Chicken Marbella is a classic recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook packed with sweet and salty Mediterranean flavors. Here is an updated version, made with chicken thighs, with a few other changes. The best part about Chicken Marbella is that it’s prepped and marinated the day before, so all you have to do when you’re ready to cook is bake it!
Chicken Marbella was made famous from the Silver Palate Cookbook and was popular in the early 1980s. It made a resurgence with the help of Ina Garten and other celebrity chefs, and honestly, it’s one of the best chicken recipes I’ve ever tried!
What I love about Chicken Marbella, besides the INCREDIBLE flavor, is the fact that it’s prepared ahead of time the previous day. It marinates overnight, then everything is baked when you’re ready. It’s also delicious served at room temperature, which makes it perfect for parties or picnics.
And the favor!! Sweetness from prunes and brown sugar, salty brininess from the olives and capers, tons of oregano, and white wine added before baking? Your kitchen will smell amazing and your taste buds will thank you.
Be sure to check out the video tutorial for Chicken Marbella in the recipe card below!
An Updated Chicken Marbella Recipe
This recipe is updated from the original Silver Palate Cookbook recipe. Here’s what I did differently:
- I used chicken thighs instead of a whole quartered chickens. I love chicken thighs because they are cheap and tasty and easy to handle. And using the same cut of chicken results in even cooking without worrying about the timing for the different parts.
- The recipe is halved, for fewer people (the original was for a crowd and fed 10-12).
- I used smashed garlic cloves instead of minced. This cuts down on prep and also tones down the garlic flavor, infusing it but not overpowering the dish.
- There is less sugar in this version – with the sweet prunes and white wine, you don’t need too much brown sugar!
- The olives and prunes are halved/quartered, so they are disbursed throughout the dish and you can get some of everything in every bite.
Ingredients in Chicken Marbella
- Chicken Thighs – bone-in, skin-on. Other cuts of chicken are fine – see recipe notes for more on this.
- Garlic Cloves – smashed and peeled.
- Dried oregano – or fresh.
- Red Wine Vinegar – apple cider vinegar will also work.
- Dried pitted prunes – you could use a similar dried fruit like raisins and/or apricots if you like.
- Green olives – I used Castelvetrano, which are my favorite. Other kinds of olives will work just fine.
- Capers – and a little juice from the jar.
- Brown Sugar
- White Wine – you can use chicken broth instead if you like, preferably with a little bit of grape juice or apple juice for added sweetness.
- Parsley and/or Cilantro – you can omit this if you don’t have it.
How to make Chicken Marbella with Thighs
- In a large bowl mix the marinade. Mix together the smashed garlic cloves, oregano, prunes, olives, capers and caper juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Add the chicken thighs to the bowl and mix well to coat.
- Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight. If you think of it, you can stir it around a few times here and there, but it’s not a big deal if you forget to do this.
- The next day, prepare to bake. Add the chicken thighs to a baking dish and spoon the rest of the marinade/olives/prune mixture on top. Sprinkle the top of the chicken with brown sugar. Pour the white wine around the chicken thighs (but not on top, so you don’t rinse off the sugar and toppings!).
- Bake, then transfer to a serving platter, and reserve the juices in a gravy boat.
- Finally, serve – I like serving Chicken Marbella on top of rice with crusty bread for sopping up all the delicious juices!
Yes! It may need less cooking time. You can use other cuts as well. See recipe notes for more on this.
Yes… with caution. Breasts tend to overcook easily and be dry, so keep an eye on the cooking time.
Yes! Trim some of the fat off the chicken thighs (any fat or skin pieces that flap over the back can be trimmed off, leaving the skin on top intact for best flavor). I also recommend skimming the fat off the juices after reserving them in a gravy boat.
Other Chicken Thigh Recipes
Chicken thighs are such a cheap and delicious protein to cook. Here are some of my favorite recipes that use chicken thighs:
- Spiced Chicken and Rice with Apples and Raisins
- Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms
- Honey Buffalo Chicken Thighs
- Slow Cooker Greek-Style Chicken Thighs and Green Beans
- Oven BBQ Chicken
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Chicken Marbella (Updated Silver Palate Recipe)
- 12 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs preferably air chilled (see notes)
- 8 cloves garlic peeled and crushed (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more if needed
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup pitted prunes quartered or roughly chopped
- ½ cup pitted green olives halved
- ¼ cup capers (plus 1 tablespoon of the juice)
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup white wine or chicken broth
- ¼ cup parsley and/or cilantro finely chopped
- In a large bowl, mix together the chicken thighs (12), crushed garlic cloves (8), dried oregano (2 tablespoons), kosher salt (1 teaspoon), black pepper (½ teaspoon), red wine vinegar (¼ cup), olive oil (¼ cup), chopped pitted prunes (½ cup), olives (½ cup), capers (¼ cup), and caper juice (1 tablespoon). Cover and refrigerate overnight. If you think of it, stir it around a couple of times as it marinates, but don't worry about this too much.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using tongs, place the chicken in a baking dish (approximately 9" x 13") in a single layer. Spoon the marinade on top of the chicken. Sprinkle the brown sugar (⅓ cup) evenly on top of the chicken. Pour the white wine (½ cup) around the chicken pieces (being careful not to pour over the chicken so the marinade and brown sugar aren't rinsed off).
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked (see notes).
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and solids from the marinade to a serving dish. Sprinkle the chopped parsley and/or cilantro (¼ cup) Spoon a little of the juices on top of everything. Optional: pour the rest of the juices into a gravy boat or similar serving dish to pour over individual servings as needed. I recommend skimming some of all of the fat off.
- Serve immediately or allow to cool a bit to room temperature. See notes for more about making this ahead of time.
- Other cuts of chicken may be used. The original recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook uses quartered whole chickens (use 2 chickens for this recipe). Split chicken breasts (8 bone-in, skin on) may also be used, or drumsticks mixed with thighs. Boneless skinless thighs may also be used and may need less cooking time. Boneless skinless breasts can work here, but are easy to overcook and dry out, so keep a close eye on them.
- I recommend air-chilled chicken because it has less water in it, which can dilute the marinade and the flavor of the chicken. You can usually see this labeled on the package or ask at the butcher counter. It’s a bit more expensive, because you aren’t paying for the extra water weight of the water-chilled chicken. If you don’t buy air chilled chicken, you can place your chicken pieces on a wire rack nestled in a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt on both sides, and let it sit uncovered in the fridge for 4-24 hours before using it for this recipe. This will draw some of the water out. If you do this, use less salt in the recipe.
- If you like, you can trim and discard some of the fat/flaps of skin off the chicken thighs before adding to the marinade using kitchen shears.
- Chicken thighs can come in different sizes, so anywhere between 8-12 is good for this recipe for 4-6 servings. Don’t overthink this – use more if you are unsure, because the leftovers of Chicken Marbella are delicious!
- To peel and crush garlic cloves, place the side of your knife on top of the clove and use the side of your hand in a fist to punch the knife down (carefully!). You can also use the heel of your hand to smash down directly on the garlic. The clove should smash, and the peel will come right off. No need to chop the garlic beyond crushing it for this recipe.
- Nutrition information is calculated using an automatic API and calories/fat will decrease if fat is trimmed off of chicken thighs before cooking and sauce is skimmed at the end. Please see nutrition disclaimer below for more.
- Chicken thighs are technically fully cooked at 165 degrees F, however, can benefit from being cooked a little longer to a temperature closer to 185-195 degrees F. I love my Thermapen for getting super fast, accurate temperature results.
- Bay leaves may be added to the chicken marinade mix if you like – the original recipe required 6 of them.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: