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    Olive Tapenade

    Tapenade – An ode to Olives… à la Provençal, coming to you all the way from the south of France. Earthy, robust olives, capers, garlic and a few other flavorings just chopped or pureed with plenty of olive oil… Simple, quick, delicious and addictive.

    Summer time in France… embracing every chance left to sit outside on a shiny summer afternoon, be it quiet time on your terrace or a picnic in the park with friends and family. Chilled white wine with some delectable nibbles on the sides. These Provençal people sure nailed it down with their beloved and popular tapenade, where olive is the STAR! What a way to help that summer linger a little bit longer in our lives…

    A black bowl full of our three olive tapenade.

    In France, aperitif time is just before lunch or dinner where everybody gathers around to enjoy a drink and chit chat about small things or big gossips. And in France when there is drink, there is also food. A table full of hors d’oeuvres and antipasti for everybody to enjoy.

    This Olive tapenade makes its way to such tables very very often. For its popularity and easy makeup, the host is happy and the guests are happy!!

    What is Tapenade?


    A little white dish of tapenade surrounded by a flower made from sliced baguette bread.

    Tapenade comes from Provence, a region in the south of France. The name comes from the Provençal word “Tapenas” for capers. Funny, since capers only play a supporting role in the dish, as olive is the star. The other ingredients like garlic, anchovies, herbs and lemon juice just intensify everything that is good about olives.

    Traditionally it’s made with black olives, but very soon it evolved to include different types and colors of olives. They are chopped or blended, along with the other ingredients, into a paste.

    The tapenade could be chunky and coarse, or made into silky smoothness. There is no right or wrong way, but recipes passed down the generations develop personal preferences.

    Extreme close up image of our tapenade.

    Tapenade is generally eaten as hors d’oeuvres on crostini or crudites, but can find its way into pots and pans cooking some great tasting main courses.

    A small white dish of tapenade accompanied by sliced baguette bread.

    How Does It Taste?

    Do you have a “salty tooth”? If yes, this is for you. The dominant taste of a tapenade is the briny salty olive-caper combo. To round out the flavor there is a tiny hint of garlic, along with the zingy freshness of lemon juice and some fresh herbs, all blended well with loads of olive oil… PERFECT!

    We are skipping anchovies today, so this one is vegan and plant based friendly.


    • Olives – You can make tapenade with any of your favorite olives. Just single-colored or multicolored like us. We are using black, pimento stuffed green and kalamata pitted olives. You can experiment with it a lot if you happen to have an olive bar in your grocery store… Fun fun!
    • Capers – Some more briny flavor.
    • Sun dried tomatoes – So good here.
    • Garlic – Minced. Just a tiny bit, you don’t want to overpower the flavors with raw garlic.
    • Lemon juice – Zesty freshness. Sometimes we do add lemon zest too.
    • Fresh herbs – Basil and parsley.
    • Red chili flakes – Optional, but we love it.
    • Salt and pepper – To taste.
    • Olive oil – So everything comes together.

    Easy Instructions

    The fastest way to whip up this fancy appetizer is to blend everything together in your blender. If you use this method, be sure to just pulse it, that way you can monitor the coarseness to your liking.

    Mix everything in the blender except olive oil and pulse a few times, scraping down from sides if needed. Drizzle in olive oil in the end and give a few more pulses… And voila, it’s ready. Keep it a little chunkier, or blend it smooth, it’s up to you. We like it both ways. At the Beisers’, some days it’s chunky, some days skinny. 🙂

    All of the chopped olives, capers, tomatoes and fresh herbs in a black bowl alongside a little dish of olive oil.

    Some days, like today, I just chop everything on my chopping board. It’s slower, but kinda therapeutic. But that’s just me, someone who loves cooking.

    Some Great Variations

    • Are you into anchovies? Many of the French versions do include a few anchovies. Just stir in 1-2 when you are blending the rest of the ingredients.
    • In your regular tapenade blend, add in some nuts like walnuts, pistachios, blanched almonds or even pine nuts.
    • Another great variation is to add in some figs for a little sweeter touch. It balances very well with the savory brininess.
    • Add in fresh chopped cherry tomatoes. Or cook the olive mixture, along with tomatoes, for a few minutes.
    • You can just make mono colored tapenade using one type of olive.
    • Vary the amount of olive oil. Some days we douse the tapenade with more olive oil than others.
    A small white bowl full of tapenade and surrounded by sliced baguette.

