For a 10-minute appetizer dip, sandwich spread, or pizza “sauce,” try this easy homemade Olive Tapenade. Customize this Mediterranean spread with any variety of briny olives.

Homemade olive tapenade in a bowl surrounded by toasted bread.

If you love olives, you’ll love the salty, briny flavor of this tapenade spread. I love to eat it on fresh bread or toasted baguette slices, something with a neutral flavor profile that doesn’t compete with tapenade.

It’s delicious on a Mezze platter too (an appetizer board of Mediterranean fare). Pile fresh vegetables, olives, nuts, and pita chisp, then add bowls of hummus or roasted eggplant dip to complete your Med Feast.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Olive Tapenade Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for olive tapenade.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Olives: Seek out mild olives that have been cured in brine.  I love Kalamata and Lucques olives but picholines and Niçoise olives are also great choices. Use one kind or a combination of a few of your favorites.
  • Anchovies: These add a fantastic savory, umami flavor to dishes. However, if you don’t want to buy and handle anchovies, you can use anchovy paste. Enjoy the flavor and get used to the mental aspect of them without having to touch them. (Just like tomato paste in a tube, it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.)
  • Capers: Buy them brine-packed or salt-packed. The salt-packed ones have a more mild (and I think preferable) flavor although I like both. If you forget to rinse them, however, the flavor can be overpowering at times.
  • Garlic: If you like the punch flavor of raw garlic, go for it! I love the mellow, slightly sweet element that roasted garlic offers to this olive tapenade. To roast the garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top off a bulb of garlic so the cloves are exposed. Set the bulb on a piece of foil large enough to wrap the bulb. Top the exposed cloves with olive oil and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife slides easily in to the middle of the bulb.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine olives, anchovies, capers, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pulse 2 to 3 times until coarsely chopped.
Olive tapenade being processed in a food processor.
  1. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse a few more times until a chunky paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.
Olive tapenade being processed in a food processor.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups tapenade total, enough for 6 (1/2-cup servings).
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Freezer: Olive tapenade is freezer friendly! Transfer to glass jars, leave ½ inch head space, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Homemade olive tapenade in a bowl surrounded by toasted bread.

Recipe FAQs

What is traditional tapenade made of?

Tapenade is made with olives and capers, then flavored with other herbs and spices. The dish is finished with plenty of olive oil to give it the desired consistency.

What does tapenade taste like?

Olive tapenade has a briny, salty flavor from the olives. This version also contains anchovies which lend a strong umami (meaty/savory) flavor.

What do you eat with tapenade?

To put this homemade Olive Tapenade to terrific use, spread it on toasted baguette, enjoy with fresh vegetables, toss with pasta, stuff inside roasted mushrooms, use it instead of your usual pizza sauce, share as part of a charcuterie board, add a scoop to a buddha bowl or salad, or slather it on a sandwich.

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Homemade olive tapenade in a bowl surrounded by toasted bread.

Olive Tapenade

For a 10-minute appetizer dip, sandwich spread, or pizza "sauce," try this easy homemade Olive Tapenade. Customize this Mediterranean spread with any variety of briny olives.
5 from 107 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 12 servings (¼ cup each)
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Calories 68

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cups pitted, brine-cured olives (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 2 anchovy filets, minced (see note 2)
  • 3 tablespoons capers rinsed (see note 3)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons parsley coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic roasted if desired (see note 4)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions 

  • In a food processor, combine olives, anchovies, capers, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Pulse 2 to 3 times until coarsely chopped.
  • Drizzle in olive oil and pulse a few more times until a chunky paste forms, scraping down the sides as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Olives: Seek out mild olives that have been cured in brine.  I love Kalamata and Lucques olives but picholines and Niçoise olives are also great choices. Use one kind or a combination of a few of your favorites.
  2. Anchovies: These add a fantastic savory, umami flavor to dishes. However, if you don’t want to buy and handle anchovies, you can use anchovy paste. Enjoy the flavor and get used to the mental aspect of them without having to touch them. (Just like tomato paste in a tube, it keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.)
  3. Capers: Buy them brine-packed or salt-packed. The salt-packed ones have a more mild (and I think preferable) flavor although I like both. If you forget to rinse them, however, the flavor can be overpowering at times.
  4. Garlic: If you like the punch flavor of raw garlic, go for it! I love the mellow, slightly sweet element that roasted garlic offers to this olive tapenade. To roast the garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top off a bulb of garlic so the cloves are exposed. Set the bulb on a piece of foil large enough to wrap the bulb. Top the exposed cloves with olive oil and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a knife slides easily in to the middle of the bulb.
  5. Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups tapenade total, enough for 6 (1/2-cup servings).
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Freezer: Olive tapenade is freezer friendly! Transfer to glass jars, leave ½ inch head space, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 68kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 337mgPotassium: 20mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 112IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 1mg
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Comments

  1. Can this be frozen for later use?
    I did not have capers or anchovies, but I forged ahead! (I’m stuck at home post-foot surgery, so a quick trip to the store was not an option.) I soaked two garlic cloves in lemon to temper the bite, leaving one raw because I like I kinda like the bite and spontaneously added a fourth clove. I used parsley from my own garden. It’s very good! How did you get the purple-y black color? Mine I s more of a mottle-y brown, even though i used all kalamata olives. It’s a lot of tapenade, is it possible to freeze half for later?

    1. Hi Amy, olive tapenade is freezer friendly! Transfer to glass jars, leave ½ inch head space, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Hope this helps! – Meggan

  2. I made this recipe and I like it, but the acid in the lemon juice is a bit too sharp. I don’t want to add more salt, as it’s so salty otherwise already. What can I do to make the taste smoother? Thank you!

    1. Hi Shannon, I’m sorry your tapenade turned out too sharp! I haven’t had this issue but one reader mentioned rinsing their olives and capers first, that may help even out the taste! Otherwise, I’d suggest adding less lemon juice next time you make it. Sorry about that! – Meggan

    1. Hi Carol, another reader said they made this in their blender and that it turned out great. I hope this helps! – Meggan

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