Mixed Olive Tapenade

January 12, 2023
Tapenade, the classic French olive spread, is so much better when you make it homemade! With this Mixed Olive Tapenade recipe, it's so easy there's just no reason to buy that little jar at the grocery store. Whip up a batch quickly and easily to enjoy as a sauce, condiment, or as a tasty appetizer spread with bread.

Bowl of Mixed Olive Tapenade Image

If you love olives, you'll flip for this mixed olive tapenade. When you make your own tapenade at home, it tastes just so much better than those you buy in a jar at the grocery store.

I never knew tapenade was so super easy to make until a friend of mine and I took a one-day demonstration cooking class featuring olive oil. The instructor made several different dishes using olive oil, and we sampled each one - each also paired with a different wine.

My absolute favorite dish of the day was the instructor's mixed olive tapenade.

With this Mixed Olive Tapenade recipe, it's so easy there's just no reason to buy that little jar at the grocery store.

So naturally then, I started making tapenade myself at home. The beauty of homemade tapenade, as with most cooking, is that you can adapt the recipe to suit your personal tastes. Homemade tapenade can be made using a single olive type, or a mixture of different olives as we do with this Mixed Olive Tapenade recipe.

And when it comes to that mixture of olives, choose what you like. Don't like pimento-stuffed? - Use something else. Can't stand black? - Leave them out. It's truly all up to you! 

I love to use a mix of several varieties of olives - a country mix that includes kalamata and Queen, some regular-old manzanilla stuffed with pimentos, and ripe black. And then I love to enjoy it generously slathered on crusty baguette slices as a perfect appetizer or snack.

Mixed Olive Tapenade Spread on a Baguette Slice Image

What's to Love About This Recipe:

  • Bold flavor - Just as tapenade is supposed to have, homemade Mixed Olive Tapenade is loaded with bold olive flavor, accented with capers and lemon.
  • Easy to make - A quick whirl of a few simple ingredients in a food processor makes this tapenade super easy to make.
  • Adjustable to suit personal taste - Adapt the recipe ingredients to suit your personal tastes. -- Make it with a single olive type, or any mixture of different olives you'd like.

Homemade Tapenade in a Small White Bowl Image

Mixed Olive Tapenade Ingredients:

It takes just a few simple ingredients to make homemade Mixed Olive Tapenade. To whip up a batch, you'll need:

  • Olives - We recommend a mix of Kalamata, green Queen, Manzanilla, and ripe black olives. However any mix of olives you'd like works just fine. Or, use just one olive type if you prefer.

  • Capers - Capers are brined immature flower buds of the caper bush, and are typically found in jars in the pickles area of the grocery store. They control the saltiness of the tapenade, so adjust the amount to taste.

  • Fresh lemon zest - Brings freshness and great flavor to the tapenade, nicely accenting and cutting the richness of the olives. Be sure to zest only the bright yellow layer of the lemon peel, avoiding the bitter white pith just below.

  • Parsley - Either fresh or dried parsley works for this recipe, though we much prefer the flavor and texture of fresh.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil - Creates the moist texture and consistency of the tapenade. Choose your favorite -- we love and recommend Colavita extra-virgin olive oil.

Homemade Mixed Olive Tapenade Ingredients Image

How to Make Homemade Mixed Olive Tapenade:

It's ridiculously easy to whip up a batch of Mixed Olive Tapenade. I swear, once you make your own, you'll never go back to buying pre-made jarred.

To get a batch started, toss your chosen olives into the food processor.

Mixed Olives in Food Processor Image

Next, toss in some capers. -- The capers really control the saltiness of the tapenade, adjust to your personal taste. Then grate in the zest of one lemon.

Zesting a Lemon Over Mixed Olives in Food Processor Image

Add some parsley and then give it all a good whirl in the food processor to chop and combine it.

Pureed Mixed Olives in Food Processor Bowl Image
Drizzle in olive oil, pulsing the food processor a couple of times, until the tapenade is moist and reaches your desired consistency. -- It should be moist, but not runny.

And there you have it - wonderful homemade mixed olive tapenade in about 5 minutes flat! Serve it up with some nice bread, toss it with warm pasta as a simple sauce, or spoon it over pork, chicken, or shrimp and enjoy.

