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
  • (6)
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Makes 12 (2-tbsp) servings | 1 1/2 cups
5/5 - 6 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. 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.

  2. 5 stars
    I love this. I’m usually not a fan of mayonnaise, especially store bought which I can’t even swallow. On the rare occasions I need some mayo I have to make my own and as pasteurized eggs aren’t available in Germany I make this one for health concerns (especially in summer). Therefore I don’t use anchovy, but a little sugar and lemon juice. Never had problems with it not thickening.Thanks for this great recipe!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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