ham with Parmesan crisps: Use a mini-muffin tray. Line each cup generously (the ham will shrink a little) with Serano ham and bake in a hot oven (200°C) for about five minutes until the ham is crispy. Leave to cool and break a quail’s egg into each cup (see above ‘cracking’). Top with a little double cream (seasoned with pepper and nutmeg), bake for another four minutes and garnish with a Parmesan crisp.
  • Feeling exotic and have unfettered access to specialist Japanese food shops? Try wasabi devilled quails’ eggs. Gouge out the egg yolks mix with mayonnaise, wasabi, and garnish with either chives – or feeling even more exotic – with wasabi tobiko and lemon zest. Go here to find out what exactly wasabi tobiko is.

fried quails' eggs
easy and unusual canapés

Where to source quail eggs if you are in the industry

If you’re a food service provider, you can find quail’s eggs from Beechwood Eggs.

About the feature image – beautiful pastel by Andrew Hemingway

The lovely featured image, at the top of this post, of the cup and the quail’s egg is a pastel by artist, Andrew Hemingway. Probably one of the most important still life artists working in pastel today, Hemingway produces images of remarkable precision and depth. Every painting is painstakingly done, his output is small, and works by Hemingway are rare. To see more of his work go to the Brian Sinfield gallery website.

This post is dedicated to Edward Goodall.

Other canapé recipes:

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Peeling quail eggs (or any egg for that matter) is simple and not a “nuisance.”
Bring water to a boil and, using a slotted spoon, lower the eggs into the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes, turn off heat and cover for 8 minutes.
Strain off hot water and gently shake eggs in pan making sure to shatter the shell. Run cold water over the eggs and peel. If the eggs get too cold and hard to peel, add hot tap water and continue peeling. I always start peeling at the fat end of the egg.

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