Black Olive Cookies

February 5, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: These cookies are sweet, salty, and savory, all at the same time—crisp, rich with olive oil, marbled with black olives. Plenty of orange zest provides some zip and zing, while a tumble in sugar pre-bake keeps the saltiness in check. Serve these with afternoon tea or coffee—or, my favorite, with a cheese plate. The recipe is adapted, with permission, from "The New Portuguese Table" by David Leite.

Featured In: "These Cookies Love Olive Oil Almost As Much As We Do".
Emma Laperruque

Makes: 16 cookies


  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more, for coating
  • 2 tablespoons grated or microplaned orange zest, preferably organic
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and chopped (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In This Recipe


  1. Position a rack in the upper half of the oven. Preheat to 375° F. If you have two silicone mats, get them ready! If not, cut two sheets of parchment to fit a sheet pan. (You'll bake the cookies 1 sheet pan at a time.)
  2. Combine the sugar and orange zest in a bowl. Pinch together with your fingertips until the sugar begins to blush (this intensifies the citrusy flavor). Add the flour, olives, baking powder, and salt. Stir with a fork until everything is evenly distributed. Add the egg to the measuring cup with the olive oil and beat with a fork until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and stir first with a fork, then your hands until a dough forms—no dry spots, holds together when squeezed.
  3. Fill a small bowl with sugar. Scoop the dough into rounded tablespoons—you should get 16 or so—and roll into balls. Roll each in sugar.
  4. Place one silicone mat or piece of parchment on a work surface. Add a dough ball a few inches inward from one corner. (You’ll be baking 4 cookies on the pan—one in each quadrant—any more and you won't be able to roll them out.) Place the other mat or piece of parchment on top. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the cookie into a 4ish-inch circle (you don’t need to apply a lot of pressure, especially if your pin is heavy, since the dough is so soft). Ragged edges are fine, good even! Repeat with 3 more cookies. Lift off the top layer. Transfer the mat/parchment with the cookies to a sheet pan.
  5. Bake the cookies until pebbly on top, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 1 to 2 minutes, until you can use a spatula to transfer them from the pan to a cooling rack.
  6. Repeat the rolling/baking process with the remaining cookie dough balls. (You may need to replace the baking parchment at some point, if it gets too greasy.)

More Great Recipes:
Cookie|Olive|Sheet Pan|Appetizer

Reviews (3) Questions (0)

3 Reviews

mela June 10, 2018
I'm confused. The quote from Leite says he wanted to add olives and lemon because they're so classically Portuguese but this recipe calls for orange zest instead.
Analida B. February 10, 2018
I love the sweet and savory flavor mixture in lots of dishes and these cookies look fantastic! This would make a great addition to my next tapas party. If you like unusual cookies here is a shortbread pistachio rosewater cookie:
rosemary |. February 6, 2018
Whoa ...these look amazing! My family is in love with olives. Can't wait to try these and serve them (as you brilliantly suggested) as part of a cheese plate!