Portuguese Green Olive Dip

For this Portuguese green olive dip, olives are stirred into a whipped eggless ‘mayonnaise’ made with milk, oil, anchovies, garlic, and white pepper.

A bowl with creamy green olive dip behind five slices of baguette with dip on one

When I visited A Bolota, a lovely restaurant perched on the sweeping plains of the eastern Alentejo, this dip, called patê de azeitonas verdes, was brought to our table. As I nattered away with friends, I dipped, spread, and nibbled, until I realized I alone had eaten all of it. Later, when I became friendly with the cook, Ilda Vinagre, I watched her make it and was flummoxed when she whipped up its silky base: milk “mayonnaise”—whole milk whirred into a smooth consistency with the addition of vegetable oil. I serve this as a dip with a platter of crudités, alongside crackers or bread, or, sometimes, as a topping for grilled fish.–David Leite

Atenção [Editor's Note: That means "attention")

Don’t make this in a food processor. The bowls of most processors are too large to allow the scant amount of ingredients to whip up to the right consistency. A small narrow blender or a mini chop or handheld blender works best.

Portuguese Green Olive Dip

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 12 (2-tbsp) servings | 1 1/2 cups
5/5 - 3 reviews
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Special Equipment: A small mini chop or hand blender



In a blender, pulse to combine the 1/3 cup milk, anchovies, garlic, 2/3 of the cilantro, and the pepper. 

With the motor running, pour the oil in what the Portuguese call a fio, or fine thread. Keep whirring until the oil is incorporated and the mixture thickens, 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes, depending on your equipment.

Scrape the dip into a bowl and stir in the olives. Mince the remaining cilantro, sprinkle on top, and serve. If the dip thickens, you can always simply stir in a tablespoon or two of milk. Originally published July 20, 2009.

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  1. We’re attending a dinner focused on Portuguese dishes…We were assigned a Portuguese green olive dip. I searched online and found yours… but i don’t see any indication regarding advance preparation. Can it be made 2-3 days in advance?

  2. What would you think of the recipe with natural green olives? Should salt be added to the blend? Started this recipe today (Friday) for Sunday, I still have time to buy the saltier olives…

  3. Made this and it was heaven. We ate it over crispy potatoes and schmeared on gluten-free bread I’d baked for the neighbor (because gluten-free bread definitely needs something). The neighbor also happens to be allergic to eggs, so I’m pretty much a hero after offering this up. We’ll definitely continue to make this and play with new combinations. Thank you!

    1. Hi CJ. I’d say no, because I don’t think they would melt the way anchovies do, and they would give it a different flavor. That being said, I think the sauce would be great over grilled sardines!

  4. I heard you describe this recipe on the Splendid Table earlier today. I wish you’d posted a few more of the variations like the cilantro & ginger. I remember you saying something about sriracha…I’m going to play with some variations this evening. Thanks for the hint.

  5. If adding the olives at the beginning is liable to thicken the dip too much, could you do it on purpose to make something more spread-like? Tapenadish in texture/consistency? I really love olives, so for me the more the better.

    Also, I have some boquerones, and I’m wondering if they would do anything drastic to the emulsion. The difference in flavor I can handle, but I don’t want to ruin the emulsion. I also have anchovies packed in olive oil I can use if the boquerones are a no go.


    1. Hi, Ruthie. The short answer is, “Maybe!” With the incredible success of the milk mayo, and all the variations readers have come up with, I can’t see not experimenting with this. My advice, though, is to make the recipe as stated. Add more olives in the end and see if you like it. (The longer it sits, the more it thickens.)

      As far as the boquerones, I have no idea. It will depend upon how acidic the pickling solution is. I would play with the amount of lemon juice–eliminating it if need be–to compensate.

      In the end, this is a versatile recipe, but it has a particular balance, and that will differ depending upon what you add to it. Do let us know what you do and how you like it.

