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Olive Tapenade

Olive Tapenade is a flavorful appetizer full of briny olives, capers, and olive oil. It can also be used as a sandwich spread, dip, or a snack when paired with your favorite fresh veggies.

Olive tapenade is great as a quick snack or appetizer. Some of our other favorite snacks are roasted garlic hummus, slow cooker spinach artichoke dip, and ham and cream cheese pinwheels.

Olive tapenade with toasted bread.

Olive Tapenade Recipe:

If you’ve never tried olive tapenade, you must give it a try! It sounds crazy, but I was not a fan of olives before I tried tapenade for the first time. After one bite, I was hooked.

It’s briny, salty, and full of fresh flavors! Tapenade works great a spread on sandwiches or as a dip for veggies, pita bread, and chips. The best part is that this stuff is so easy to make, and you can use your favorite variety of olives.

Making tapenade is as simple as dumping the ingredients in a food processor, pressing the pulse button, and that’s pretty much it. Grab your favorite dippers, and dig in!

Olive Tapenade Ingredients:

  • Kalamata Olives: My favorite olive for this dish. They have a milder flavor than other olives with a bit of a fruity note.
  • Capers: These little balls of flavor look like tiny seeds and have a briny, salty flavor.
  • White Onion: Onions can be quite stout and pungent, but I love a bit of white onion in this dish to cut through the briny flavors.
  • Garlic: Pairs perfectly with the white onion and adds another layer of flavor.
  • Lemon Juice: Gives this dish a touch of acid to cut through the base flavors.
  • Olive Oil: Brings all the ingredients together and makes the tapenade smooth when it’s emulsified in the food processor.
  • Salt: This is optional but can be used if needed to enhance the flavors of the tapenade.

How to Make Tapenade:

  1. Place olives, capers, onions, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor.
  2. Processor until well mixed. Scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed.
  3. Slowly drizzle the olive oil into the food processor while it’s running.
  4. Taste, and season with salt (optional).
  5. Serve at room temperature with pita chips, fresh vegetables, or baguette slices.
Collage style photo showing how to make olive tapenade.

Olive Tapenade Tips and Variations:

  • Olives: Use your favorite. I love Kalamata olives for this recipe, but some other great options are Castelvetrano, Niçoise, or Lucques variety.
  • Garlic: I toss the garlic in raw, but it’s worth noting that some cloves of garlic are stronger than others. If you’ve already cooked with some garlic from the bulb, you may need to adjust the amount of garlic in the recipe depending on how pungent the individual cloves taste. Otherwise; try roasting the garlic ahead of time to lessen the strong garlic flavor.
  • Onion: White onion, yellow onion, or sweet onion will work for this recipe. We’ve even used shallots and they taste great. If the onions are strong in flavor, they can easily over power the flavor of the tapenade, so use sparingly.
  • Acidity: This recipe needs a touch of acidity to cut through the rich, brininess of the olives. I used freshly squeezed lemon juice, but equal amounts of vinegar can also be used in a pinch. Although, lemon juice tastes better in my opinion.
  • Olive Oil: Use a good quality olive oil to emulsify the tapenade. It gives the tapenade an almost creamy, smooth texture.
  • Anchovies: Our olive tapenade recipe is made without anchovies, but you could easily add them if you’d like. If you aren’t a fan of whole anchovies but still want the flavor, try adding a teaspoon or two of anchovy paste. It’s quick, easy and works great in this recipe.
  • Fresh Herbs: Throw in some fresh herbs! It doesn’t take much, but a tablespoon or two of fresh parsley, thyme, or rosemary tastes great in olive tapenade.
Olive dipping spread with chips and toast.

Storage Recommendations:

Room Temperature: Olive tapenade should be served at room temperature but needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

Refrigerator: Store the tapenade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Freezer: Tapenade can be frozen for up to 3 months when stored properly.

Yield: About 12 Ounces

Olive Tapenade

Top down view of olive spread in a small bowl.

Olive Tapenade is a flavorful appetizer full of briny olives, capers, and olive oil. It can also be used as a sandwich spread, dip, or a snack when paired with your favorite fresh veggies.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 1 ½ Cups Pitted Olives packed in brine, (Kalamata and Castelvetrano varieties work well.)
  • 2 Tablespoons Capers
  • ⅛ Cup White Onion, rough chopped (or 1 medium shallot)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • ¼ Cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste, optional


  1. Place the olives, capers, onions, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until well mixed and a paste forms. With the food processor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides as needed; taste, and season with salt (optional).
  3. Serve at room temperature with pita chips, vegetables, or toasted baguette slices.


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 ounce of tapenade. Actual calories will vary.

*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 ounce

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 61Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 207mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

*The calories are an estimate and are based on the ingredients and serving size listed. The calories can vary depending on the brand of product purchased.

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