Chicken marbella is the briny, sweet, tangy baked chicken recipe from the famous Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s a classic recipe originally designed to serve a crowd but we cut it down to serve a family. Capers, prunes, white wine, brown sugar, and olives pack this recipe with flavor!

chicken marbella in a large baking dish.

If you’re looking for a baked chicken recipe that is dinner party worthy, but also simple enough to whip up for your family whenever the mood strikes, try chicken marbella. This recipe turns the sweet and salty ingredient combo of olives and prunes into a special dinner you’ll make over and over again. 

Chicken marbella is a classic recipe from the famous 1982 Silver Palate Cookbook. At the time, the cookbook and its corresponding gourmet shop, were considered revolutionary for bringing flavors of the Mediterranean to U.S. home cooks. 

While they say you should never mess with a classic, I did make a couple of small changes. The original recipe serves a big crowd, so I cut it down and used only one 3 ½ pound chicken rather than two. I also reduced the sugar from 1 cup to ¼ cup (less if you like), relying on the prunes for most of the sweetness.

To me, this recipe is perfection. I rank it up there with some of my other favorite chicken recipes on the site like my easy balsamic chicken or my sheet-pan smoked paprika chicken.

Table of Contents
  1. How to create briny-sweet flavor
  2. How to make chicken marbella
  3. What to serve with chicken marbella 
  4. How to store and reheat leftover chicken marbella
  5. More baked chicken recipes
  6. Chicken Marbella Recipe
ingredients for chicken marbella including EVOO, capers, olives, prunes, and brown sugar.

How to create briny-sweet flavor

Chicken marbella’s distinct flavor is its main draw. While an unexpected combination, the ingredients come together to create a sweet and salty flavor combination that has universal appeal.  

  • Pitted prunes: Yes, prunes. This humble, easily accessible dried fruit is so sweet, and it’s how we start to build flavor in the marinade immediately.  
  • Pitted green olives: For some salty tang and brininess. 
  • Capers and a bit of the juices in the jar: Similar to green olives, capers have a briny flavor, but are also a little tart. 
  • Red wine vinegar: Vinegar adds some acidity here to help season and tenderize the chicken. If you do not have red wine vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar, or even lemon juice. Keep in mind that the taste of the finished meal will be a little different.  
  • White wine: White wine brightens and lifts the other flavors in this dish. The alcohol will cook off so you won’t notice it’s there, but you will miss it if you leave it out!
  • Sugar: You only need ¼ cup brown sugar. While the original recipe uses much more, I decided to rely more on the natural sweetness of prunes, and I didn’t miss it. The chicken still had a subtle sweetness, and the skin turned a beautiful golden brown. 
chicken marbella with a whole chicken, prunes, olives, and more.

How to make chicken marbella

Making chicken marbella is as simple as marinating the chicken, allowing it to sit for 30 minutes and up to overnight , and then roasting it. I’ve let it marinate for both long and short periods of time, and honestly it’s plenty flavorful either way. 

Here’s more detail about how to make it: 

  • Make the marinade: To a large bowl, add 3 bay leaves, garlic cloves, ½ cup each pitted prunes and pitted green olives, ¼ cup capers (plus a little juice), ¼ cup red wine vinegar, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper. Stir or whisk together to combine.
  • Place a whole cut up chicken into the bowl and toss it carefully to coat it in the marinade. Get some of the marinade under the skin as well.
  • Let the chicken marinate: Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight. This is optional. If you are short on time, let the chicken sit in the marinade for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
  • Roast the chicken: When you are ready to cook the chicken, transfer the chicken and all of the marinade — including prunes, capers, etc. — to a large baking dish. Spread the chicken out so the pieces don’t overlap. Pour ½ cup white wine into the baking dish before sprinkling the top of the chicken with ¼ cup brown sugar.
  • Place the dish in a 350°F oven and allow it to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Baste the chicken occasionally with the pan juices. 

    chicken and marinade in a large baking dish ready for roasting.
  • Remove from the oven: The chicken is ready when its internal temperature reaches 165°F or the juices run clear and the skin has turned a golden brown. Transfer the chicken marbella to a serving platter and top with the prunes, olives, and capers.  
  • Make the sauce and serve. Don’t throw away the juices in the roasting pan! Instead, bring the juices to a boil over medium heat and reduce them to about ½ cup. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle some chopped flat-leaf parsley on top. Dinner is served!   

    close up of chicken marbella recipe.

