Achiote-Marinated Quail with Grilled Peaches

These demure birds get a punch of bold flavor and crimson color from the annatto seeds in the flavorful marinade; also known as achiote seeds, they’re available at most Latin markets. Choose firm peaches for this recipe; they’ll hold up best on the grill and soften nicely as they cook.

Achiote Marinated Quail with Grilled Peaches Recipe
Photo: Aubrie Pick
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins


  • 2 tablespoons annatto seeds

  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 medium garlic clove

  • 1 whole clove

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for grill grates

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided

  • 8 (about 3 1/2-ounces) semi-boneless quail

  • 1 medium-size fresh jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped

  • 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 1 cup mesquite wood chips (2 1/2 ounce), soaked in water 1 hour and drained

  • 6 medium-size firm-ripe peaches (about 2 1/2 pounds), halved and pitted

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lovage or celery leaves

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt


  1. Combine annatto seeds, coriander seeds, oregano, peppercorns, garlic, and clove in a spice grinder; process until very finely ground and mixture forms a paste, about 30 seconds. Transfer spice mixture to a medium bowl; stir in 3 tablespoons oil, orange juice, and 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice. Add quail, and rub with marinade until evenly coated. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours or overnight.

  2. Process jalapeño, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, remaining 1/4 cup oil, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice in a blender until mostly smooth, about 45 seconds. Set aside.

  3. Transfer quail to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, leaving as much of the annatto mixture on quail as possible. Season quail all over with remaining 21/2 teaspoons kosher salt; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, open bottom vent of grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour them evenly on bottom grate of grill. Scatter soaked wood chips over hot coals. Adjust vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 450°F to 500°F. Coat top grill grate with oil; place on grill.

  5. Brush cut sides of peaches evenly with 2 tablespoons jalapeño oil. Place peaches, cut sides down, on oiled grate. Grill, uncovered, until charred and slightly softened, 2 to 4 minutes. Cut each peach half into 2 pieces, and toss with remaining jalapeño oil. Set aside.

  6. Place quail on oiled grate, and grill, uncovered, until slightly charred with some grill marks, about 4 minutes. Flip and grill until quail is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Cut quail in half lengthwise.

  7. Place quail and peaches on a serving platter. Drizzle with any residual jalapeño oil left in bowl. Sprinkle with lovage, cilantro, and flaky sea salt.


Most semi-boneless quail are sold with a metal wire support; leave in while grilling to help the quail hold their shape.

Suggested Pairing

Complex California Pinot Noir: Peay Vineyards Sonoma Coast.

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