Enjoying Pâté, Terrine and Rillettes

Charcuterie with Pate, Rillettes and Terrine

Pâté, Terrine and Rillettes are undeniably delicious. These delicious items often come in the form of appetizer plates alongside crisped bits of toast or even on a charcuterie plate, and have a renewed surge in popularity.

But what exactly are these things? Aren’t they the same? While similar indeed, there’s quite a difference between these three products!

French Pate

Photo by: Braden Kowitz via: freeforcommercialuse.org


Pâté is a very fine blend of ground meat, inner organs (particularly the liver), and a variety of herbs and seasonings. Some of them have milk to provide a smoother texture while others incorporate egg to help it set into the mold. It’s often one of the layers of terrine. Pâté is best served with a proper bread and pickled vegetables, but one thing it should never be served without is a crisp light red or white wine. 

Terrine  Photo by: Simon Law via: freeforcommercialuse.org


With Terrine, the blend of ground meats, seafood, vegetables, herbs and even boiled eggs are layered in a loaf-shaped mold. This mold gets placed in a water bath. Once it’s cooled, it gets turned out and sliced. You’ll often see it with aspic (an infused gelatin) on top. Incidentally, some pâtés are actually terrines. That is all dependent on the dish the pâté gets cooked in. To make things even more fun, you can amuse your dinner guests by serving this as an amuse-bouche to your guests and tell them this interesting fact: not all terrines are pâtés. A common way to serve Terrine is to cook it partway, wrap it in puff pastry and bake it, which creates the iconic French dish, pâté en croute.

 Smoked Salmon Rillettes

Photo by: Gozamos via: freeforcommercialuse.org


Now, on to Rillettes! It’s made from a variety of ingredients from meat to fish to poultry that are chopped or even shredded and seasoned using salt and pepper. It’s then preserved in fat so that it becomes a thick spread, vegetable crudité or even the filling for pasta. It is remarkably similar to confit, though rillettes are shredded.


The main difference in regards to these 3 is simple. Pâtés and Terrines have a much smoother texture. They also contain organ meat such as the liver. Rillettes use meat that comes from other parts of the animal, like the thighs, ribs, or shoulders. In any event and for any event, serving pâté, terrine or rillettes lends a more upscale twist to your dining experience, one that’s full of old world charm and tradition. If you’re looking to keep things classy, trot one of these out the next time you host a dinner party.

CharcuterieFeatured foodsFranceFrenchPateRillettesTerrine

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