Classic Chicken Liver Pâté

February 22, 2013


The other night after work, I had to decide between 2 snacks: my usual squares of dark chocolate, or this chicken liver pâté. It’s a testament to how ridiculously tasty and satisfying this pâté is that I chose the latter…

Chicken liver pâté is one of those classic, rustic dishes that should be a kitchen staple rather than a dinner party treat. And for it to be made frequently, on a whim, it mustn’t be fussy. The chicken livers are the star of this dish, and the other ingredients are only there to help the chicken livers shine. Sealing the pâté with butter is optional and more of a decorative touch, since I doubt it’ll be left uneaten for long enough for the seal to make a difference – without the seal, or once the seal is broken, the pâté should be okay for 4-5 days, especially if the livers are cooked through. Besides, if you make a big batch, it freezes great, so store some in the freezer for a rainy day (or, you know, next week).

Enjoy this pâté as a snack, light lunch, an appetizer, or just because you feel like it. Once you’ve tried it and seen how simple it is to make, I’m sure you won’t be needing an excuse to make it again and again.

Can be served with a light side salad, some cornichons, a charcuterie or cheese plate, or simply on its own. Spread it on whatever you’d like, or eat it by the spoonful as I do.



  • 1 lb. chicken livers, thickly sliced*
  • 2 large shallots, minced (can substitute 1/2 large onion)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 Tbsp. brandy or Cognac (Cognac is a type of brandy)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chopped into large cubes
  • 3 Tbsp. whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • butter for greasing the pan
  • a few sprigs of thyme for decoration (optional)
  • approx. 4 Tbsp. butter for seal (optional)


1. Prepare the chicken livers by trimming off any discoloured parts as well as any fat, veins, and connective tissues. Rinse the livers and pat them dry with a paper towel. Slice the livers thinly to ensure even cooking.

2. Heat medium pan over medium-high heat. Add enough butter to grease the pan.

3. Add the shallots/onions and thyme. Cook until shallots/onions have softened, approximately 5 minutes. Add alcohol and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated – approximately 3-5 more minutes.

4. Transfer contents of pan to food processor.

5. Add a generous amount of butter to grease the pan so that the livers don’t dry out. Sauté until livers in the butter until they are cooked through and no longer pink on the inside, without overcooking them.

6. Transfer the contents of the pan to the food processor.

7. Process the livers, adding a few cubes of butter at a time, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the pate is very smooth (scrape the sides down as necessary).

8. Add the cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Process until well combined.

9. Transfer the chicken liver pâté into ramekins or other serving dishes, level the surface, and top with a sprig of thyme for decoration (optional).

10. If sealing the pâté with butter, chill the pâté for approximately half an hour first. Otherwise, chill the pate for 2 hours straight.

11. Optional clarified butter seal: In a small pot over low heat, bring the approximately 4 Tbsp. butter to a simmer. Once the butter stops foaming, scoop the foam off the top with a spoon. Strain the butter through a fine sieve into another container. The butter may not be perfectly clarified at this point, but it’s sufficient for this application. Gently pour the clarified butter over the pâtés.

12. Cover the pâté with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours total for the pâté to set.

13. If possible, remove the pâté from the fridge 1 – 2 hours before serving to soften it so that it’s more easily spreadable.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please remember to share it (pinterest, facebook, twitter, etc.). Thanks!

Shared with Fight Back Fridays and Real Food Wednedsays.

*Most recipes will instruct you to leave the insides of the livers pink in order to improve the flavor of the pâté and to impart a pretty pink color. After reading about the number of cases of food poisoning from uncooked chicken livers, and considering that most of us would never eat pink chicken otherwise, I decided to cook the livers all the way through. I slice the livers up so that they cook more evenly.


Leave a Comment


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Buttoni February 26, 2013 at 12:26 PM

This looks so GOOD! I love chicken liver pate! Can’t wait to try this!


[email protected] February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Awesome, hope you enjoy it! :)


Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat February 26, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Wow, pate over chocolate? It really must be good. I don’t tolerate dairy well, but I’ll play around and see if I can’t come up with something just as enticing. Would coconut milk be a total disaster here? I guess there is one way to find out…thanks for the recipe!


[email protected] February 26, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Is it the whipping cream that’s a problem or the butter as well? I think the majority of chicken liver pates call for butter – it’s quite a large component. But you could definitely sub the whipping cream for another liquid – it’s mostly to just make the pate less dense. You could try coconut milk.. or even chicken broth. Or some apple juice for extra sweetness. Let me know how you fare!


Linda March 3, 2013 at 5:45 PM

This has been the easiest pâté I have ever made! I followed the easy instructions and used really fresh ingredients and good Congac. I cut back on the 3/4c of butter and also added cracked pepper. This a a keeper and will be used as my go to recipe for pâté.


[email protected] March 5, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Glad to hear it’s a keeper for you! :)


Linda March 19, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Great recipe and so easy; have made it twice and both times it was full proof. I cut back on the butter and only use about half. This is our Friday evening treat w a glass of wine! LH


[email protected] March 19, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Awesome, so happy to hear you’ve had great results! Thanks for letting me know :)


Alice January 31, 2014 at 1:08 PM

Hi there,

What can be used instead of brandy/cognac?

And how much broth should be used in lieu of the whipping cream?



[email protected] February 1, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Hi – you could skip the alcohol and cream altogether and add in a few tablespoons of cream, just to get the right texture (so it’s not too solid). Alternatively, you could replace the brandy/cognac with wine or other alcohol of choice – it’s just there to add some depth of flavour.


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