Fried olives are hand-stuffed with vegan feta cheese, coated in batter, and finished in seasoned panko bread crumbs. The brininess of the olives accentuates the cheesiness of the filling.
It’s easy to pop one in your mouth right after the other. Or you can pause to dip it into lemon garlic aioli or cashew salad dressing. Air fryer option included.
Foods that have been breaded and fried in oil take on a certain addictive quality. The crispy crunch and salty exterior makes your eyes light right up.
But until I got the idea for this recipe, I’d never had fried olives.
Since I adore olives, and my breaded recipes are some of my most popular, it seemed like it could only be a winner. Then I made almond feta cheese, and an epiphany was born.
Cheese stuffed fried olives
After making these cheese stuffed fried olives a few times, I’m happy to report that this idea was a very good one. I can’t wait for you to try it for yourself!
What kind of olives should I use?
My favorite olives for this recipe are Castelvetrano. They have a mild flavor, buttery texture, and are on the large side. That makes them easier to stuff. The brand I use is Jeff’s Garden.
(If you have extras left over, make warmed Castelvetrano olives with lemon zest, garlic, and fresh thyme.)
However, feel free to use the olives of your choice.
Olive filling options
For this recipe, I recommend stuffing pitted olives with homemade vegan feta cheese. The cheese is made with blanched almonds. It has enough substance and body that it’s easy to use your fingers to press it into each olive.
Pro tip: Vegan feta cheese freezes & thaws well. So before I made stuffed olives most recently, I quickly defrosted the cheese in the microwave. Then I got to work on stuffing the olives.
Also, cheese stuffed olives are a delicious & eye-catching appetizer all on their own if you’re not up to breading & frying them.
If you don’t feel like making vegan feta cheese or you’re in a hurry, there are plenty of other options.
You can use pitted olives & leave them empty inside. (Obviously you shouldn’t use olives with pits for this recipe.)
You can fill pitted olives with shredded vegan cheese. I’ve used Daiya cheddar block that I shredded by hand, Miyoko’s shredded pepper jack, and Trader Joe’s new vegan mozzarella shreds. All of them worked well here.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this kind of shredded vegan cheese is meant to melt. So it will get gooey in the skillet in a way that the vegan feta cheese will not.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. (Who’s sad about melty cheese?) But it may mean you will lose some of the filling from inside as it oozes out. (You can see some Daiya cheddar oozing out in a frying picture below.)
Finally, you can use jarred olives that are already stuffed. There are tons on the market. Some ideas include olives stuffed with pimentos, garlic, almonds, red peppers, or jalapeños.
How to make fried olives
Start by removing olives from a jar and drying them on a clean kitchen towel. For the breading to stick, they need to be completely dry.
Now you can fill them. (If you’re using olives that are already stuffed, obviously you can skip this step.)
Simply use your fingers to push vegan feta cheese or shredded non-dairy cheese into the pitted area until it’s flush with the exterior.
Set up a breading station with two plates and one bowl.
Put a couple Tablespoons of all-purpose flour on the first plate.
In the bowl, combine flour and water. You want it to be the texture of pancake batter. It should be thin enough to spread on easily, but thick enough that it sticks.
On the last plate, combine panko bread crumbs, granulated onion, dried oregano, and salt.
Roll each stuffed olive in the flour. This makes it totally dry, so that the batter can stick.
Then roll it in the batter. Tap along the side of the bowl to remove any excess.
Finish by covering each olive in the panko mixture.
(To keep your hands tidy, I recommend using one hand for dry ingredients and the other for wet.)
For the optimum browning, frying is best. Put a shallow layer of organic canola oil (or other high heat oil) into a skillet. Bring to a medium high heat.
Fry for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally, so that the olives brown all over.
Move the fried olives to a towel-lined plate to drain off the excess oil.
Can I use the air fryer instead?
Sure! They are best fried in oil on the stove, but they can easily be fried in the air fryer.
Instead of frying in a skillet, move the olives to the air fryer basket. Spritz them with oil. Then air fry at 400 degrees for 6 minutes, stopping occasionally to shake the basket & spritz with more oil for better browning.
Keep in mind that the air fried olives won’t have the same deep brown color as skillet fried olives. But they’re still delicious!
What should I use for a dipping sauce?
These cheese stuffed breaded olives have loads of flavor on their own. They don’t necessarily need a dipping sauce. But to make them extra fun, serve with any of the following:
How to store & reheat
Keep any leftover fried olives in a covered container in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.
My favorite way to reheat them is in the air fryer. They’re especially good if they’ve been fried in oil on the stove, and then reheated in the air fryer. To reheat in the air fryer, cook at 400 degrees for 3 minutes.
It’s a great way to make them ahead of time for a party. Cook them in oil ahead of time. Then just reheat in the air fryer once your guests arrive.
- For the breading to stick to the olives, you want to make sure they're completely dry. Remove the olives from the jar and put them onto a clean kitchen towel to dry them fully.
- Now you can fill your pitted olives. (If you're using stuffed olives, skip this step.) Use your fingers to press vegan feta cheese into each pitted olive. Then smooth the top of the olive so that it's flush with the opening. Continue until all of the olives are filled.
- Set up a breading station. On one plate, put two Tablespoons of flour. Set it aside. Then in a bowl, combine the remaining 4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) of flour with 1/4 cup of water. You want it to be the consistency of pancake batter. Put in the last two Tablespoons of water one at a time until the right consistency is reached. If it's still too thick, add a splash more.On a third plate, put the panko bread crumbs, granulated onion, oregano, and a pinch of salt.
- Now it's time to bread the olives. As you're breading them, it helps if you use one hand for wet ingredients and one hand for dry ingredients.Put the stuffed olives onto the first plate with flour. Roll them around to cover all sides.Then dip each olive into the batter, coating all sides. You don't want an excess of batter. So tap each olive on the side of the bowl to get rid of any extra. (As you're dipping the olives into the wet batter, if it becomes too thick because of the flour from the olives, add a splash more of water. Then combine with a fork until smooth.)Finally, roll each olive in the panko bread crumb mixture until each one is coated on all sides.
- Bring a large non-stick skillet to a medium high heat with a shallow layer of organic canola oil (or other neutral flavored high heat oil). Drop a bread crumb into the oil. If the oil immediately sizzles around it, the oil is ready.Put the breaded olives into the oil. Don't move the olives for a minute or two, so that they can fully brown on one side. Once they're brown, move them with a spatula to another side. Continue until the olives are pretty much evenly browned all over. In total, it will take about 5 minutes to fry the olives.
- Move the olives to a towel lined plate to drain. (You can use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.)
- Serve the olives on their own as an appetizer, or serve them with a dipping sauce like lemon garlic aioli, cashew dressing, or vegan blue cheese dressing. (There are links to the aioli/dressing recipes in the notes section.)