Recipes » Appetizer Recipes » French Country Terrine

French Country Terrine

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This classic French country terrine makes an elegant starter course served with baguette slices, mustard, and cornichons.
4.7 from 6 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Sliced French country terrine on a serving board with sliced baguette, cornichons, and mustard.

This classic recipe for French Country Terrine is made with ground pork, veal, and calves’ liver, wrapped in bacon, and cooked in a water bath. The result is a flavorful French pâté that can serve as the perfect elegant starter for a dinner party or as a decadent snack.

I’ll admit that this recipe is a bit out of the ordinary for me. I know you usually expect fairly easy, family-friendly fare from me, but every once in a while I really enjoy expanding my culinary horizons and making something I’ve never done before. It’s the challenge, really, that intrigues me.

Sliced French country terrine on a serving board with sliced baguette, cornichons, and mustard.

This French Country Terrine checks all the boxes! It’s made by mixing pork, veal, and calves liver, wrapping it in bacon, and then letting it simmer in a water bath until it’s ready to slice and serve.

It may look complicated at first, but it’s really a simple dish, nothing more than a fancy meatloaf actually, and will surely impress your dinner guests with its deep flavor and rich texture.

What is a Terrine?

A terrine, in traditional French cuisine, is a loaf of forcemeat (ground meat) or aspic, that is cooked in a covered pottery mold (also called a terrine) in a bain-marie (hot water bath). Terrines are typically served cold or at room temperature. It can be made with many different ingredients such as fruits, fish, vegetables, or different kinds of meats as in this recipe.

The classic French terrine is typically served as a first course or may be part of a picnic. It’s usually enjoyed with slices of baguette, good Dijon mustard, and cornichons. A nice little glass of wine goes well, too!


  • It’s an elegant recipe that’s much easier to make than you may think.
  • It’s encased in bacon which adds a salty, smoky flavor that pairs well with the meats.
  • The mixture of calf liver, pork, and veal pair together very well and have a beautiful, earthy taste.
  • It’s the perfect appetizer to bring to a fancy dinner party or to serve on special holidays.
  • It contains liver which has many health benefits including natural vitamins and minerals.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Ground pork, liver, and veal (this trio of meats creates a unique blend of earthy flavor and smooth texture)
  • Onion and garlic (aromatic vegetables that infuse the terrine with their flavors)
  • Butter (used to sauté the onion and garlic and to add a buttery taste)
  • Brandy (for deglazing the pan and adding a rich flavor)
  • Breadcrumbs (Helps bind the terrine together and give it a thick texture)
  • Parsley, thyme, and chives (lends a fresh, herbal flavor)
  • Salt and pepper (to balance all of the components in the terrine)
  • Cloves and nutmeg (warm spices that pair well with the meats)
  • Ginger (adds a lively, spicy undertone)
  • Eggs (helps to bind and set the terrine mixture)
  • Sliced bacon (enfolds the entire terrine for additional flavor and texture)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make French Country Terrine

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Preliminaries

Start by melting the butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cooking them until they are soft but taking care not to let them brown at all.

Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove the onion-garlic mixture from the heat, stir in the brandy and let this cool while you proceed with the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the Meats

Meats for the terrine in a green mixing bowl.

Combine the meats in a large mixing bowl. That’s the ground pork, ground veal, and calves’ liver pictured above.

COOK’S TIP 
I can’t source fresh calves’ liver anywhere near me, but it is available frozen. If using frozen, let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and it will be just fine. Also, if you don’t care for the taste of calves’ liver, you can either (1) substitute an equal amount of chicken livers for a milder flavor, or (2) substitute an additional 8 ounces of ground veal. If you choose option 2, your terrine will have a much milder taste and you may find that you need more seasonings.

Add the Onion and Garlic Mixture

Combining the meats in the bowl of a stand mixer.

To the meats, add the onion-garlic mixture and all remaining ingredients except bacon. Mix thoroughly.

You can mix everything with a wooden spoon and a strong arm, but I find that this is much easier done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on the lowest possible speed.

COOK’S TIP 
It’s very important to stop at this point and test your mixture for seasonings. Form a quarter-sized patty of the mixture and cook it in a small skillet. Taste to check for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Repeat until you’re satisfied with the taste of your mixture.

Line and Fill the Mold

A slice of bacon being stretched out on a cutting board.

Using the flat side of a knife, stretch the bacon to about twice its length. This is easiest done by pulling the bacon gently against the dull side of the knife as shown in the photo above.

A terrine lined with bacon strips.

Line a ceramic terrine or a simple loaf pan with bacon strips. Cut the bacon strips in half to line the short ends. Allow the ends of the bacon to drape over the sides of the pan.

