Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs

Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs ~ this is a fabulous one pot meal in the vibrant healthy Mediterranean tradition, it’s so easy to throw together, and it bursts with sunny flavor!

Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs in a pan

This rustic Mediterranean style roasted chicken combines ease of preparation with lots of intense flavor. I think it’s a real season spanner ~ pop it on the outdoor grill in summer, or  slide it into an extra hot (450F) oven when you want a cozy meal in mid-winter. The chicken is rubbed with a zesty mix of aromatic spices and finished off with citrusy olives and herbs. Whatever the season, make sure you’ve got fresh herbs on hand for this recipe, dried won’t do.

TIP: Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have an herb garden, visit your local nursery every few weeks and pick up potted herbs to keep on your kitchen counter, they’ll be cheaper and last much longer than anything you can get at the grocery store.

Basting roasted chicken with cracked olives and herbs

The rub is an interesting blend of dried peppers with fresh minced rosemary. It gives the chicken and intense flavor and color.

Aleppo pepper is a Mediterranean type of pepper that has a sweet/fruity flavor with a nice kick of heat. It has similarities to ancho chile powder, and to paprika. You can substitute smoked paprika, but add some cayenne for heat.

  • You can find Aleppo pepper in some specialty stores, I found it at World Market, and you can buy it on Amazon, HERE.

Ingredients for making chicken with cracked olives and herbs

Cracked olives are olives that have been ‘cracked’ or split open before curing ~ the process allows the brine to penetrate quicker. Look for them in your supermarket’s olive bar, or substitute any green olive that you love. I love them for their rustic look and juicy flavor.

TIP: If you can’t find cracked olives, use your favorite green variety and give them a tear by hand to release their flavor and open them up. If they have pits, put them under a clean dish towel and rap them ~ gently ~ with a hammer. It sounds a little odd, and my husband thought I was insane, but it works! Be sure to warn diners about pits.

The high heat of the grill or oven gives this chicken great color, and cooks it quickly, so the inside says tender and juicy. If you do use your oven, make sure to crank it up to 450F, allow enough time to preheat fully, and use a pan large enough to hold your chicken in a single layer so it can really crisp up. I love my shallow enameled cast iron casserole for this job, it cooks evenly, keeps the juices contained, and can really get nice and hot. It makes a beautiful presentation, too.

Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs in a roasting pan

Some of the best flavors of the Mediterranean are highlighted in this healthy chicken dinner, I hope you try it! I think it would be over the top delish with some of my Homemade Pita Bread.

Reader Rave ~

“I have made this many times. Started to add fresh oregano into the marinade and let the chicken marinated for 48 hours. Oh my was it good”  ~ Beatrice

*This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit

3.75 from 16 votes

Chicken with Cracked Olives

Author Sue Moran


  • 4 chicken leg quarters the whole let, thigh and drumstick attached
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • olive oil for basting

spice rub

  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup Aleppo pepper or a combination of hot smoked paprika and cayenne
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

olive herb mix

  • 1 cup cracked olives or other green olives of your choice, torn
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley


  • lemon wedges and fresh parsley


  • Salt and pepper the chicken on all sides.
  • Mix the spice rub ingredients together and massage all over the chicken. Put the chicken in a large heavy casserole, making sure it's in a single layer. Cover and let sit at room temperature for an hour. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 450F
  • Mix the olives, herbs, oil, and lemon juice and set aside.
  • Cook the chicken for 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Drizzle with olive oil at least twice during the baking to get a crisp golden skin. A thermometer inserted between the leg and thigh should read 160F. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Serve the chicken topped with the olive mixture and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make It Your Own ~

  • You can do this with a whole chicken, roast it for approximately 20 minutes per pound. You can also use just breasts, or all thighs.
  • If you don’t have Aleppo pepper, try a mixture of smoked paprika and cayenne. I also think sumac would be a nice option.


Don’t forget to pin this wonderful Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs!

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    I have made this many times. Started to add fresh oregano into the marinade and let the chicken marinated for 48 hours. Oh my was it good

    • Reply
      June 18, 2019 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Beatrice, I love it when one of my recipes gets into someone’s regular menu rotation 🙂 I’ll try the long marinade for the chicken next time.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Can’t wait to make this! Looks sooo good. Quick question, what do you mean by “torn” olives? Never heard that before. The olives in the photos looked cracked…kind of like flattened or cracked with the side of a French knife blade. Sorry for the dumb question. Thanks so much!

    • Reply
      August 14, 2017 at 7:52 am

      If your olives don’t have pits, you can just tear or split them by hand, or with a knife. It just refers to them being split open so the juices can escape and flavors can penetrate. Not a dumb question at all!

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    July 29, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    I have so much fresh oregano in the garden and am always looking for ways to use it. Love great chicken recipes and this looks like it fits into that category!

    • Reply
      July 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Fresh oregano gets short shrift in recipes, I think, i love it, and don’t find it overpowering at all. Lucky you to have it in the garden.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2017 at 5:33 am

    This chicken with olives recipe sounds wonderful Sue! It’s on my list of recipes to try- always love the one pot dinners!

  • Reply
    July 26, 2017 at 9:14 am

    I love flavorful dishes like this. I am sure yours is super delicious. I am pinning this for later use.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    This looks SO incredibly delicious!! And equally as beautiful. Gorgeous photos.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Wow looks amazing! I’m making this tonight, can’t wait!

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