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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Reviews & Comments

  • This recipe was perfect! We loved the flavors. Will make again!

    • — Katey Scallion on May 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can I use Dates instead of prunes?

    • — Melissa Engel on March 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi, I need to make this for 16 people (10 men, 6 women)..and am having trouble figuring out the proportions to increase. It seems like it will be a lot of oil, oregano and a lot of sugar if I triple the recipe.

    • — patrice on March 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Patrice, it may sound like a lot of oil, sugar, etc. if you triple the ingredients, but I would keep all the ratios the same. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on March 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this for dinner party of 8 adults, I used bone-in and skin on breasts. They were probably too big, given I had appetizers, soup and salad. They turned out great though, just wrapped up leftovers for the guests. I got so many complements when i was opening the oven to baste, and they smelled great!!! Thank you!

    • — Amata on March 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • I had an equivalent of one chicken in thighs and drumsticks. I made sauce that is supposedly for 2 chicken and it seemed to be about right for one. The dish turned out well. I liked the thighs much more than the drumsticks.

    • — Olga on February 3, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can you marinate this longer than 24 hours in advance? ….and a friend of mine’s family uses honey instead of brown sugar on the chicken skin for the crispy factor. Have you ever heard of that and what do you think?

    Thanks, jon

    • — Jon on January 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, John — a longer marinade is fine and the honey sounds delicious.

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe is amazing! For all of you out there who are wondering about the “odd” ingredients- just make it! My husband and kids were thrilled. I made it with Parmesan orzo and Jenn’s asparagus with peas.
    My mother visited the next day and she doesn’t like olives, capers and vinegar. I gave her a bite of the leftovers (didn’t even heat it up) and she ate the whole piece! Of course, I had to send her home with the rest of the leftovers…

    • — Jill C. on January 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank god someone finally did a smaller portion version of this recipe. I tried to cut back and it was not the same, glad you found the perfect amounts, it is wonderful!

    Quick question, I was looking for a video of it, the video playing on the page was not for this recipe. How do you search video’s on your site?

    • — JKG on January 14, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi JKG, Glad you enjoyed this! Unfortunately, I don’t have a video of this recipe — sorry! You can find the handful of videos I have here.

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • I’m trying a couple of recipes for my upcoming small dinner party, so we just had this for lunch today. Delicious! I see that you say it can be made ahead and reheated. I could see that being a good thing for melding the flavors even more, but will the chicken skin be limp?

    We love your roasted carrots with curry. If I served it with the Marbella would the flavors compete too much? I was thinking of doing that and a simple couscous.

    Thank you!

    • — Kay on December 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Kay, The chicken skin won’t be crisp while reheating it as you should cover it with foil. But before taking it out of the oven, you can remove the foil and put the chicken under the broiler for a minute or two to crisp up the skin. And I do think the curry in the carrots may compete a bit with the flavors of the chicken. You might want to consider this roasted carrot dish instead. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2019
      • Reply
  • I used just bone-in thighs. When I opened my jar of oregano, I only had about 1.5 T so added one t of thyme. I used the left over red wine vinegar from the pickled onions I keep in the fridge. Next time, I’d probably add a little crushed red pepper, but that’s just us.

    I’m 57 and had never heard of this recipe. A lot of us from my generation, who had working mothers, grew up on Hamburger Helper. I spent most of my 20’s eating as inexpensively as possible (lots of lentil soup) and didn’t really cook more than necessary until my 30’s. Thanks for including it.

  • What a delightful dish…everyone loved it. Lots of flavour and makes a great company dish. Will be making this time and time again.

    • — Rosalind Grant
    • Reply
  • Could I puree the capers? Many in my family say they “don’t like” capers although they’ve never tried them. So puree? Or, is there an alternative?
    Thanks,
    Lauren

    • — Lauren Margolin
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauren, you can just omit the capers. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • I love this dish! Just wondering if I can marinate the chicken in a 9×13 pan, then put the whole thing in the oven when it’s time to bake? Saves me a dish – and a step.

