Olive Tapenade

5 from 1 vote

Olive tapenade is a simple appetizer with a salty, briny flavor, and it is so good! It pairs perfectly with sliced bread, pita, or crackers.

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I love finding new ways to add olives to my table, and this olive tapenade is my latest favorite! It’s super easy to make and combines sun-dried tomatoes, tangy lemon, and a mix of olives for Mediterranean flavors. Plus, making olive tapenade is super easy! Just toss everything in the food processor, and you’re good to go.

Olive tapenade in a bowl with small toasts nearby.
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Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Mediterranean
Primary Cooking Method: No-Cook
Dietary Info: Vegan, Gluten-Free
Key Flavor: Zesty and Briny
Skill Level: Beginner

  • Simple & Easy: No cook time, just a quick mix in the blender. It’s ready before you know it, and olive tapenade is the perfect speedy addition to your snack table.
  • Versatile: Spread it on anything! Whether it’s crusty bread, pretzels, or your favorite crackers, this tapenade works with whatever’s on your plate or in your pantry.
  • Great for Groups: Tapenade is super easy to make in big batches. It’s great for parties or as an appetizer during the holidays. Just multiply the ingredients, and you’re good to go!

Ingredients to Make Olive Tapenade

Ingredients for recipe: two types of olives, garlic, fresh parsley and basil, sundried tomatoes, and oil.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: I use the ones that aren’t packed in oil to keep things light, but once they’re rehydrated, they pack a ton of flavor.
  • Lemon (juice and zest): Adds a bright, citrusy flavor that brings out the other ingredients’ flavors.
  • Garlic: Just one clove, smashed, to give that hint of sharpness which balances perfectly with the olives.
  • Kalamata olives: These are my go-to for their rich, fruity and tangy flavor.
  • Green olives: To contrast the kalamatas, adding a bit more bite and a vibrant color.
  • Fresh parsley and basil: These herbs freshen up the mix and add a lovely green hue.
  • Olive oil: Helps to blend everything into a smooth, spreadable paste.
  • Switch up the olives: Not a fan of kalamata or green olives? Try black olives for a milder taste.
  • Add capers: For an extra burst of briny flavor, throw in some capers.
  • Spice it up: A pinch of red pepper flakes can add a little heat if you like your tapenade with a kick.
  • Fresh herbs: Feel free to experiment with other herbs like thyme or oregano if you have them on hand. They can subtly change the flavor profile.
  • Make it creamy: Blend in a bit of cream cheese or goat cheese for a creamier version of this tapenade.

How to Make Olive Tapenade

Sundried tomatoes in a bowl of hot water.
Step 1: Place sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water.
Sundried tomatoes after soaking in water.
Step 2: Let sit to soften the tomatoes
Drained soaked sundried tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor with lemon juice and zest, garlic, olives, parsley, and basil.
Step 3: Add drained tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, kalamata olives, green olives, parsley and basil.
Ingredients after processing in a food processor.
Step 4: Pulse the mixture a few times until the olives and tomatoes are broken down.
Oil being poured into food processor.
Step 5: Stream in olive oil and process until the mixture resembles a chunky pesto.
Recipe after processing.
Step 6: Serve with bread, pita, or crackers.

Tips for Making the Best Olive Tapenade

  1. Choose Quality Ingredients: The flavors in this tapenade really rely on the quality of the ingredients. High-quality olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice will also make a big difference compared to the bottled kind.
  2. Proper Preparation of Ingredients: To avoid a gritty texture, make sure your sun-dried tomatoes are well-rehydrated before blending. Soaking them in hot water for about 15 minutes should do the trick. Also, remember to zest your lemon before squeezing it for juice—it’s much easier this way!
  3. Balance Your Flavors: While olives are naturally salty, the sun-dried tomatoes add a sweet and tangy element. Taste as you go and adjust your seasonings, depending on the balance of tanginess to saltiness.
  4. Pulse, Don’t Puree: For the best texture, pulse the ingredients in your food processor until just combined. You’re aiming for a mix that has body and chunkiness rather than a completely smooth puree. This will give your tapenade a more interesting texture.
  5. Let It Marinate: Once you’ve blended your tapenade, give it some time to sit before serving. An hour or so will allow the flavors to mix. If you have the time, letting it sit covered in the refrigerator overnight can enhance the flavors even more.
Olive tapenade in a serving bowl on a platter with small toasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to store olive tapenade

Store your tapenade in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

My tapenade is too oily. How can I correct this?

Strain off a little of the oil and adjust the consistency with a few extra pulses in the food processor.

Can I make this tapenade without a food processor?

Absolutely! If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop all the ingredients by hand. It will take a bit more time and effort, but you’ll end up with a rustic and chunky tapenade that’s just as delicious.

My tapenade turned out too chunky. How can I fix it?

If your tapenade is too chunky, it’s usually a quick fix. Just return it to the food processor and pulse a few more times until you reach the desired consistency. Be careful not to over-process; you want to maintain some texture.

Olive tapenade on a few pieces of toasts with a bowl of more nearby.

If you love tangy, salty olives you’re going to love this olive tapenade recipe! Experiment with different ways to serve your tapenade. It’s not just for bread and crackers — try spooning some over grilled lemon chicken or stir some into a pasta dish for a Mediterranean twist.

More Appetizer Dip Recipes:

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Olive Tapenade

Olive tapenade is a simple appetizer with a salty, briny flavor, and it is so good! It pairs perfectly with sliced bread, pita, or crackers.
5 from 1 vote
Servings 6 servings
Course Appetizer
Calories 176
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
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  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes not oil packed
  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 1 garlic clove smashed
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil

For serving:

  • sliced bread pita or crackers


  • Place sun-dried tomatoes in a heatproof bowl. Cover the tomatoes with boiling water, then cover the bowl with a plate and let sit for 15 minutes. This will help to soften the tomatoes.
  • Drain tomatoes and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, kalamata olives, green olives, parsley and basil. Pulse the mixture 10 to 12 times, until the olives and tomatoes are broken down. With the machine running, stream in olive oil and process until the mixture resembles a chunky pesto.
  • Serve with bread, pita, or crackers. Any leftovers will stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.


The nutrition label is for the dip only.


Calories: 176kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Sodium: 714mg, Potassium: 377mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 524IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine French
Course: Appetizer

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Recipe Rating


  1. Sha says:

    Absolutely love tapenade! Wondering though what can be used to replace the sun dried tomatoes? On the verge of hating them.