Olive lovers – listen up! Have you tried Tapenade before? Tapenade combines olives, anchovies, capers, lemon, olive oil, and fresh garden herbs to create a gorgeous olive spread that can be used for so many dishes. 

It has a rich Mediterranean history, bold flavours, and versatile uses – making it a must-have for any grazing table or dinner party. Whether you choose to make it from scratch or buy a premade jar, tapenade is an essential staple for dining this summer. 

Read on to find out more about the delicious paste, the varieties available, how to use it, and how to store it.

What is Tapenade?

Tapenade is a spread that is made using black or green olives (or a mix of both), anchovies, capers, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh herbs which is blended to create a tangy paste that can be used as a dip or within Mediterranean-inspired dishes. There are a few varieties of tapenade available on the market today, including:

  • Green: made from green olives, which are harvested before they fully ripen and turn black, this tapenade has a firmer texture and a more bitter taste compared to black olives. This leads to a tangy, briny, and brighter flavour profile.
  • Black: this variety is traditionally made with black Kalamata olives, which are ripe olives that have matured on the tree until they turn a dark, purplish-black colour. The ripening process results in a more intense spread, with earthy and rich notes of olives.
  • Red: whilst not totally traditional, red tapenade usually doesn’t include any red olives, but instead uses a combination of tomatoes and roasted red peppers. This variety is usually much less savoury, and instead has a sweetness similar to red pesto.

How is Tapenade Made?

Tapenade is made by blending together:

  • Olives (red, green, or both)
  • Anchovies
  • Capers
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Herbs, such as parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

If you’re looking for step-by-step instructions, read our Easy Olive Tapenade recipe.

Where Does Tapenade Come From?

Sometimes called Olivada, the paste has a history as rich as its bold taste. Originating from the sunny shores of Provence, France the word “tapenade” is derived from the Provencal word “tapéno,” meaning caper. Traditionally, it’s a paste made from capers, olives, and anchovies. The concoction was born out of the vibrant Mediterranean culinary culture, showcasing the region’s love for bold and briny flavours.

Five Ways To Use Tapenade

Tapenade’s versatility makes it a star player in various culinary applications. Here are some creative ways to incorporate this tasty spread into your culinary repertoire:


Spread tapenade on crostini, blinis, or small crackers for an easy and elegant appetiser. Top your spread with a slice of fresh tomato, a sprinkle of feta, and a basil leaf or a grating of parmesan. For an extra special touch, drizzle your finished canapé with balsamic glaze.

Enjoy With Cheese

You often see olives as part of a classic grazing platter, and with a similar flavour profile, there is no reason you can’t enjoy tapenade with cheese! Pair your olive spread with creamy brie, Roquefort, or mature cheddar cheese. Top with fresh figs and enjoy!

If you’re looking for more ways to pair cheese and different spreads, read our Cheese & Chutney Pairing Guide

Add To Sandwiches

Elevate your sandwiches by adding a layer of tapenade. The spread pairs exceptionally well with roasted vegetables (peppers, red onions, and tomatoes are our favourite), grilled chicken, or even a classic ham and cheese combination. 

As a Pasta Sauce

Tapenade has very similar qualities to that of pesto, so using it in a pasta dish is a no-brainer. Toss the tapenade with classic spaghetti or rigatoni, add sliced tomatoes and a splash of olive oil to complete the dish. Enjoy warm as an evening meal or as a cold pasta salad at your next summer BBQ.

Marinade Meat & Fish

Use tapenade as a marinade for meats like chicken or lamb. The bold flavours will infuse the meat with a rich and savoury taste. As for fish, thin your spread by adding a drizzle of olive oil and use it with almost any white fish, such as Cod or Pollock. 

Homemade Greek Dip

Mix tapenade with Greek yoghurt or cream cheese for a delightful dip. Serve with fresh veggies, pita chips, or breadsticks for a crowd-pleasing snack. We love using this dip on our stunning crudite platters in the summertime. 

If you’d like to know more about creating your own crudite platter, read our blog: What Is a Crudités Platter & How Do You Keep One Fresh?

How To Store Olive Tapenade

Proper storage ensures that your homemade or store-bought tapenade retains its freshness and flavour for as long as possible. Follow these simple guidelines:

  • Refrigeration: Store your tapenade in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When stored like this, it can last for up to two weeks.
  • Freezing: For longer storage, freeze the tapenade in small portions in an ice cube tray. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a sealed bag. It can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. If you’re using your tapenade in hot dishes, simply add the frozen cube straight away (no need for defrosting beforehand!).

Top tip: if you’re storing your olive tapenade in the fridge, top the spread with a thin layer of olive oil to help preserve its freshness. The olive oil acts as a natural preservative and seals on the spread, meaning it will last much longer. You can do the same for pesto!

Foodie Essentials With Savery Grazing

Olive spread is essential for us in the Summertime, and we love using it to flavour pasta, fish, and canapes, and elevating everyday lunchtime sandwiches! For more foodie tips & tricks, read our latest blog posts.

If you’d like to know more about Savery Grazing, or you’d like to follow our journey, why not keep up to date with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest?

Related Questions

Is Tapenade Similar To Pesto?

Not really. Although tapenade and pesto are from similar cuisines, they have very different textures and flavour profiles. With pesto, the flavour mainly consists of fresh basil and parmesan, whilst tapenade offers a much more savoury flavour. However, if you don’t have tapenade on hand, you can substitute the spread for equal amounts of your favourite red or green pesto as long as you don’t mind the change in flavour!

Is Tapenade Italian or French?

Tapenade is traditionally associated with French cuisine, as it comes from the French region of Provence (the popular wine region!). Although the paste originated in France, it is widely available in most Mediterranean countries.

Does Tapenade Always Have Olives?

Yes, generally the prominent ingredient in traditional tapenade is olives (green, black, or a combination of both). Saying this, however, we have seen the increased popularity of red tapenade in recent years, which sometimes swaps the olives altogether for ingredients like roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.

Jasmine Savery
Founder & Director

Hi! I'm Jasmine, and I launched Savery Grazing in 2022. I’ve always had a passion for food, with a particular love for how social it can be. Follow along as I share my favourite tips, tricks, and delicious recipes with you.

Hi! I'm Jasmine, and I launched Savery Grazing in 2022. I’ve always had a passion for food, with a particular love for how social it can be. Follow along as I share my favourite tips, tricks, and delicious recipes with you.