Deer Liver Paté

Pate and Melba ToastI wonder how many people won’t read this post today because the title has Deer and Liver in it?  There are many people who don’t care for wild game and plenty who haven’t even tried it.  However, the deer liver is easily substituted for chicken livers, so if you haven’t browsed away yet…

For those who do not like liver I can’t say that this recipe would make a convert out of them.  Liver haters are passionate about their hate and are most unwilling to be convinced.  McGyver is an exception, he does not care for liver but adores paté, complicated guy.

I’m posting a Deer Liver Paté recipe because hunting season has started; often the liver, heart and kidneys are wasted.  Which is a shame.  With the right treatment and cooking technique, the liver, heart and kidney can be quite tasty.

My goal was to make a smooth pate without a gamey flavor.  I accomplished this by soaking the liver in buttermilk and capitalizing on great flavors like onion, shallot, garlic, thyme and sherry to tease the palate.  My secret weapon?  Black truffle infused oil, sublime!

Traditionally paté is served with cornichons (little pickles), but I wasn’t being very traditional using deer liver and thought a game liver could be paired with something a little more tangy; so I paired mine with Branston Pickle.

image  If you’ve never heard of this little gem, don’t be surprised.  It is actually a product of the United Kingdom.  It’s made from swede (rutabaga or turnip),  cauliflower, onions and carrots.  All pickled in a sauce made from apple, tomato, dates and tomato.  It has spices like cayenne, pepper, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, coriander, and mustard.

As you tell by the ingredients that it’s a complex pickle, it is sweet and spicy.  I had my first experience with it when I lived in England and I had a ploughman’s lunch at a pub.   It came with crusty bread, sharp cheddar, country ham, butter and then there was this brown blob on my plate.  I tried it with an open mind and fell in love instantly.

Like cornichons, Branston pickle offers a sweet, vinegary crunch to counter the rich creaminess of the pate.  You can purchase Branston Pickle at British Specialty shops and some stores like World Market.

When you prepare the liver make sure you remove the thin film covering the outside.

Deer Liver

Deer Liver Pate & OnionsDeer Liver SauteDeer Liver HerbsDeer Liver Pate and butter

If you are dead set against Truffle oil, it can be omitted.

Black Truffle Oil

Deer Liver Pate bowlDeer Liver Pater Platter

The paté was so delectable I didn’t want it to end, when we got to the point where we had a little left over, I stretched it by mixing it with softened cream cheese and making a sandwich with pickle, onion and the paté. This sandwich was rockin, talk about flavor (fortunately I didn’t have to breathe on anyone).

Pate Sandwich

Deer Liver Paté
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  1. 1 pound deer liver, skinned and cut into large pieces
  2. 1 cup buttermilk or milk
  3. 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed and divided
  4. 1 tablespoon bacon fat
  5. 1 cup onion, diced
  6. 1/4 cup shallot, diced
  7. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  8. 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  9. 2 bay leaves
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  12. 1/4 cup dry sherry or cognac
  13. 1/2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  14. 1 teaspoon black truffle oil (optional)
  1. Soak the skinned liver in buttermilk for a minimum of one hour.   Drain the liver and pat dry. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter and the tablespoon of bacon fat.  Add the onions and shallots, cook until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.  Add the deer liver, bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook until the livers are browned on the outside and still slightly pink on the inside, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the sherry and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated and the liver is cooked through.  Do not overcook.
  2. Let cool.  Discard bay leaves, add liver mixture, parsley and truffle oil to a food processor, puree.  Stop and scrape down the sides occasionally.  Add the softened butter pieces and pulse to blend.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Pack paté into ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for six hours.
The Kitchen Witch


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43 Responses to Deer Liver Paté

  1. Eliot October 7, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Yes, I had to force myself to read this. 🙂 But, I bet you will be surprised at the comments b/c of the recent trend in hoof to nose cooking (or whatever they are calling it) and b/c of all the famous chefs focusing on offal. Hey, this has bacon fat in it—that means it has to be good.