  6. Ooh! I saw this funny mayo mentioned elsewhere, and needed it since i had no eggs, for my pilgrim sandwich (made with chicken instead of turkey, arugula instead of lettuce, caramelized onions instead of stuffing – a meal full of substitutions!). I found your recipe – dead easy; it worked perfectly just now and like the others, I’m fascinated by it. i made the plain mayo but will be experimenting with other combos.
    A question: why can’t the olives be chopped in at the end (or beginning) of the emulsifying process? i like the idea of smaller pieces.
    many thanks!

    1. Chatelaine, I’m so glad you found the “mayo” and that you like it.

      If you add the olives in the beginning they might mess with the emulsion. You can use the same mini-chop or wand blender, mince the olives, rinse, and make the “mayo.”

      The reason why I say to hold off adding the olives until serving is that the brine solution can thicken the “mayo” too much if combined much ahead of time.

  7. I was thinking I would need to plan a party as soon as possible so that I could make this dip and not eat it all myself when I remembered I have a bachelorette beach weekend in 3 weeks–some of us are former Williams-Sonoma employees and always have good food on the brain, so this is definitely going to be something I whip up while we’re celebrating our friend’s impending marriage. Well, that is, if the Outer Banks still exist after this hurricane batters the islands.

    p.s. I downloaded your book onto my Nook and am very excited about it!

    1. Fran, first, thank you for buying my book! I think the dip is perfect for the party. Just remember not to add the olives until right before serving. Please tell me what you think of it!

  8. I’m planning to make this for a dinner party on Friday (in two days), and I’m wondering if I can do step 1 in advance, say in the morning, or whether the whole thing needs to be made last-minute. I’m guessing I can do step 1 in advance, but a confirmation would be lovely. :)

    Thank you! So excited about using one of your recipes finally!

  9. Sounds amazing! I have to make an appetizer for a party in 2 weeks and the folks are on a low-carb diet. Could I use heavy cream instead of milk? This sounds so tasty I wouldn’t mind eating any mistakes that result!

  10. Mmmm…olives and cilantro for me, anchovies for my husband. I am loving this! What a fabulous treat to serve before a meal with a glass of wine. And I am fascinated by the milk + oil process! Must try!

  11. I finally got around to trying this (as opposed to just lusting after it). Wow! Mine ended up fiendishly salty (I think the brand of anchovies I used was more than usually salty, honestly, or maybe I put a bit more of them in than I should’ve) but I loved it anyway, spread on sourdough toast, cooked artichoke leaves, and raw carrots.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Linda. If you feel the anchovies are too salty, you could give them a (very) light rinse and pat dry before using them. Not too much af a rinse, as you do need to keep some salt for this velvety dip.

  12. I noticed that this recipe differs in the others that there is no mention of lemon juice. I tried two batches, one in a mini chop, and one with a wand blender. The one with the wand came out a little thicker, but nowhere near as thick as I think it should be. I wanted to make some for a party tomorrow, and thought about making a double batch in a standard blender. Any hints?

    P.S. My wife bought me your book for my birthday. I love it. Obrigado!

    1. Steve, thanks for the kind words!

      There’s no lemon juice in this version because the anchovies add the oomph to thicken it. I’d suggest using the wand blender (not doubling the amount) and going as long as you need to thicken it. When I tested it, I used all types of handheld blenders and tried to find an average time. Yours might require longer whizzing. But I assure, it will thicken! Also, when the olives are mixed in, the brine in them will also thicken it—which is why in the second printing of the book, we added the instructions to thin the mixture with a bit of milk if it gets too thick.

    1. Kelly, the oil in oil-packed anchovies add a more body and anchovy taste to the dip. You can certainly try the salt-packed version, but you might need to add a dribble more oil and process it a bit longer.

  13. WOW! I made a trial run of this today for a wedding I’m catering on Saturday. It. Is. Amazing. Thanks very much.

    1. Pamela, you’re more than welcome. If you’re making it in large quantities be mindful of the emulsion. For the photo shoot, the stylists made it in big batches, but it took far longer to thicken. Also, stir in the olives not too long before serving.

  14. When I first saw this recipe I was pretty sure I wouldn’t make it. Then I kept seeing it on the side bar…the picture looked SO good! Still, I was a bit intimidated. I whipped this together this morning using a hand blender and a two cup capacity glass measuring cup. It’s really good!

