Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella is a dish first introduced in The Silver Palate Cookbook in 1982. Its unique combination of prunes, capers, and green olives quickly captured the hearts of home chefs and remains a family favorite in many households throughout the United States today. So when a friend requested that I make an adaptation of the recipe, I was happy to give it a shot and see what I could do.

And truth be told, I didn’t make many changes from the original recipe, because it’s already delicious and uses whole ingredients. However, I only used dark meat (instead of a quartered whole bird) to make sure all of the pieces cooked evenly. I also made some minor ingredient changes, like adding half an onion and using a butter and honey glaze instead of a brown sugar coating typically used in this recipe. Altogether, it all adds up to a slightly magical experience: a gourmet-tasting dish that’s dead simple to make!


serves four

4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
4 chicken drumsticks
4 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar okay)
8 prunes, pitted, cut in half
8 green olives, pitted cut in half
2 tbsp capers
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp butter
1 small handful parsley, chopped

Blend the onion, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and olive oil until smooth. Stir in the red wine vinegar, then combine with the chicken, prunes, olives, capers, and bay leaf. Marinate at least four hours, overnight preferred.

Once marinated, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish, in one layer. Pour the white wine around the chicken pieces. Bake for 15 minutes, uncovered.

As the chicken bakes, melt the butter on low and stir in the honey, simmering and reducing for about 8 minutes until it makes a nice, nutty-smelling glaze.

After the chicken has baked for 15 minutes, brush the honey/butter glaze over the pieces. Bake for another 45 minutes, uncovered.

Check the chicken’s internal temperature closest to the bone (I used this thermometer) – it should register at 165 degrees. If not, cook for another 10 minutes and check it again. Remove the chicken pieces, stir the chopped parsley into the leftover sauce, then spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces and serve.

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34 thoughts on “Chicken Marbella

  1. There are a lot of ingredients in here that I wouldn’t really think of putting together, but I’m sure they harmonize well! Though I’m surprised that you ADDED half an onion to a recipe that didn’t call for onions at all… ; ) Looks great!

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      1. This recipe caught my eye because it is very similar to another dish I made up, at least in method. I am allergic to gluten and mostly paleo and hubby is not. I do most of the cooking. Hubby eats a LOT. He especially likes chicken, especially nasty grocery store citrus rotisserie chicken. In lieu of eating this I bought a bunch of chicken thighs and plopped them in a baking dish with the squeezed contents of several hand-juiced citrus fruits. I topped them with salt, pepper, and butter and now hubby demands to eat this on almost a weekly basis. I hope he likes your new dish as much as the one I made up. He’s already eaten most of the leftover olives.

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          1. If you try the citrus chicken consider marinating it like the marabella recipe. Last time I made it the chicken didn’t get as much flavor from the citrus as I wanted, so I will marinate next time. I usually use 2 lemons with 2 or 3 navel oranges for the juice for four bone-in thighs. There are lots of different combinations of juice if you like limes or grapefruit or whatever. I turn on the broiler and watch the skin crisp for the last bit of cooking, especially if I skip the butter.

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  2. Made it yesterday with all thighs … used jalapeno/garlic-stuffed green olives, and substituted caper liquid instead of vinegar. Loved it! Thank you! A nice change from the oft-repeated paleo flavors I’ve been churning out. Also loved your Pho … we had a big family Pho dinner with that. Do you have a favorite Paleo Pizza recipe?

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  3. I like the adventurous combination and a well deserved mention of The Silver Palate. New Basic Cookbook by the same authors is been my no 1 kitchen bible. Was published in 1989 but the recipes still feel quite modern! Looking forward to your next recipe!

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    1. Salt is absolutely an integral part of the Paleo kitchen. I use iodized sea salt for everyday use, Hawaiian/coarse sea salt, and kosher salt depending on the context. This recipe in particular doesn’t need salt – the capers and olives (and their juices) add enough that it isn’t missed :)

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  4. I have made the Silver Palate recipe for Chicken Marbella for years and I must say, I like your version better! The addition of onion and overnight marinating is inspired. Thanks for improving a recipe I didn’t think could be improved.

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  5. Amazing recipe! I’m on my 2nd week of the whole 30 and the meals I tried for week 1 were meh. I omitted the honey and replace the white wine with broth and it turn out fabulous! My boyfriend and I also really like the 2 ingredient pancakes!
    Thanks!

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  6. I am hooked on your blog! So far I have made the pumpkin and chorizo soup, Brazilian cheese balls, jaeger schnitzel with blaukraut and colcannon, and chicken Marbella. Everything tasted absolutely amazing. I’m going to double up on the Marbella next time it was so good. I’m going to try the fish curry tomorrow night for dinner. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful recipes!

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