Chicken Marbella

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This chicken dish, made famous by the beloved Silver Palate Cookbook, is unfailingly tender and flavorful.

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Chicken Marbella is probably the most famous dish to come out of the beloved Silver Palate Cookbook by Julie Rosso and the late Sheila Lukins. I grew up eating it…in fact, my mother still makes it on special occasions. I almost didn’t post the recipe because I figured most of you already had it, but then it occurred to me that there might be a whole new generation of cooks that didn’t. After all, the cookbook was published in 1982. I don’t know about you but I was only 9 years old!

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So, what makes Chicken Marbella so famous and special? Well, for starters, the chicken is unfailingly tender and juicy. It’s also incredibly flavorful, thanks to a long marinade in garlic and herbs and a savory-sweet gravy that, I swear, is good enough to drink. But more than anything, it’s the combination of deep purple prunes, briny capers and meaty green olives that makes it so spectacular.

What you’ll need to make chicken marbella

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How to make chicken marbella

It’s also incredibly easy to make. Most of the preparation is done the day before…You simply rub the chicken with the marinade, toss in some capers, olives, and prunes, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day, you douse it with white wine, sprinkle some brown sugar over top, and bake it. That’s really all there is to it.

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If you don’t have the Silver Palate Cookbook, a 25th-anniversary edition complete with photos was published a few years ago. The recipes are as relevant today as they were many years ago…in fact, my mother still keeps her original copy by the stove, with the Chicken Marbella page dog-eared, tattered and scribbled on.

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Below you’ll find the recipe as it was originally printed but with our notes and hints in parenthesis. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have over the years.

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Chicken Marbella

This chicken dish, made famous by the beloved Silver Palate Cookbook, is unfailingly tender and flavorful.

Servings: 5-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cut-up chickens, 2-1/2 pounds each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on
  • 1/2 head garlic, peeled and finely puréed (8 cloves, minced)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/4 cup Spanish green olives
  • 1/4 cup capers, with a bit of juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers with caper juice, and bay leaves. Add the chicken pieces and coat completely with the marinade (use your hands to rub marinade all over and especially under the skin). Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in two 9 x 13-inch baking dishes and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest point, yield clear yellow juice (not pink).
  5. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Add some of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley. Serve remaining sauce in a gravy boat. (Alternatively, you can brown the skin and de-fat the gravy before serving. Here's how: When the chicken is done, transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter, then pour the gravy into a medium bowl and let the fat settle at the top. In the meantime, place the chicken back in baking dishes and broil for a few minutes to brown the skin. While chicken is browning, de-fat the gravy. Transfer chicken pieces back to serving platter and pour some of the gravy over top. Serve remaining sauce in a gravy boat.) Serve hot or room temperature.
  6. Note: You can substitute all white or dark meat depending on what your family likes. I've also seen appetizer versions made entirely with small drumsticks and wings.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Calories: 998
  • Fat: 67 g
  • Saturated fat: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 17 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 71 g
  • Sodium: 482 mg
  • Cholesterol: 283 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I have made this wonderful dish several times. It gets rave reviews every single time. Can this be made with SKINLESS chicken thighs? Please advise.
    Kind regards,
    Franca

    • — Franca on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Franca, that should work. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2021
      • Reply
    • Hi Jenn,
      I made this again last night for dinner. I used skinless chicken thighs and although it was still scrumptious, the chicken thighs were a bit drier. I may continue to use skinless chicken for our family meals, but if I make it for guests I will definitely use chicken with the bone in and skin on. Thank you for this wonderful website and your flawless recipes.
      Kind regards,
      Franca

      • — Franca on April 22, 2021
      • Reply
      • Good to know — thanks for reporting back — I think that will be helpful to other readers. 🙂

        • — Jenn on April 22, 2021
        • Reply
  • Might be a beginner mistake, but make sure to use fresh bay leaves. Dried bay leaves fall apart when you mix the marinade. Hoping it won’t be too bad picking them out tomorrow..

    • — Rosie on April 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m planning to make this for our outdoor seder on Saturday. Can I add potatoes to the dish? One less dish to worry about in the oven and to carry outside! Thanks!

    • — Ellen on March 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure Ellen — they won’t be crispy, but it would certainly work to add potatoes here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • How long would I bake this if I used boneless breasts?

