Chicken Marbella

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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: 5-6

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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Comments

  • Can you use boneless chicken breasts?

    Thanks,
    Erin

    • Hi Erin, I don’t recommend boneless breasts for this recipe. Sorry!

  • I added the brown sugar by mistake to the marinade is that Ok or do I need to start over?

    • Not necessary– it will still work. Hope you enjoy!

  • PS: Forgot to mention I am making this tonight!!!! I have never had anything on your site, including the Marbella, that didn’t turn out perfect. But these giant chicken breasts have me a bit concerned.

  • I couldn’t fine “normal” size chicken breasts. These are very large. They have been marinating overnight and I have turned them a few times. It now looks like there is very little of the marinade in the dish. My concern is that there won’t be enough to add to pan with wine and brown sugar. Six breasts. Thank you!

    • Hi Pam, I think it will probably be fine but if you want to play it safe you can make more of the marinade (maybe a half recipe) and add it to the pan (that way, you’ll have plenty of sauce too). Hope you enjoy it!

      • You are the best! At quick replies AND fabulous recipes. Many thanks!

  • This dish is fabulous!! I have made this almost a dozen times in the last year & a half. My kids ask for it by name and company always raves about it. Super easy but taste like you are a top chef! Thank you Jenn, this recipe is going in our family recipe book, a keeper!

  • I was introduced to this dish about 10 years ago while working at a little store with gourmet takeout. Everyone just loved it…including me. I can’t believe that I completely forgot about it! Thanks for the reminder and the recipe. It’s just as fabulous as I remember it to be. Happy Holidays, Jenn!

  • I’m planning on making this so would like to know if you achieved the beautiful brown skin in the photo from baking alone or was it broiled? My oven does not have a broiler so would I need to brown the skin before baking? Thanks for your reply.

    • Hi Leslie, Yes, I did broil the chicken after baking it. If you’d like to achieve that same brown skin, sear them briefly after baking them in the oven. Hope you enjoy!

      • Thanks for your reply Jenn. I just read the recipe again and noticed the last paragraph which mentions the broiling. I’ll try browning after baking. BTW…your blog/website is the most user-friendly as any I’ve ever experienced! Love it!

    • Hi, I have never had to use the broiler, it always gets beautifully browned on it’s own. YUM

      • I also have never used the broiler, they brown beautifully. This makes the house smell wonderful, and reheated is just as good the next day.

  • Seriously amazing. I made this for an extended family dinner and it could not have been easier or more delicious. As the mother of a 1 year old I have minimal time to cook dinner. I was able to prep this at night in about 15 minutes and then all I had to do was pop it in the oven the next night. Rave reviews from the whole crowd. I served it with whole wheat couscous and a green salad. Will definitely keep this in the rotation.

  • Yikes!! Didn’t read properly and I added the brown sugar and wine to the marinade. Do I need to start over or is it ok? Thanks!

    • It’s fine Elizabeth – no need to start over. Enjoy!

  • Can you eliminate the Capers?

    • Sure, that would be fine.

  • I’m always looking for new flavor combinations and this recipe hit the criteria. When I read the ingredients prunes, green olives, caper, garlic, my first thoughts were “yuck, ewww, hmmmm, interesting.” My curiosity got the better of me and I had to make it. It was a flavor explosion! the prunes were delicious sweet bombs in the savory sauce from the olives, garlic and capers. The chicken was moist and delicious. I don’t like olives, at all and couldn’t chew and swallow them but the flavor they added to the meal was undeniable. This is a keeper and sharing recipe.

  • Can this be made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts? If so , any changes in quantities or ingredients or in cooking time? I saw your previous comment about the skin adding flavor, but boneless, skinless is so much easier to manage for guests at a dinner party!

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

  • This is wonderful!! Tried it last night and we both loved it. Can’t wait until we have the leftovers. Thank you for another outstanding recipe. Looking forward to your cookbook.

  • Love both you and your website..can hardly wait for to purchase an autographed (I hope) copy of your cookbook. My question, Can I bake the day before and just reheat as I would love to serve this to company, but will be walking in the door just a short time before them?. If so, reheat at what temperature and for how long>

    • Thanks for the nice words Carol! And, it’s fine to make this ahead, just reheat, covered, in a 350°F oven until heated through.

  • I’m so glad you posted this recipe. I, too, made it many times using the Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s been so many years I forgot all about it. I’m going to make it this weekend. Can’t wait!

  • Hi ,
    i was wondering can we make this recipe with no skin chicken thighs?
    Your recipes are wonderful, thank you for sharing,
    Nathalie

    • Hi Nathalie, you can use skinless chicken thighs, but the skin adds so much flavor – If possible, I would suggest cooking the chicken with the skin on and removing it before serving.

  • Hi Jen,
    I’m making this for a crowd on Friday and wanted to know if a large aluminum pan will work the same as baking dishes that you use. I just want to make sure there wouldn’t be any chemical reaction letting the chicken parts marinate in the foil.
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Abbie, I don’t think there should be any problem with marinating the chicken in the aluminum pan, but just to be safe, you could use large ziplock bags instead. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • Chicken Marbella…. Delicious! Made with orzo… Who knew chicken, prunes, capers and olives combined could taste so wonderful!!!