    How to Use It

    1. Olive tapenade is usually served with toasted bread or alongside a plate of crudites. Think ciabatta, sourdough or focaccia.
    2. Imagine it on a simple cheese antipasti board, or part of an elaborate charcuterie board along with salami, grapes, crackers, a baguette, pitas, and heirloom tomatoes.
    3. Make a crostini, slather it with goat cheese or cream cheese, and top it with tapenade.
    4. Have a great sandwich with just tomato + lettuce + mozzarella + tapenade. Same goes for any kind of wraps.
    5. Stir it as a whirl in hummus and you have a great dip for your pitas.
    6. It even goes great over your eggs, along with some avocado toast. Or fry your eggs with a dollop of tapenade, and when you flip the eggs the tapenade gets cooked as well. Same when making omelettes, or you can fold them into scrambled eggs.
    7. It goes great in pasta salads, or even in your pasta dishes.
    8. Chop some tomatoes into it and have this as a bruschetta tapenade over a piece of bread.
    9. Tomato tapenade tarts are very popular in Europe.
    10. It makes a great sauce for pizza. Try it with arugula and goat cheese.
    11. Do you like to bake your own bread? Stir it in your bread dough and you end up with a beautiful olive loaf.
    12. It gives an instant flavor boost to roasted chicken, pork tenderloin or even some baked fish. Try our Mediterranean Fish with Tapenade.
    13. Turn it into vinaigrette with a little more olive oil and stir it into salads… Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad and potato salad will benefit so much with just a spoonful of tapenade stirred in.

    Storing Leftovers

    This is great in your refrigerator for up to two weeks in an airtight container. So it’s perfect to make a big batch and munch it on throughout the week in different ways. In no time you will want to keep a jar in your fridge all the time

    Our olive tapenade in a black bowl against a white background.

    Tapenade, my friends. This salty, briny Mediterranean recipe may be the easiest thing you will ever make. This is your companion for that quiet “me time”, or the ideal contender to bring to a friend’s house for an appetizer. The compliments you will get are inversely proportional to the effort put in.

    Let’s make this favorite French time pass our everyday thing too. This delectable nibble, where olive is the star ingredient, to accompany fresh bread and a chilled glass of white wine. What a great way to let summer linger a little longer!

    Olive Tapenade, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    A little bowl of our olive tapenade on the Gypsy Plate.

    Enjoy these other great appetizers from around the world!
    Gambas al Ajillo (Spanish Garlic Shrimp)
    Tostones (Fried Plantains)
    German Sauerkraut Balls
    Espinacas con Garbanzos
    Moutabal (Eggplant Dip)
    Shrimp de Jonghe
    Spicy Dumplings
    Gigantes Plaki

    Olive tapenade.

    Olive Tapenade

    Yield: 2 cups
    Prep Time: 5 minutes
    Cook Time: 10 minutes
    Total Time: 15 minutes

    If you love olives, this tapenade is for you! Satisfy your "salty tooth" with this simple and easy appetizer from the South of France!


    • 2 cups pitted olives, chopped (mix of black, green and kalamata)
    • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes in a jar, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp capers, chopped
    • 1 garlic, minced
    • ½ fresh lemon, juiced
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ tsp red chili flakes
    • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
    • 8-10 basil leaves, chopped
    • Salt to taste (just a pinch as olives and capers are salty)
    • Pepper to taste


    1. Finely chop olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs.
    2. Mix all together with minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chili flakes.
    3. Drizzle in olive oil and stir.
    4. Taste and adjust for lemon juice and garlic.


    1. You can make tapenade in matter of minutes in a blender instead of chopping manually. Simply put all ingredients except olive oil in the blender and pulse it few tines. Drizzle in olive oil and pulse more to get the desired chunkiness to your liking.
    2. You can stir in more olive oil to make it a little thinner to sop up the goodness of olive oil with bread.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 8 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 109Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 375mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 1g

    Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.

    Did you make this recipe?

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    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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