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 119 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. Hi Barbara, thanks for letting me know! I’ll add it to my list to retest. Thank you again! – Meggan

  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

  3. I love tapenade but never made it before! Your recipe is not only delicious and easy, but it is the best tapenade I have ever eaten! I . I used kalamata’s and regular Spanish (Manzanilla) olives with pimento. I made no changes except to cut recipe by 1/3. I wish I hadn’t; should have made double! I cut and toasted some pita bread. Wonderful!5 stars

  4. Hi, Meggan,
    Great to have found your site – your advice and descriptions are clear and easy to follow, thank you!
    My olive tree never bore fruit this past season so I bought a 5kg bucket from a farm where the only available option was pitted – sadly when I simply wanted to drain, then bottle in olive oil with crushed garlic and rosemary and, into a few, add a bayleaf. However, the upside is that the damaged olives (and there were a lot) can now be used for tapenade. I have discovered that tapenade lasts a long while in the fridge so between now and Christmas whenever I am invited out to a meal I will take a freshly decanted ramekin along for the host!
    I do have one question – have you ever frozen tapenade? I’m about to experiment but thought I’d ask your advice.
    Thank you – and a Happy Festive Season as we head into December, a hot one for us in the Southern Hemisphere!5 stars

    1. Hi Garth, so glad you can repurpose those olives. I have never frozen this recipe myself but I don’t see why you can’t. I would suggest storing and freezing in an airtight container. Hope this helps! Happy holidays. – Meggan

  5. So simple and oh so good.

    I only needed a small amount since there is only two of us and I wanted to spread it on homemade Italian subs so I cut the recipe back to 1/3 scale. I didn’t have a whole head of garlic to roast so I just used a teaspoon of jarred, minced garlic and it was just fine.

    I did drain off a little of the oil after I made it since I was also going to use a vinegar and oil blend on the sandwiches. But, the oil didn’t go to waste. I was also making a small side of pasta salad and just incorporated the olivey-delicious oil into the salad. This will be my go-to olive spread recipe.5 stars

  6. Looking for some tasty food options, love olives and garlic, no tomatoes if poss or just a dash of it. Thankyou.

  7. Do you have any recommendations on which store-bought pitted, brine-cured olives, anchovy paste/anchovy filets, and capers to get?

    1. Hi Amy! I typically buy whatever my grocery store has and I’ve never had any problems. Capers in particular seem exactly the same no matter which ones I buy. I do love any products from Mezzetta though, so their capers are a safe bet. Anchovy paste, Amore brand is the only one I’ve ever found locally and tried. It’s great! And for brine-cured olives, most Kalamata olives are brine-cured and they all taste very similar. Mezzetta is a good brand again. I hope this is helpful! Sorry for the delay in my reply. I had to go see what was at the store to know what I usually buy. :) Thanks again and take care! -Meggan

  8. Hello. I randomly came across this and I immediately started drooling. Very much appreciate the detail in the steps.5 stars

  9. This is a wonderful recipe, I didn’t roast my garlic and actually added a few more cloves. I wonder if I should have added the juice from the jar of olives. I used what I had already on hand which was Kalamata Olives. This was just delicious!5 stars

  10. I made this. I pulsed with a stick blender not a food processor and left it chunky and rustic. Needed no salt or pepper but I had used a mix of green and black olives from the deli in a light oil. Probably seasoned enough I am guessing. This recipe is perfect. Highly recommended fir sure.5 stars

  11. Just delicious! I put it over hot pasta mixed with arugula, cherry tomatoes and a store-cooked rotisserie chicken that I’d cut into bite size pieces. I had ‘thirds’ when it came to helpings, it was SO GOOD!!!
    And easy too… all you need is a food processor, knife, and a measuring cup & spoon. Get everything ready in advance & it comes together quickly.5 stars

  12. So good, the flavours are perfect – even straight out of the food processor. I cant wait for the flavours to meld together on my homemade bread.

  13. Can I make this a day or two in advance and how long can be kept in the frig if there is leftovers? Thanks! Can’t wait to make this!4 stars

    1. Hi Virginia, yes! Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container. – Meggan

  14. I added 1 1/2 roasted red peppers and a few thin slices of red onion. Tastes fantastic! This product is so expensive to buy and very easy to make .5 stars

  15. Hi Meggan,
    I’ve been making tapenade for years and your recipe is very similar to mine. It’s a great recipe to increase and decrease certain things for personal taste ie I add basil rather than parsley and I love adding sundried tomatoes to mine as well. A tip for vegans if they like the ‘anchovy’ note is to add a tbsp of vegan fish sauce. It’s indistinguishable from the fishy kind (made from seaweed) and rounds out the tapenade flavour.
    All the best for the festive season! This will be on our table :-)5 stars

  16. This is super easy and very good if you don’t add any salt. Olives anchovies and capers do not need added salt. I added a pinch and it ruined the first batch.5 stars

  17. Spectacular! I only had 1 T capers, but it’s still bright and briny and so delicious! I can’t wait to serve it on my Italian subs tonight. Thank you!5 stars

