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Chicken Marbella

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

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 share 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 know about it. 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 to 6
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes, plus 12 hours to marinate the chicken


  • 2 cut-up chickens, 2½ pounds each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on
  • ½ head garlic, peeled and finely puréed (8 cloves, minced)
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ¼ cup Spanish green olives
  • ¼ cup capers, with a bit of juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley


  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

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

See more recipes:


  • Although I am in my 50’s, neither I nor anyone in my extended family had heard of this dish. I made it to use up some extra olives, and it was unexpectedly complex in flavor. Everyone really enjoyed it. It was very easy to make. I followed the recipe exactly, using boneless skinless chicken thighs, except I halved the sugar due to diabetic constraints. It still turned out delicious. Will definitely be adding this to our dinner rotation. Thank you Jenn for posting this. Another great recipe!!

    • — Angela on January 23, 2023
    • Reply
  • I have made chicken marbella many times using boneless, skinless thighs. It is always yummy but after reading all the comments I’m going to leave the skin on for even more flavor and moistness. I recently got a new oven with convection bake and convection roast options. I have not used either function yet and wondered if one of these methods would work well for this recipe. Also what temperature would you suggest? My daughter and I love all of your recipes and I am giving her your cookbooks for Christmas this year. Thank you!

    • — Rose on December 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rose, I would recommend sticking with the regular setting on your oven as I find using the convection setting tends to dry out chicken and beef. Also, so glad both you and your daughter like the recipes – thanks for your support of the cookbook! 💗

      • — Jenn on December 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Thanks for reminding me of a recipe I made often years ago. Made it tonight and it was as good as I remember. I used only chicken thighs because that’s what we like and tossed in a few extra prunes and olives to have 2 of each for each serving. I roasted the chicken and turned on convection for the last 20 minutes and it browned up beautifully.

    • — Kathie on November 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have been making this for many years. Easy and always good for weeknight or guests. Last night I served it to friends with quinoa and roasted asparagus. Started with a spring greens, baby spinach, cucumber, shredded carrot, hearts of palm, yellow peppers, snap peas, tomato craisins and a balsamic vinaigrette topped with blue cheese crumbles. Warm apple crisp for dessert.

    • — RDN in Lenox on November 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • i have been making this for years the “right way”, but its too hot for the oven, so i modified. (no time for marinating). Using a dutch oven, I seared the chicken quickly, then dumped in all the ingredients. got it boiling, then covered and turned way down. it was delicious and done top to bottom in an hour. loved this. definitely adding to my summer recipes. <3

    • — trish_in_florida on July 25, 2022
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  • Another outstanding recipe, thank you. So easy to make and so delicious to eat. All my kids absolutely love this one. A++

    • — Victoria B on July 21, 2022
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  • i made it and it did not turn out. The sauce was very watery and when i tried to boil it down it did not taste good.

    • — Bett on April 18, 2022
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  • Hello,
    I am making this wonderful dish as part of Easter meal. My question is can I put the baked chicken and juice in a crockpot to keep warm since my sisters main oven and smaller ovens will be in use. It will be baked on Saturday and taken to her home Easter Sunday. I would think so but just wanted to check. Thank you. It’s a fabulous dish!

    • — Tish on April 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Glad you like it, and yes, that should work. Happy Easter!

      • — Jenn on April 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hey There Jenn!
    I’m about to make this later today for dinner, it’s still marinating in the fridge. I’m so excited to taste this after reading all your rave reviews!!! Here’s my question, I’ve got all the ingredients in the marinade, but I just realized I ALSO happened to have some dried cherries, you think it’d be ok to add a small amount to the marinade, and it’d still taste great?! Or no?
    Thanks for your quick reply!
    Gigi B.

    • — Gigi B on March 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Gigi, Go for it – should be delicious. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 24, 2022
      • Reply
      • Will DO! Thanks so much Jenn!!

        • — Gigi B on March 24, 2022
        • Reply
  • I have made this several times. I love it so much! Most of the time I just buy a whole chicken cut up. Recently, I am using Truvia sugar substitute, because I can not eat much sugar. It is still delicious!!

    • — Julie Chambers on March 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made the Moroccan Chicken Tagine which was delicious though I only put in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves as I’m not keen on too much garlic.
    Looking forward to making this one but again I shall have to reduce the amount of garlic so hopefully if won’t spoil the flavour.

    • — Rosemary on February 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Made this for Christmas dinner last year and it was fabulous! Going to making it again this year.

    • — Erin M. on December 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • How do you think this would be served over creamy polenta? And could I use boneless chicken breasts?

    • — MK on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think this would be delicious served over polenta! And the recipe really won’t work with boneless breasts, but you might try this recipe, which is similar. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2021
      • Reply
      • The recipe works perfectly for boneless breasts (i cut in half). Been making this recipe for 25 years. Perfect! Add large family style zatarans dirty rice to the dish and serve all mixed together , its the best!

        • — Steven on June 29, 2022
        • Reply
  • All I can find for prunes is “dried pitted prunes”. Will they work okay here? Thank you! Your recipes are consistently outstanding!

    • — Corinne on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, that’s exactly what you want! Hope you enjoy the chicken (and so glad you like the recipes)!

      • — Jenn on December 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • I have the original Silver Palate cookbook, but use your adaption. This is such an easy dish to make, and I always recommend it (and your website) to less experienced cooks.

    Your pictures and descriptions are so well organized, they really make cooking accessible.

    I am making Chicken Marbella today for an early family dinner. We have a soccer game in the pouring rain to attend, and we will be well fed at least.

    • — Betsy on October 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hey Jenn! Big fan of your recipes! You are really truly gifted! I just realized I only have dark brown sugar…will this work?

    • — Penelope on October 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Yes, dark brown sugar should be fine — enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was amazing! I used 12 boneless skinless thighs. Baked for 40 minutes then let stand for 20 minutes covered with foil. It wasn’t too dry. Served with organic jasmine rice. Will definitely make many more times.

    • — John on June 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • 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 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 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
      • Making it this way tonight. Did you adjust cooking time or temperature? Thanks, John

        • — John on June 13, 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
    • 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!

  • 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!

  • Easy yet fancy enough for guests. A keeper!

  • I used boneless /skinless thighs and reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup. It turned out awesome! New family favorite.

  • 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
    • 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.

  • I would like to make this but I only have skinless boneless chicken thighs…would that work here?

    • Sure, Vikki, I think it should work. Enjoy!

  • 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.

    • 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!

  • This chicken was great my whole family loved it and took the leftovers. 5stars

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Hi Jane, either of those should work. Enjoy!

  • Delicious and easy to make!!!

  • 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
    • 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!

  • 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.

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