Salmon pate en croute is a Belgian pate, which has a thin, baked layer of dough on the outside. It can act as protection against the oven heat and against drying out. Many recipes on the basis of smoked salmon only, do not need to be heated. However, the ingredients for this pate -mostly raw salmon filet and some smoked salmon- are put through a meat grinder and then baked in the oven. And to enjoy a full taste development, ripen this pate after baking for 3 days in the fridge.  

The art of making salmon pate en croute

In this recipe we can use all our creativity. We use eggs and crème fraiche (see remark 1 for vegetarian version) as thickeners that can handle heat. And we use the meat grinder to discover that fresh, fatty fish fillets grind with minor resistance. Further, we make a quick dough (see remark 2 for a better tasting croute) that we roll out for the croute. And by using  a mixture of glazed shallots and herbs, lemon juice and strong alcohol we create a marinade impairing excellent flavor. But be careful with salt as the smoked salmon already has lots. Finally, the oven bake is not au bain marie (such as in pate de campagne with duck), but plainly in the oven to ensure the salmon is cooked quickly without losing much moisture.

Special equipment

  • meat grinder
  • dough pin
  • terrine (1 quart, 1 liter)

salmon pate en croute ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Salmon pate en croute

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
3 days
Total Time 3 days 3 hours 45 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, starter
Cuisine Belgian
Servings 8


Ingredients for the pate

  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill if fresh triple the amount
  • 1 tsp tarragon if fresh triple the amount
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 shallots 1.8 oz(50 g)
  • 1.8 oz (50 g) red (bell or pointed sweet) pepper
  • two large eggs 4.8 oz (135 g)
  • 3.5 oz (100 g) creme fraiche can be substituted by 'walnut cream', see remark 1
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 7.1 oz (200 g) smoked salmon
  • 19 oz (540 g) salmon filet
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ouzo, raki, Pernod or Riccard
  • 1 tbsp brandy

Ingredients for the dough

  • 3.53 oz (100 g) white flour (and some extra for rolling) see remark 2 for a tastier dough!
  • 2.4 oz (69 g) water
  • 1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
  • a 3 inch wide, 20 inch long sheet of baking paper optional

Ingredients for a tastier dough (substitute this for the above)

  • 5.3 oz (150 g) white flour (all purpose)
  • 2.65 oz (75 g) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Instruction to make the dough (simple version)

  • Mix flour, salt and water and insure all the flour is absorbed, by continuously folding and pressing the dough. If the though is still moist to the touch add a bit more flour and make a ball
  • Let stand, covered, at room temperature for at least 1 hour
  • Thereafter, on a floured surface, stretch the dough, fold it, stretch it and press it. In short knead it. Do this for 10 min and make a ball
  • Let stand covered for 15 min at room temperature
  • Use olive or other vegetable oil to brush the inside surface of the terrine with. Then place the baking paper sheet over the longer side in the terrine to aid release after baking. The latter is optional
  • Just before filling the terrine, place the dough on a floured surface and use the dough pin to roll the dough out in a thin layer. Cut pieces out to cover the walls of the terrine and have the dough on one long side be longer, so it can be folded onto the surface later
    rolling out the dough for the pate en croute ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh

Pate preparation instructions

  • Cut the shallots in smaller pieces
  • Glaze the onions with 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan for 20 minutes at low fire and let cool down
  • cut the red bell pepper in small pieces
  • Measure the dill and tarragon
  • Mix the eggs with the crème fraiche using a whisk; prepare the lemon juice, salt and pepper ouzo and brandy
  • Cut the smoked salmon in 1/2 inch pieces and keep cool
  • Ensure the salmon filet is detached from the skin. Also remove any grey meat with a sharp knife. Cut in 1/2 inch pieces. Keep cool
  • Mix the smoked and raw salmon pieces in the bowl with the cooled down glazed shallots, the red bell pepper, the (fresh) herbs, salt and pepper, lemon juice, ouzo and brandy.
  • Grind the mixture through the coarse and then through the fine mesh of the grinder
  • Cool the mixture if necessary further down
  • Mix in the eggs and the crème fraiche mixture and process once more through the fine mesh of the grinder
    Salmon pate en croute grinding ©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh
  • Then fill the dough covered terrine with ground fish mixture. Close the surface with the flap of dough. Make two small holes in the dough surface so that moisture and steam can be released

Baking the pate

  • Place the terrine without a lid in the oven at 180 C for 45 minutes
  • After this take the terrine out of the oven and place a stone or hard inert surface on the dough covered pate and place a 3 lb weight on this. Some juices may appear. Let it cool down and then place in the refrigerator with the weight on. At the least overnight, but 2-3 days is preferred to gain more intense flavor
  • To release the pate, use a paring knife to cut between the dough and the terrine sides. Lift the pate from the terrine with the baking sheet or alternatively put the terrine upside down on a wooden cutting board. Then use a cooks knife to cut a slice.
    Salmon pate en croute released from terrine©️ Nel Brouwer-van den Bergh
  • Serve with some salad leaves, or on toast. Or serve for dinner with cooked white asparagus or cooked fennel and fried potatoes

preparation of the dough (tastier version)

  • cut with two knifes the cold butter in 1/2 inch size flakes
  • mix the flour and the salt and then add in the butter flakes and mix
  • add the egg
  • continue to mix until you find big crumbs forming. Continue to mix for a little while. If too wet add some flour, if too dry add a very small amount of cold water.
  • Fold the dough a few times on the counter and let rest for 2 h minimum of overnight in the refrigerator


Method: oven baking
Food allergy & intolerance information: milk cream, fish, wheat gluten
Keyword pate, pate en croute, salmon


  1. If you do not want to use a milk product such as crème fraiche, you can very well substitute by grinding 100 g  peeled walnuts and adding 3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice. The rest of the recipe is the same.
  2. The above dough is rather tasteless and is there to protect the pate from the heat. I usually discard it before serving. A better dough recipe has been provided well.
  3. Crème fraiche is a diary product containing 10-45% of butterfat with a pH of 4.5. It is made by inoculating milk cream with a bacteria culture to sour it. And it is less sour than sour cream and usually it has a higher fat content. We used here a 30% crème fraiche.
  4. The oven time is sufficient to bring the interior of the terrine to 63 C, the temperature where salmon is fully cooked (the proteins denatured).

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