Terrine pan filled with meat mixture.

Pack the meat mixture into the terrine or loaf pan making sure not to leave any air pockets in the mixture. In the photo, I’m using a somewhat smaller terrine so my mixture mounds on top a bit. If you’re using a loaf pan, you’ll have plenty of room to press the mixture down into the pan.

Fold the overhanging bacon strips over the top and sides of the mixture adding additional strips to cover the top if needed.

Seal the Terrine

Filled terrine covered with parchment paper.

Cover the top with a piece of parchment paper, then cover the terrine with foil.

Cook the Terrine

Pouring boiling water into a baking pan holding the prepared terrine.

Set the terrine inside a roasting or baking pan and pour enough boiling water in the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the terrine. Place in the oven and cook for 1 to 2 hours.

COOK’S TIP 
A precise cooking time is difficult to state because it depends so much on the size of terrine or loaf pan you use. You’ll need to test the mixture starting after one hour of cooking. Use an instant read meat thermometer for best results. The mixture should be at 160 degrees to be fully cooked.

Remove the terrine from the water and let it cool completely at room temperature.

Press the Terrine

Cut a piece of cardboard to fit over the cooked terrine in the pan. Wrap the cardboard in foil. Place it on top of the terrine and top it with a heavy can, a foil-wrapped brick, or some other heavy object to provide weight, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the terrine from the mold. Slice and serve with baguette, Dijon mustard, and cornichons.

Sliced French country terrine on a serving board with sliced baguette, cornichons, and mustard.
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Recipe Tips

  • It’s very important to test the mixture for adequate seasonings. To check if the correct amount of seasoning is added to the meat, shape a small amount into a patty and fry until cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  • Let the onion and garlic cool completely before adding them to the ground meat.
  • To make sure the meat is evenly combined, use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
  • Make sure the terrine is cooled before putting it into the fridge to set.
  • To make this recipe alcohol-free, skip the brandy and deglaze the pan with broth or water.

Variations

  • Add in some chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios for a nutty taste and crunchy texture.
  • For a crispy bacon topping, when the terrine is fully cooked, take it out of the water bath, remove the parchment paper and foil, and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the top is crispy.
  • Use chicken liver for a milder liver flavor.

Storing & Freezing

  • Storing: Cooked terrine can last in the fridge for up to one week if stored in an airtight container or plastic bag with the air removed completely.
  • Freezing: Terrine can be frozen by wrapping slices in plastic wrap, then foil and then placing in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. You can also use a vacuum sealer. Stays fresh in the freezer for 3-4 months.

FAQ

How do you serve terrine?

Terrine is served cold or at room temperature and cut with a sharp knife into small slices. Serve with sliced bread, cornichons, and mustard or sweet chutney.

What if I don’t like the taste of liver?

The liver taste in this terrine is mild because of the seasonings and bacon. However, you can either (1) substitute an equal amount of chicken livers for a milder flavor, or (2) substitute an additional 8 ounces of ground veal. If you choose option 2, your terrine will have a much milder taste and you may find that you need more seasonings.

What can I use if I don’t have a terrine mold?

For this recipe, a loaf pan is best, but you can use any shaped pan that’s safe to use in the oven.

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Recipe

Sliced French country terrine on a serving board with sliced baguette, cornichons, and mustard.

French Country Terrine

This classic French country terrine makes an elegant starter course served with baguette slices, mustard, and cornichons.
4.67 from 6 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: French
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 195kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 8 ounces calves liver coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces ground veal
  • 1 ¼ cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 ounces sliced bacon

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft taking care not to let the onions brown. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat, add the brandy and let cool while you proceed with the recipe.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the meats in a large mixing bowl. Add the onion mixture, and remaining ingredients except bacon. Mix thoroughly.
  • Fry a quarter-sized patty, check for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
  • Using the back side of a knife, stretch each bacon slice to about twice its length.
  • Line a terrine or loaf pan with bacon strips. Cut strips in half to line the short ends. Allow the ends of the bacon to drape over the sides of the pan.
  • Pack the meat mixture into the terrine or loaf pan making sure not to leave any air pockets in the mixture. Press down evenly molding a slightly mounded top. Fold the overhanging bacon strips over the top and sides of the mixture adding additional strips to cover the top if needed.
  • Cover the top with a piece of parchment paper, then cover the terrine with foil.
  • Put the terrine in a roasting or baking pan and pour enough boiling water in the pan to come about halfway up the sides of the terrine.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 1 to 2 hours. Test with a meat thermometer to judge when cooking is complete. Mixture should be at 160 degrees to be fully cooked.
  • Remove the terrine from the water and cool completely at room temperature.
  • Place a heavy can, a foil-wrapped brick or some other heavy object on top of the terrine and refrigerate overnight.
  • Slice and serve with baguette, Dijon mustard, and cornichons.

