8 Ways to Bring Out the Best in Any Jar of Olives

April  4, 2016

Remember that time you decided you were going to become the sort of person who makes themselves a dirty martini when they get home from work? Same. (How'd it go? Same.) Sounds like you have a jar of olives in your fridge right now, and if you did have a dirty martini phase, they're probably the little green guys. But maybe you have fat green Castelvetranos, or fruity little Kalamatas, or oily, wrinkly black ones. We love them all.

Here's how to pull them from the depths of your fridge and into your regular cooking and snacking routine, whether you have a whole jarful of them to use up or just a handful:

  • C'mon, give the dirty martini another try. Go heavy on the olive brine, if that's your thing, and load up on olive garnishes.
  • Or leave the olives out of the drink and serve them alongside. You can leave them as they are, or give them a warm bath in herby olive oil. This one has orange and rosemary; this one has garlic and anchovies. It's the sort of snack that easily and happily turns into dinner.
  • Tapenade is another excellent snack-as-dinner vehicle. All you need to make tapenade is olives (any olives!) and capers (another jar you're probably slowly-but-surely working through). No recipe needed.
  • Or, stuff and deep-fry them! Your happy hour won't know what hit it.
  • An olive sandwich may be unexpected, but it's pretty brilliant. This olive sandwich is "unusual in its simplicity," and very Genius indeed. Cream cheese and green olive (the kind stuffed with pimentos) sandwiches are a favorite of my dad's.
  • Cut out the middleman by baking olives right into a loaf of bread. Nearly any simple loaf will happily accommodate any chopped olives. But you could also scatter them over a loaf of focaccia or any flatbread before baking.
  • Add them to a roast. Chicken is especially happy to be paired with olives. (Think Chicken Marbella- or Moroccan-style.)
  • Your salad wants olives! Pair with citrus and fennel or farro and raisins or cabbage and capers.

How do you work through your jar of olives? Share your ideas in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


[email protected] September 9, 2019
When I get a jar, or keg, I dump off the brine and replace it with water. You can fool around--save half the brine and fill up with water, or you may, for really salty olives repeat the water rinse.
Claudia |. April 5, 2016
add oregano to the tapenade ;-)
Susan B. April 5, 2016
I like the green stuffed ones on pizza and like amysarah have been buying the Kalamata olives at Costco. I use them in my salads and on my Focaccia and just to eat out of hand. Also the sliced black ones are great in Greek cukes and tomato salad with feta.
Amanda S. April 4, 2016
I look forward to these lists of your dregs ideas every week!!
amysarah April 4, 2016
Very topical - I’ve been buying giant jars of Kalamata olives at Costco all winter – cheap and surprisingly good. Besides some things you already mentioned: lots of Puttanesca sauce (I like it olive-heavy anyway.) Also sandwiches on flat bread with leftover meat (roast chicken, pork, lamb, etc.) and olives, feta, tomatoes, and quick tahini or yogurt/garlic/lemon sauce. Very easy and delicious. Olives are also great chopped up and added to egg salad.