Pâtés and Rillettes and Terrines! Oh My!

Soft. Smooth. Spreadable. These are adjectives not normally used to describe meat.

They do however apply to mousses, pâtés, rillettes, and terrines. These are all tasty dishes that combine ground, chopped, or shredded meat, poultry, or seafood with herbs, spices, fat, and other ingredients.

These mouthwatering savoury dishes are part of a broad, weird-sounding category called forcemeats which are typically served as part of an hors d’oeuvre, appetizer, or snack, and sometimes even as a light meal.

If you’ve never tried them, you’ll discover pâtés, terrines, and the like are a delightful accompaniment to go with a selection of cheese, bread, crackers, and pickled vegetables. This makes them a natural choice for including on a cheese board.

What's the Difference?

Sometimes you’ll hear terms such as terrine, rillettes, and pâté used interchangeably because they are quite similar in some ways—they are all rich, meaty and tend to rely on herbs & spices to enhance their flavour.

There are however a few distinct differences that might be of interest.


Mousse is a light and airy dish with a smooth, fairly uniform appearance. It is sometimes referred to as mousseline.

It’s made with meat that’s whipped with fat, eggs, and cream and passed through a fine-meshed sieve to ensure a very smooth texture. This usually makes the mousse spreadable.

Well-known types of mousse include:

Chicken liver mousse at TOMME Cheese Shop
This Chicken Liver Mousse with Grand Marnier is ultra smooth and delicately flavoured.


Pâté is a dish made of a finely ground or pureed meat, fat, spices, and often a flavorful alcohol such as wine or brandy. It often includes liver as a key ingredient.

Well-known pâtés include:


Rillettes are like pâté. They are made with a mixture of spices, slow-cooked and shredded meat combined with a generous amount of fat. Originally, the fat was poured over the prepared meat as a means of preserving it. Thanks to this fat, rillettes have a very moist, silky, and rich texture.

Also known as potted meat, well-known rillettes include:


Terrine is another type of forcemeat you’re likely to come across. This dish is cooked in a loaf-shaped pan and composed of ingredients that are chunkier, that is more coarsely chopped than pâtés and mousses.

Aside from meat, terrines can include savoury jellies, vegetables, fruit, and nuts. Well-known terrines include:

Rabbit with blueberries and maple syrup at TOMME Cheese Shop
This tasty rabbit terrine includes blueberries and maple syrup—absolutely delicious.

The term "pâté" is often used interchangeably with "terrine" in North America. However, the difference is usually in the texture and whether liver is included (pâté) or not (terrine).

Cat-Food Texture?

In North America, our meat dishes tend to have a more toothsome and dense texture. This can make more flaky, pasty, or even slimy-looking meats look unappetizing. The comparisons to cat food are always there for first timers.

But we’re about flavour adventures at TOMME. We encourage you to step outside of what you’re used to. We have lots of pâté, rillettes, and terrine options for you to explore. When you do, a whole new succulent world of flavour becomes accessible.

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