  2. Karen October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    O. M. G. Where did you get this recipe…. did you just create this??? You’re brilliant! We went antelope hunting last weekend and I saved the liver and heart from one of them. GORGEOUS pieces… not a flaw on either of them. I froze them… we have 6 guys coming up from CA in Nov for deer hunting… one of them is my ex-hubby and he loves liver & onions, so I was going to save it for then… BUT now I am making the pate… it sounds amazing! I haven’t been blog reading… I’ve been up to my elbows in green tomatoes. Made salsa and piccalilli. We’re trying to use up last year’s meat, so have made about 20# of summer sausage. I’ve been (too) busy! Are you on Facebook? Friend me 🙂

  3. Kitchen Butterfly October 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    This pate sounds wonderful. In Nigeria, nose to tail isn’t ‘vacation’ food, it is part and parcel of every day life so livers and kidneys are great. I love em. The photos are gorgeous….and I like Branston (i lived in the UK too) in small doses

  4. Kelly Simpson November 9, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Is there an easy way to de-skin a liver?? I used a sharp knife but you still lose too much liver!! Thanks. I am making it this afternoon, soaking it in buttermilk right now, which is what I assumed was the role of the buttermilk in the recipe!!

  5. Mary April 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    So, I’m a little late on this post… I have never made paté before but am a total fan. My parents are Basque and paté has always been a part of our diet. I was told by my cousin that deer paté is the best. So, I was pretty stoked when my husband came home with a deer liver and a deer loin after visiting a friend up in the mountains. So I have a couple of questions: Can i use heavy whipping cream instead of buttermilk? and can I omit the shallots? Let me know. My husband has tomorrow off and I really want to make this with him.

    • Giggles April 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Mary, thanks for leaving a comment. You can use 1 cup regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar to substitute for the buttermilk (it takes some of the gaminess out of it), I wouldn’t waste good cream on it. You can omit the shallots or substitute with another mild onion if you like, white truffle oil is also fine to use. It is milder than the black so you may want to add a little more to suit your taste. Let me know how it comes out.

      • Mary April 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

        Hey Rhonda… So, I finally made it. And it is absolutely delicious. My 13 year old stepson is here visiting and when he tasted it, his eyes just lit up and he said, “Wow, that’s real good, I mean wow, like real good.” This is an amazing recipe. I tried some and had to put it away ’cause I know I’ll keep eating it. It was a little dark and didn’t brown – probably because my husband had frozen it, so I added a little cream maybe 1/4 cup while I was pureeing it. Again, absolutely amazing. I did buy the shallots…

        Again, thank you for a wonderful recipe. Absolutely divine. I’ll be taking over to a friend’s house on Wed. to share.

        • Giggles April 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

          Mary, I’m so happy that it turned out well for you! Adding the cream to the pate probably made it even creamier, I will have to try that next time.

  6. Mary April 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    and how about white truffle oil instead of black truffle oil?

  7. Ian September 10, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Perhaps a comment is due from someone who’s tried this recipe. I made myself a BLT for lunch. I dumped the bacon grease, but left a good layer in the cast iron pan. I used a whole blacktail liver, soaked in buttermilk and cubed into >1″ pieces. Without fresh thyme, I used a tsp of dried thyme and a metric handfull of fresh parsley during cooking. Once in the food processor, I adjusted to taste with extra salt, pepper, sugar, 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and a little garlic-infused olive oil. It’s fantastic! I ran a sampling down to the only Frenchman I know and he loves it too, was very impressed. Thank you, no one seems to want to eat liver and onions with me, so I wanted to try something different and first attempt was a great success!

    • Giggles September 11, 2012 at 10:18 pm #


      I’m so happy the recipe worked out for you. Personally I’m a fan of liver and onions, but like you I seem to stand alone in that department. My family doesn’t care for it but they also loved the Pate!

