How To Marinate Olives

Learn how to make your own marinated olives including great tips for picking the right olive oil to use. This post is sponsored by Pompeian.

I am seriously in love with the olive bar at one of my local grocery stores. I drool every time I walk past it. What I’m not in love with is how much they cost over there. The smallest container can end up being $4-5 if you stuff it full. Which you know I do. I decided to save some money and marinate some olives at home.

What Kind of Olives Should I Use?

You can buy any kind of olives that you like. I tend to go for inexpensive kalamatas and those big green queen olives. I prefer to get pitted ones. The reason is simply that everyone feels a bit rude having to spit out pits so why make anyone do it? But the ones with the pit are fine too if that’s what you like. Spit away, my friend.

Flavoring Marinated Olives

Next you go in with flavoring ingredients. I’ve got a recipe for you below that uses lots of chopped garlic, sliced Thai red chilies, and strips of lemon zest. It’s pretty amazing. You can instead go in with fresh herbs, like in this recipe from Martha Stewart, or lots of crushed coriander seeds and black pepper like in this one from Jamie Oliver.

OK, now the most important part. The olive oil. You’re going to use quite a bit here so you don’t want to go to the gourmet shop and splurge like crazy. And yet, it’s important to choose a good-tasting quality olive oil. Go to your regular grocery store but try to find a nice quality oil.

How to Choose a Quality Olive Oil

  1. You want good flavor here, lots of that delicious olive oil flavor but not too much bitterness.
  2. Look for a bottle that is dark in color. The darkness of the glass or plastic of the container is important since it helps prevent oxidation of the oil, keeping it fresher for longer. TIP: Always store your olive oil in the pantry where it is shielded from heat and light, which can also cause oxidation.
  3. Look for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Quality Monitored Seal on the bottle. Olive oils with this seal go through frequent and rigorous testing for sensory, quality, purity and origin to make sure that every bottle is of good quality.
  4. Look for the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) Seal. This seal requires even more testing and this is the only program that also takes samples from the store, ensuring that the bottled product is as good as before it was shipped.
  5. If you’re concerned about GMO’s you can also look for the Non-GMO Project Verification Seal.
  6. Look for the olives’ lot number and country of origin right on the bottle. This lets you trace the bottle from farm to table.

How to Marinate Olives

O.K., now you have all your ingredients, what do you do?

Put the olives and flavorings in a large jar. Drizzle with olive oil. You don’t need the olives fully submerged here. I go about halfway. Put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake.

Put the jar in the fridge for 2 hours and up to two weeks. Shake it daily to mix those seasonings around.

An important thing to note, the olive oil is going to harden in the fridge. No worries. Put the jar on the counter and let it come to room temperature. Stir.

To serve, spoon out the olives along with the flavorings and some olive oil.

Below is my marinated olives recipe for you in printable form. Enjoy and have a great day!



Marinated Olives

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings


No more busting your wallet at the olive bar. Learn how to make your own marinated olives!


  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Thai red chili, seeded and sliced thinly
  • 12 oz. pitted mixed olives (e.g., kalamata and queen thrown Spanish olives)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Remove the zest from the lemon and cut the zest into thin strips. Juice the lemon. Put the lemon zest and juice along with the garlic, chili, and olives into a large jar. Add the olive oil. Shake to coat.
  2. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to two weeks shaking daily to mix everything up.
  3. Take the jar of olives out of the fridge 1 hour before serving so that the olive oil melts into a liquid.
  4. Transfer the olives to a bowl for serving using a spoon to scoop out olives, taking along some of the olive oil and flavorings.
Disclosure: I have been compensated by Pompeian to promote their products. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in September 2016 and was revised and republished in September 2020.