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 goodโ€  ~ 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
    Brian Jones
    July 24, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Those pictures looks so inviting I love chicken legs cooked like this and that coating looks wonderful.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I love your information about Aleppo pepper and substitutions for it – good to know. And your olive herb mix sounds perfect!

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 7:18 am

      Thanks Ginny ~ now that I found the Aleppo pepper for this recipe I’m finding all sort of uses for it, just put it on roasted potatoes last night, and I love the color!

  • Reply
    Prasanna Hede
    July 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    I just drooled ๐Ÿ˜€ well the pics are so crazy good and Aleppo is new to me! I would definitely look for it now.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I have some Aleppo that I never know what do do with!! Now I have a scrumptious recipe that will thrill the family!!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2017 at 7:46 pm

      You’re on top of your game Liz, I had to hunt it down!

  • Reply
    James | Thyme to Mango
    July 24, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Chicken, herbs, olives AND Aleppo pepper! Ah, this is what mediterranean-style-food-dreams are made of! These photos are amazing!

    • Reply
      July 25, 2017 at 7:27 am

      Haha, well put, thanks!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    July 24, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    This sounds like a delicious dinner party meal, so simple get so elegant and unique! I love it!

  • Reply
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    July 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Sue, is it wrong that I want to lick the screen? I love dishes like this — and the olives and herbs make it so bright and fresh. I made an heirloom tomato salad yesterday with a boatload of fresh herbs and some crushed olives — just like this. Fab!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      Oh go ahead and lick, Lisa ~ and I wish we could have a dinner party together with the chicken and your salad ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    July 24, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I just bought a vinatge pan like this..cracked olives..silly question..pits in?

    Love the rustic aspect.

    • Reply
      July 24, 2017 at 11:21 am

      Not a silly question, and yes, the pits are in…in Europe they use them that way and diners just know to watch out for pits. Olives with the pits intact are much better flavored, for one thing. And I love this shape pan, it’s so great to cook and then to serve in ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    July 24, 2017 at 10:31 am

    This is my kind of dish Sue! Love all the herbs and olives! Love that spice rub too!

    • Reply
      July 24, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Thanks Mary Ann ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    July 24, 2017 at 3:57 am

    I suddenly feel like I could lick this pan long after the chicken is gone. My goodness this looks good. I adore olives and never add them to my recipes – but that needs to change. Really beautiful dish Sue! Sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      [email protected]'s Recipes
      July 24, 2017 at 4:15 am

      Me too, Tricia. This looks droolworthy, Sue. I love that rub and the olive herb mixture is such nice touch.

      • Reply
        July 24, 2017 at 11:23 am

        I came to like olives later in life, but since then I’m kind of obsessed.

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