These Marinated Olives are just like the ones at the restaurant, and are very easy to make. They are great to make in advance for parties or entertaining, because you can set them out as a hands-off hors d’oeurve.

I never understood the appeal of marinated olives for most of my life. 

I’d occasionally see them listed on restaurant menus and wonder why someone would pick that over something like Crab Cakes.

But after receiving them at various restaurants as a free item (like the legendary version at NYC’s Union Square Cafe), I came around to how wonderful mixed marinated olives are.

Marinated Olives - In a White Bowl on a Wooden Board

And funny enough, this is something that I’ve seen people tend to devour at parties too.

There is something so flavorful and addictive about them, and they’re very simple to make. 

How to Make Marinated Olives:

All that’s involved here is warming up an olive oil, vinegar, herb, citrus mixture for marinating, then adding them to your olives. Let’s get into the details.

What Kind of Olives to Use:

My personal favorite is combining Castelvetrano Olives (on the left below) with a classic Greek Mix (on the right):

Castelvetrano Olives and Greek Olive Mix in Glass Bowl

Castelvetrano Olives have become more mainstream and widely available in the past few years, and I love how buttery the flavor is. 

They are also milder than the olives in a typical Greek Olive Mix and tend to soften the whole batch, which I like.

So kind of like how I discuss that pretty much any apple can be used in Crockpot Applesauce but I recommend combining a sweeter apple with a tart apple, here I recommend combining a milder olive with the strong ones like Kalamatas.

Make the Marinade:

In a small saucepan, combine fresh rosemary, orange strips, lemon strips, garlic, a bay leaf, red chili flakes, with olive oil and vinegar:

Olive Oil, Rosemary, Citrus Zest, and Chili Flakes in Saucepan

I didn’t catch the action shot but I like to use a white wine vinegar. Red is also fine.

Make sure you do not include the white pith from the citrus, only the colored part. I take it off gently with a vegetable peeler (affiliate)

Warm on low heat for about 5 minutes, until the herbs and garlic start to smell fragrant, but make sure the oil never comes to a boil or even starts to shimmer.

It’s best to think of this as gently warming the marinade up slightly, so the flavors infuse better, as opposed to cooking. You don’t want to heat it up too much, or the oil will lose its subtle notes and the vinegar can turn bitter.

Warmed Olive Oil, Rosemary, Citrus Zest, and Garlic in Saucepan

Pour the marinade all over the olives, and toss well:

Marinated Olives Recipe - Presented in Glass Bowl with Rosemary and Garlic

I like to leave all the whole pieces of citrus, garlic, and rosemary in here, so it can keep infusing.

Let the olives sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving, though I prefer to make them the day before. 

Greek Olive Mix Marinated and Served in White Bowl on Wooden Board 

If you like these Marinated Olives, I recommend trying this Tapenade, which is very similar.

Smoked Salmon Deviled EggsBaba Ganoush, and Stuffed Mini Peppers are a few of my other favorite party appetizers. Enjoy!

Marinated Olives FAQ and Tips:

  • How Long to Store: You can keep the olives in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Can you freeze? Not recommended.
  • Other Types of Acid: You may use your favorite vinegar here, whether it’s white wine, red wine, or champagne vinegar. You can also use fresh lemon juice, but I recommend adding it after the marinade comes off the heat.
  • Other Types of Herbs: Rosemary is my favorite but you can try other kinds of herbs like thyme or oregano.
Marinated Olives in a White Bowl with Herbs and Garlic

Marinated Olives

Castelvetrano and Greek Olives Marinated in Olive Oil and Vinegar, Rosemary, Garlic, Citrus, and Chili Flakes.
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Ingredients

  • 10.6 oz Castelvetrano olives (dry weight 6oz)*
  • 10.2 oz Greek olive mix (dry weight 6.3oz)*
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 strips lemon rind **
  • 2 strips orange rind **
  • 1 large sprig rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ***

Instructions 

  • Drain the olives well and place them in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Place on the stove over low heat and let it gently warm up for 5 minutes, making sure the oil does not start to bubble or shimmer. You just want the fresh rosemary to wilt slightly and let the aromas start to build.
  • Pour the marinade all over the olives and toss well.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably for a day. Serve and enjoy!
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

*I had 2 cups of olives total. Scale this recipe as desired.
**I use a vegetable peeler to gently peel off the colored part only. Don't include the white pith, which is bitter.
***This is fairly spicy, even with only 1/8 tsp of chili flakes. Cut in half if you only want a slight spiciness.

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 1172mg, Potassium: 47mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 314IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.