Chicken Marbella

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You’ll love this faster and lighter Chicken Marbella. Chicken thighs are cooked on the stove-top with prunes, Spanish olives, capers, garlic and oregano for a flavorful and easy Mediterranean-style dish!

Chicken Marbella

Lightened-Up Chicken Marbella

I love finding new ways to cook chicken thighs, and this Mediterranean style dinner is sure to become a regular on your recipe rotation! The combination of the sweet prunes and the salty tang of the capers and olives makes Chicken Marbella a delicious dish that balances the taste of the contrasting flavors beautifully. Some other chicken thigh recipes that you might want to check out are Braised Chicken Thighs with Mushroom and Leeks, Baked Chicken Thighs, and Air Fryer Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs.

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Chicken Marbella

Chicken Marbella is one of my favorite recipes from the classic Silver Palate Cookbook. Before making this dish, I had NO idea how much I liked prunes, ha! I also had no idea how perfectly prunes paired with olives and capers… it’s a sweet and salty combo that just works.

How To Make A Healthier Chicken Marbella

The original Chicken Marbella recipe is made with 1 cup of brown sugar (yikes), a whole head of garlic pureed (time consuming!), 1 cup of wine (that’s even more sugar)… plus, the chicken needs to marinate overnight.

I decided to try and make this dish not only much lighter, but also much faster. First, I cut back the sugar to just 1 tablespoon. Instead of skin on chicken pieces, I used removed the skin from my chicken thigh pieces. I also swapped the entire pureed head of garlic for just 6 chopped cloves, and I used low-sodium chicken broth in place of the white wine.

Also, instead of using a marinade for the chicken, I just cooked everything on the stove-top, creating a delicious pan-sauce with the pan juices at the end. Honestly, I like this lighter and faster version even better than the original!

Ingredients

Chicken Marbella ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need (see full ingredients with measurements are at the bottom of this post in the recipe card):

  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Adds a rich, fruity base to start the cooking process.
  • Bone-in Chicken Thighs: The main protein, with the skin removed offering juicy, flavorful meat that becomes tender when cooked.
  • Garlic Cloves: Thinly sliced to infuse the dish with an aromatic flavor.
  • Pitted Prunes: Halved and added for a sweet contrast that balances savory flavors.
  • Spanish Green Olives: Halved for a briny, tangy kick that complements the sweetness of the prunes.
  • Capers plus Brine: Bring a burst of salty, pickled flavor, with the brine (the juice from the jar) adding an extra zing.
  • Dried Bay Leaves: Impart a subtle, herbal essence that deepens the dish’s complexity.
  • Dried Oregano: Adds a hint of earthy, minty flavor that’s classic in Mediterranean cooking.
  • Brown Sugar: Dark brown or light brown sugar provides a touch of sweetness to round out the savory notes.
  • Kosher Salt: For flavor.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Adds a slight heat and aromatic depth.
  • Low Sodium Chicken Broth: The liquid base that helps to cook the chicken while keeping it moist and adding flavor.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Introduces an acidic brightness, balancing the rich and sweet elements.

How To Make Chicken Marbella

  1. First, heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until it’s shimmering. Next, add the chicken, skinned side down, then cover and let it cook until it turns a deep golden brown. After that, flip the chicken over, cover it again, and let it cook until it’s golden on this second side. Following that, add garlic to the skillet and stir until it becomes fragrant.
  2. Then, introduce the prunes, olives, capers and brine, bay leaves, and oregano into the skillet, spreading them out evenly around the chicken. Season the chicken with brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour the chicken broth and vinegar over everything and bring it to a boil.
  3. Afterward, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Next, carefully move the chicken to a serving platter, then bring the skillet back to the stove over high heat. Let the sauce cook, swirling it occasionally, until it has reduced and slightly thickened.
  4. Finally, spoon the pan sauce over the chicken on the serving platter and serve. (See full recipe and directions in the recipe card below.)

Variations

  • Chicken: Use bone-in chicken breasts or drumsticks instead. If you don’t mind the extra calories, you can also use skin-on chicken.
  • Fresh Herbs: Top with fresh Italian parsley

What To Serve with Chicken Marbella

I serve this dish over couscous with a big green salad and my husband always gets excited when Marbella is on the menu. This would also go great with crusty bread, rice or rice pilaf, roasted potatoes, or even cauliflower rice to keep it light. Let me know in the comments if you love this dish (and prunes!) as much as I do.

Chicken Marbella
What is Chicken Marbella?

Chicken Marbella is a classic dish that first gained popularity in the 1980s, thanks to “The Silver Palate Cookbook” by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. It’s known for its unique combination of flavors, blending sweet, sour, and savory in a way that was quite innovative for its time. The dish is made with chicken marinated in olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, and a mix of herbs and spices, then baked until golden and tender.

Can you freeze Chicken Marbella?

Yes, Chicken Marbella freezes quite well, making it a great make-ahead dish for meal planning or preparing food ahead for the month.

How To Reheat Chicken Marbella

If frozen, it’s best to thaw chicken marbella overnight in the fridge. It can be reheated in the oven, covered, at 350°F (175°C) until heated through, about 20-30 minutes or microwaved 3 to 4 minutes.

Storage

To refrigerate or freeze this chicken marbella recipe, place the chicken in airtight freezer-safe containers or zip-top freezer bags. If using a plastic storage bag, squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Pour in some of the cooking sauce to keep the chicken moist. Refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze up to 3 months.

Chicken thighs, prunes and olives

More Chicken Thigh Recipes

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Chicken Marbella Recipe

4.88 from 8 votes
8
Cals:323
Protein:38
Carbs:14
Fat:12
You’ll love this quick Chicken Marbella recipe made with chicken thighs, prunes and Spanish olives for a flavorful Mediterranean-style dish!
Course: Dinner, main dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Chicken Marbella
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 43 minutes
Total: 58 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh with sauce)

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken, skinned side down, then cover and cook until deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Flip chicken, cover again and cook until golden on second side, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the prunes, olives, capers and brine, bay leaves and oregano to the skillet, arranging them evenly around the chicken. Season the chicken with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the chicken broth and vinegar over top and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Carefully transfer the chicken to a serving platter then return the skillet to the stove over high heat. Cook sauce, swirling occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon pan sauce and over chicken and serve.

Last Step:

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 chicken thigh with sauce), Calories: 323 kcal, Carbohydrates: 14 g, Protein: 38 g, Fat: 12 g, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 179 mg, Sodium: 713 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 8 g

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