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19 May

Silky-Smooth Chicken Liver Pâté

If you’ve only ever had chicken livers fried with onions or chopped up with hardboiled eggs, then it’s time to experience liver in a more decadent way. Not that Grandma’s chopped liver doesn’t hit the spot sometimes, but the smooth, whipped texture and buttery flavor of Chicken Liver Pâté is really something special.

The secret to silky, smooth pâté is twofold. First, simmering the liver in liquid instead of browning it prevents the liver from drying out while cooking. The second “secret” – and actually, this shouldn’t be a surprise, since we’re talking about French cuisine here – is butter. Lots and lots of butter. Some traditional French recipes call for so much butter that the end result is more like butter pâté with a little bit of chicken liver thrown in. Some recipes also add whole cream and many have a dash or two of Cognac or other liquor for good measure.

This recipe, which is based off one by the great French chef Jacques Pépin, uses a little bit more restraint and gives the chicken livers first billing. With less butter, the result is no less delicious. The liver flavor is slightly stronger but the texture is still perfectly smooth and creamy. If you want to add more butter, by all means, go for it. Either way, this chicken liver pâté is a perfect snack, one loaded with flavor as well as protein, vitamins and minerals. Eat it by the spoonful, or use the pâté as a dip for raw vegetables or Primal crackers.

Makes between 1/2 and 1 cup of pâté


  • 1/2 pound chicken livers
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature). For pâté that is very dense and buttery, add between 8 to 12 tablespoons of butter


Rinse the chicken livers and pat them dry. Cut off any white connective tissue.

In a saucepan, combine the chicken livers, shallot, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Add the water and bring to a simmer.

Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once. Turn off the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Discard the bay leaf. Drain the liquid out and transfer the livers, shallot and garlic to a food processor. Add nutmeg. Process just until the livers are finely chopped, then, with the blade still running, start adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time.

Once the butter is blended in, season with salt and pepper then continue to process until the pâté is completely smooth.

Scoop the pâté into one large or two small ramekins or bowls. Decorate the top with fresh herbs if you like. Cover with plastic wrap pressed down onto the pâté (to protect it from air) or pour melted butter on top, creating an edible seal (when melting the butter, skim as much white foam off the top as possible).

Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight so the pâté firms up. The pâté will stay fresh up to 1 week.

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  1. Looks delicious!

    knifegill wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • I thought chicken liver (raw or cooked) was for cats; I never liked it.

      laura m. wrote on May 30th, 2012
  2. I am so excited! As excited as one can get about
    liver on a Saturday morning! I have been striving to include more liver in my diet, and this is very inspirational. I was just about to head out to my local co-op, and now “chicken liver” has been
    added to my list! Thank you!

    Kathleen wrote on May 19th, 2012
  3. Looks like a great way to sneak some offal into my family’s diet. Both my kids and husband love veggies with various dips so I’ll add this to the rotation without telling them what it is.

    Decaf Debi wrote on May 19th, 2012
  4. the last liver recipe I’ll try has been revealed! lol. The bacon wrapped livers were a classic fail, with me being the only one to eat more than a teensy weensy taste. I ate three of them and then felt nauseated for the next few hours. Maybe it was just too rich. The only way I’ve been able to enjoy liver in the past is in the cornbread dressing and giblet gravy I’ve traditionally made with Thanksgiving dinner. Livers are inexpensive and beneficial enough that we’ll give this a go amd hope for better results!

    yoolieboolie wrote on May 19th, 2012
  5. I use to do homemade chicken liver paté. It’s very tasty. And now that I am primal I can fully enjoy it without bothering the fats 😀

    My base recipe is a bit different. Instead of Cognac I add some Marsala, but that’s a question of preference. Also, I put some finely chopped marjoram. Never thought of the nutmeg, I’ll try to add some next time.

    Btw, to the base recipe, you can add mushrooms, ideally morchels to make a “foie gras aux morilles”.

    primal_alex wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • Do you sauté the mushrooms first? Or add them on raw?

      KerryK wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • I always cook mushroom apart. This is particularly true for morchels as they may be a bit toxic due to a toxin which, fortunately, is easily destroyed with prolonged cooking.

        primal_alex wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • The marjoram is a must. Also try thyme, gives it a nice extra punch.

