Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella Recipe

More than any other recipe in Sheila Lukins’s wildly successful The Silver Palate Cookbook, which she coauthored with Julee Rosso in 1979, Chicken Marbella became a standard at dinner parties — bold, sweet, and savory flavor made with lots of garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, oregano, dried plums, and olives. When I make it, I use boneless chicken breasts and double the amount of olives and prunes — oops, I mean dried plums.–Joan Nathan

LC What Sheila Said Note

Author Sheila Lukins, she of Silver Palate fame, can recall a time when this now-classic recipe would have seemed new and strange to the average American cook. “The ingredients in Chicken Marbella might have seemed wildly exotic to our palates in 1979. Who would think that we would eat prunes, green olives, and copious amounts of oregano and garlic? Our adventuresome palates were awakening.” Uh, we honestly don’t know what to say to that.

Chicken Marbella Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 3 H
  • Makes 10 to 12 servings


  • 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
  • 1 bulb garlic, finely puréed
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups pitted dried plums
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, or a mix of olives such as Greek, Moroccan, or French
  • 1/2 cup capers, with about a tablespoon of their juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves


  • 1. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Cover it with the garlic, oregano, coarse salt and pepper, vinegar, olive oil, dried plums, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Rub the chicken well with the marinade and refrigerate, covered, ideally overnight, but at least for 2 hours.
  • 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 3. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in 1 or 2 large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around but not on them.
  • 4. Bake for about 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices.
  • 5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, dried plums, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Serve the remaining pan juices in a separate bowl.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

Jennifer Piercy

May 03, 2005

This smelled absolutely delicious as it cooked. The flavor was excellent as well, quite sweet; I found it went well with a saltier side dish. If I were to change anything, it would be to reduce the pan sauces a bit more before serving.

Gisela Silverio

May 03, 2005

This is a delicious and simple to make recipe. I actually had all the ingredients at home, which made it easy for me. The contrast of the sweetness of the dried plums and sugar with the vinegar, olives, and capers gave the recipe a sweet-and-sour taste. I found that the chicken tasted even better the next day, since it absorbed the taste of all the other ingredients.

Taryn Shapiro

May 03, 2005

I thought this was a little sweet, but my family went nuts for this dish. They even ate it the next day as leftovers, which for some of them is unheard of. The mixed olives are attractive and tasty alongside the chicken.

Every last one of my tasters raved about this dish. The blend of flavors and textures is exciting to the palate, and it is visually stunning. I called my mother the next day to tell her that I have a winning recipe for her to make the next time she hosts her bridge club.

Courtney Nunes

May 03, 2005

This was an excellent choice for a casual Sunday-afternoon get together. Everyone, even the teenagers in the group, loved this recipe. As it was baking, the bold flavors of the dish filled the house with a tantalizing aroma of what was to come. The end result was a beautiful mix of flavors, colors, and textures tasting as fabulous as it smelled.


  1. This is excellent and originally I found this recipe years ago in one of the Silver Palate cookbooks. Serve this with couscous. Great dish for a crowd.

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