Olive Tapenade

This olive tapenade recipe has a delicious mix of fresh, salty, and briny flavors. Serve it with crackers or baguette for a simple summer appetizer!

Olive tapenade

A few years back, if you’d offered me olive tapenade at a party or gathering, I would have politely declined it. I’d always thought of myself as an adventurous eater, but for some reason, olives just hadn’t been for me. But recently, I’ve finally(!) started to come around to them. I like them in Greek salad and on bruschetta, and now, I even love olives in tapenade! Who knows? If you’re an olive skeptic, this recipe might win you over too.

If you’re not familiar with tapenade, it’s a salty, briny olive spread that originated in the Provençe region of France. It’s fantastic on crackers and baguette, and it’s an impressive centerpiece for a summer cheese board. My recipe calls for a short list of pantry ingredients, so it’s easy to whip up at a moment’s notice. It would be a perfect last-minute appetizer for a party today or anytime this season. Enjoy!

Tapenade recipe ingredients

Olive Tapenade Recipe Ingredients

Traditional tapenade is made with anchovies in addition to olives and capers. To keep this recipe vegetarian, I skip the anchovies, but don’t worry – it’s still intensely flavorful. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Olives, of course! A traditional recipe would call for black olives such as niçoise or Nyon. For a colorful twist, I use a mix of green olives, like Castelvetrano, and kalamata olives instead. Tip: For quick and easy prep, buy pitted olives at the grocery store instead of pitting them yourself!
  • Capers – They amp up the tapenade’s salty, briny flavor.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – They’re not entirely traditional, but they add gorgeous red flecks and rich, savory flavor to this recipe.
  • Fresh lemon juice – For brightness.
  • Garlic – For bite.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It brings the tapenade together into a cohesive paste.
  • And fresh basil or parsley – These herbs offer a fresh contrast to all the briny, salty ingredients in the recipe.

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Olives, sun dried tomatoes, capers, and basil in a food processor

Traditionally, olive tapenade is made in a mortar and pestle, but to streamline the process, I make mine in a food processor instead. It comes together in just 5 minutes!

Appetizer platter with olive tapenade, mini mozzarella balls, roasted chickpeas, crackers, and crostini

Olive Tapenade Serving Suggestions

My favorite way to serve tapenade is as an appetizer. Set it out with crackers or baguette, or serve it as part of a part of a snack board with components such as these:

  • Creamy dips. You can’t go wrong with hummus or white bean dip.
  • Cheeses. I love serving this olive tapenade with soft, creamy cheeses like brie or fresh mozzarella.
  • Crunchy snacks. Roasted chickpeas and pecans are my go-tos.
  • Fresh veggies or fruit. Whatever’s in season is your best bet!

But there are other ways to serve olive tapenade, too! Try dotting it onto pizza, or slather it onto a sandwich. Spoon it over hard-boiled eggs for a snack or onto scrambled eggs for breakfast. You could also add a few dollops to a summer salad, like a Caprese salad or this zucchini salad, for a bold punch of flavor.

How do you like to serve olive tapenade? Let me know in the comments!

Olive tapenade recipe

More Favorite Summer Appetizers

If you love this olive tapenade recipe, try one of these summer appetizers next:

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Olive Tapenade

rate this recipe:
5 from 16 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves 4
This olive tapenade recipe is an easy, delicious appetizer! We love to serve it with crackers or baguette. Find additional serving suggestions in the post above.



  • In a small food processor, combine the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, and garlic.
  • Pulse until combined but still chunky. Add the fresh herbs and pulse again.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Sources: David Lebovitz and The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Marysa

    I love tapenade, but I’ve never tried to make it at home before. So easy! I will definitely have to give this a try. Love how you served it with the bread and mini mozz too!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Marysa, I hope you love the recipe! We love it with bread and mozzarella 🙂

  2. Renae

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe! I crave it often {grin}. It goes so well on crackers with soups on a cool day.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  3. Amy

    5 stars
    Made this as part of a mezze. Hubs said it was his favorite bite! Delicious!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad he loved it!

  4. Mainiac85

    If you use sun dried tomatoes not packed in oil, will it change the flavor or texture?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      We like to use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes because they have a richer flavor and softer texture than other sun-dried tomatoes, which helps them integrate well into the tapenade. If you try using other sun-dried tomatoes here, you might need a bit more olive oil to get the tapenade to come together.

  5. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com

    thank you, love tapenades but have only had them in restaurants, have never made them so this will certainly help, love the capers especially in this recipe!

  6. Linda

    This ingredient combination sounds delicious and I’m sure will be so much better than store-bought I usually buy. Your food processor photo showing all ingredients just prior to processing them includes amazing looking sun-dried tomatoes. May I ask the brand you used? Thank u so much. Your recipes on your blog and in your books are always inspiring:)

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Linda, the Alessi brand tomatoes are very red and vibrant looking (although I’ve made it just fine with other brands too).

  7. Kathryn Lilley

    Do you. Use pimiento Stuffed green olives?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      no, they’re just plain

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.