Classic Olive Tapenade

Close-up of a couple eating olive pate with bread in restaurant
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Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
374 Calories
14g Fat
52g Carbs
11g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 374
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 628mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 52g 19%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 1mg 7%
Calcium 56mg 4%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 137mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic Provençal dish is a flavorful olive and anchovies spread that has been famous in France and Italy for decades. Easy to make, it's full of wonderful Mediterranean flavors from the olive oil, fresh herbs, and capers. This delicious spread makes a fantastic appetizer on bread or crackers, but can be also used as the stuffing for chicken, rolled meats, or veal. Great as a make-ahead appetizer, this can also be made right then when you need a last-minute dish, and is also the perfect addition to a holiday charcuterie and cheese platter, as its earthy flavor pairs beautifully with soft cheeses and cured meats.

Tapenade comes from the Proveçal term tapen, or caper. Olives and capers have long been common ingredients in the culinary traditions of this part of the world, but tapenade as we know it was born in the late 19th century in Southern France. The original spread was made with black olives, which make up the main bulk of the recipe—olive oil, capers, and anchovies are used proportionally in lesser amounts because their flavors are strong and can overpower the olives. Green tapenade, equally delicious, was born later. For our recipe, any black olive is great, but if you want to keep with tradition go for Niçoise or Kalamata. Nyon, Gaeta, Alfonso, or Mission are also delicious, and you can always experiment with one type or the other, or combine two until you find your favorite flavor profile. No matter the olive you choose, buy good quality olives as your spread will be only as good as your olives. Many canned olives are packed with additives to preserve or alter their color and are not as flavorful as glass-preserved olives or the brined olives that you can find in olive bars in some upscale grocers.

Fun fact: all olives are green in principle, they just change color as they ripen, so green olives are plucked early on, and darker types are harvested later. Beyond serving it with bread and vegetables, this tapenade is luscious when layered into tartines, tossed with fresh pasta, spooned over pizza dough, or used on puff pastry to make turnovers or small croissants.


  • 1 1/2 cups pitted black olives

  • 1/3 cup olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon drained capers

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

  • Toasted baguette slices, for serving

  • Vegetable crudités, for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the olives, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, drained capers, garlic, anchovies, thyme, and black pepper in a food processor.

  3. Process until all the ingredients are finely chopped, but not completely pureed.

  4. Serve the olive spread on baguette slices or with fresh crudités.

  5. Enjoy!