13 Ways to Use That Jar of Capers Looming in Your Fridge

November  2, 2015

The turnover in my childhood refrigerator was an impressive one, all jars of jam, knobby ginger roots, and nubs of cheese got quickly incorporated into family meals or eaten as-is from the fridge. But there was one constant amidst the changing landscape: a briny jar of capers swimming in the door next to the mustard, removed perhaps twice a year for varied piccatas and pasta dishes, and presumably depleted and replaced at least once in the seventeen years I lived at home. Though it's hard to say. We asked the community: What are your favorite ways to work through a jar (or bag) of capers?


  • A rinse in milk is even better than a rinse in water for removing the overly vinegary taste of capers, says ChefJune. Do that. Then:
  • Roll a handful in cornstarch and fry oil until crispy, says Kristen W., then add them to salads, soups, or fish for a punchy take on the crouton.
  • For a vegetarian-friendly Caesar salad dressing, substitute capers for anchovies as Susan W does.
  • Or make another caper-filled dressing, like April Bloomfield's genius (and brash) lemon-caper dressing.
  • Match their intense flavor with other intense flavors, like in this radicchio-and-hazelnut salad.
  • HalfPint uses them as a brightening agent in chicken salad, as they cut the richness of mayonnaise. Similarly, Exbruxelles uses them in tuna salad or deviled eggs.
  • Make a chicken piccata! Or a puttanesca! Or, says Maedl, a French or Italian beef stew, which often call for a ton of capers.
  • Capers make a powerful and wonderful pizza topping with anchovies, bacon, and raw chopped garlic, says Spikeygrrl.
  • Smash them with herbs and anchovies to make a green sauce good enough to put on everything, from steak to eggs to roasted vegetables.
  • UncleJess advises that you could sub in capers for nearly any savory recipe that calls for salt: "You get the benefits of salt, plus a complex bitter flavor as well. They bond particularly well with citrus, tomato, fish, eggplant, pasta, and many other things." 
  • Capers sing with smoked fish; louisez serves them with cream cheese and smoked salmon on baguettes (or bagels, or potato rosti).
  • And the zingy, salty brine is great sprinkled on popcorn, says Jr0717!
  • But cv reminds that since they're packed in salt or brine, they'll last nearly forever—so you can take your time with them.

Photo by Melina Hammer 

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What are your favorite ways to use capers (and their brine)? Tell us in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • arcane54
  • felisalpina
  • beejay45
  • sandy peccerillo
    sandy peccerillo
  • AntoniaJames
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


arcane54 January 10, 2016
I buy capers in 32oz. jars that last and last. Not as long now that I've read all these great suggestions!
felisalpina November 3, 2015
For some time now, capers have been the secret ingredient to bolstering the taste of Greek salad (Horiatikí). I thought it was a good idea.
I always have a box in the fridge, as Sicilian caponata is one of the key dishes in my kitchen. They belong there.
beejay45 November 2, 2015
I'm with the other caper lovers. I first became acquainted with them as a child -- we always had a jar of Best Foods tartar sauce in the fridge. My mom often caught me sneaking a spoonful right out of the jar. It wasn't until I was in my teens that someone commented that that elusive something I craved was from capers. Oh, boy!

So, for starters, I use them in my homemade tartar sauce. which also makes a great dressing for a potato salad with baby Red Bliss /Yukon Golds and some nice earthy olives chopped or sliced in.

I use them alone or in combination with anchovies/garlic in a compound butter to top a steak or fish fillet or veggies or whatever.

They're used in caponata, which I love, and they go equally well in lighter, brighter tomato sauces -- they'd be smothered in a Sunday sauce.

I throw them in salads and, like, Kristen W, fry them for an added crunch of zing as a topping.

I often throw a few of them into my Kalamata olive bread, as their flavors really compliment one another. Um...and aren't there capers in Tapenade???

Mash them up and add to creamy dressings for a little tang to cut some of that richness...

and on and on...
sandy P. November 2, 2015
I love capers and use a jar every month. I am not patient enough to use the salted ones unless I am out of the brined ones. I love pasta with a condiment made of julienned or grated zucchini, first compressed in a tea towel to remove some water, cooked with 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes in olive oil till bright green over med high heat (great way to use the yearly baseball bat sized zucco I missed in the garden), then add some minced garlic and cook for another minute. Take off the heat and add drained capers to taste and a cup or so of basil chiffonade. Toss then add 1/2 cup of grated Romano and a little pasta water. Sometimes I add some chopped mint, sometimes a little lemon zest, sometimes both. Yum.
AntoniaJames November 2, 2015
I included a rather lengthy list in the answer to this Hotline question, which I've edited to remove duplicates:

Sub for or in addition to olives in parsley sauce, which I put on just about everything (seriously):

In omelets.

In lemon vinaigrette with fresh thyme that's been finely chopped; let this one rest for a few hours, at least.

In my riff on the classic "tonnato" sauce, which I slather on sliced turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving (Note that caper brine is a critical ingredient here.)

In potato salad:

Coarsely chopped In salmon salad with a lot of finely chopped parsley (and use a few tablespoons of the caper brine to loosen the salad up)

Mixed with butter + cream cheese with a few mashed anchovies, for a caraway and paprika free Liptauer (what I call "Anchovy Cheese"):