  8. Corinne Rose October 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Just a little note – swede is actually what the Brits call a turnip, not sweet potato and having just moved back to Canada after living in England for 7 years, my husband is frantic that he can’t easily find Branston pickle. We shot our first deer last week and have saved the liver to try your recipe (minus truffle infused oil – only because living in the sticks like we do, this kind of luxury is not readily available)

    • Giggles October 23, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

      Corinne, you are correct. They also use it to describe rutabagas…I know this, love mashers with rutabaga. I have no idea why I typed sweet potatoes (they wouldn’t hold up well in a pickle). Thanks for pointing it out to me, I corrected my post. Let me know how the pate turns out.

  9. Byron November 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Do you have a receipt for the deer heart? Can it be substituted? We’ve already eaten the liver.

    • Giggles November 15, 2012 at 3:27 pm #


      Deer heart can be substituted, it will have a different texture..much coarser. If you like it creamier try adding some goat cheese or cream cheese, it’ll make a great sandwich spread.

      I should post a recipe for deer heart. Honestly my favorite way to eat it, is to slice it in strips and batter it then deep fry. Serve with a BBQ or other dipping sauce.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Blondstallion November 28, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it was GOOD. I served it on toasted baguette slices with a mango chutney.

    It was so good, in fact, that I let some of my hunting buddies know that I was in dire need of another liver. One of them delivered and I am making the pate again tonight (the liver is currently soaking in the buttermilk).

    I used white truffle infused olive oil, and will again tonight, but will obtain the real deal (black truffle oil) for next hunting season. I also used dried thyme and everything was quite tasty.

    Couple of questions:
    1. How important is it to skin the thin film off the liver? It is kind of a pain in the a$$.

    2. Do you have any idea how long I can freeze the pate without it getting nasty?


    • Giggles November 29, 2012 at 10:44 am #


      I’m so glad that the pate turned out great for you. I’m making some today, this time I’m trying an Elk/Venison combo to see how that turns out. Dried thyme is definitely fine to substitute, I do it all the time/thyme (har, har an overused culinary joke I know, but I can’t help myself)…

      Now in response to your questions:

      #1 Unfortunately it is very important to skin off the film even though it is a pain in the ass and invariably you lose a bit of the liver with it. When you cook it with the film on, the film tightens up and gets tough and stringy…very unappetizing! In other words, it’s worth the work. Just a side note, Elk have gigormous livers….talk about a pain!

      #2 Absolutely, you can freeze pate I do it all the time. The recommended length of time is 1 month. On a personal note, I froze a small portion of my last batch and pulled it out 6 months later and it was fine. I wrapped it in plastic wrap, froze it so and then vacuum sealed it, which probably extended it’s freezer life.

      • Mary November 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

        I just pulled mine out of the freezer after making it in the Summer and it was a total Thanksgiving hit.

  11. Dan December 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    I made it today. It is cooling. I am wondering how longit is good in the frig? We ware having a few friends over Friday night (6 days). Should I freeze some or will it be ok? Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Giggles December 10, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Dan, How did it turn out? I just made some and took it to a party and it was well received…at least by those who were willing to give it a go. The pate is fine in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. I would take it out at least 30 minutes prior to serving so that it is more easily spreadable.

  12. Paula December 10, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Husband got a good sized doe Friday night, and we put the liver in some milk for a couple hours on Saturday, then cooked some liver and onions. Had about 1/2 lb left, so I made pate. I didn’t have shallots, so I used extra onion and garlic. Substituted brandy for cognac, used dry parsley and added a sprinkle of cayenne powder. Excellent! No Branston pickles, but I had some spicy cranberry sauce I had made for Thanksgiving, and it is wonderful with the pate!

    • Giggles December 10, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      Paula, sounds like great additions, especially adding the cayenne. I bet that went perfect with the spicy cranberry sauce.