  • Jenn!
    It’s Saturday morning and my chicken has been marinating in the fridge since last night for a dinner party tonight. Our guests cancelled this morning due to illness and I want to know if I can FREEZE the chicken (with all the olives, etc.) and then thaw it out for later use? Thanks for a (hopefully) quick response:)

    • Hi Jennifer, Yep, that’s fine 🙂

  • Dear Jenn,

    I want to make Chicken Marbella and don’t have white wine. Can I substitute chicken broth for the wine?

    Sincerely,
    Stephanie Peskin

    • — Stephanie Peskin
    • Reply
    • Hi Stephanie, The wine adds a lot of flavor to this dish, so I think it’s worth getting if you can. That said, chicken broth will work. Hope that helps!

  • Will make chicken Marbella.But as you said a whole new generation with this recipe.I must tell you I am from the old generation and never saw this recipe .
    New or old love your recipes .

    • — Carolyn O’Connell
    • Reply
  • This recipe is excellent. I actually do have the Silver Palate Cook Book, but prefer to use your recipe because it halves the quantities, which is better for the smaller number of people that I typically invite. Also I like the additional tips that you give (e.g. the final broiling to darken the skin). The only change I make is to double the marinade and the white wine so I have extra sauce. Whenever I serve this, I am always asked for the recipe.

  • Hi Jenn-
    I want to make this for baby shower using drumsticks (appetizer) thinking 10 pounds of chicken to feed around 30-40 people for appetizer. Assuming I’ll have to adjust my cooking time. Any advice for length of cooking time? Thanks! I always get nervous cooking poultry 😬

    My family had this for dinner last night! Perfectly divine 😀

    • Hi Jennifer, Actually, I don’t think you’ll need to adjust the timing because you’re using drumsticks, but because you’re going to be baking about twice the amount, it may take a bit longer for that amount to cook. I’d start checking them at about 55 minutes.

  • This is excellent and so easy to throw together! I used bone-in, skin on chicken thighs and they were very moist and loaded with flavor. The briny olives and capers add saltiness, which balances the sweetness from the brown sugar and prunes. The prunes didn’t fall apart. The only change I made to the recipe was to reduce the brown sugar to 1/3 cup and use less salt and pepper. I was skeptical about using 2 1/4 tsp of salt. It seemed excessive since the olives and capers are salty. In a January/14 review Jenn had noted that she used 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper, which is less than the recipe calls for. The chicken was done in 45 minutes. I removed the thighs, olives, prunes and capers to a foil lined baking pan and browned them under the broiler before drizzling with some of the juices and sprinkling with parsley.

  • Hi Jenn, In your review dated Jan. 10/14, you noted that you like your food well-seasoned so would use about 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the marinade. Those measures are very different from the 2 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper that are listed here in the recipe. Could you please verify which is correct? The capers and olives are salty, and adding an additional 2 1/4 teaspoons of salt seems excessive. Thanks.

    • Hi Sadie, I’m sorry for the confusion! When I originally added the recipe to my blog, I didn’t specify the amount of salt and pepper that should be used but rather indicated that they should be added to taste. I’ve updated the recipe to make it more clear (and if you’re concerned about it being too salty with the capers and olives, feel free to cut back on the salt and add more to taste before serving if necessary). Hope that helps!

  • Made this for 40+ for Christmas dinner. Used boneless thighs and breasts. Reheated nicely. This is a winner! Everyone loved!

  • Can you marinade this for two days before cooking?

    • Sure, Mary. Enjoy!

  • The only change I made was using boneless chicken and it was still juicy and delicious. Definitely a recipe to make again. The clear and concise directions made the recipe easy to follow.

  • All i can tell you is you are the best. I’ve tested a lot of your recipes. They’re all perfectly good! I’m not very sure if this is stupid question. Can i use dates instead of prunes for chicken Marbela? Im just being lazy go back out. Thank you for advance

    • Hi Ludi, I think dates would work. And glad you like the recipes. 🙂

  • Hello Jenn, Plan to make the recipe this weekend. Reading your reviews several people mentioned re heating which would be perfect for me. I always cook and serve. What is the best way to re heat this dish ? Cover with foil, what temperature and for how long ???
    Canada loves your recipes!
    Great thank you.
    Yvonne

    • Hi Yvonne, Yes I’d cover with foil and reheat in a 300°F oven til warmed through (I’m guessing about 30 min).