      TJ the Grouch wrote on May 19th, 2012
  6. Ohhh, I make a version of this all the time but with duck livers, orange zest, brandy or cognac, pepper, nutmeg, mustard and cloves and a 50/50 mixture of butter and goose fat

    celticcavegirl wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • Oh, that sounds so wonderful! Care to share your recipe, celticcavegirl? :)

      IndigoSwash wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • Sure – its very similar to the above. Unfortunately I’m not big on measuring though

        The fat content is personal preference – I use 1 part fat to 3 of liver, but you can do a 50-50 mix for a richer pate.

        360g duck liver (chicken in a pinch)
        60g goat butter or ghee
        60g goose fat
        2 cloves garlic, crushed
        brandy, rum, cognac, Cointreau or other alcohol (I usually use brandy)
        seasoning – salt, pepper, allspice, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg (all fresh ground – important)
        the zest of 1 orange
        ghee for sealing

        1) chop the the livers up quite small and gently brown in fat in a frying pan, as they start to look done add the garlic (if the liver pieces are too large they tend to get burned on the outside and undercooked on the inside. But it’s important not to overcook the liver, it should be brown on the outside and a tiny touch pink on the inside. I usually chop each duck liver 3-5 ways)
        2) At the end of the cooking, add the orange zest and then the alcohol and allow most of it to evaporate. Remove contents of frying pan and transfer to jug or blender
        3) melt the remaining fat (butter and goose fat) in the pan, add to jug/blender
        4) add the seasoning to taste. You need quite a lot.
        5) blend using hand/regular blender to smoothness desired.
        6) Pour into ramekins and set in fridge. 7) seal each dish with a thin layer of melted ghee

        celticcavegirl wrote on May 20th, 2012
      • Maria wrote on September 4th, 2012
  7. I’ve sampled liver and onions throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I have never liked it and all our recipies were from southern family ones. Last time I tried I identified what I don’t like, other than the consistancy. Liver tastes like old socks to me.

    I’m scared to try pate. I’d hate to waste perfectly good liver on something I won’t eat.

    Jana wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • did you try chicken livers? they do not have the stronger test of the others

      WildGrok wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • I mean: taste

        WildGrok wrote on May 19th, 2012
        • I don’t like liver either but I love my Mum’s pate which is very similar to this recipe! She adds port instead of cognac and sometimes chops up some pickled gherkins and mixes that in! Mmmmmmmmm

          Sianny Banany wrote on June 10th, 2012
    • It was probably cooked for too long. Sliced liver should be fried on one side till the juices just start to run out, and then turned over and fried for even less time. Takes about 30 seconds. It should still be rare in the middle. It’s easy to overcook it if you don’t know this, and then it become foul and rubbery.

      You also need to serve it with a sauce, because it tends to be quite dry: once it’s done, pop it in a low oven to keep warm and make a sauce using the pan juices and e.g. cream, port, and nutmeg; or stock and fat to make a gravy.

      Orielwen wrote on May 20th, 2012
  8. mmmm. going to give this a try!

    PaleoDentist wrote on May 19th, 2012
  9. If you want to acquire live animals you can purchase them at pet stores. Imagine the potential nutrition waiting in the tanks and cages.

    Animanarchy wrote on May 19th, 2012
  10. It’s been a while since I have tried liver. More than a year. This looks amazing and is simple. I’ve only had beef liver so giving chicken liver a try is needed.

    Chicken livers at the farmers market costs me 99 cents per pound!

    Primal Toad wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • Chicken livers are much more mild than beef (or even calves’) liver, so to my palate, much easier to eat!

      Violet wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • They also pale in comparison to beef liver in terms of vitamins/minerals.

        arkady wrote on May 20th, 2012
  11. Nice.

    Personally, I prefer the Nourishing Traditions recipe with mushrooms.

    You CAN freeze the paté, by the way! My husband makes up a big batch that lasts us for 6 weeks.

    Sondra Rose wrote on May 19th, 2012
  12. Could I use duck fat? Or is the butter integral to the flavour? This looks delish and eager to try!

    Leslie wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • I actually think duck fat tastes better than butter.

      Bevie wrote on May 19th, 2012
      • I substitute duck fat for butter since my body reacts to dairy. I made this recipe yesterday and it is amazing! What I really like about this recipe is no alcohol. Many chicken liver pate’s call for sherry or brandy. This recipe tastes just as good or even better. So simple and a great snack. Thanks Mark!!