  18. I have about 3kgs of olives – a mixed bunch, small, large, black and green. My idea was to bottle them – have been doing it for years. This batch however is really not the greatest for bottling. If I make Tapenade, how do I ensure its going to last before I can give away to family and friends? Any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Deirdre, I am not an expert on canning, so I can’t give you specifics on what to do. However, I know you have to be very careful when canning with garlic. I would recommend freezing it after making it. Just be sure to leave some space at the top of the container because it will expand a bit. -Meggan

  19. I would like to thank you for your recipe. I will just left the anchovies out because I don’t have any in my grocery cuboard. These people that calls other dirty names should stay off this page. They seriously have a personality problem. We are talking about food here, you know. God gave us the ability to produce some food to survive. Please stay off this page, we don’t need people like you!5 stars

    1. Hi Tanya! I would say 4 days. It could be longer, but I like to follow CDC guidelines for leftovers which is 4 days (and there are no preservatives to extend its life). I hope this helps! Thanks! -Meggan

  20. If you’re scared of handling some sardines or anchovies, I seriously doubt your culinary prowess. You sound like a scared bitch. Pass!

    1. I wrote that post before I wen to culinary school. While there, I learned to break down whole rabbits, eat raw scallops, and do all sorts of other things I didn’t know I was capable of. People grow and change, Milton. YOU, however, will always be the bully who went on the internet and called a random stranger a scared bitch because she used to be afraid of anchovies. PASS! -Meggan

    2. MIlton, you sound like a sexist bastard. Of course, your mother named you Milton so she obviously didn’t love you enough to be ashamed of you.

  21. I just made this and it turned out very salty, even though I added no salt. I rinsed the capers but now I’m wondering if I should have also rinsed the olives -? Also, I was able to get 3 tablespoons of lemon juice out of only one lemon.

    1. Hi Cindy, you can always add more lemon juice if something is too salty. You could definitely rinse the olives although I would probably not, but then again I love super salty food. And this is an inherently salty spread. I think you could try rinsing the olives next time, that might make it fit your taste preferences better. And it sounds like you found the juiciest lemon ever! -Meggan

    2. I would leave out the anchovies to greatly decrease the salty taste in rhia recipe. It is still fantastic!

  22. Nothing takes 5 minutes, but really good.  You can adjust flavor as you go adding additional anchovie fillets.  Highly recommend it.5 stars

  23. Received my first food processor for Christmas and made this! Picky husband approved! Thanks for making it easy to follow and the helpful notes!5 stars

  24. Can this be made ahead and stored? Wanting to add this to an antipasti table at my daughter’s wedding. I am looking for recipes that can me made a couple days before the big date.

    1. Hi Michelle, yes! I would make this up to 3 days ahead. Anything with garlic, you have to be wary of botulism so I wouldn’t make it more than 3 days ahead. But you’ll be totally fine with 3 days. I hope this is helpful. Congrats to your daughter, I’m so happy for all of you! :) If you need anything else please let me know.

  25. Can’t wait to try this olive tapenade..,will serve w/pita chips & fresh veggies!!
    Grazie mi amico!!5 stars

  26. I did make it and it was delicious! I am going to make it again this weekend. It’s great with pita chips and vegetables, and the leftovers I mixed in with quinoa. I am going to try it without the anchovies next time. I am still looking for an easy substitute for the anchovies. Someone mentioned plum paste, but I have not seen the plum paste in my local stores. Is there anything else that would be a good substitute?5 stars

    1. Sun dried tomatoes from a jar are a great addition – they have plenty of umami themselves. I sub out the oil for the oil from the jar as well sometimes.

  27. This looks delicious and I have the ingredients, but have any of your reviewer actually made it? I’d like the review of someone who has made it.
    Many thanks! Jan

    1. Hi Jan! I looked through the comments and no one who has made it has commented. Except for me, of course. It is always more helpful when the comments are from people who have actually tried the recipe! Sorry about that.

    2. I have made this recipe many times and it is excellent! I make this recipe and a bruchetta because they go really well together on the bread. I also toast the slices of bread with provolone cheese as well. A great appetizer for a summer get together. Hope you see this and try it. I know I’m a couple of years late. But this recipe is saved on my tablet.5 stars

  28. What a photos ! This is one of those dishes that you immediately paste to your “to do ” list. Thank you so much !5 stars

  29. Hey there, Meggan. Just wondering… how many anchovies should I add to the tapenade? It’s not listed. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    1. I am so sorry about this!! It’s 3 anchovy filets. Updating the recipe right now. :)

    1. Hi Amanda, I am so sorry!!! I clearly got my wires crossed typing this recipe out. The amount is three anchovy filets, rinsed and patted dry. I actually meant to move that to the “notes” as an optional ingredient so this could be vegan-friendly! I’ve made, and enjoyed, this recipe both with and without the anchovy filets. Thanks for finding the typo so I may fix it right away!

  30. This post immediately grabbed my attention, Meggan, as we’ve just spent the last week apartment-hunting, too. Looks like we’re going to have to delay again for a few months, but that’s another story. Anyhow, love olive tapenade and it’s great to have a good recipe for it. I’m keen to give this a go for sure. :-)5 stars