  • HI Jenn,
    This looks great. I am cooking for about 40 people (seder) and am thinking of making this as one of three entrees (your onion braised brisket being one of them). How much of this should I make? A Triple Recipe? More? Also, will this freeze?

    • Hi Steve, it depends upon how much other food you will have, but if you will have two additional main dishes, tripling this should be enough. And yes, this freezes well. Enjoy your holiday!

  • This is one of my very favorite recipes. I love it as is, or sometimes I use actual wine, red or white, but most of the time white and a little apple cider vinegar. The juice, or gravy of this dish is divine. One of the things I like best is that the plums (prunes) rehydrate during cooking, and they are delicious! So, I usually add a little extra chopped prunes. I think I may even be addicted to this. It is really easy. I have brought it to many events and get togethers.

    • — Julie Chambers
    • Reply
  • I will be using thighs with skin on. Is it
    best to cook boneless, or, with bones in??
    thank you

    • I’d recommend bone-in. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Hi Jenn,
    Happy New Year! I was going to make this for tomorrow with chicken thighs. I was going to add apricots in addition to prunes as I had it recently and it was good. Do I still need to add 1 cup of sugar at end? Looking forward to your cookbook!

    • Hi Jen, I’d still add the sugar but you can cut back a little, if you’d like. Happy New Year!

  • Hi Jenn! I love all your recipes and can’t wait for your cookbook to come out. I am hosting a dinner for about 20 people. Would it be best to cook the Chicken Marbella the day before, the day of and keep the chicken warm while other chicken is baking or bake all at once? If I cook all at one time, how long should I bake the chicken? Thanks!

    • Hi Cathy, so glad you like the recipes! If you have enough room in your baking dish(es) and oven to cook all the chicken at the same time, I would recommend that. Hope everyone enjoys!

  • This sounds scrumptious! I plan to make it for 8-10 people. Should all the ingredients be doubled? I’m thinking parmesan orzo and a green salad as accompaniments.
    Sound okay?

    • Sounds like a delicious meal! And I would either make 1 1/2 or 2 times the recipe. If you double it, you’ll likely have some (yummy) leftovers.

  • I made this last night for dinner. It was so good and so easy to prepare. My husband wasn’t sure he’d like it, but he ended up loving it and asking for more! Thanks for another winner Jenn!

  • Excellent dish for Girls Night Out Dinner Party.

    I made this last night. My changes based on reviews were: 1. I used only fresh herbs including oregano, marjoram and thyme in the marinade. it was so flavorful. 2. I used bone and skin on organic chicken breast (split in half), thighs and drumsticks and baked on Convection roast for 50 minutes. 3. i served with brown and wild rice and Autumn salad . I had rave reviews. And it is a great made in advance dish that is so pretty to serve also.

  • Chicken Marbella is a huge hit at our house! At first the kids were like, “prunes and olives??” but now this dish is even requested on birthdays. I follow the recipe pretty much as is except I have never basted the chicken and it turns out perfect every time. Some days the chicken gets marinated overnight but mostly just for a day. Serve with rice and veg, always a happy family around the table.

  • Can I used chicken stock in place of the white wine? Thank you.

    • Yes- hope you enjoy!

  • Can I make this with boneless chicken breasts???

    • Hi Vicki, I don’t recommend breasts for this recipe; if you really want to use breasts, I suggest this recipe instead.

  • I am planning to make this for this Christmas for a party of 20. Can I make this a day ahead and reheat?

    • Yes, definitely. Enjoy!

  • Ok to serve with pickled brisket, roasted potatoes, etc Large rosh hashana dinner. Plan to make ahead and freeze, will make extra marinade when i reheat so it heats up moist. Does this make sense?

    • Hi Wendy, Yes, I think all of that could work together. Hope you have a great holiday!

  • My Italian prune plums are ready to pick, can I substitute then for the dried prunes?

