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Juicy, bone-in thighs and a buttery olive sauce are the perfect pairing!

On the table in under an hour, chicken with olives is simple enough for busy weeknights, yet elegant enough to be served at any special dinner party.

browned chicken thighs with olives in a white oval serving dish.

When you’re craving something new in your usual dinner lineup, try these delicious Mediterranean-inspired chicken thighs with olives and a buttery sauce. You won’t believe the amount of flavor that simple ingredients and spices can make!

Sear chicken thighs in a deep skillet, then let them simmer in the olive pan sauce until tender and delectable. To serve, ladle the zingy olive sauce over the chicken. It is truly a mouth-watering experience!

Have leftover Kalamatas? Chop them up to sprinkle over this delicious Greek hummus or use some in a loaf of my easy Greek focaccia. I also have a delicious chicken scallopini recipe made with capers and Spanish olives that is so good!

Key ingredients & substitutions for Chicken with Olives

  • Chicken thighs — Use bone-in, skin-on thighs for best results. The bone helps the meat come out tender and evenly cooked, and the skin gets nice and crispy for added flavor and texture.
  • Extra virgin olive oil — Because this variety is cold-pressed, it has a more noticeable flavor that ties in perfectly with this olive chicken recipe.
  • Spices — Grab cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and Italian seasoning — plus salt and pepper. Pay close attention to the instructions below, as you’ll use different spices on each side of the meat.
  • Olives — Along with a jar of pitted Kalamatas, you’ll need Castelvetrano olives for this recipe. This variety is native to the southwestern region Sicily and boast an enticing green hue. The texture is a bit meaty, but the flavor is buttery-sweet and irresistible.
  • Shallots — Milder than onions, these bulbs have a delicate and sweet flavor with just the right amount of bite.
  • Lemons — Add both zest and freshly squeezed juice

tips

  • If you can’t find Castelvetrano olives, try using pimento-stuffed green olives instead.
  • Although not entirely necessary, adding a bit of the salty brine from the Kalamata olive jar really boosts the flavor in this dish.

How to make olive chicken?

ingredients for chicken with olives on a table; browned chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet.

STEP 1 | Season and sear the meat

Mix the seasoning blends in separate bowls and pat the bone-in thighs with a paper towel until dry. Sprinkle the first mixture evenly over one side, then flip and coat the other side with the second mixture.

Place the chicken, skin-side down, in a hot skillet with oil. Cook until the skin is golden, then flip. Reduce the heat and cook for 2 additional minutes before transferring to a plate.

tip

  • The chicken is seasoned differently on each side before cooking for maximum flavor. The skin side gets a sprinkling of salt, black pepper, and red cayenne pepper, while the other side is seasoned with a mix of savory spices.

stirring olives with shallots in a cast iron skillet; browned chicken thighs added back to the skillet with olives.

STEP 2 | Make the pan sauce

In the same skillet, cook the shallots until golden and soft. Add both varieties of olives and cook for another minute. Then, carefully pour in the broth and scrape any browned and crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, simmering until the liquid is reduced slightly.

STEP 3 | Simmer chicken thighs with olives

Nestle the meat into the pan and cover with a lid. Simmer until the thighs are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.

tip

  • Raw chicken can be dangerous to consume, so always use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness. Poultry will have an internal temperature of 165 degrees F when cooked through.

stirring butter and parsley into a skillet of chicken and olives.

STEP 4 | Add butter and fresh parsley

Transfer the skillet off of the heat and stir in the butter and parsley. To serve, ladle the olive sauce over the chicken.

chicken with olives in a cast iron skillet with a spoon drizzling sauce.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use boneless thighs to make chicken with olives?

Yes, but you will need to adjust the cooking time and method a bit. Sear the meat for just a few minutes on each side, then reduce the cooking time once the meat is added to the sauce. Once the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F, they’re done!

What’s the difference between Castelvetrano olives and green olives?

Castelvetrano is a specific variety grown on the island of Sicily, while green olives include any that are, well, green! They can come from several different countries — such as Italy, Spain, and France — and vary in flavor, size, and preservation method.

Can I save leftover chicken with olives?

Absolutely! Once cooled, transfer the meat and sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat everything together on the stove, simmering until heated through.

browned chicken thighs with olives in a white oval serving dish.

Serving suggestions

Creamy garlic mashed potatoes or a wild rice pilaf would be the perfect pairing for this dish. In fact, you could serve the chicken thighs with olives over top of either so the sauce soaks into every bite! A simple green salad and thick, crusty bread are perfect for a lighter option.

If you’ll be hosting dinner guests, start them off with a tray of homemade bruschetta and my roasted red pepper dip while they wait for the main course.

Please share!

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browned chicken thighs with olives in a white oval serving dish.

Chicken with Olives

Juicy, bone-in thighs and a buttery olive sauce are the perfect pairing! On the table in under an hour, chicken and olives is simple enough for busy weeknights, yet elegant enough to be served at your next dinner party.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6 servings
Calories 92 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 6 6-oz. chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallots finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, combine the salt, black pepper, and cayenne. In another small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and Italian seasoning.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Evenly sprinkle the salt mixture on the skin side, then turn the chicken over and sprinkle the other side with the garlic powder mixture.
  • In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, until the skin is golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip the chicken over and cook for2 more minutes.
  • Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the shallots to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until golden, about2 minutes. Add the Castelvetrano and Kalamata olives and cook 1 minute.
  • Deglaze the pan with the broth, stirring and scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits. Add the lemon zest and juice and simmer until slightly reduced, 5 minutes.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is cooked through and an instant read thermometer registers 165°F when inserted in the thickest part of the chicken away from the bone, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, add the butter and parsley, stirring until the butter melts and the sauce is creamy.

Notes

  • If you can’t find Castelvetrano olives, try using pimento-stuffed green olives instead.
  • Although not entirely necessary, adding a bit of the salty brine from the Kalamata olive jar really boosts the flavor in this dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 92kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 518mgPotassium: 77mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 266IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Keyword chicken, lemon, olives, skillet
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
sheila thigpen in her kitchen

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was excellent. I was curious after seeing a chicken and olive dish and printed out your recipe. My husband saw it and when I came home, he had started it. We both loved it, and we’ll have leftovers for dinner tomorrow which we’re both looking forward to. Definitely going to make this again and share the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    Loved the briny flavor of the olives paired with the chicken. So much flavor going on in this dish…loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    We had this chicken for dinner last night and OMG was it delicious! It’s definitely going on our regular rotation!

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