Updated 20th October 2023
Chicken Marbella is an absolutely delicious famous chicken dish that can be prepared in advance and can easily feed a crowd. It’s the perfect winter dinner - easy enough for a weeknight but pretty and tasty enough to serve at a weekend dinner party. A little salty/briny & sweet flavor all thanks to the prunes, olives & capers - a combination it’s well known for. The chicken gets all the flavor from the marinade and then it cooks in all the good flavor from it making the pan juices out of this world delicious. Enjoy this with anything you like that can soak up all those fabulous pan juices like crust bread, rice, mashed potatoes or for a super decadent dish my Melting Potatoes.
This dish sounds like a Mediterranean dish or even maybe middle eastern with the dried fruit in it, but it’s actually neither. It hails from Manhattan and is by a Jewish-American woman named Sheila Lukins - she is famous for this dish and it was the most popular one at her restaurant and the book she collaborated with Julee Rosso to publish is called The Silver Palate Cookbook. This is my take on Ina Garten’s take on the original recipe and it’s fabulous. It’s a classic party dish as the recipe can easily be doubled to feed more. It requires so little effort also making it perfect for entertaining. (I’m actually making it for company this weekend and can’t wait to eat it again!!)
Chicken Marbella Recipe Ingredients
- CHICKEN: I prefer to do bone-in chicken thighs with skin on - but you are welcome to use one whole chicken cut into pieces. I like the uniformity in size of the thighs because they all pretty much cook for the same amount of time. No need to worry about smaller pieces being over done while the larger pieces like the breast still needing time in the oven. Feel free to also use chicken legs or drumsticks too or even all chicken breasts. The baking time will vary depending on size and thickness of pieces.
- EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL: This adds richness and flavor to the marinade and the dish as a whole
- RED WINE VINEGAR: I like the flavour and acidity that red wine vinegar adds but feel free to use white wine vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Sherry Vinegar, or Champagne Vinegar.
- GARLIC: Some recipes call for roasting a whole head of garlic cut in half with the chicken and that would work too but I prefer smashing the garlic and letting it roast with the chicken that way - they become softened morsels of goodness after they have roasted. Use as much or as little as you prefer.
- SALT & BLACK PEPPER: Feel free to adjust amounts to taste
- OREGANO: I used dried oregano because I always have it on hand but feel free to use fresh oregano leaves for a more intense flavor.
- BAY LEAF: Bay leaf always adds a nice herbal flavor to dishes - I used 2 but feel free to use more or less to taste - you can also use fresh bay leaf as well
- PRUNES: I love prunes so you don’t need to sell me on prunes or dates in dishes but I know some of you might not be sold on the idea - trust me they add a really nice sweetness and they soften up more than they already are and sort of partially melt away into the pan juices when roasted. I have heard people substitute them for dried figs or dried apricots - that is fine but if your fruit is overly dry it might be a good idea to give it a quick soak in boiling water before adding it to the dish.
- OLIVES: I like this dish with large green olives - ideally Spanish green olives or even Castelvetrano bright green olives. I used whole olives and removed the pits myself but you can definitely use pitted olives to make things faster and easier. Really you can use any olives you like - according to your preference. They add a nice salty briny flavour. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup whole olives. Feel free to rough chop them or halve them if you prefer the smaller and definitely feel free to add more like I do - I usually do a full cup of olives cause I love them (it’s in the name after all;)
- CAPERS: They also add a nice salty briny umami
- WHITE WINE: Any white wine will work for this recipe - chose one you would drink always when adding wine to food. Feel free to use a pinot Grigio or sauvignon blanc or chardonnay
How To Make Chicken Marbella
This Chicken recipe is also a favourite because of how simple it is to prep and put together. The chicken marinated and then cooked with white wine, olive oil, prunes, and green olives. Prunes are a distinctive ingredient in the famous dish and add the perfect balance of sweetness to it along with the briny olives and capers. The chicken roasts in all those lovely ingredients lending to the amazing flavour of the pan juices after. It gets sprinkled with a little brown sugar before it goes in the oven which gives it its golden and delicious caramelized crust. Here are the simple steps:
- TOSS chicken with the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves
- MARINATE for 1-2 hours or overnight
- ROAST chicken with all the marinating liquids plus some wine and a sprinkling of brown sugar over the chicken pieces - until cooked through and golden
- SERVE chicken with pan juices and sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley
It’s simple and yet so fancy to serve.You will love it and it’s perfect with a simple salad, crusty bread as I mentioned before and I’m also serving it with some melting potatoes this weekend to serve my guests. Simple, simple, simple - no stress entertaining with a dish like this. You just have to try it!
What to Serve with Chicken Marbella
- Easy Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
- Simple Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
- Sautéed Green Beans
- Greek Cucumber Salad
- Classic Greek Lettuce Salad (Maroulosalata)
- Lemon Pasta - Pasta al Limone
More Crowd-Pleasing Chicken Recipes You Will Love
- Harissa Chicken
- Chicken Cacciatore
- Zaatar Chicken
- Lemon Butter Chicken
- Creamy Chicken Marsala
- Greek Style Skillet Roast Chicken With Crispy Potatoes
- Roasted Chicken With White Beans and 20 Cloves of Garlic
- 8 bone in skin-on chicken thighs
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pitted prunes
- ½ cup pitted green olives
- ¼ cup capers including their juices
- 3 bay leaves
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley (flat-leaf) for garnish
- Marinate: In a large bowl combine chicken thigh pieces, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, for at least 1 hr but preferably overnight.
- Half an hour before baking, while preheating the oven take the chicken out of the fridge; it should be at room temperature before going into the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Arrange chicken in a single layer skin side up in a shallow baking pan/roasting pan along with remaining marinating liquid and ingredients. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
- Bake uncovered for 50 minutes to 1 hour until chicken is cooked through (no longer pink) with internal temperature of the chicken being 165°F (74°C) and golden, basting 1-2 times with cooking juices.
- Serve right from pan or transfer to serving platter with slotted spoon and serve with remaining pan juices and garnished with parsley.
- The chicken browns up beautifully every time I have made this dish but if you find that yours hasn’t as much as you would like feel free to turn on the broiler to broil for a couple of minutes for some extra colour.
- Chicken is cooked and done when probe inserted into the thermal center of a chicken breast, leg, or thigh and internal temperature reaches and reads 165°F (74°C) when it’s time to eat.
- Make ahead - Marinate chicken for up to a day ahead
- Storage - Cooked and cooled leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days
- Some Recipes for chicken Marbella call for reducing the pan juices once chicken is roasted - I never do and don’t think its necessary because I want all the pan juices I can get but if you prefer a thicker sauce for the chicken simply remove the chicken from the pan onto platter and spoon over the prunes olives and capers and place the roasting pan over the burners over medium heat and simmer pan juices until reduced to desired consistency - strain if you wish and spoon over chicken.