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Chicken Marbella

Pieces of chicken Marbella, topped with plums and herbs, with olives scattered around, on a white platter.
More than any other recipe in Sheila Lukins's wildly successful The Silver Palate Cookbook, which she co-authored 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.
Joan Nathan

Prep 25 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 3 hrs
8 to 10 servings
776 kcal


  • Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound bone-in, skin-on chickens, cut into pieces
  • 1 garlic head 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


  • Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl. Add 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.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • 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.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices.
  • Using a slotted spoon, arrange the chicken, dried plums, olives, and capers on 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.


*Can I use other cuts of chicken in chicken Marbella?

The original Silver Palate chicken Marabella uses quartered chickens. If you prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts, feel free to use whatever you please. Just be aware that you will miss out on the sweetly caramelized skin. Feel free to use any combination of chicken that you like, just make sure to adjust your timing in the oven.