What to serve with chicken marbella 

Chicken marbella is chock full of flavor, so you don’t need anything super complicated to go along with it. Here are some ideas: 

How to store and reheat leftover chicken marbella

Leftover chicken marbella will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. 

To reheat: Place the chicken and sauce in a skillet over medium heat and warm through. 

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5 from 69 votes

Chicken Marbella

Suzy Karadsheh
chicken marbella in a large baking dish.
Chicken Marbella is a classic recipe from the famous 1982 Silver Palate Cookbook. The original recipe is made to serve a crowd but one chicken is enough for my family. I also reduced the sugar in the recipe from 1 cup to ¼ cup. The prunes add most of the sweetness in this recipe and it’s perfection!
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 1 hour
Marinating time 8 hours
Total – 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves – 6 people


  • 1 whole chicken, cut up
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • ½ cup pitted prunes
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • ¼ cup capers, with a little bit of juice
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup Early Harvest Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • pepper
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional


  • Cut the chicken: Take a whole chicken and using sharp kitchen scissors cut the backbone out. Then press down on top to separate the rest of the bones. Remove the legs and thighs, then remove the wings and tips.
  • Make the marinade: In a large bowl combine bay leaves, garlic cloves, prunes, olives, capers, red wine vinegar, olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir it together then add the chicken. And smoosh it around. Make sure you lift up the skin a little bit so the marinade clings to the flesh of the chicken as well.
  • Let the chicken sit: Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge overnight. (If you don’t have enough time, allow at least 30 minutes of marinating time.)
  • Roast the chicken: The next day preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the chicken and the marinade, including the prunes, olives, etc., into a large oven safe skillet or baking dish and spread it out a bit so the chicken pieces don’t overlap. Pour the wine into the baking dish. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with brown sugar and place in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Baste with the pan juices a couple of times while the chicken cooks.
  • Remove from the oven: The chicken is ready when its internal temperature reaches 165°F and the skin has turned a golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a large serving platter and spoon the prunes, olives, and capers on top.
  • Make the sauce and serve. Bring the juices in the roasting pan to a boil over medium heat and reduce until you are left with about ½ cup of sauce. Strain the sauce into a bowl, then pour it over the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve and enjoy!



  • Red wine vinegar substitutes: You can use apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice. The flavor will differ slightly.
  • Marinating time: If you do not have time to marinate the chicken overnight, even 30 minutes will make a difference!
  • Serve chicken marbella with: Plain rice or rice pilaf, boiled potatoes, or crusty bread. 
  • How to store and reheat leftovers: Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Place the chicken and sauce in a skillet over medium heat to reheat.
  • Visit Our Shop for quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oilsspicesand grains.


Calories: 459.3kcalCarbohydrates: 19.8gProtein: 24.3gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 15.8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 95.2mgSodium: 471.9mgPotassium: 392.4mgFiber: 1.7gSugar: 14.7gVitamin A: 460.7IUVitamin C: 4.3mgCalcium: 41.6mgIron: 1.8mg
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5 from 69 votes (54 ratings without comment)

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  1. Arlene Fisher says:

    Will this recipe work using boneless chicken breasts? If so, how long should I bake?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Arlene. You can totally use chicken breast for this recipe. Boneless chicken breasts will cook faster, but we've never tested this, so it's hard to advise on an exact time. They'll be done when their internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. Enjoy!

  2. Cynthia Valladolid says:

    5 stars
    I admire your cooking skill, excellent.

