What is tapenade?

 in Recipes

A salty tapenade is the perfect snack for a hot summer afternoon to accompany a strong cocktail or ice cold beer. This dip utilizes traditional French cooking techniques and can be whipped up in only a few minutes. Perhaps the biggest challenge when making this dish at home is pulverizing the dip to the right consistency. According to Wise Geek, a tapenade should be a thick paste and is often spread on toast, used to stuff poultry or other meats, and served as a dip with crackers and other appertifs.

Traditionally, tapenades are made with black olives, but contemporary recipes sometimes call for green olives instead. Furthermore, some modern takes on this spread also challenge the pasty consistency and instead opt for a chunkier texture. While classic tapenades call for only the few primary ingredients, you can get creative with your choice of fish, herbs and spices.

Tapenade recipe
Below is a recipe for perfect tapenade found in The Guardian. It can easily be modified with the addition of other ingredients to preference.


  • 200 grams whole black olives, preferably Niçoise or Kalamata
  • 3 tablespoons capers, well rinsed if packed in salt
  • 2 anchovies, well rinsed if packed in salt, roughly chopped
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


Remove the olive pits with a sharp knife or pitter. In a food processor, combine the olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and thyme. Roughly puree the ingredients together and squeeze the lemon over the mixture. Add the olive oil as the mixture continues to puree.

Garnish with pepper and additional lemon juice to taste.

If a food processor is unavailable, use a mortar and pestle to mash the garlic, anchovies, capers and thyme together into a smooth mixture. Then add the olives, oil and lemon juice in small portions, continuing to pound the mixture as you go. This approach will take more time, but is also the traditional method for making tapenade.

Pro tip: For a more complex flavor, many recipes call for the addition of Dijon mustard, figs or brandy. For the best results, allow the tapenade to rest for a few hours so the flavors have time to coalesce. While tapenade can be enjoyed right away, it can last for a couple weeks in the refrigerator after it is made.

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