Recipe FAQs:

  • What is tapenade? - Tapenade is a French spread made with pureed olives and capers as its base. It's easy to make, and can serve as a sauce, condiment, or spread.

  • Do I have to use a mixture of olives, or can I use just one kind of olive to make tapenade? - The beauty of making homemade olive tapenade, as with most cooking, is that you can adapt it to suit your personal tastes. You can absolutely make tapenade with one kind of olive, instead of a mixture, if you'd like. -- In fact, tapenade was traditionally made with black olives alone. Experiment to find what olive or mix of olives you like best.

  • Can I make tapenade without a food processor? - While a food processor makes quick and easy work of making a batch of tapenade, yes, tapenade can also be made without a food processor. Use a sharp knife to very finely chop the olives and capers mixture, instead. Keep in mind that tapenade made by hand-chopping won't have as smooth a texture as that made in a food processor.

  • What do you use tapenade for? - Tapenade can serve as a sauce or condiment for many meat and seafood dishes, such as pork, chicken, steak, and shrimp or can be stirred into pasta to create a quick olive sauce. It is also often enjoyed as a spread for bread.

  • How long can I keep homemade tapenade in the refrigerator? - Store homemade tapenade in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. But it's so good, we bet it will all be gone well before then!

Check out these other tasty dips & spreads:

Close-Up of Homemade Mixed Olive Tapenade Showing It's Texture Image
Thank you for stopping by The Kitchen is My Playground. We'd love to have you back soon!

tapenade recipe, how to make tapenade, mixed olive tapenade recipe, homemade tapenade
Yield: varies
Mixed Olive Tapenade

Mixed Olive Tapenade

Tapenade, the classic French olive spread, is so much better when you make it homemade! With this super tasty Mixed Olive Tapenade recipe, it's so easy there's just no reason to buy that little jar at the grocery store. Whip up a batch quickly and easily to enjoy as a sauce, condiment, or appetizer spread with bread.
Prep time: 10 MinTotal time: 10 Min


  • 1 (6.25 oz) jar pitted country mix olives
  • 1 (6 oz.) can pitted black olives
  • A couple spoonfuls of pimento-stuffed manzanilla olives
  • 1/2 of a 4 oz jar capers
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 T. fresh or dried parsley
  • extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Drain olives and capers; place in the bowl of a food processor. Add lemon zest and parsley; process a few seconds to chop and blend ingredients together.
  2. Drizzle in olive oil, pulsing occasionally, until tapenade reaches your desired consistency. It should be moist, but not runny.
  3. Serve with bread or crackers.
  1. You can use any combination of olives you like ... all green, all black, 1/2 & 1/2, the mix I provide in this recipe - whatever you like best!
  2. If jarred country mix olives aren't available in your grocery store, you can use a mixture of kalamata, green Queen, and manzanilla olives instead.
  3. Capers control the saltiness, so adjust to taste.
  4. To make a tasty tapenade bruschetta, spread tapenade on baguette slices, sprinkle on some mozzarella or goat cheese, and top with a piece of sundried tomato and chopped fresh basil; broil until the cheese is melty.
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Mixed Olive Tapenade ~ This classic olive spread is so easy (& delicious!) to make yourself! Mixed olive tapenade is loaded with flavor, and pairs perfectly as a spread with baguette slices or with pork, chicken, shrimp, and pasta.  www.thekitchenismyplayground.com


  1. Enjoyed the tapenade pizza with you last night---when are you going to post that recipe? And the bottle of wine was, also, fabulous!! Love you, girl and your cooking!

  2. great post, great tapenade, GREAT friend!

  3. Oh man, this makes me want to go to Italy! I'm so glad you found a great olive oil--its what takes cooking to the next level!

    Thanks for linking this up at the FBF hop. Hope to see you again next Friday! Have a great week!

  4. Mmmmm..thanks for the recipe. I'm serving it during the Super Bowl tonight! Used kalamata, black and manzanilla. I'll probably tweak it a little for next time, but it's very yummy for a first run! Thanks again! XOXO

  5. Your Tapenade looks like a great recipe. Thanks so much for sharing this awesome recipe with us at Full Plate Thursday!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen


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