EN Meta title

All about the difference between terrine and pâté

Discover all our delicatessen products


Pâté and terrine are undeniably among the great classics of French gastronomy, as they are culinary specialities that are part of our culture. They are dishes that we are used to finding during a dinner party. Often known for their pork-based preparations, their diversity extends far beyond this ingredient and can in fact satisfy all tastes: based on meat, fish or vegetables, pâtés and terrines seduce all palates. But even today, it is difficult to tell the difference between pâté and terrine. What is the real difference between these two delicious dishes? In this article, we explain the difference between pâté and terrine.

The terrine, unique in that it is cooked in an earthenware vessel

The terrine takes its name from the container in which it was prepared and cooked: it has been differentiated in this way since the Middle Ages. The terrine is cooked in an earthenware vessel and was already popular with the Romans at that time. Thus, the sine qua non for a terrine to be considered as such is that it is prepared in a very specific way, i.e. in this earthenware utensil also called a terrine. It must then be cooked slowly in the oven.

In terms of its ingredients, the terrine can be composed of meat (poultry, game, etc.) as well as other foods such as fish, fruit and vegetables. So, creativity is the order of the day when it comes to making terrines: at Fauchon, we offer a range of different terrines: you can choose a red wine terrine or one with Espelette chilli.

After cooking, the terrine must cool for at least 24 hours and is generally eaten cold.

The pâté, unique because it is cooked in a crust

The very first pâté is said to have been made at the end of the 14th century by Mr Gace de La Bigne, a Norman poet. This recipe made the pâté unique, which makes it different from the terrine in several ways. Firstly, it differs in its cooking process. Originally, the pâté was a stuffing (based on meat, fish, vegetables, etc.). It was cooked in an egg to bind the different pieces together. The stuffing was cooked in a paste, not always edible. The pastry, usually made of a mixture of wheat flour and chestnuts, surrounded the stuffing and protected it in the Middle Ages, when the pate had to be transported and offered to someone. Over time, the crust of the pâté was prepared to be edible and tasty, sometimes adding a sweet note to the taste. Thus, today the pie is commonplace, whether it is made of puff pastry or shortcrust pastry. However, there are also many delicious pies without crust.

Pies can be eaten cold, warm or hot, unlike terrines which are eaten cold.

Pâté and terrine: two dishes that will make people happy when sharing moments with friends and family

Although pâté and terrine differ in the way they are cooked, they are similar in one fundamental respect: they are the best friends for your starters or aperitifs with friends. Whether accompanied by a fresh baguette, rusks, cold cuts, rillettes or gherkins, these dishes will satisfy you. Moreover, their varied recipes will satisfy all tastes, whether you are a meat, vegetable or fruit lover. Many culinary combinations can be made in the preparation of pâtés and terrines, which make them unmissable gourmet specialities, whatever the season. In addition, each region has its own well-preserved know-how, which creates a surprising diversity between all the possible choices of terrine and pâté. Among the most famous varieties of pâté and terrine are :

  • The duck foie gras terrine, also available at Fauchon and made by our professional craftsmen in the field;
  • The deer terrine;
  • The country terrine, often composed of several meats;
  • Wild boar, rabbit or venison pies.

And for even more variety, you can also try more modern recipes such as chestnut pâté or aubergine terrine from Provence.