Smoked trout rillettes
Wildlife recipes Wildlife recipes
Smoked trout rillettes served with a piece of radish on a cracker

Smoked trout rillettes

A flavorful, buttery spread that's a great appetizer for any festive occasion

Smoked trout rillettes served with a piece of radish on a cracker

Darby Doyle
DWR Conservation Outreach Section

Often made with wild game, pork or duck, rillettes (pronounced "ree-yet") may sound fancy, but they're essentially a butter- or fat-based spread similar to pâté. Trout rillettes are especially convenient to keep on hand during the holiday season because they can be quickly thrown together with any combination of poached, steamed or smoked fish — try using kokanee or other salmon for a decadent treat! Once they're packed tightly in air-tight containers, rillettes will keep for a few days in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

This appetizer is also a terrific potluck contribution, since rillettes (and the accompanying crackers and veggies to generously smear them on) travel very well.

Smoked trout rillettes

Makes approximately 1¾ cups spread

Ingredients for smoked trout rillettes, inclunding a smoked trout, butter and horseradish

Note: A 8- to 10-inch smoked/cooked trout will yield approximately 2–3 ounces of skinless/boneless fish.


  • 8 ounces boneless/skinless smoked trout (or any combination of smoked, baked, steamed or poached fish)
  • 6 tablespoons softened butter (at room temperature, not melted)
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • Zest and juice of ½ fresh lemon (reserve additional lemon zest for garnish)
  • ½ cup crème fraîche (or full-fat sour cream)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (plus more for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1
Food processor, full of butter, one shallot and lemon zest, next to a bowl of trout pieces Bowl of trout slices being spooned into another bowl of rillettes

Smash together the butter, shallot and lemon zest in a bowl using a fork (or use the "pulse" setting of a food processor 4–5 times until the shallots are just barely combined). Stir in the lemon juice, crème fraîche (or sour cream), horseradish and chives.

Step 2

Gently fold the fish into the butter mixture using a spoon. Add salt, pepper and more lemon juice to taste. The texture should be smooth but with distinct flakes of fish throughout. (Think sausage, not hot dogs.)

Step 3

Using scant spoonfuls at a time, pack the rillettes evenly and firmly into two half-pint jars, one pint jar, or ceramic ramekins, making sure there are no air pockets as you go.

Step 4

If serving immediately, garnish with additional chives and lemon zest. If making in advance, smear a thin layer of softened butter evenly over the top of the trout rillettes (to prevent discoloration), and then top the container with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap.

Rillettes will keep in the fridge for 4–5 days, or several weeks in the freezer (defrost in the refrigerator overnight before serving).

Step 5

To serve: Garnish rillettes with snipped chives and lemon zest, and serve with savory crackers, halved radishes, endive leaves or celery sticks.


Finished trout rilletts served on a plate with radishes and crackers
Darby Doyle

Darby Doyle

A communications coordinator with the Salt Lake office outreach team, Darby Doyle joined the DWR in 2021. She's an editor for the DWR wildlife blog and annual guidebooks, and chips in as a backup public information officer when needed. An avid fly angler and self-admittedly mediocre hunter, Darby enjoys gardening, harvesting and butchering game from her family's hunts all over the Western U.S. and spending time outdoors with the family's goofy Labradors.

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