Notes

TIPS AND FAQs
  • If you can’t source fresh calves’ liver, frozen works fine. Simply let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  • If you don’t care for the taste of calves’ liver, you can either (1) substitute an equal amount of chicken livers for a milder flavor, or (2) substitute an additional 8 ounces of ground veal. If you choose option 2, your terrine will have a much milder taste and you may find that you need more seasonings.
  • You can mix everything with a wooden spoon and a strong arm, but I find that this is much easier done in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment at the lowest possible speed.
  • It’s very important to test your mixture for seasonings. Form a quarter-sized patty of the mixture and cook it in a small skillet. Taste to check for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Repeat until you’re satisfied with the taste of your mixture.
  • A precise cooking time is difficult to state because it depends so much on the size of terrine or loaf pan you use. You’ll need to test the mixture starting after one hour of cooking. Use an instant read meat thermometer for best results. The mixture should be at 160 degrees to be fully cooked.
  • Make sure the terrine is cooled before putting it into the fridge to set.
  • To make this recipe alcohol-free, skip the brandy and deglaze the pan with broth or water.
Variations
  • Add in some chopped walnuts, pecans, or pistachios for a nutty taste and crunchy texture.
  • For a crispy bacon topping, when the terrine is fully cooked, take it out of the water bath, remove the parchment paper and foil, and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the top is crispy.
  • Use chicken liver for a milder liver flavor.
Storing & Freezing
  • Storing: Cooked terrine can last in the fridge for up to one week if stored in an airtight container or plastic bag with the air removed completely.
  • Freezing: Terrine can be frozen by wrapping slices in plastic wrap, then foil and then placing in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. You can also use a vacuum sealer. Stays fresh in the freezer for 3-4 months.
How do you serve terrine? Terrine is served cold or at room temperature and cut with a sharp knife into small slices. Serve with sliced bread, cornichons, and mustard or sweet chutney.
What can I use if I don’t have a terrine mold?
For this recipe, a loaf pan is best, but you can use any shaped pan that’s safe to use in the oven.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 408mg | Potassium: 194mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 4533IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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24 Comments

  1. Greetings. I would love to make this recipe but veal is very difficult to find in my neck of the woods. What would be a good substitute? Thanks.

    1. Hi Cindy. You could try ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey in place of the veal. Do ask in the meat department whether they have it, though. I find it’s usually available but not on display!

  2. Can this be made without the bacon. I dislike bacon with other ingredients as it completely takes over the flavor in my opinion. Thanks!

    1. Yes, of course. It’s traditionally made with caul fat to line the baking vessel instead of the bacon (you might have to ask a grocery store to special order the caul fat for you). You can also blanch the bacon briefly to remove some of the smoky taste. You might also tried very thinly sliced pork belly – it’s essentially bacon that hasn’t been cured so has a more neutral flavor.

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  4. Oh, Yummy! This would make a decadent snack with bread and wine! I made a chicken liver pate’ with heavy cream, currents and Calvados (apple brandy) once. (recipe from “Silver Palate”). It was to-die for but I thought the recipe looked ‘skimpy’, so doubled it – and got about EIGHT cups to press in loaves! haha.

  5. Good for you Lana for stepping out of your “comfort zone”!! I haven’t made a terrine since culinary school – and you are right, they sound much harder than they actually are! Have to admit I ate more than my fair share of terrines when we were in France – our last night in the chateau we cleaned out the fridge for dinner – it was all cheese, charcuterie and terrines… with lots of good bread, cornichons and dijon mustard. Ok, there was wine too!!!

  6. That looks delicious – your first shot looks just like my lunch table during Spring and Summer (Ok…yours is slightly more beautiful…)

  7. Hello!

    Could you please tell me how many would this serve?

    Also could it be cut up and frozen? How long would it last?

    Have a Joyful Day :~D
    Charlie

    1. Charlie – as an appetizer, my estimate is that this would easily serve 20 people. It should be sliced very thinly and each slice would make at least 4 servings on top of slices of baguette. It is very rich and is eaten in very small amounts. Sorry, I haven’t frozen it so I can’t answer that question.

  8. Wow that actually sounds really good to me! Never made one before. I LOVE cold meatloaf on sandwiches, so this sounds similar. Great post Lana!

    1. Thanks, Amanda. It was something a little different for me, but I really enjoyed the challenge. I love trying classic recipes from all around the world.