      • Paula December 10, 2012 at 11:18 am #

        I got a laugh out of your first paragraph, because I got here by searching for a deer liver pate recipe! I had already decided to make it, just needed some ideas.

        • Giggles December 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

          Paula, I’m glad someone got here just by searching for it. It seems to be a love or hate item for sure.

  13. uncle phil March 10, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    Surprised you haven’t mentioned saving the bones after the venison is removed—break them up with a hand axe to expose the marrow and brown in the oven with all the things that go into all classic brown stocks–then into 4 gallon stock pots or big electric roasters for days on end—-I make 20 gallons/year and reduce to 4 gallons—headstart on all things calling for water—pintos–chili—soups–brown sauces—-etc etc—also consider pickling the tongues—rare delicacy—-your pate recipe is really good and I have started using it exclusively—I usually make 50 pounds a year for myself and friends—great to take to ”
    Deer Camp”—–we consider great food at camp one of lifes requirements—thanks

    • Giggles March 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

      I will have to save my bones this year and make a stock! Really not sure why I hadn’t done it before. I’m curious about the pickled tongues. McGyver and I were just discussing what we could do with the tongues, hate to waste! Are you willing to share your pickling recipe? I’d love to try it out!

    • Cygnia November 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

      I always save the bones from elk and deer – they make the best stock ever. Beef bones are so disappointing in comparison. Its shocking how few hunters reuse the bones and such a shame since they are so nutritious. I agree – the pate recipe is excellent and the best field food imaginable. I am also interested in your pickled tongue recipe. I have considered roasting elk head in a fire pit for the cheek, tongue, head meat, and brain – something like the Inuit do for caribou, but I seem to be the only one that’s game for it.

  14. Jeremy November 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    I’m new to heart and liver harvest. So in both instances I seasoned them immediately after washing with salt pepper and garlic blend. Then took them home and sliced heart in 1/4” pieces and washed again. Soaked in salt water for 24 hours then put in freezer. Does this process sound ok for heart? The liver I have not froze I took home after wash and salt pepper garlic blend. Washed again and cut into 1” -1.5” strips soaked in salt water for 24 hrs than washed again. Planning on trying this recipe tomorrow am I ok with this process I have performed so far? Last but not least… my friend Greg shot a buck yesterday morning high of 42degrees ferenheit. He left the gut pile in the slew for the coyotes including heart and liver. I went in this am for the heart From what I’ve read the heart is probably ok but leave the liver… any input?

    • Giggles November 11, 2013 at 12:57 am #

      Jeremy, Welcome to the world of Offal. Slicing the heart in 1/4′ slices is perfect, it’ll cook up quickly and be tender. For the heart I like to soak it in buttermilk, then dip in seasoned flour and cook it “chicken fried steak” style. Normally I don’t soak the heart prior to freezing it but I don’t think it will do any harm either. Was the liver damaged? If it was still whole and at temps 42 degrees Fahrenheit and below, it’s probably okay since it was cooled off quickly. My husband has shot an elk and by the time he tracked it, it had gotten dark and it was on a very dangerous side of a mountain. He went back early the next morning and harvested the heart and liver and brought the elk down. The temps were below 32 degrees Fainthearted at the time so we were convenient that it would be ok. In the end, it’s up to your comfort level. I hope this recipe works okay for you.

  15. Cygnia November 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    I made this recipe with elk liver and cognac and it is EXCELLENT!!!!!! The only thing I added was 1/4 cup heavy cream. Thank you for posting this outstanding recipe. We need more of these for the most nutrient-dense parts of the animal. Do you have anything recipes for deer/ elk heart or kidney? Also, how long does the pate last in the fridge? Thanks again!!

