Olive Tapenade + 10 Ways to Use It

Olive Tapenade

It’s no secret I love olives.  The evidence of my addiction is scattered all over this blog; you’ve seen recipes for salmon tartare with olives and avocado, olive and endive tiellapork shoulder braised with olives and blood oranges, among others.

What you haven’t seen are the countless deli containers of olives I’ve munched from while standing in the kitchen, waiting for a risotto to come together or a chicken to roast.  Out of control.  And you haven’t seen the batches of tapenade I’ve made and smeared on sandwiches and pizza, stirred into pasta, and dolloped onto pots of steamed mussels.

Today’s the day though.  Olives will take center-stage and we’ll put together a batch of tapenade.  Soon you, too, will be garnishing your life with black olives and loving every moment of it.

Olive tapenade is hardly something you need a recipe for, it’s just a thick paste of black olives with garlic, anchovies, and herbs.  I use oil-cured black olives, but if you have a hard time finding these (like I sometimes do), any flavorful black olive will do the trick.  My version includes a handful of toasted pine nuts to add another layer of flavor, fresh mint, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Just pit the olives, toss them in a food processor or blender with the garlic and anchovies.  Pulse until you have a thick, purpley-black paste.  Season with lemon juice, mint, and black pepper and stir in olive oil to loosen it up.  Done!

Olive Tapenade

Okay, you’ve got your tapenade…now what?  You’re not going to eat it with a spoon.  Not even I’m that hardcore.  Here are 10 ways you can mix olive tapenade into your everyday eating.

  1. Toss tapenade with boiled new potatoes, blanched green beans, and shallots.  Chill.  Add a few tomato slices, hard-boiled egg, and tuna for a Niçoise-esque potato salad.
  2. Add a dollop to your morning avocado toast.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Fried egg highly encouraged.
  3. Thin the tapenade out with more olive oil and add a touch more lemon juice.  Bam!–Olive Vinaigrette!  I bet it’d be great on this salad.
  4. Mix it with mayonnaise and you’ve got an amazing spread.  Make a killer turkey sandwich or go all out and have it with lamb burgers.
  5. Swirl it into a simple soup.
  6. Dress a bowl of spaghetti.  Use a little pasta water to loosen it up.  Shower with parmesan and fresh mint and/or parsley.  Yum.
  7. Rub it under the skin of your next roast chicken.  Roast some potatoes in the same pan to catch the olive-y drippings.
  8. Mix the tapenade into softened butter and spread on grilled sweet corn.  Sprinkle with chives.  This move will change your life.
  9. Stir it into hummus, make a cucumber salad, and grab a bag of pita chips on your way to the park.  Picnic!  Don’t forget a bottle of wine.
  10. Grill steaks or fish and smear a spoonful over the top.  That’s what I’ll be doing with the rest of my tapenade this weekend.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Olive Tapenade


4.0 from 1 reviews
Olive Tapenade 
Prep time
Total time
Olive tapenade has so many uses. See my list above for some inspiration or just spread it on crusty bread and go to town!
Recipe type: Condiment, Spread, Appetizer
Cuisine: French
Serves: yields 1 c.
  • 1 c. Oil-Cured Black Olives, pitted
  • ¼ c. Pine Nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. Fresh Mint, thinly sliced
  • about 1 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • about 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Black Pepper
  1. Combine olives, pine nuts, garlic, and anchovies in a food processor (I use my miniature one) or blender. Pulse until the ingredients break down enough to form a thick paste. If you have a large enough mortar and pestle you could use that if you prefer. You should still be able to see flecks of the pine nuts and distinct pieces of olive.
  2. Add mint, stir to combine. Season with lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Add about a Tbsp. of olive oil to loosen the paste into a spreadable consistency. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or 2.



  1. Pam says

    This sounds like something I must have on hand! I like the addition of mint for that springtime flair – and you know where you can find plenty of it!!!
    Love, Mom

    • says

      I keep buying mint at the grocery store and thinking, “why?” because I know you’ll be trying to unload bushels of it on me before I know it!

  2. willie shaw says

    is it possible to eat too much tappenade, I have a friend who is eating about a coffee cup full very two days? she makes it herself, just olives, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.

  3. Manie Verster says

    Sarah, I love your tips and recipes and will definitely try some of them. This is a bit new for me but I think I’ll love it.


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