    • — Barbara on March 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Barbara, The recipe really won’t work with boneless breasts – sorry! But you might try this recipe on Epicurious, which is similar. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • The Silver Palette was my “ go to” cookbook back in the days. Chicken Marabella was a staple at every baby shower we threw! Haha Used extra boneless chicken breast instead.. was easier to serve lots of people (though I’m sure not as tasty when using a whole chicken…but was pretty good, since we always made it). Brought up lots of great memories. Thank you. Check out the carrot soufflé in the book…fabulous especially if you have a sweet tooth. Ha

    • — Kris Buchanan on March 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • How do treat the marinade amounts if only making half the amount of chicken and what would you do to keep the the original amount of gravy?

    • — sophie sindelar on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sophie, if you want to keep the original amount of gravy, I’d make the full amount of marinade but prior to marinating the chicken, set half of it aside to heat up and use as a gravy at serving time. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn- Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It was absolutely delicious!!! I was hesitant at first because it seems like a weird pairing of ingredients but it works. Really outstanding flavor and the bonus is that it can be prepared almost completely the night before any festivities.
    Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • — Tanya Kukral on February 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is a keeper! I’ve made it at least a dozen times now and it never fails to make everyone happy. Family favorite.

    • — Victoria Arduini on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This has to be one of my favorite recipes! I have served it at small dinner parties as well as large family parties as a buffet dish. I usually make the recipe and keep it in the fridge overnight. This makes entertaining so much easier with your entree already to pop in the oven. Since I have always used the Silver Palate recipe, I didn’t brown the chicken:, and it is still fabulous. Please, Please do not let the ingredients keep you from making this dish. Prune haters will never even know they are in this recipe. I have also used these ingredients to make large batches of wings and received rave reviews! Thanks again Jen for another winner!

    • — Kathleen Roe on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Two main things to know about this amazing dish…it is super yummy and it is so easy to make! The sauce is so good. I served it with couscous. I’ve made it several times and everyone always loves it!

    • — NAN on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Easy yet fancy enough for guests. A keeper!

    • — Carol lee on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I used boneless /skinless thighs and reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup. It turned out awesome! New family favorite.

    • — ryguy on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight for my son. He has lived in San Francisco for the last several years so has had the great opportunity to eat at some of the finest restaurants in the land. He said this was the best dinner he has ever had. He fell in love with it. I made the asparagus and peas as well as the couscous which you suggested. Wow. Jenn, you give us the best recipes ever. Thank you.

    • — Janie Cashimere Johnson on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a great recipe and I am one of the original Silver palate cookbook followers; my original fell apart (the binding was never great) and I managed to find a new one in a second hand book store; it’s something I always check for when in a second hand shop.

    I have never had any problem with it browning nicely in the oven, especially if you use convection bake. Another great accompaniment is pureed sweet potato (either with carrots as in the SP cookbook or alone). I also serve couscous; the combination of flavours and textures goes really well together and works great for a buffet!

    Don’t worry about the “weird” ingredients; my kids would hate the olives, capers and prunes on their own but LOVE this dish.

    • — Wendy on December 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • I would like to make this but I only have skinless boneless chicken thighs…would that work here?

    • — Vikki Longo on December 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Vikki, I think it should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • I would like to make this for a progressive dinner. Since I cannot be home for an hour of baking time before serving, I was wondering if I could make it in advance, and after baking, put it in a crockpot at the “keep warm” or “low” setting to keep warm while I head off to the appetizer stop. Or would it overcook? Thanks.

    • — Pam on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Pam, I don’t have experience with a crockpot, but as long as you keep it on warm instead of low, I’m guessing it should be fine. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on December 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • This chicken was great my whole family loved it and took the leftovers. 5stars

    • — Lynne on September 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Amazing! Made it with raisins and then used the leftover chicken and sauce to make a chicken pie the next night with an added mirepoix and roasted peppers. Definitely making again, such great flavour.

    • — Wendy on September 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I started this recipe only to find I’m out of red wine vinegar. Can I use aged white wine vinegar instead? Or aged sherry vinegar?

    • — Jane S. on September 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, either of those should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 17, 2020
      • Reply
  • Delicious and easy to make!!!

    • — Pamela on September 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’m having a family dinner next Sunday think this would be great.
    Nine adults- would you recommend all thighs? Double recipe? Or? I’ve been thinking about this for two days and thought I’d ask. Also can I substitute prunes for golden raisins? Thx Marlene

    • — Marlene Bisbee on August 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Marlene, If you double the recipe, you’re very likely to have leftovers (which is not necessarily a bad thing). 🙂 You could make 1.5 times the recipe. All thighs would work fine here and golden raisins would be tasty too. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Yum! This was just what I expected. I have had this many times, but have never made it before. I used thighs, doubled the olives and used blonde coconut sugar. I was out of prunes and ended up adding them not long before baking. My friend got a link to your site. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Susan S on June 20, 2020
    • Reply

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