    At first I thought the mixture would never emulsify. It stayed pretty loose until about two-thirds of the oil was in. I think I may have poured the oil in too slowly. All the sudden it was thick, and all the oil wasn’t in yet. I ended up adding a few teaspoons more of milk and was done.

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Mr. Leite!

    1. Casey, I’m so glad you tried the dip. Emulsifications can be tricky, until you’ve tried a few. But you did it perfectly. Using a hand blender is how I get the absolute best results. And you did exactly as I do: stop just as the right texture is reached. You may have some oil left over, you may need a bit more. Each time is different. I hope you make the dip many more times.

  15. I made this dip for a dinner party a couple of weeks ago. I found this recipe last minute and didn’t make it first to try, so I was slightly hesitant. I found the ingredients easily, even though it was a last minute idea. It started the night off perfectly! Everyone was so excited by it. The anchovies and green olives weren’t overwhelming, yet loud enough to be so very tasty. All I heard for 1/2 an hour was “yum, yum, yum.” We served it with a Pinot Grigio, which went well. This dip was a breeze to make. I want to do it a few more times to get it just right. I need to drizzle the olive oil even more slowly, so as to get a thicker consistency. I look forward to the practice. Thanks for stimulating my taste buds and for the inspiration!

    1. Sarai, so glad you liked it. Yes pouring in the oil slowly and giving it more time to whip up time helps consistency. Also I find that If I don’t rinse the olives, it makes the dip thicker, but it can have a slightly salty/briny edge to it.

  16. mmm i can’t wait to try this! i adore olives, and was just wondering what i was going to do with that whole stack of anchovy fillets that have been sitting in my pantry forever. thanks for the inspiration :)

  17. David, This looks absolutely divine. I adore olives. In an effort to make this without having to run out to the store—do you think something like a teaspoon of “fish sauce” could work here as a substitution for the anchovies? Just looking for a gluten free alternative…

    1. Hi Stephanie, to be completely honest, I don’t know. The anchovies do add body and, of course, flavor. You can try the fish sauce, but you’ll definitely need more oil. I’m curious, though: Where’s the gluten? Anchovies don’t contain gluten as a rule.

    2. David, you’re absolutely correct: they don’t contain gluten. I don’t have either anchovies or its paste at home and was just trying to come up with an alternative on the fly.

    1. Absolutely. Emulsions can be tricky. First, don’t skimp on the anchovies and garlic; they add body to the dip. Also, as with all emulsions, make sure to pour the oil very slowly, and if you have to buzz it a bit longer, not a problem. You may even need to add a bit more oil if you omitted the anchovies. Don’t rinse the olives too much, as the brine helps to thicken the dip, too. But I find what assures the best consistency time and time again is to use a handheld wand blender. Canister blenders or food processors are really too big.

    1. Allon, you can omit the anchovies, add about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to the milk, and proceed with the recipe. You might need to add a bit more oil, as the anchovies add body. In the book I have three other maioneses de leite–cilantro and ginger, tomato, and curry–and all are vegetarian.

  18. Just made it. WONDERFUL. I don’t have a stick wand [blender] anymore, so my solution was to double the recipe and use the blender. Worked great. I can see why you use it on fish. It’d be terrific on salmon. By the way, the recipe didn’t specify, but do you use manzanillas that are stuffed with pimento or unstuffed? It’s hard to find them unstuffed here, but I went ahead and de-stuffed them myself. Seemed best. I also used anchovy paste instead of filets. I used about 6″ worth…remember though, I doubled the recipe.

    1. MaryEllen, so glad you liked it. Doubling the recipe is a good idea, if you can use that much at once! As far as the olives, always use unstuffed. The pimento will give a very different flavor to the dip. And I think the anchovy paste is genius. I stayed away from it when developing the recipe because it’s not available in all markets. So I stayed with the tried and true.

  19. Oh, goodie! A sneak peak. I love this dip and you are right, it is absolutely delicious as a topping for grilled fish and chicken. Perfect for grilling season.

    1. Because it’s so good on grilled fish and chicken, I wanted to get this out sooner rather than later. Remember how much fiddling went into finding the perfect proportions?!

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