This flavorful olive tapenade recipe is made with two kinds of olives, garlic, lemon juice, capers, and fresh thyme. It’s an easy appetizer that can be made in just five minutes. Great for snacking, parties, and holiday get-togethers. Vegan and gluten-free.
Briny olives are delicious right out of the jar, no doubt. But when you add some capers, garlic, lemon juice, and fresh thyme, you take them from delish to divine.
Piled onto crackers or spooned onto toasted crostini, it’s an easy appetizer that pulls no punches in flavor.
This olive tapenade recipe comes together in only minutes. It’s simply a matter of putting a few ingredients into a food processor, and pulsing several times. The only way it could be easier is if you just bought a container of tapenade at the store.
Because it is so fast & easy to make, it’s the perfect impromptu hors d’oeuvre for surprise guests, or as an addition to a mezze platter.
What is tapenade?
Tapenade is a seasoned dip made from olives and capers. It comes from the Provence region of France. The word itself is derived from tapenas, which means capers.
Tapenade can be puréed with a mortar & pestle or finely chopped. I prefer it on the chunky side.
Is tapenade vegan?
Obviously, this olive tapenade recipe is vegan. However, tapenade is often made with anchovies. So you’ll want to look out for that if you’re buying a pre-made jar.
I don’t worry about specifically replacing the anchovies in this recipe. This dip has plenty of saltiness & briny flavor, it’s not lacking for pop.
What kind of olives should I use?
I recommend using pitted olives that are a couple different colors – like black and green. That adds visual interest.
I used kalamata and green olives stuffed with red peppers. The nice, bright red color stands in contrast to the green. You could also use pimiento-stuffed olives instead.
My favorite olives, Castelvetrano, would also be fabulous here.
How to make this olive tapenade recipe
Put the following ingredients into the food processor:
- Kalamata olives
- Stuffed green olives
- Minced garlic
- Lemon juice
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh thyme
Pulse the food processor five or six times.
The tapenade should still be chunky. And serve!
(Don’t have a food processor? Chop the olives by hand instead. Then stir them in with the remaining ingredients in a serving bowl, almost like an olive salsa.)
Make it your own
You can personalize this tapenade by making some simple variations.
- Use just one type of olive, vary the type of olives, or use a third kind
- Use olives that are stuffed with interesting things like pimientos, garlic, almonds, or jalapeños
- Add other elements like sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, or lemon zest
- Use dried thyme instead of fresh (Remember to halve the amount, because dried is stronger)
- Vary the herbs by using rosemary, basil, parsley, or oregano
- Add chickpeas and tahini, and turn it into olive hummus
Ways to use it
- Put it on crackers
- Pile it on toasted crostini with a slathering of non-dairy cream cheese or tofu ricotta
- Stir it into Mediterranean pasta with garlic olive oil
- Use it as a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables
- Put it in a tortilla pinwheel along with hummus, spinach, and vegan feta cheese
- Use it as a pizza topping with artichoke hearts, red onions, bell peppers, and/or basil
How to store it
Keep tapenade in a covered container in the refrigerator. The oils, brine, lemon juice, and garlic all have antimicrobial effects. So it will last several days in the fridge. (If you’re planning on keeping it longer than that, you may want to add more olive oil to the top.)
If it looks dried out, add another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and stir before serving.
More olive recipes you’ll love
Can’t get enough of olives? Here are more recipes I’m sure you’ll adore:
- Fried olives stuffed with vegan feta cheese
- Kalamata olive hummus with artichokes
- Israeli couscous salad with olives & artichokes
- Warmed Castelvetrano olives with lemon & garlic
Olive tapenade with garlic & thyme
- Put kalamata olives, stuffed green olives, capers, minced garlic, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh thyme leaves in food processor.
- Pulse 5 or 6 stems, until broken up but still chunky.
- Move to a serving bowl. Garnish with more fresh thyme, if you like.