    • Hi Beth, I think that’ll work. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it that way.

  • I’m having 6 women friends to my lake house for a few days. I’m looking through your recipes and setting up my menus. Starting off with crustless broccoli quiche for breakfast.
    For supper I’m thinking of this chicken Marbella and Julia Turshein’s lasagna.
    A) would you pair these two?
    B) can they both be made day ahead and reheated?
    I’ll be doing asparagus and possibly the roasted beet salad … What do you think?

    • Hi Louise, What a fun weekend that sounds like! If you’re looking for two different dinner options, I think those two are great choices (and yes they can both be made ahead of time and reheated) but I wouldn’t serve them together on the same plate. With the Chicken Marbella, I’d serve rice or orzo and asparagus on the side. With the lasagna, I’d serve a big salad and bread. Hope that helps!

  • Jenn – my chicken Marbella is marinating but plans have changed, so need to freeze the dish. Please advise whether to freeze raw or cook it first. thank you.

    • — Theresa Miller
    • Reply
    • Hi Theresa, either one will work!

  • Jen, Since I’m not a huge fan of dried oregano, is there another spice that would work well in the chicken marbella?

    • Hi Rosemary, dried thyme or basil would work here in place of the oregano. Enjoy!

  • Does the chicken have an olivey taste? I have some picky people coming and I want to make this, but don’t want it to be passed up bc of the olives!

    • No, it doesn’t; The olives and capers are balanced perfectly with the prunes to make a delicious sweet-savory gravy. I think everyone will enjoy!

  • Fantastic flavors! I followed the recipe exactly except for using the cut up chicken. I happened to have 5 frozen, boneless, skinless breasts on hand, so took a chance. Although the skin would add more flavor, I thought that these were wonderful: moist, tender, and great flavor combo. I don’t typically care for olives or capers, but when you add all of these ingredients together, there’s an amazing synergy. Thanks for including this recipe on your site!

  • Jenn, can you please provide the nutritional information for this dish? I’m looking forward to making it. Thank you.

    • Hi Barbara, I just added them. You’ll see the numbers are pretty high; that’s primarily because of the skin on the chicken (but it is delicious)!

  • For this Chicken Marbella, do I have to leave the skin on. I never do as I won’t eat it. Will it still maintain the same flavor?

    • Hi Nancy, You don’t have to leave it on, 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 Jenn,
    My husband said this was the best chicken he’s ever had. He’s 62 so that’s a lot of chicken years! He said it was restaurant quality so he hit the nail on the head (it is restaurant quality!) I can’t get over how easy it was. I used two chicken breasts with bones and skin which produced almost no sauce. I’m going to make it again for friends next week, any suggestions on how to get more gravy/sauce? I’ll probably make 4 of the same breasts for them. Thanks so much for this recipe, can’t wait to try more as I’m new to your blog. Love it!

    • Hi Carol, so glad you enjoyed the chicken! Definitely sounds strange, though, that there wasn’t much gravy as this generally has quite a bit. Are you sure you measured everything correctly?

      • My husband just had the leftovers for lunch. He still raved.
        Yes, I measured everything to the recipe. Even added more wine at around 35 minutes. Maybe it was because I only used one split breast? Your recipe has 2.5 lbs per pan, all the chicken parts. It was still fantastic though. Maybe I should double up on the marinade, although maybe not the garlic? I wish I had taken a picture right out of the oven. Thanks.

  • Hi Jenn, this is such an easy and delicious dish! Thanks so much for the recipe! If I only have dark brown sugar on hand, can this be substituted for light? And if so, would the amount be the same?

    • Hi Jane – Yes and yes 🙂

  • I added the wine to the marinade by mistake will it still work?

    • Yes, Paula – don’t worry about it!

  • Where do you find 2.5lb chickens? I’m at Safeway and the lightest chicken they have us 5lbs.

    • Hi Seth, The recipe calls for cut-up chickens. Sorry that wasn’t clear – I’ll update the recipe to clarify.

      • Ah, thanks, that makes a lot more sense. Marinating now!

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