  3. MARY E FELDMAN says:

    If using chicken breasts only (family preference), how many pounds should I use? Making this in a few days as it sounds delish. Thank you!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Mary. You can totally use chicken breast for this recipe. After doing a bit of research, I'd recommend around 2 lbs. We've never tested it this way, though, so it's hard to advise exactly. Remember, boneless chicken breasts will cook faster, so you will likely need to adjust the cooking time.

  4. Mary says:

    5 stars
    Made this recipe for company recently. Everyone, including the cook, agreed it was the best meal we had had in a long while I follow the recipe to a T.

  5. Linny says:

    Best recipe ever when company comes.

  6. Patricia says:

    I tried this and all I can say is WOW 🤩 I’m loving. It so much so that my family is obsessed thank you

  7. Debi Gayowski says:

    5 stars
    I gave a five star rating in my only issue was that I did make the chicken until it was 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but the skin had not turned brown and I am fact I ended up not eating my skin because it was still soft. I was afraid to continue cooking it because I didn’t want to overcook the chicken. What’s the secret to get the skin brown without over cooking?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Debi. You could place it under the broiler for a minute or two at the end to help the skin crisp up. Just keep a very close eye on it so it doesn't burn.

  8. Rafael Davila says:

    We put the capers in a tea bag and remove them along with the garlic cloves before serving.

  9. Barbie says:

    My husband has a hard time cutting chicken with bones. Can I use all boneless thighs? If so, how many?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Barbie. Absolutely! I'd say depending on the size of the thighs, 6-8 would work here.

      1. Terry says:

        Making this for guests tomorrow. I usually make with bone in skin on but they only eat boneless, skinless breasts. I am worried this might not work out as the Breast could go dry. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

        FYI - love your video’s and your recipes.

  10. Atka says:

    5 stars
    Delicious, a lot different flavors just love it

  11. Holly Hutchison says:

    5 stars
    Easy and incredible. An instant favourite. So so delicious!

  12. Sofie Kent says:

    5 stars
    My mom has made this recipe twice now. It was my turn to make it.. it has been my favorite dish of 2023, the flavors come together so beautifully. YUM!
    I had a question- can I leave the chicken marinating in the brine, in a glass air tight container for up to 48 hours? I know you recommend overnight, but want to know if longer is OK. Thanks again.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Sofie. No, we don't recommend marinating for 2 days. If you marinade chicken for too long it's possible that the marinade can start to break down the fibers of the meat, causing it to become mushy.

  13. Mike says:

    Wow! I’ve made at least a dozen of your dishes and each has been a winner! This one…WOW… absolutely delicious!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge, passion, and joy for what god gives us!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thank you for your kind words! You're so very welcome :).

  14. Lindy says:

    How much salt do you use? 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Lindy. That's always a hard question for us to answer, as it really depends on personal preference. I would start with a teaspoon or so, and adjust as needed the next time you make the recipe.

  15. prima cabral says:

    Hi, i wanted to try this recipe , but i just wanted to make sure that i am doing it right. When you say bake, does it mean to put it in the oven with foil cover? thank you.

    1. TMD Team says:

      That is correct, except no need to cover this one with foil while baking. Hope you give it a try!

      1. Prima says:

        I’ll be doing it tonight, actually it’s already marinating and also, I’ll be making your lamb rack . So excited😀

  16. Helena says:

    5 stars
    Thank you for this truly delicious recipe! I think it may be my most successful meal yet (after your Branzino). Even my picky toddler ate the chicken. I was missing the white win and only had boneless chicken thighs, but it was still divine. As a novice cook, I'm so grateful to have found your site!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much, Helena!

    2. Sarah says:

      5 stars
      I haven't made this version (am sending it to a friend), but I've been making Chicken Marbella for years. It's a great holiday dish! You don't explain this, but in the original recipe you pour the white wine around the chicken, not on top of it. Just mentioning this as a detail that might be helpful to others.