Foodist Approved: Chicken Liver Pâté with Walnuts

by | Oct 20, 2015

chicken liver pate sm

From reading books like Nourishing Traditions and Super Nutrition for Babies, and following along with the “nose-to-tail” movement, I know that organ meats are incredibly nutritious. That’s why I wanted to try cooking chicken livers for Lily, my one-year-old, but having never cooked them before I kept passing them by at the meat counter.

Then I read Darya’s post 18 Nutrition Habits You Are Probably Neglecting, where she discuses all the “weird” foods she devours, and I was inspired. I decided it was time to get out of my comfort food zone. Up first: I was going to make a dish using chicken liver.

I consulted my notes and recipes from studying at the Natural Gourmet Institute and came up with this recipe. After the first round of testing and tasting, I decided to add walnuts into the spread to give it some texture and balance out the gamey flavor of the liver.

At first I was hesitant to serve the pâté to guests, but to my surprise everyone was delighted by it. Lily was adorably signing “more, more” while Grandma exclaimed it reminded her of her childhood and asked if she could take home the leftovers (luckily this recipe makes enough to fill two small ramekins).

When buying chicken livers, be sure to buy from a reputable butcher. Since the liver is the organ that filters out toxins, liver from pasture-raised or organic chickens is preferable to minimize exposure to toxins.

For an impressive appetizer, serve this French-inspired spread on top of thin baguette slices that have been drizzled with olive oil and toasted under the broiler for a minute on each side.

Weird food is oh so good! Thanks Darya for the inspiration.

Chicken Liver Pâté with Walnuts

Yield: 2 small ramekins

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh chicken livers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Cognac or dry white wine (Cognac is traditional but I used wine)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts, plus more for garnish
  • For serving: toasted baguette slices or crackers

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the chicken livers, thyme, and pepper and cook until the livers are brown on the outside, about 5 minutes. Add the Cognac or wine and cook until the liquid evaporates and the livers are barely pink on the inside, about 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the liver mixture, remaining tablespoon of butter, and walnuts to a food processor and pulse until smooth.

Divide the pâté into 2 small ramekins and use a spatula to smooth the tops. Sprinkle the extra walnuts on top and wrap each ramekin tightly in plastic wrap.

Chill pâté in the fridge until firm, at least 2 hours.

Elyse Kopecky is a whole foods chef currently co-authoring a cookbook for runners, Run Fast Eat Slow, with Olympic marathoner and longtime friend, Shalane Flanagan. After 10 years working for Nike and EA Sports, Elyse decided to pursue her passion for talking and writing about food. She went to NYC to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute and has taken cooking classes throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Sign-up for sneak peeks of Shalane and Elyse’s book at or follow along @ElyseKopecky.

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5 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Chicken Liver Pâté with Walnuts”

  1. I wouldn’t be able to get my son to eat this in a million years! Oh, the woes of having an insanely picky child…

    • Dee says:

      Really,? pastes/spreads are a great way to hide ingredients. Like cheese pate with pak choy ..they get fooled all the time. .. just don’t tell him it’s livers…

  2. Dade Dyana says:

    Hi Elyse,
    I definitely agree that organs are under-used in a lot of kitchens. A lot of people are afraid to take that jump in preparing the unknown. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Are you planning to incorporate more liver in your diet now?

  3. Cindy says:

    I have always liked liver, but now avoid it. Most articles and health newsletters I read these days comment on the fact that the liver is the organ that processes the poisons out of a body’s system so best to limit its consumption.

    • Peter says:



      Organ meats in general are quite nourishing, but liver is by far the most nutritious. Contrary to popular belief, the liver isn’t a storage organ for toxins; rather, it’s a detoxifying organ that flushes out toxins. What is stored in the liver is a bounty of vital minerals, nutrients, amino acids and omega 3’s. Let’s break it down below:

      Vitamin A: Above all, liver is the most concentrated source of vitamin A. Just 3-4 ounces will give you 200% of your daily vitamin A recommendation. Although you can get plenty of vitamin A from vegetables, your body needs fat to absorb it, which pâté also provides. Vitamin A aids in eyesight, maintains healthy blood pressure, and is important for the regrowth of skin cells.

      Vitamin B-12: Found only in animal products, B-12 is abundant in liver pâté. B-12 is involved with the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells and is vital for people who are anemic.

      Choline: A B-vitamin mainly found in egg yolks and liver, choline is lacking in many people’s diets. Most of us have a deficiency and don’t even know it! Choline is important for metabolism function, lipid transportation, and cell membrane signaling. It also aids in detoxifying your body!

      Folate (vitamin B9): Folate is essential for women as it aids in proper reproductive function and healthy fetal growth during pregnancy. Folate also prevents some digestive disorders.

      Pâté is also packed with minerals galore: calcium, which is important for bone health; iron, which aids in muscle strength and transporting oxygen; copper, which is important for blood health; magnesium, which regulates blood pressure and blood sugar; and zinc, which is important for a healthy immune system.

      Of course, liver from grass-fed cows will yield a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals than from commercially raised animals.

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