Chicken Marbella: The Ultimate Dinner Party Dish


I am having 10 people for dinner this Friday and my old favorite, Chicken Marbella, is on the menu!

Chicken Marbella is one of the most famous dishes from the Silver Palate Cookbook.  The unusual combination of prunes, capers, and olives is surprisingly delicious!  The longer you marinate the chicken, the better it gets.  2-3  hours will do the trick, but marinating overnight is best.

NOTE:  I use a mix of bone-in chicken breast and thigh pieces. The original recipe calls for 1 cup brown sugar. I reduced to 1/2 cup in this version, but feel free to skip this ingredient if you do not want the added sugar. There will still be great flavor without the sweetness.


  • 2 chickens, 2 1/2 lbs each, quartered, bone-in, skin-on

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 cup prunes (more if you like)

  • 1 cup pitted spanish green olives

  • 1/2 cup capers plus a bit of the juice

  • 6 bay leaves

  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup dried oregano

  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (skip this ingredient if you want to go without the sugar)

  • 1 cup dry white wine

  • 2 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped


1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the marinade. (You can also place the chicken and marinade in a 2-gallon plastic storage bag and squeeze out the air to make sure the chicken is fully covered with the marinade.) Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to be sure the marinade is getting into all the chicken pieces.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the chicken, skin side up, along with the marinade in one layer in a large roasting pan, sprinkle with the brown sugar (if using), sprinkle the top with more salt and pepper and pour the wine around (not over!) the chicken. Roast for 50-60 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken, prunes and olives to a serving platter, sprinkle fresh parsley and salt and pepper.

Serve chicken warm or room temp, drizzled with sauce and with a selection of olives and dried fruit. This dish is excellent served over couscous, brown rice or with mashed potatoes.