This is my healthier take on this classic chicken dish packed with bold flavor from prunes, olives, and capers. This version simplifies the process (no marinating), lightens it up without sacrificing on flavor (healthyish), and comes together in record time (one pan) while still serving a crowd.
What is Chicken Marbella?
Chicken Marbella came to popularity in the 1980s thanks Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso and their culture-shifting cookbook, The Silver Palate Cookbook. This cookbook opened many home cooks’ eyes to unfamiliar ingredients which are now commonplace in our kitchens.
Chicken Marbella is a bold, briny chicken dish made by brining chicken pieces (traditionally four whole chickens quartered) overnight in an olive oil marinade flavored with tons of garlic, bay leaves, capers, prunes and olives. The chicken, marinade and all, is transferred to roasting pans with white wine, then covered in brown sugar and roasted until brown.
The beautiful thing about this dish, aside from being sweet, salty and so dang savory, is that the chicken gets marinated, roasted and braised all in the same recipe.
Healthyish One-Pan Chicken Marbella
My take on this 1980s classic skips the brining process and comes together in under an hour. It’s lighter thanks to bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (you get all the goodness of chicken thighs without the fatty skin), and uses a sweet and salty olive paste to coat the chicken instead of brown sugar.
I recommend buying bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and removing the skin before cooking. You can also ask your butcher to remove the skin. It’s important to use bone-in chicken thighs because the bones keep the chicken moist during cooking.
- pitted green olives
- pitted prunes
- extra-virgin olive oil
- garlic cloves
- anchovy fillets
- dried oregano
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- red pepper flakes
- Bone-in chicken thighs
- chicken broth
- dry white wine
- dried bay leaves
- fresh parsley
How to Make Chicken Marbella
- Pulse paste ingredients into a slightly chunky paste.
- Cook some of the paste in a skillet until a fond forms on the bottom of the pan.
- Deglaze with broth, add wine, olives, capers, and bay leaves.
- Nestle chicken in sauce; roast 15 minutes.
- Spread olive paste over chicken, sprinkle diced prunes around the chicken; roast until chicken is cooked and sauce is bubbly.
What to Serve with Chicken Marbella
- Cauliflower rice
- Lemony Parsley Rice (use this brown recipe as a guide—use lemon and parsley instead of lime and cilantro).
- Simple Fennel Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Milk Bread Rolls
- Celery Root & Parsnip Mash
How to Reheat Chicken Marbella
This recipe for chicken marbella serves four to six people, but don’t let the serving size turn you away, this makes fabulous leftovers.
Reheat the dish as it was originally served: transfer chicken and sauce to a skillet and reheat in a 350ºF (277ºC) oven until the sauce and chicken are warmed through, 8–10 minutes.
Revamp the leftovers into something new: remove the chicken from the bones and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces. Bring chicken chicken and sauce to a simmer in a skillet over medium. Whisk 1 teaspoon cornstarch into 2 tablespoons water or chicken stock (cornstarch slurry); stir into chicken and cook until thickened; about 3 minutes.
More Healthyish Chicken Recipes
If you give this Chicken Marbella recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!Print
A bold one-pan chicken dinner that can feed a hungry crowd. Serve over couscous, rice, or cauliflower rice.
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives
- ⅓ cup pitted prunes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cracked pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- ⅓ cup pitted green olives
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 3 dried bay leaves
- ⅓ cup pitted prunes, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Heat oven to 400ºF (204ºC) with rack set in middle position.
FOR THE PASTE
Pulse all paste ingredients in a mini food processor until finely chopped, about 10 pulses. Scrape down bowl and continue to process until mostly smooth, 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
FOR THE CHICKEN
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle chicken pieces with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ⅓ cup paste to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a fond forms in pan, 1–2 minutes. Deglaze pan with broth, scraping up any browned bits; stir in wine, olives, capers, and bay leaves.
Add chicken to pan, nestling into sauce in an even layer. Spoon a splash of sauce over each chicken thigh; transfer pan to oven and and roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Remove skillet from oven and use back of spoon to spread remaining paste over chicken pieces; sprinkle prunes around chicken. Continue to roast until sauce is bubbly, paste begins to brown, and meat registers 170–175ºF (77–79ºC), 20–28 minutes longer.
Sprinkle parsley over top and serve with lemon. Optional: serve with rice, cauliflower rice, or couscous.
Serve 6 with a hearty grain side dish and/or salad. Serves 4 when served as is.
SALT: if you’re sensitive to salt, rinse the capes and olives before using. If you love salt like I do, season the chicken thighs with 1 teaspoon kosher salt instead of ½ teaspoon.
PRUNES: you can also use diced dried apricots, dried figs or dates instead of prunes. Due to their seeds, figs will add some crunch and dates will be slightly sweeter.
MAKE-AHEAD: the paste can be made and refrigerated in a glass airtight container for up to 24 hours.
SKIN-ON CHICKEN THIGHS: If you prefer skin-on chicken, sear the chicken, skin-side down, in olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, 8 minutes. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a plate, and proceed with recipe as written.
- Serving Size: ⅙ of the recipe
- Calories: 438
- Sugar: 7g
- Sodium: 1475mg
- Fat: 19g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 18g
- Fiber: 2.5g
- Protein: 46g
- Cholesterol: 193mg
Keywords: chicken marbella, one-pan dinner, chicken marbella recipe