Top 8 pâtés to spread on your bread

Pâté is a versatile and delicious treat for soups, salads, and stir fries
Top 8 pâtés to spread on your bread

Pate terrine in plate, tosted bread, knife

Pâté makes a luxurious treat topping and is easy to make. Chicken livers cost anything from €4-€10/kilo in supermarkets (often in the freezer) and butchers. Add a few streaky rashers for extra flavour. If making a large amount James Martin’s oven method is useful. 

It freezes well. As well as on sourdough or baguette, it’s also delicious in between layers of flaky pastry. Cook the pastry rectangles or triangles first, and use the pâté as a filling, smeared with chutney or redcurrant sauce before warming gently. With a green or tomato salad, it is an excellent Sunday lunch.

Liver has plenty of vitamin A, but combining it with about half the amount of butter for paté, will add Covid-19 kilos, so use sparingly and keep as a treat. Pregnant women are advised against consuming pâté in case listeria is present.

Pork liver costs less than chicken liver, and that is reflected in the lower price of pork liver pâté included in this survey. Add it to stir-fries for richness — a dessertspoon will add silkiness and works as a transition to another vegetarian day a week. A few flecks onto soup as you serve it is also delicious.


On the Pig’s Back Chicken liver pâté with smoked bacon & port 150g €3.95

On the Pig's Back. Pictures: Denis Minihane.
On the Pig's Back. Pictures: Denis Minihane.

A traditional layer of butter on top for added shelf life can be saved to spread on bread or crackers. With 56.57% livers and butter 18.44%, the fat content of 18.2% is the lowest of our selection (that showed nutritional values). Helped by the addition of flavoursome gently smoked rashers and port giving it extra depth, there is plenty of interest. Superb. Widely available.

Score: 9.95

Farmgate Café Duck liver pâté 150g €4.50

Farmgate Café.
Farmgate Café.

With Longueville brandy from Mallow added, a thick layer of butter on top seals it in. No list of ingredients is given, but the texture is substantial and silky smooth. The flavour is wonderfully rich and interesting as we might expect from duck livers. Excellent,  Sold at English Market stall, Cork.

Score: 9.25

Cinnamon Cottage Chicken liver pâté 190g €5.15

Cinnamon Cottage.
Cinnamon Cottage.

Garlic, onions, butter, brandy, herbs are added to chicken livers for a silky smooth, substantial pâté. Flavours are natural and mild and while we don’t get percentages of each ingredient, it has a rich, buttery feel that we would expect. Delicious. In house at its Rochestown, Cork, bakery and deli.

Score: 9.25

Kinsale Bay Chicken liver pâté 120g €2.50

Kinsale Bay.
Kinsale Bay.

This smooth pâté has no layer of butter on top, but 34% butter throughout matches the weight of chicken livers. The remainder is egg, 8% red wine, onion, garlic, salt, thyme – a comfortingly, relatively short list of ingredients. While we expect the red wine, butter and garlic to make a richer blend, it has a mild, homemade, natural flavour that tasters liked. I added a flake of salt to suit my taste.

Score: 8

Marks & Spencer Smooth chicken liver pâté 170g €3.30

Marks & Spencer.
Marks & Spencer.

The 9% Madeira wine comes through nicely. 51% chicken livers is well balanced with 27% butter, giving us 22.6% fats, but the addition of tapioca starch, usually added as an emulsifier and thickener (perhaps to soak up the wine) adds to a slightly fluffy, open texture. Made in Britain.

Score: 7.25

Aldi The Deli Smooth reduced fat Brussels pâté 175g 89c

Traditionally Brussels pâté is smooth, made from pork liver enriched with cream and eggs. Labelled ‘30% less fat’, this has no eggs or cream, with fats of 23% – not lower than some other brands tested – from pork fat (18%), pork (6%) and pork rind, as well as pork liver. It is blended with stabilisers and emulsifiers – bamboo fibre, tapioca starch and xanthan gum for a smooth texture. The flavours of liver and spices are quite strong. Produced in Belgium.

Score: 7

Horgans Duck pâté 175g €1.69

For a duck pâté, 3% duck liver is low, though there is also 6% duck meat. Top of the list is 32% pork meat, with 16% chicken livers, 14% pork liver, pork backfat, chicken skin, onions, eggs, duck skin, spices with emulsifiers and thickeners. We could not taste the 2% oranges or 0.3% port. The flavour reminded an older taster of meat paste – quite rich and slightly spicy. Produced in Czechoslovakia.

Score: 7

Dunnes Stores Chicken liver pâté 120g €3.49

Dunnes Stores.
Dunnes Stores.

With a thin film of 8.3% butter on top, we are not given the ratio of chicken livers to butter in the mix. Overall fats are 34%. There are eggs, red wine, onion, garlic and thyme with chicken livers for a fairly light, mildly flavoured pâté. Pleasant with a natural taste.  Produced in Co Cork.

Score: 7.25

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