Olive Tapenade

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This olive tapenade is bursting with the bold flavors of briny Kalamata and green olives, aromatic garlic, zesty capers, fragrant herbs, and a squeeze of lemon juice. It’s a simple 5-minute appetizer that’s perfect for entertaining. Enjoy it as a dip or spread.

📌 Pin Olive Tapenade

Olive tapenade served with grilled slices of rustic baguette.

🧑🏼‍🍳 Why this Recipe’s a Keeper

  • It has a rich bold flavor. The combination of olives, capers, lemon, garlic, herbs and olive oil create a rich and bold flavor profile. The combination of salty olives and tangy capers can be incredibly satisfying and flavorful.
  • It’s quick and easy to make. With just a few simple ingredients and a food processor, you can whip up a batch of olive tapenade on a moment’s notice. This makes it a convenient option for both everyday meals and entertaining.
  • Versatility: It’s a versatile condiment that can be used in various ways. Mix a spoonful into olive oil and serve it as a bread dip. Spread it across slices of grilled baguette or rustic crackers. Make it the centerpiece of your holiday charcuterie board. It pairs well with cured meats and cheeses. Spread it on veggies, chicken, seafood, pizza, omelets, or on a meatball gyro sandwich.
  • It’s an ideal recipe for holiday parties. Serve it as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Olive spread in a bowl with 2 spoons and rounds of toasted baguette.

🛒 Ingredients

  • Fresh Basil: Adds a subtle sweetness that helps balance out the flavor of the salty olives.
  • Fresh Parsley: Adds freshness and a lemony/grassy flavor. It perks up the mixture without overpowering the other flavors. I use curly parsley (not flat-leaved Italian parsley), discarding the stems.
  • Garlic: Adds an earthy rustic bite that’s very delicious. If you’re a big fan of garlic, feel free to add an extra clove to the recipe.
  • Capers: Has a forward flavor that enhances the briny olives.
  • Lemon: Adds zesty freshness and a tangy burst of bright lemon flavor.
  • Pitted Kalamata and Green Olives: This is a traditional combination for tapenade. But feel free to use a mix of marinated purple and green Spanish olives (with pits removed).
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Helps bring the tapenade together into a spread. For the best flavor, use a high-quality olive oil. I prefer California Olive Ranch or the Kirkland brand from Costco.
  • Salt & Pepper: These seasonings elevate and balance the flavors.
Ingredients for olive tapenade recipe.

📖 Recipe Steps

RECIPE TIP: To safeguard the texture of the spread, so it doesn’t turn into a mushy purée, after adding the olives to the food processor – pulse. Don’t let the machine continuously run.

  1. Add fresh herbs, smashed garlic, capers and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse until a rough paste forms (about 10 pulses).
  3. Add in the pitted olives and olive oil. Pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. For olive tapenade with a coarse texture, pulse about 10-15 times. Turn off the machine.
  4. Do a taste test. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in more olive oil and/or lemon juice, making adjustments until the flavor is perfect. Transfer the olive spread to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Serve with grilled baguette slices, crackers, or crudité.
How to make olive dip in a food processor in 4 easy steps.

👩🏻‍🍳 Recipe FAQ

These are the most commonly-asked questions for making the BEST olive tapenade, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.

Can I make olive tapenade without a food processor?

While a food processor makes the assembly of this recipe easier, you can finely chop the ingredients by hand. Ensure consistency for a satisfying texture.

Is it necessary to pit olives before making tapenade?

Pitting the olives is absolutely recommended to avoid damaging your food processor blades, and to ensure a smoother texture in the final tapenade.

How to pit olives?

Use an olive pitter tool. But if you don’t have one on hand, place the olives on a flat work surface. With a meat pounder, confidently smash each olive to cleave it from the pit. Squeeze the olives and nudge out the stones with your fingertips.

Can I substitute capers with something else?

If you don’t have capers on hand, you can substitute with chopped pickles for a similar tangy flavor.

Can I use infused olive oil for extra flavor?

Absolutely! Infused olive oil, like garlic or herb-infused oils, can add an extra layer of flavor to your tapenade. Adjust the quantity based on the oil’s intensity.

How to make olive tapenade spicy?

Add 1 whole Calabrian chili (or 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste) to the food processor along with the garlic and fresh herbs. Another option: add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the olive dip.

What to serve with olive tapenade?

Serve with triangles of soft warm pita bread, flatbread crackers, pita chips, bagel chips, crostini, or fresh crisp veggies – like sturdy strips of colored bell peppers.

Olive dip served in a bowl and garnished with fresh basil leaves.

👩🏻‍🍳 More Easy Appetizers

Celebrate summer and the holidays with these crowd-pleasing appetizers. Print out your favorites. Or pin them Pinterest for complete access to your recipe collection any time, anywhere.

Olive tapenade served in an appetizer bowl alongside grilled slices of rustic baguette.

Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flavor testers rated this the BEST olive tapenade recipe. They said the flavors, colors and textures of this spread are divine.

If you agree this briny flavorful dip is an excellent addition to a charcuterie board, give it a 5-star rating in the comments. Then be a recipe hero. Share it with a friend. 📌Pin it to Pinterest.

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Olive spread served with grilled slices of rustic baguette.

Olive Tapenade


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Description

Make olive tapenade in just 5 minutes! Serve and enjoy this easy appetizer with crostini, crackers or crudité. Make it the centerpiece of your charcuterie board. Perfect for the holidays and all year round.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup loosely-packed fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup loosely-packed fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1 1/2 tablespoons, or more if needed)
  • 2 cups pitted olives, like Kalamata & green olives (or a purple/green mix of Spanish olives)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or more, if desired)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 


Instructions

RECIPE TIP: To safeguard the texture of the spread, so it doesn’t turn into a mushy purée, after adding the olives to the food processor – pulse. Don’t let the machine continuously run. 

  1. Add the fresh herbs, smashed garlic, capers and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a rough paste forms (about 10 pulses).
  2. Add in the pitted olives and olive oil. Pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. For olive tapenade with a coarse texture, pulse about 10-15 times. Turn off the machine.
  3. Do a taste test. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Stir in more olive oil and/or lemon juice, making adjustments until the flavor is perfect.
  4. Transfer tapenade to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate (up to 5 days) until needed. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Notes

How to make olive tapenade spicy: Add 1 whole Calabrian chili (or 1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chili paste) to the food processor along with the garlic and fresh herbs. Another option: add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the olive dip.

What to serve with this olive spread: Serve with triangles of soft warm pita bread, flatbread crackers, pita chips, bagel chips, crostini, or fresh crisp veggies – like sturdy strips of colored bell peppers (red/green/yellow/orange). 

  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: France, Italy, Spain
Gold Line: Sprinkles of Inspiration | confettiandbliss.com

Olive Tapenade 👉🏻 Join the Convo

How to do you enjoy serving olive tapenade? Do you assemble it only for special occasions or make it year round? Share your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

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