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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. This looks fantastic! My husband won’t eat it, but I can share with my dog and cats. Now what can I spread it on? I don’t really care for vegetables and pate.

    Grace wrote on May 22nd, 2012
  2. Dear Mark, I don’t eat liver, ever, for any reason…… Wait, that was liver???? This was so good I gobbled it up. Not only that but so did my toddler. Thank you so much for this great recipe. I can’t tell you how much your website has helped my family. We have WWMD (What Would Mark Do) discussions often and it always gets us thinking in the healthiest direction. I have gotten the body of my dreams and come to think of it, I really should send you some before and after pictures. Thank you again. Keep up the amazing work you do! You are a good person. All my love, Leelan

    Leelan wrote on May 23rd, 2012
  3. Hi!
    Can I use goose fat instead of butter? Or it won’t taste as good as butter? Its bacause of kosher food and stuff..
    thanks guys

    Daniel wrote on May 28th, 2012
  4. I made this on Friday and ate the last of it today (with a spoon, I might add). So yummy!

    Lauren wrote on May 29th, 2012
  5. Thanks alot! I have been going primal for about two months now (got both your blueprint and cookbook) and have been looking for a way to enjoy liver. I have always hated liver except in our traditional Swedish liverpate. The only problem is that the store bought stuff has all these nasty things in it.

    Anyway I tried this out today and it tastes fantastic. A lot better than the store bought stuff.

    Actually I’m eating it right now with sticks of carrot and cucumber… Fantastic!!

    Pehr wrote on May 29th, 2012
  6. I made some last night, it was a great idea! But wondering if anyone has tried it with something other than butter? solidified fat or something?

    Georgina wrote on June 2nd, 2012
  7. I made this last night, it was great! I normally hate liver but I remember my mother making pate years ago like that, so I thought I would give it a try. I’m so glad I did, it was very smooth with a mild liver flavor. I used freshly ground nutmeg, three times the garlic (it still didn’t taste garlicie to me), and a Vidalia onion instead of the shallot. It was wonderful. My wife can’t quit talking about it.

    MN_John wrote on June 6th, 2012
  8. Yummy pâté. A great snack, especially for a new mum with little time to prep food. I need grab and go and this fits the bill.

    Caymansarah wrote on June 7th, 2012
  9. Great recipe! My first attempt at cooking any kind of liver as I always hated it as a kid. It turned out wonderfully and we ate it all!

    I don’t use toast but I do use it spread on raw vegetables. I also spread it on those roasted dried seaweed sheets and roll them up for little snacks.

    I have a very similar recipe I got from an elderly Brazilian couple who made a batch of pâté once a week. They spread it on their toast every morning and said they’d been eating it for breakfast for several decades, but I never had the courage to try it.

    SoCalBonnie wrote on June 19th, 2012
  10. Adding a small quantity of dessert wine (Port, etc.) helps with the flavor. What about using aspic (cleat gelatin) to seal the pate. This is what I have always seen on store bought pate and terrine. It doesn’t last long enough to preserve it when I make it at home.

    Scott wrote on June 27th, 2012
  11. Tried this recipe – and it was absolutely amazing. Incredibly popular at the dinner I attended, and disappeared in minutes!

    TM wrote on July 16th, 2012
  12. Wonder if you could do something like this recipe with beef heart instead of liver? Anyone tried?

    Jon wrote on October 26th, 2012
  13. Am going to shop now for my second shot at the at the chicken liver pate. Will do the butter thing.
    ( and some dry sherry)

    judie manulkin wrote on November 3rd, 2012
  14. I need some ideas on how to serve this as an appetizer. Any primal way of spreading it on crackers or thinly sliced bread? I love all pate and am used to it like this but would love to try something else. Any ideas?

    Janice wrote on November 12th, 2012
  15. Thank you for this.. i use to work at a B&B years ago and the french chef always made this but when no one was around.. it was my favorite to eat in the morning before the rush.. here’s to hopping i can make this like Jean Louie!

    Laura wrote on November 21st, 2012
  16. *hoping

    Laura wrote on November 21st, 2012
  17. Made this today. Sorry but found it very bland. I added bacon and mushrooms to the recipe to try for more flavour as I thought it would need more oomph but that didn’t work. I landed up adding port, and Worcester sauce which worked quite nicely.

    Sylvia wrote on February 1st, 2013
  18. Made this just now, didnt have shallot so used onion. Also didnt have nutmeg so I omitted. It tastes fantastic! Put it int the fridge can’t wait to have it cold with veggies!

    Veronica wrote on February 18th, 2013
  19. Ooohh I love chicken liver pate with bacon. My 4 yr old also loves it, I wonder if we’ll like it the same if I make it myself as there is only one brand that I really like.

    Helen wrote on April 28th, 2013
  20. I made this recipe today with a few minor tweaks and it came out fantastic – it tastes like the delicious German liver wurst I grew up on, but was never able to find an equivalent to after moving to the US. I made the follow tweaks:

    – I sautéed the onion (I didn’t have shallots on-hand) and garlic in butter with a dash of red pepper flakes, and maybe 1/2 a tsp of dried thyme (note: I made a double batch since I could only find 1lb. tubs of chicken livers at my local Whole Foods)

    – then I deglazed the pan with some brandy before adding chicken stock, bay leaves and then the livers to simmer as the recipe says

    – I followed the directions from there and added 16 Tbsp of salted organic butter (didn’t have unsalted & forgot to buy it) as I processed everything

    – I took the advice of some of the other posters and ran the whole mixture through a mess strainer to catch any connective tissue I missed when prepping the livers

    I will be having some spread on celery sticks tomorrow, but couldn’t wait until then – I just tasted it, LOVED it and had to share! =)

    Helena wrote on April 28th, 2013
  21. I tried this recipe and its GREAT! better than some other recipes and SIMPLER! Question: can I use other animal liver for this recipe?

    HP Neo wrote on July 18th, 2013
  22. I finally made this last night. Mmmm, good! My new favorite pate recipe.

    Jeanmarie wrote on August 22nd, 2013
  23. Anyone tried freezing this?

    Rebekah wrote on May 4th, 2014
  24. Sounds like a great recipe (although adding some marjoram wouldn’t hurt).

    Just the perfect breakfast, prepared the night before.

    Best served stuffed into a seeded raw bell pepper, cut in half.

    Tyrker wrote on March 2nd, 2015
  25. I made this for a potluck brunch yesterday and everyone enjoyed it. The more butter you use, the more melt-in-your-mouth it becomes. I sometimes find it difficult to eat liver, but this made it very easy! I will definitely make this again.

    Jerilyn wrote on August 24th, 2015
  26. This is a lovely recipe. I am a big fan of liver and pate. Personally I think the recipe works quite well if you replace the bay leaves for basil and leave out the shallots, lemmon pepper is also a nice add in. For anyone that may feel like experimenting those are just my suggestions.

    Gg ross wrote on August 30th, 2015
  27. Having checked online today, I’m just passing on what I’ve read, that due to the fact that campylobacter is present inside chicken livers, they should always be cooked thoroughly, as undercooking risks being very ill. e.g.

    Yvonne wrote on December 26th, 2015

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