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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.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 12 servings (1/4 cup each)
Calories 68kcal




  • 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.



  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 1/2 inch head space, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
  8. Kalamata Aioli: In a food processor, add 1 cup pitted and drained Kalamata olives, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, 5 large basil leaves (or 10 small), and 1 cup mayonnaise. Process until well combined.  Serve with bread chunks. Yields about 2 cups.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 337mg | Potassium: 20mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 112IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg