What Is: Rillette, A French Spread to Rival The Popular Paté

September 4, 2016

As a francophile, I’m always on the look out for new recipes to try out at home—from the simple oeufs en cocotte learned through replaying videos of Jacques Pépin to Julia Child’s eponymous bouef bourguignon. When I learned of the rillette, I was naturally curious about it.

The rillette originates from the primary food capital of the world: France, notably from SartheAnjou, and Tours. Similar to the more familiar paté, without the overt funkiness that comes with cooking offal. In contrast to a spread made with liver, the dish comprises of more accessible proteins like fowl, fish, and more popularly—pork. Cooked down for hours, until the meat becomes very tender, the traditional version of the dish takes a while to prepare. Our version uses salmon as an alternative.


A more accessible recipe to test out the French favorite, the salmon rillette is light and easily features the best aspects of the dish. No need to book a flight to the City of Lights, or to make another trip to your local bistro for a pot of this spread. Easily prepare our version any time at home, I know I will!

Salmon Rillette

Yield: 6–8 servings
Time: 30 minutes (15 min prep / 15 min cooking)

Ingredients: Poaching Liquid

  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 leek, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small onion, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups water

Ingredients: Rillette

  • 300g salmon fillet
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 onion
  • ½ tbsp sour cream
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • toasted baguette slices, for serving


  1. On a plate, sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Set aside for 30 minutes in room temperature.
  2. In a stockpot, combine all the ingredients for the poaching liquid and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the salmon to the pot, cover and turn off the heat. Let it cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Gently remove the salmon from the liquid and refrigerate until it is cold enough to handle and flake.
  5. While waiting for the salmon to cool down, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk the butter until smooth. Add in the sour cream, chives, lemon juice, olive oil, and paprika. Stir until combined.
  6. Slowly fold in the salmon and season the rillette with salt and pepper. Serve with toasted baguette slices. Refrigerate and consume for up to 4 days, cover the top of the container with olive oil or clarified butter.
Bernice Escobar SEE AUTHOR Bernice Escobar

Bernice loves to get nerdy about food and making people hungry. In her free time, she attempts to play with her anti-social cat and fantasizes about all things sweet.

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