        Jillian wrote on June 19th, 2012
  13. I’m wondering if the flavor could be intensified by cooking the liver in chicken broth instead of water, or would that just be a waste of chicken broth? Has anyone tried that?

    dragonmamma wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • personally when I make pate I just fry the livers, then you get nice browning flavours :)

      celticcavegirl wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • Chicken broth would be a fine addition to taste and nutrients especially if homemade.

      Jillian wrote on June 19th, 2012
  14. I’ve been making my chicken liver pate with the addition of chicken hearts. I use one package of livers and one package of hearts. I start the hearts cooking first and add the livers later because the hearts take longer. Other than that my recipe is pretty much the same. The food processor completely smooths out the hearts and livers and the pate is really rich and satisfying. You get all the goodness of the liver plus the advantages of the nutrients in the hearts as well.
    Plus, chicken hearts are a cheap buy and this is a great way to sneak them into your meals.

    Sitara wrote on May 19th, 2012
  15. I will do this tomorrow for sure. The related recipe of the terrine (posted a while ago) was a big success at home.
    Will add the hearts from Sitara’s comment, just read it as I type this!

    WildGrok wrote on May 19th, 2012
  16. I do a very similar thing with beef liver and it is delicious, too. I grew up with chopped liver, though, so a trip down memory lane may be in order!

    Debra wrote on May 19th, 2012
  17. I use chicken broth instead of water and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead of butter. Gives it a much richer flavor.

    Dave G wrote on May 19th, 2012
  18. MMMM. I know what’s on menu for my next wine tasting! (Actually, it will be an olive oil tasting, so the buttery pate will go great, without adding a different oil flavor that might distract.)

    Diane wrote on May 19th, 2012
  19. I just made this today and it is wonderful! I always make it with mushrooms and bacon which is also wonderful but there is something about the liver and lots of butter that is magical! I did not use the bay leaf, added a touch of wine.

    jean finch wrote on May 19th, 2012

    The problem with liver pate of any kind is that you just never get all the conective tissue out, and blend all you like you will never make it like the canned variety soooo smooth. They just pulverise/overcook it to use all that stuff up.

    Just do the recepy and then right at the end press it through a sive. Use a broad spoon and press all the pate through the sive. You’ll be amazed just how much connective tissue will be eliminated. What will come through the sive will be a smooth delicious pate. Do a bit at a time allowing to remove the sinue between presings. At least try it when you want to impress someone, or starting out with pate. It is extra work, but the result is just so supperior that its well worth it.

    The second thing that I do is to then place the pate into bowls and then pour melted butter/lard over the top. This stops the browning / oxidisation on the top and drying out of the crust. The added benefit is more fat! lets face it you can never have enough fat !

    Michal wrote on May 19th, 2012
  21. OHMAHGAWD, this looks unbelievable! Easy too! I need to pick up some chicken livers this work for sure. I bought butter imported from Poland too, and I have to say, it’s delicious!

    primal pat wrote on May 19th, 2012
  22. Pate is a favorite of mine. I also recommend using a swivel to remove connective tissue. I eat it garnished with onion and cucumber. I also pour it into a loaf pan and slice it. Make a wrap using lettuce leaves, rolling it around raw veggies. Be imaginative with the garnishes and you’ll have a new dish for every day of the week. It is lovely served with onion soup on a cold day.

    TruckerLady wrote on May 19th, 2012
  23. I had only tried chicken liver twice in my life (didn’t really love it at the time) but suddenly had a craving for it about a month ago (about 24 hrs after a minor surgical procedure). I’m glad I gave into that craving because I really liked it this time around so I’m excited to try the pate recipe!

    Paula wrote on May 19th, 2012
  24. I don’t have any chicken livers atm but have a bunch of pork liver in my freezer. Does anyone know if I can use the same recipe for pork liver? This would be FAB, I love pates but am frequently turned off by the standard ingredient “fillers.”

    Julia wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • late to reply, but i just made this with pork livers and it came out very good. a stronger liver flavor than chicken livers would give you, but very nice.

      Caitlin wrote on June 29th, 2012
  25. I bought some chicken livers on a whim. I’m trying to like them, but all my previous attempts have been failures. The flavor is too strong. But just tonight I made this recipe – went with 8 tablespoons of butter, managed to get it all done in a blender, and… man, it is delicious! I might have found a way to truly enjoy liver. Thanks mark!

    Andy wrote on May 19th, 2012
    • What do you eat the pate with? I’ve never tried liver, but I just got some chicken livers at the farmers market yesterday and want the first try to be a success!

