Citrusy marinated olives and cheese! Castelvetrano olives—the queen of olives—get marinated in a delicious infused olive oil flavored with orange, garlic and red pepper flakes. The warm marinated olives then get poured over chunks of Manchego cheese to create an all-in-one appetizer. These olives make the perfect everyday snack, quick yet elegant appetizer, or thoughtful gift. 

white bowl filled with green olives and chunks of cheese with a red-handled spoon set in the bowl

Marinated olives make the perfect appetizer or anytime snack. They’re quick to make, totally adaptable, and in the end you’re left with infused oil begging for a good baguette (or salad). 

This recipe for marinated olives and cheese requires just 6 ingredients and can be ready in under 20 minutes. The ultimate anytime appetizer!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Oranges
  • Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil (I like Spanish olive oil for this, but any slightly spicy EVOO will do.)
  • crushed red pepper flakes (you can also use any hot dried chiles you have on hand!)
  • Garlic clove
  • Castelvetrano olives (they really are the best for this recipe, but you can also use Cerignola or any pitted green olive.)
  • Manchego cheese (nothing beats Manchego, but feta will also work.)
  • Toasted crusty bread or baguette (totally optional, and yet very recommended.) 
step-by-step grid of images showing how to marinate olives and cheese

Why smash the olives?

You’ll see in the recipe I call for smashing the olives. It seems like a crime, but stick with me. Smashed olives, with their craggy edges, can hold on to the infused oil better than intact olives, which makes them more flavorful in the end. 

And, more importantly, flattened olives are a lot easier to smash onto a piece of crusty bread. Nothing’s worse than chasing an olive around on a plate. Smashing them takes care of that.

However, this step is totally optional. If you aren’t planning to serve them with bread—say on a cheese board or as is—keep the olives whole for an elegant, stunning appearance. 

white bowl filled with green olives and chunks of cheese with a red-handled spoon set in the bowl

How to store marinated olives

Marinated olives should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring the olives and cheese to room temperature before serving (about an hour and a half). 

How long do they last?

Stored in the refrigerator, these marinated olives with cheese will last up to 2 weeks. If made without the cheese, marinated olives will last up to 1 month in the refrigerator. 

What to serve with marinated olives? 

  • Crusty bread! Any kind of carb is a marinated olive’s best friend. 
  • Almonds—marcona would be fabulous but any almond will do. 
  • Sliced salami or any cured meat. 
white bowl filled with green olives and chunks of cheese with a red-handled spoon set in the bowl

What to do with the leftover olive oil

When the olives and cheese are gone, you’re left with liquid gold! The delicious infused olive oil is great for a variety of things in the kitchen. Because it’s infused with flavor (and probably a few bits or cheese) I recommend using the oil for no-cook or low-heat cooking. 

spoon with olive oil, olive and a chunk of cheese on it


  • Add a splash of vermouth, sherry or pernod (a tablespoon or two).
  • Add a combination of hearty herbs such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano.
  • Use lemon zest instead of, or in addition to, the orange.
  • Swap the manchego cheese for feta cheese.
  • For something more savory, swap the cheese for chunks of salami.
  • Use mozzarella pearls instead of Manchego (let the olive and oil mixture cool before pouring over the cheese). 
  • Add more spices like fennel seeds, dried oregano or bay leaves.
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white bowl filled with green olives and chunks of cheese with a red-handled spoon set in the bowl

Citrus Marinated Olives and Manchego

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (4 cups) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian/Spanish
  • Diet: Gluten Free


An easy, elegant, and flavor-packed marinated olive recipe featuring Castelvetrano olives, Manchego cheese, orange, garlic, and red pepper flakes.


  • 2 oranges 
  • ¾ cup good-quality extra-virgin olive oil*
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 clove garlic, peed and crushed 
  • 1 pound pitted castelvetrano olives*
  • 8 ounces Manchego cheese, broken into large pieces (1 ¾ cup)
  • Toasted crusty bread or baguette, lightly toasted 


Using a vegetable peeler, peel large strips of zest from oranges; halve oranges. 

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add orange peels, orange halves, pepper flakes, and garlic; bring to a low simmer and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, squeeze juice from orange halves into oil. 

Meanwhile, drain olives and transfer to a cutting board. Using the heel of your hand, lightly smash olives to slightly flatten (optional).

Add olives to oil, reduce heat to low, and let olives steep/slightly sizzle at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour. The mixture should not come to a significant simmer. 

Meanwhile, break Manchego into ½-inch chunks and transfer to serving dish.

Pour warm olives over manchego and serve as is, or with bread. 


Olive oil: I recommend using a robust extra-virgin olive oil—Spanish olive oil is great in this recipe.

Olives: Smashing the olives is optional, but I find this step makes them easier to smash onto a piece of crusty bread. If you’re looking to serve the marinated olives on their own, without bread, feel free to skip this step. 

This recipe is versatile! Play around with flavors, and be sure to check out the variations I share in the post above the recipe. 


  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Calories: 347
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 1387mg
  • Fat: 33g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.5g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 23mg

Keywords: marinated olives, marinated olives recipe, marinated olives and cheese

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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