Black Olive Tapenade With Garlic, Capers, and Anchovies Recipe

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • The easy food processor method produces a paste that's made spreadable and familiar by the addition of oil at the end.
  • The mortar and pestle method produces superior flavor and texture by extracting more flavor from the individual ingredients.

This famed olive spread from Provence is made from black olives, capers, anchovies, herbs, and garlic.

Recipe Facts



Total: 10 mins
Makes: 1 cup

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  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, such as Niçoise or oil-cured olives
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 drained oil-packed anchovy fillets
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 5 basil leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon loosely packed fresh oregano, marjoram, or thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, if needed


  1. If using a food processor: Combine olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, basil (if using), other herbs, and mustard in the work bowl and process, scraping down the sides, until a finely chopped paste forms. Process in lemon juice. With the processor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to loosen to a spreadable paste, about 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper only if needed.

  2. If using a mortar and pestle: Roughly chop olives, capers, anchovies, and garlic, then add to mortar with basil (if using) and other herbs. Tap, crush, and smash with pestle until ingredients have been reduced to a thick paste (a little chunkiness is okay). Using pestle, work in mustard and lemon juice, then drizzle in just enough olive oil to form a spreadable paste, about 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper only if needed.

Special equipment

Food processor or mortar and pestle


If you're pressed for time, use the food processor method; it will yield a uniformly blended olive spread with lots of chopped little bits. If you have the time and inclination, use a mortar and pestle: It takes longer and requires some elbow grease, but you'll be rewarded with superior flavor and texture.

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