  16. Rebeca November 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    Mine came out much darker than in the picures. I did not have cognac or sherry, so I used Drambouie. Very tasty! Thanks for the recipe! Oh! One clarification: I usually dump the milk after soaking, but you did not indicate that in the recipe (may have been why someone asked about substituting cream). I dumped out the milk and only added the liver. Should the milk have gone into the pot too? Is that why mine turned out so much darker?

    • Giggles November 23, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      Yes the milk should be dumped out and the cream added during cooking. All the milk would have made the pate watery. I will update the directions to make that clear. The darker color may have just been natural to the animal liver. Thanks for pointing out about the milk.

  17. Merganser November 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    I am one of those “complex” people who don’t care much for a chunk of liver, but can appreciate a good liver pâté. I love game meat, and hate to waste food, so when a friend brought me a fresh venison liver I searched the web for a pâté recipe, and voilà! I didn’t have any sherry or cognac, so I substituted it for seabuckthorn liqueur… Absolutely fa-bu-lous!! It was a truly enlightening experience and I can already tell this will become a Fall must in my household! Thank you so much!

    • Giggles November 28, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      I am so happy that the pate recipe was such a great experience, we look forward to every year! I may have to try my hand at trying different liqueurs for variety. Next week I’ll be posting a venison breakfast sausage that is to die for. Hope you come back and visit.

  18. Grahamif December 24, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Hey in response to the film thats on it. If you cut a small slit and just work your finger under it the just sort of push forward it comes right off avoid trying to skin it with the knife as you will loost a lot of heavenly goodness.

  19. Danielle November 16, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    I made this and it was awesome. But I couldn’t find the Braunston, so I served it on crispbread with polish mustard and homemade bread and butter pickles. It was also good with Brie. I can’t wait to get another deer so I can make another batch.

    • Giggles November 18, 2014 at 6:10 am #

      Danielle, so glad you enjoyed the pate! Branston pickle is hard to find but I think you were right on the money with homemade pickles.

      • Monica Rose March 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

        Hi, Can you tell me if this Pate can be frozen, I am just waiting for my mix to cool then I’m going to ramekin it. do I need to add something to the top, Butter or jelly to set on top. Why would you add cream ? My liver was from a very freshly shot Red Deer here in New Zealand where there is open season all year round. We are very lucky although its really mostly for the very fit or young.

        • Giggles March 12, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

          Monica, absolutely you can freeze the pate. I use a vacuum sealer and it works beautifully. The cream helps with the texture and spreadabilty. How fortunate you have open season year long, our season is short which means that sometimes you end up with nothing!

  20. Maria Burke February 8, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

    Your recipes calls for refrigerating the finished product for 6 weeks. Is that 6 weeks of rest time before consuming or is is stable for 6 weeks refrigerated?
    Thanks! I am looking forward to trying this.

    • Giggles March 12, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

      Maria, sorry for the late response I don’t know how I missed this comment before. The recipe requires that you refrigerate for 6 hours not 6 weeks. Whew, who wants to wait 6 weeks! Hope it turned out well for you.

  21. Ryan October 3, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Wow! Great recipe! I have been searching for a good way to use deer liver. I like liver and onions but the rest of the family not so much, so I tried this. I soaked the skinned liver in milk in a freezer bag overnight. I had the fresh herbs and everything needed so went ahead using the cognac. It turned out better than I could imagine. I used an extra half tsp or so of salt but missed the extra butter being added at the end and it still turned out superb. The proportions and ingredients in this recipe are very near perfection and you may not even need the extra butter at the end. So glad I save the heart and liver and use the entire deer. In some ways I hope more people do not realize how good deer is when properly harvested and handled. Thank you so much for sharing this great recipe as really gourmet wild game recipes can be hard to find!!!

    • Giggles October 3, 2015 at 2:18 pm #


      Thank you for such a great comment! I’m so glad that the recipe worked out so well for you (even without the extra butter). I agree, gourmet wild game recipes are indeed hard to find! This has definitely been one of my most popular recipes with people who enjoy wild game like we do.