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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 19 2012

Silky-Smooth Chicken Liver Pâté

By Worker Bee
90 Comments

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

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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90 thoughts on “Silky-Smooth Chicken Liver Pâté”

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    1. I thought chicken liver (raw or cooked) was for cats; I never liked it.

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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”.

      1. 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.

    1. The marjoram is a must. Also try thyme, gives it a nice extra punch.

  5. 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

    1. Oh, that sounds so wonderful! Care to share your recipe, celticcavegirl? 🙂

      1. 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

  6. 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.

    1. did you try chicken livers? they do not have the stronger test of the others

        1. 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

    2. 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.

  7. If you want to acquire live animals you can purchase them at pet stores. Imagine the potential nutrition waiting in the tanks and cages.

  8. 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!

    1. Chicken livers are much more mild than beef (or even calves’) liver, so to my palate, much easier to eat!

      1. They also pale in comparison to beef liver in terms of vitamins/minerals.

  9. 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.

  10. Could I use duck fat? Or is the butter integral to the flavour? This looks delish and eager to try!

      1. 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!!

  11. 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?

    1. personally when I make pate I just fry the livers, then you get nice browning flavours 🙂

    2. Chicken broth would be a fine addition to taste and nutrients especially if homemade.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. I use chicken broth instead of water and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) instead of butter. Gives it a much richer flavor.

  16. 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.)

  17. 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.

  18. THE TRUE SECRET OF SMOOTH PATE —

    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 !

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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.”

    1. 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.

  23. 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!

    1. 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!

    1. Most commercial products use standard table salt – we add sea salt – much healthier.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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)

    1. Do you have any suggestions for what to eat it with other than raw veggies? I can’t eat anything raw ):

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.)

  30. 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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV7XzJq_BBo) 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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!!

  36. 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?

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. Tried this recipe – and it was absolutely amazing. Incredibly popular at the dinner I attended, and disappeared in minutes!

  42. Wonder if you could do something like this recipe with beef heart instead of liver? Anyone tried?

  43. 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)

  44. 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?

  45. 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!

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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! =)

  50. I tried this recipe and its GREAT! better than some other recipes and SIMPLER! Question: can I use other animal liver for this recipe?

  51. I finally made this last night. Mmmm, good! My new favorite pate recipe.

  52. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.