Foie gras, or fatty duck or geese liver, is a French delicacy that’s popular around the world.
It’s often mistaken for pâté de foie gras, a smooth spread made from foie gras and white wine. However, the term “foie gras” refers to the whole, intact liver.
Foie gras is fatty and rich, with a velvety texture and a meaty, buttery flavor. It can be prepared in a variety of ways, but it’s most often served as a pâté with bread or crackers.
Foie gras is highly nutritious, containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also expensive. Additionally, its production is controversial, with many people considering it inhumane to ducks and geese.
This article reviews foie gras nutrition and uses, how it’s prepared, and its benefits and downsides.
Foie gras is high in fat but also rich in vitamins and minerals, as the liver serves as a storage organ for many nutrients.
Nutrition information for foie gras is unavailable, but 1 ounce (28 grams) of pâté de foie gras, which is made with a small amount of white wine, provides the following nutrients (
- Calories: 130
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 12 grams
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Vitamin B12: 111% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin A: 32% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid: 7% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 7% of the DV
- Niacin: 5% of the DV
- Copper: 13% of the DV
- Iron: 9% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 5% of the DV
The white wine may alter the nutrient content to some degree, but generally not the fat or vitamin and mineral content.
Because of its high fat content, foie gras is rich in calories. However, it’s also high in a variety of vitamins and minerals.
One ounce (28 grams) of pâté contains over a day’s worth of vitamin B12, a key nutrient that helps your body build healthy red blood cells and maintain your energy levels (
Foie gras is also a good source of vitamin A, which helps prevent vision problems and promotes healthy cell growth throughout your entire body (
Foie gras is mostly fat. It’s rich in several nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin A, copper, and iron.
A key part of foie gras production is force-feeding a special diet to ducks and geese.
The diet is based on corn and is highly fattening, which causes the birds to rapidly gain weight and accumulate fat on and around their livers.
The fattening process is what makes foie gras a delicacy, as the livers of ducks and geese that haven’t gone through this process aren’t as fatty or smooth. In fact, the force-feeding process enlarges the liver of the birds by up to 10 times (
Foie gras can be sold raw, semi-cooked, fully cooked, whole, or in sections.
It’s a key part of French cuisine. Roasted, pan-fried, or grilled foie gras are popular dishes, but most people are more familiar with a spreadable form, such as pâté de foie gras, which is typically served with a baguette or crackers.
Foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks or geese until they’ve accumulated significant amounts of fat on their livers. Foie gras is typically served as a spread with a baguette or crackers.
Foie gras is rich in nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin A, copper, and iron.
It’s also high in calories and fat. That said, the fat is a healthy combination of unsaturated and saturated fat.
Plus, the saturated fat in this food isn’t as harmful as it once was thought to be. Current research suggests that foods higher in saturated fat can be included as part of a balanced diet (
Because of its high fat content, it’s also filling. This may help you regulate your intake, which is important to consider because of its high calorie content (
Foie gras is rich in certain nutrients and boasts a favorable fat profile, containing mostly anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat.
Given its unique production methods and status as a delicacy, foie gras is expensive.
Additionally, many places have banned it since force-feeding birds to enlarge their livers is considered inhumane.
That said, the traditional force-feeding practice is protected in France, as it’s a key part of French culinary culture (13).
Fortunately, some foie gras producers have implemented non-force-feeding methods.
If you do eat foie gras, you shouldn’t each too much in one sitting. It’s rich and high in fat, so eating an excessive amount could cause digestive upset.
In addition, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems should only eat heat-sterilized, canned foie gras. Homemade or fresh foie gras carries a higher risk of bacterial contamination because it’s prepared at low temperatures.
Foie gras is controversial because the production methods are widely considered inhumane. Pregnant women shouldn’t consume homemade or fresh foie gras due to the risk of bacterial contamination.
Foie gras is most commonly eaten as a pâté with crackers or crusty bread, or sliced and pan-seared.
Although you can easily purchase premade pâté de foie gras from many retailers, it’s also possible to make it yourself.
Here’s a simple recipe for pâté de foie gras using only four ingredients. You’ll need:
- 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) of raw foie gras
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) of white wine
- salt and pepper
The steps to make homemade pâté de foie gras are:
- Preheat the oven to 215°F (100°C).
- Separate the foie gras into two lobes by cutting it down the midline. Cut off any red spots or veins that you see.
- Sprinkle both pieces with salt and pepper and place them in a baking dish, then pour the wine over them.
- Create a water bath for the dish by placing it in a larger baking pan and filling the larger baking pan about halfway with water.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove the melted duck fat and save it for a later step.
- Cover the foie gras with foil, then weigh it down in the pan for 30 minutes using heavy canned goods or a cast-iron pan.
- Refrigerate the covered foie gras and duck fat for 24 hours.
- Melt the duck fat and pour it over the top of the foie gras. Cover it again and refrigerate it for 48 hours before serving.
This dish is best served with sturdy crackers or a crusty baguette.
It can be stored tightly sealed and refrigerated for no more than 2 days.
Premade pâté de foie gras can be purchased at certain grocery stores or online, but it’s also easy to make at home using only four ingredients.
Foie gras, or fatty duck or goose liver, is a staple in French cuisine. It’s typically served as a pâté with crackers or bread.
It’s high in fat and calories but also full of nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin A, copper, and iron. It also contains mostly anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fat.
However, its production methods are controversial, resulting in bans of the food in some regions. It’s also expensive.
If you choose to eat it, foie gras is a healthy delicacy, although high in calories.