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Impress your guests with the vibrant flavors in this easy olive tapenade. You’ll love the combination of salty olives, capers, fresh herbs, and lemon to wake up your tastebuds. Enjoy as a spread, dip, or condiment…you will want it on everything!

Dips and appetizers are just what you need to start any party off right! If you want more ideas try this dip, or appetizers like these egg rolls, or my amazing cheesy bread. They will FLY off of your table!

Top view of tapenade in a brown bowl served with crostini and crackers.

What is Olive Tapenade?

Originating in France, olive tapenade is an impressive and versatile condiment. The unexpected combination of ingredients creates a salty and briny spread that will perk up your palate! You’ll love the texture of the olives, capers, and an anchovy filet. Then comes the bright and zesty flavors from the lemon and fresh herbs. Serve it as a spread for sandwiches, a dip for crackers or crostini, or garnish on just about anything! It’s also a great addition to any charcuterie board. It adds a bold and salty punch of flavor to any dish.

You will love the versatility of this olive tapenade recipe. It’s great to have a recipe that can be used in so many different ways. If you’re looking for more spreads that have many uses, I’m here to help! Try the best hummus recipe, this tzatziki sauce, or my tomato chutney.

What is in Olive Tapenade?

These ingredients are easy to store and have on hand when you’re ready to make it. Feel free to use any combination of olives you would like. Black olives in this spread are also delicious, and sometimes I mix all three kinds of olives. That’s what I love about this recipe, it’s so adaptable. I also love experimenting with different herbs and olives.

  • Garlic: Just one clove for this recipe, and fresh is always best.
  • Capers: Capers add great depth and flavor to the tapenade.
  • Green Olives: Make sure the olives are pitted and without pimientos.
  • Kalamata Olives: Pitted kalamata olives are briny and salty, and they are my favorite olives to use in this tapenade recipe.
  • Anchovy Filet: I highly recommend not leaving this out. It adds an umami flavor to the tapenade and is not fishy tasting at all!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Helps to blend and add moisture to the spread.
  • Lemon Zest: Brightens the flavors and pairs well with the salty flavors.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds acidity to the spread and helps balance the flavors.
  • Fresh Basil: Fresh basil is a must to achieve the freshest herby taste.
  • Fresh Parsley: For an added tasty garnish!

Olive Tapenade Recipe

Olive tapenade ingredients can be thrown together quickly and easily into the food processor to create the most delicious appetizer ever. It’s so simple because it only takes 5 minutes to prepare! Make this recipe ahead of time because the longer it sits, the better it tastes!

  1. Add Ingredients to a Food Processor: Add all the ingredients to a food processor.
  2. Pulse Ingredients: Pulse until you reach the texture you like, scraping down the sides and bottom as needed. I made mine moderately chunky, but you can blend it until it is finer and smoother if you prefer.
  3. Garnish and Serve: Top with fresh parsley then serve with crackers, crostini, or bagel chips.
First photo of the tapenade ingredients in the food processor. Second photo of the tapenade pulsed in a food processor.

Tips and Variations

This olive tapenade recipe is easy to make and easy to adjust! Follow my tips below to help make this recipe a success. It’s extremely adaptable because you can make it just the way you like it!

  • No food processor? No problem! Tapenade can be chunky or fine, but even without a food processor, you can still make this recipe. Put that chef’s knife to work and mince all your ingredients together until you have achieved the texture you want. You probably won’t get a very smooth version this way, but we love a chunky olive tapenade at our house!
  • Are anchovies necessary? Not really, but they do serve a purpose! One anchovy filet is used in this recipe because it adds a little bit of salty umami depth to the recipe that olives and capers don’t quite capture. You can use ¼-½ teaspoon of anchovy paste or omit it completely if you prefer.
  • Variations: This recipe is super adaptable to your preferences. You may substitute either of the olives for another kind of olive if that is what you like. Play with the herbs, omit the capers or anchovies, or replace the lemon juice with different kinds of vinegar. The recipe is extremely forgiving!
  • Don’t Add Salt: I repeat, DO NOT ADD SALT! So many of the ingredients are very inherently salty making additional salt unnecessary.
Close top view of olive tapenade in a bowl with crostini dipped in the spread. Olives and parsley are garnished on top.

Storing Leftovers

The longer the ingredients sit together, the more the flavors will meld. You can prepare this tapenade several days in advance. Let it sit in the fridge to develop a deeper flavor before serving. You’re going to love having leftovers!

  • In the Refrigerator: Store olive tapenade in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
Close view of olive tapenade spread on crostini.

What to Serve With Olive Tapenade

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Olive Tapenade

By: Alyssa Rivers
Impress your guests with the vibrant flavors in this easy olive tapenade. You'll love the combination of salty olives, capers, fresh herbs, and lemon to wake up your tastebuds. Enjoy as a spread, dip, or condiment…you will want it on everything!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Add all the ingredients to a food processor.
  • Pulse until it is the texture you’d like, scraping down the sides and bottom as needed. I made mine moderately chunky, but you can blend it until it is finer and smoother if you prefer.
  • Top with fresh parsley and serve with crackers, crostini, or bagel chips.

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 764mgPotassium: 36mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 309IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, condiment, dip
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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