Moroccan Olive Tapenade - Black or Green Olive Tapenade

Moroccan black olive tapenade or spread
Photo © Christine Benlafquih
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins

This easy Moroccan olive tapenade recipe calls for cured black olives, but for variety you might want to try making it with green olives. Both versions can be prepared and offered alongside each other, which was the way they were presented the first time I sampled them. Feel free to adjust the amount of harissa to make your own tapenade as fiery as you like. Likewise, garlic may also be adjusted to taste.

Although the original recipe as shared with me did not call for capers, I've since learned that all tapenades must, by their very nature, include them. The recipe below, then, has been edited to list capers in the ingredients. For those of us who love the tangy, sour, salty flavor of capers, this can only be viewed as an enhancement to what was an already-delicious spread. 

You'll find that the Moroccan tapenade works beautifully as a condiment in sandwiches made with grilled meats or fried sardines (yes, fried fish really is terrific that way!), or serve it as a dip or spread with crusty Moroccan bread.


  • 1 cup/200 grams black cured olives (such as Kalamata or use green olives)
  • 2 tablespoons capers (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic (pressed or very finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or to taste)
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon parsley (fresh and chopped0
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or more to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Rinse the olives and remove the pits. Combine the olives with the capers.

  2. Chop the olives and capers as finely as you can by hand, or place them in a food processor and pulse several times until the mixture is almost a paste. If using a processor, be careful not to overdo the blending as you want the tapenade to retain some texture.

  3. Mix the chopped olives with the remaining ingredients by hand, or in the food processor (again by pulsing several times, just until combined).

  4. Taste and adjust harissa, garlic, and lemon juice as desired.

  5. For a thinner tapenade, increase the amount of olive oil, stirring in an additional teaspoon or two at a time, until you achieve the desired consistency.

Store the tapenade in a covered glass jar in the fridge.