      Alyssa wrote on May 20th, 2012
  26. This makes a great omelet filling.

    Bevie wrote on May 19th, 2012
  27. I don’t get it. Why use unsalted butter and then add salt?

    Orielwen wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • Most commercial products use standard table salt – we add sea salt – much healthier.

      W.J. Purifoy wrote on May 20th, 2012
  28. I assume that home-made pate lacks the listeriosis risk of shop-bought stuff?

    Orielwen wrote on May 20th, 2012
  29. I generally use unsalted butter because salt, being a preservative, allows even good organic companies and stores to sell older butter. Using unsalted ensures that it is fresher. Also, don’t know about you, but once I started eating unprocessed stuff, my tastes changed and this allows me to control the level of salt to my own taste.

    BJML wrote on May 20th, 2012
  30. Thanks Mark for this, but I think I will pass on this one. I am not a liver fan in any way. I used to eat it as a kid but now as an adult I just can’t do it. Taste buds change.

    Kevin of wrote on May 20th, 2012
  31. Can you use beef liver for this?

    Claire wrote on May 20th, 2012
  32. I would encourage everyone who hates liver to give this a try. I dry retch when I eat beef liver, but have been eating shop bought chicken liver pate for years. It is absolutely delicious – my favourite is cracked pepper flavour,

    I should try making my own. But this doesn’t taste like liver, thats for sure. Love it with celery and carrots as a dip (with some nice cheese too)

    Erika wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • Do you have any suggestions for what to eat it with other than raw veggies? I can’t eat anything raw ):

      Alyssa wrote on May 20th, 2012
  33. Definitely NOT my (kosher) grandma’s chopped liver.

    My grandma’s chopped liver was the best. She always sauteed onions in chicken fat (schmaltz) and ground it along with the liver (in those days before food processors she used a hand cranked meat grinder that clamped to the kitchen table). Heaven, and we stopped eating it because we thought it was so bad for us. Ha!

    She made egg salad the same way–sauteed onions in schmaltz (unless the eggs were served at a dairy meal) and mixed it in with the eggs–she didn’t know from mayonnaise. This was so yummy!

    As a little kid, I called it “chocolate liver (chopped liver) and vanilla liver (egg salad)”. Yum!

    It feels great to be able to reconnect to my grandma’s style of food for the health of it.

    Janknitz wrote on May 20th, 2012
  34. I will need to try something like this… I just (like as in I’m eating it right now) made beef liver with some stewed tomatoes and mushrooms and eggplant and I might just *accidentally* forget to eat the leftovers. :/ My first time trying liver, it’s just hard for me mentally even though I think I like the taste… I really want to eat it though because it’s so cheap and healthy. Maybe this will help.

    Cristina wrote on May 20th, 2012
  35. hate liver, LOVE pate. Go figure!

    KL (almostGrok'd) wrote on May 20th, 2012
  36. I’m going to try this recipe as soon as I can get the livers. I love any kind of liver, but my husband detests it, especially chicken liver. When I buy chicken liver, I usually just bake it in the oven until just done, eat what I want, and share with the dog. She loves it. But if the pate is as good as it sounds, she won’t get a bit of it. (Well, I’ll save a few livers for her for a snack.)

    D wrote on May 21st, 2012
  37. What about the bacon? Chicken liver pate without bacon? The way we do it we get two meals from one – we start out making Chicken Livers & Bacon for dinner ( and the blend up the leftovers to make pate for the next few days. We eat the livers on Napa Cabbage and the pate on carrots, cucumbers of raw sprouted seed crackers we buy at out local health food store.

    Candice wrote on May 21st, 2012
  38. Hmm, I love chicken livers! I am sure going to try this :)

    Odette wrote on May 21st, 2012
  39. This looks delicious, I cannot wait to try this!

    Georgina wrote on May 22nd, 2012
  40. I’ve always despised liver. My mother and brother used to share in their enjoyment of liverwurst as I grew up, and I always just scrunched my nose at it… However, with a slight case of NAFLD from being horribly underweight, I’ve read enough around the ‘unconventional health’-osphere to know the importance of choline… which is in highest concentrations in offal and eggs! SO this came at a perfect time; I’d had chicken livers sitting untouched in my freezer for a week. I made this yesterday and enjoyed it atop banh mi-like ingredients as a salad. Deeelicious! Never thought I could like liver!

    Jenny wrote on May 22nd, 2012

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