  • I’m not a wine drinker, so I don’t know what would work best in the recipe. Please give a few suggestions for a good wine to use. Thank you!

    • Hi Paula, Any inexpensive white wine would be perfectly fine to use. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio are good options. Hope you enjoy!

  • I just realized that the chicken is supposed to marinate overnight and I only have about 4-5 hours for marinating time. Should I still make it? Or wait until another time when I can give it the full overnight marinade? Thanks!

    • It will still be tasty Pam, but will just absorb a little less of the flavors.

      • Thank you, Jenn! I decided to wait until later this week because I have never made this and, from all the rave reviews, it is clearly worth the overnight marinating time.

        • I made this dish starting in the morning and marinating only for 6 hours. It was still fantastic.

  • My questions are about substituting ingredients.

    I hate Olives. I use olive oil all the time but cannot stand the taste of olives.

    My wife is very sensitive to spices and I would need to remove or greatly reduce the garlic.

    Any suggestions on a substitute for these two ingredients.

    Thanks in advance.

    Rhae

    • Hi Rhae, It’s fine to just omit the olives. As for the garlic, it does add wonderful flavor so I wouldn’t omit it entirely — but I think it’s fine to reduce it. You could also add a tablespoon of minced shallots to amp up the flavor a bit.

  • I have a sulfite allergy. I’m not sure what to substitute for the red wine vinegar. What would be best. I will already have to substitute chicken broth for the white wine for the same reason. I’m dying to try this recipe.

    • Hi Christina, perhaps you could try brown or white rice vinegar. I would love to hear how it turns out if you make it!

  • Is there any substitute for sugar other than substitute faux sugar.

    All your recipes are wonderful but many include sugar. I usually omit but feel I’m missing out on the overall flavor.

    • Hi Gen, you could get away with using honey or agave nectar here. (If you go with honey, use a little less than 1/2 cup as honey is a bit sweeter tasting than sugar.) I’d love to know how it turns out if you prepare it this way!

  • I first tasted Chicken Marbella when I met my husband about 10 years ago. My MIL makes this for many of the Jewish holidays, and gave me the recipe when we got married. Super easy, always tasty, and the longer it marinates, the better it gets! I didn’t realize the cookbook had been re-released. I’ll have to get a copy for myself. My mother-in-law will be thrilled 😉

  • Just made this last night and it is delicious! I used boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken pieces. So easy to put together. Making copies of this recipe for my daughters and will definitely make this again!

  • I first had Chicken Marbella at a baby shower about 23 years ago. It just knocked my socks off it was so good. I begged (literally!) for the recipe and have been making it ever since. It is my go to meal for special company and get asked for the recipe often. I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts and double the amount of prunes and olives. It tastes even better as leftovers. I usually just serve it over plain, brown basmati rice along with a big green salad. This recipe deserves at least 10 stars!!

  • This was amazing good. I used boneless/skinless breasts and thighs. Turned out so juicy and the sauce had a rich satisfying flavor. It’s been moved into regular rotation.

  • What is the accompaniment for this chicken?

    • — Adelaide Mingle
    • Reply
    • Hi Adelaide, I don’t suggest anything within the recipe but this would be delicious with French Green Beans with Shallots and a grain or roasted potato. Feel free to check out the sides on my site for some inspiration.

  • Hi,
    I really want to try this dish for Christmas. I wanted to know if instead of cooking in oven can we cook it in air fryer instead? and if yes, then what should be suggested time and temperature for air fryer?
    Many thanks in advance

    • Hi Somya, I’m not very familiar with an air fryer, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I think this is really best from the oven.

      • Hi,
        Sorry for very very late update. I finally did try it in air fryer but had to cook it in two batches. It was delicious, all my guests loved it..I have sent this recipe to my in laws now 🙂 Thank u soo much for awesome recipe.

        • So glad to hear it came out well in the air fryer- thanks for the update Somya!

  • In the photo the big green olives look whole and so do the prunes. Do u actually chop them up when u make it? Really like this recipe…making again now…I’m leaning toward chopping but need to know for future.

    • For this recipe, I leave the olives and prunes whole. Feel free to chop them though, if you prefer :).

  • Do you know if you can freeze the Marbella Chicken after you have cooked it?

    • — Shirleyann James
    • Reply
    • Hi Shirleyann, Yes, that should be fine.

  • Hello! I love this and love making it! My question is can I marinade for two days? I am making a lot of food and would love to get this out of the way. It’s easy but does take time.
    Thanks, Sherri

    • — sherri Fogelman
    • Reply
    • Hi Sherri, Yes that’s fine. Enjoy!

  • What do you serve with chicken marbella?

