The Big Difference Between Quail And Cornish Game Hen

Poultry is super versatile, you can prepare chicken hundreds of different ways with a huge variety of sauces and flavorings. Whether you want to pair it with sweet citrus or a rich mole sauce, chicken is the blank canvas of the meat family, just waiting to be dressed up. While it may seem like all poultry is created equal, this isn't necessarily true. For example, a quail and a Cornish game hen are both small members of the poultry family, both are pretty lean, and both make for a delightful dinner entrée, but there are a few big differences in them that mean you can't prepare, cook, or serve them the same way. If you have a recipe for Cornish game hen and all you can find is quail, they can't be interchanged for each other, and you'll probably need to find a quail-friendly recipe for your dinner (via Chowhound). So what's the difference between these birds?

Quails are a game bird and are mostly dark meat

While they're both small birds, there are a few pronounced differences in their size. According to Fine Cooking, quails usually run about 6 to 8 ounces per bird, and are technically a game bird (though they're often raised on farms nowadays). Cornish hens, which are usually young chickens of the Rock Cornish breed and can be male or female, tend to be a bit larger, closer to the 2-pound range. 

It may take several quails to create a dinner, but one Cornish hen could feed two or three people. Quails have a darker meat, according to Chowhound, and are more similar to duck or goose than chicken. They're also fairly boney and will probably require some gnawing at the table (or some serious deboning beforehand), whereas preparation and consumption of a Cornish hen is much more straightfoward. Due to the gamey flavor of quail, you'll want to prepare them accordingly, whereas a Cornish game hen has a much more delicate flavor that can be prepared a variety of ways.