Smooth chicken liver paté with brandy, butter, cream and thyme (picture by Tasha Seccombe)

Liver is a strange subject: either you love it or you don’t. I love it, my husband doesn’t. My parents love it, my siblings don’t. My 1-year-old  daughter surprisingly loves it! (she’s always been an adventurous eater like her mom)

I remember the first time I ever ate liver was in 1995: a chicken liver starter on basmati rice at the legendary Rustic Café (now closed) in Stellenbosch. It was served in a rich, spicy gravy, and was so wonderfully comforting that I couldn’t get enough. I also loved the spicy chicken liver salad at Julian’s Coffee Shop (now called something else), back in the days when I was still waitressing there as a student. Wonderful pan-fried chicken livers in a spicy sauce served on fresh greens and tomatoes. I then tried to copy the sauce in my mom’s kitchen, using barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and lots of other household condiments, along with a touch of cream. It was marvellous.

Then I discovered the magic of liver pâté – my favourite being the wonderfully affordable chicken liver variety. So great for parties! I must mention though, that I once bought a glass jar of duck liver pâté from Cotage Fromage at Vrede en Lust Wine Estate in Simondium. It was the silkiest jar of buttery, sweet, rich pâté that I had ever tasted. I then learnt from the chef that liver pâté needs a LOT of butter to become really smooth and spreadable – up to 50% of the finished product! I don’t put that much butter in my chicken liver pâté, but don’t ever be afraid of adding more butter to yours!

This recipe contains all the great ingredients for a fabulous grown-up pâté: chicken livers, onions, garlic, butter, fresh thyme, cream and brandy. Use a stick blender or food processor to process it to a very smooth pulp, then refrigerate untill set. It is great on toasted ciabatta, and I can eat it morning, noon and night.

Tip: Don’t ever overcook the livers (for pâté) over too high heat – they shouldn’t brown, they should just change colour. Your finished pâté should still be a touch of pink!

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 500 g chicken livers (rinse and pat dry)
  • 90 g butter at room temperature
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t chopped fresh thyme
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) brandy
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) cream
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large frying pan, melt half the butter over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook over low heat until soft and transparent but not brown.
  2. Add livers and thyme, then stir over moderate heat untill they change colour. Add brandy and simmer for 2 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat.
  3. Place livers and liquid in a food processor and process untill smooth. Add other half of butter (at room temperature) and cream, season with salt and pepper, and process until just incorporated.
  4. Spoon into a glass jar or porcelain dish, smoothing the surface. Cover and refrigerate untill firm. Serve with toasted bread.

PS: If you want to keep the pâté for more than a day, pour clarified butter over the surface, then cover and refrigerate.


This post was especially written for The Pretty Blog by Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Food: Ilse van der Merwe from The Food Fox.

Pictures: Tasha Seccombe.

Styling: Nicola Pretorius, Tasha Seccombe & Ilse van der Merwe.

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  1. I have a very similar recipe – but I use WAY more butter 🙂 Thankfully Dave and I both love livers, but now a days we tend to pan fry them with a little butter rather than make a decadent pate 🙂

    1. Sounds delicious, Tandy!

  2. Really nice! Love the stuff. Great pics.

    1. Thank you! I also love Tasha’s pictures.

  3. This just looks so so edible hehe. I use quite a bit more butter in my recipe. Like Tandy it is also very similar in a lot of the ingredients. Its the only way I eat livers! Tasha takes stunning photos. Your blog is awesome Ilse xx

    1. Thanks so much Colleen!! So great to see that you popped in. 🙂

  4. Goth friends coming for dinner – doing this recipe before my Pheasant Casserole. Just tried a bit on my Melba Toast and I have to say it’s delicious – thank you, and it’s soooo very easy to make!

  5. The recipe looks amazing, I am DEFINITELY going to try it. With what can I serve it ? Salt crackers, Crostinis. what about something sweet ? or any other recommendations ?

    1. Hi Werner, any crackers will do, also taosted bread, crostinis etc. You can try adding a little caramelized onion marmelade or something similar, the sweetness works very well with the livers.

  6. Thanks, this looks similar recipe to what I used to use. Haven’t done pate for a while so I wanted to refresh my memory without having to go through dozens of cookbooks.
    I knew this was the right recipe when it said do not overcook the liver. So thank you for saving me time.

    1. Wonderful, thanks for the feedback Hana! Yes, I like my pate to still have that slight pink tinge on inside. Enjoy!

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