    • Hi Jill, I typically serve it with rice pilaf or mashed potatoes, and a simple green veg (like my French Green Beans with Shallots or Sauteed Asparagus & Peas)

  • What wine(s) pairs best with chicken marbella

    • Hi Al, I’d probably serve the same wine I add to the dish — but a richer white wine like Chardonnay would work, or rosé or a light bodied red like Pinot Noir or Grenache.

  • How would I prepare a half recipe of Chicken Marbella? Just use half the ingredients ? Thank you.

    • Hi Gaile, Yes, that should work.

  • Dear Jenn, can I use chicken wings and dates instead of prunes? Thank you! Sonia.

    • Hi Sonia, Yes and yes 🙂

  • Can I skip olives in this recipe? No one likes in my family.

    Also can I substitute wine for chicken broth? My husband and I do not drink or use liquor in cooking.

    • Hi Mindy, Yes and yes 🙂

  • one more question- can you add or use other dried fruits instead of prunes?

    • Yes, feel free to make substitutions 🙂

  • Hi ,
    I have 2 questions:
    How can this dish be made for a smaller group (4 people)?

    Can this dish be cooked a day or 2 in advance and reheated? If so, how do you recommend re heating it?

    • Hi Susan, I’d probably just stick to the quantity, since the recipe only serves 5-6. You could always cut it in half, but you might be short. It’s fine to make ahead, just reheat, covered, in a 350°F oven until heated through.

  • We had friends over for dinner and I made your Chicken Marbella recipe. It turned out wonderfully and we all enjoyed it. It’s going into the rotation!
    I served it with orzo mixed with roasted vegetables and salad.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I love this dish and have made it many times. Wondering if anyone has taken it to an outdoor picnic. It will be “forks/spoons only” so I wonder if I could just cut the pieces bite sized? Perhaps better to make it with boneless breasts then? Already made the bread for dipping afterward!

  • I love chicken Marbella…I make it all the time! Yours looks great! 🙂

  • Jen, the chicken marbella recipe is wonderful, it does make quite a bit of wonderful sauce, however, a bit too much.
    what else can I do with it, soup possibly?
    definitely want to save it.
    thank you.
    Eva

    • Hi Eva, I think it would be delicious over pasta for another meal.

  • Love this recipe…my mother makes it every year. What kind of pan do you use’; more specifically, what depth? Thanks!

    • Hi Sarah, I use a standard 9 x 13-inch baking dish; it’s about 2 inches deep.

  • The Chicken Marbella is absolutely delicious! I’m making it for the second time and every ingredient is absolutely perfect for this dish!!

  • Jenn – I actually found your blog while doing an internet/pinterest search for this exact recipe 3+ years ago! One of my best friends Mom’s made this dish for me and your recipe was dead on perfect! Although not typical ingredients I cook with (prunes, olives, capers) they work wonderfully together! Love to pair with a nice rice pilaf or mashed potato to soak up the wonderful sauce. This reminds me, it’s time to make again!

  • Hi Jenn,
    I have enjoyed your recipes over the last couple of years and always look forward to seeing “what’s new”. I have a question about the Chicken Marbella. Since it will seem to have some very distinctive flavors, what side dish/dishes do you recommend to go along with it?
    Thank you.
    Penny

    • Hi Penny, Thank you! I always serve this dish with a simple rice pilaf and green beans (see my French green bean recipe on the site). Hope that helps!

  • Jenn, this recipe looks so very interesting. I’ve got a pretty good sense of how ingredients combined will taste, but I need specifics…i.e. pitted prunes (dried or canned?), “a bit of caper juice”..(how much?), “Spanish olives” (pitted?, from a jar or an olive bar?, pimentos or none?.

    Thanks for your reply.

    • Hi Cheryl, Sure — you need dried prunes, about 1 tablespoon caper juice and pitted Spanish or Greek green olives from an olive bar (no pimentos). Hope that helps!

  • Can these recipe be made with chicken thighs instead of a whole cut up chicken?

    • Hi Janet, Absolutely; it will be even better.

      • Thanks Jenn. How many pounds of chicken thighs would you use (I’m assuming you recommend getting bone in/skin-on thighs, though I don’t like skin)?

        • You’ll need 4-5 pounds, or 12-14 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. I would definitely cook the chicken with the skin on, as it adds a lot of flavor, but it’s fine to remove it before serving.

  • Yesterday I was preparing the marinade for FOUR chickens (per the Silver Palatte’s original recipe) for a party I was going to. Just as I was about to toss the chicken with the ingredients I learned that the party – scheduled for the following day – had been postponed for a week. Two questions: (1) can I freeze the marinade? I hate to waste it and hope I can just thaw it, then toss with the olives and prunes, meat etc..next week; (2) I froze the chicken parts. What’s the best way to defrost them? I appreciate your input. P.S.: should I leave chicken skins on or off?

    • Hi Rebecca, Yes, you can freeze the marinade. I would start defrosting the chicken in the fridge a day or two before you need to marinade it; it will take a while to thaw. As for the skin, I would definitely leave it on; it will add flavor and keep the meat from drying out during the cooking process. You can always remove it before serving if you like. Hope that helps!

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond and help me…I’m grateful.

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