Olives add a salty complexity to salads, flatbreads, and cheeseboards. These fruits are native to Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and are an essential part of many traditional recipes from those regions. After harvesting, they’re packed in a salty brine that gives them their characteristic kick. Olives grow on trees, and have a hard stone-like pit. Pits are fine for a cheeseboard or snacking situation, but it’s best to remove them if you’re incorporating olives into a recipe. You don’t want to be happily chomping through a pizza only to crack down on a hard pit. Ouch!
Pitted vs. Unpitted olives
The main difference here is obvious: pitted olives come with the pit already removed. Removing the pit breaks down the structure of the olive a little bit. In the jar, these olives will continue to break down and absorb flavors from the brine. Pitted olives tend to be slightly mushier and slightly saltier than their pit-containing counterparts. They’ll still have plenty of flavor, but for the best olive experience, we recommend buying them whole. Working with whole olives is easy. Just remove the pit before you move on with your recipe. The easiest way to do this is to apply a little bit of force.
How to pit olives
Lay the olives on a cutting board. Working one at a time, place the flat side of a chef’s knife on the olive and smack it firmly with the heel of your hand. This will crush the olive. After it’s crushed, you should be able to pull the pit right out. Set the pits aside, and proceed with your recipe, either by chopping or leaving the crushed olives whole. Watch our chef demonstrate this technique in the video below.
Recipes we love with olives
Oregano Chicken & Olive Pan Sauce with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onion & Spinach
Oregano chicken gets a lift from a bright, zesty pan sauce of olives, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, and sweet date syrup.
Greek Chicken with Olive Tapenade & Creamy Orzo
This chicken gets its exciting Greek flavor from a coating of dried oregano and a topping of tapenade—a briny, punchy paste made with niçoise olives. For a simple, flavorful side, we’re tossing orzo with roasted Brussels sprouts and Feta cheese.
Orange-Olive Chicken Thighs & Couscous with Vegetables, Feta & Dates
In this dish, you’ll marinate chicken thighs in a zesty combination of our shawarma spice blend, olives, and fresh orange juice, before roasting them in the oven. You’ll serve it alongside sweet peppers, tangy feta, and mint––all over a bed of harissa couscous studded with plump medjool dates for pops of sweetness.
Feta & Olive Pizza with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Crisp, golden brown crust is layered with a classic, lightly spicy red sauce and creamy mozzarella. It’s the perfect base for a marinated topping of briny olives, crumbly feta, and piquante peppers, which garnishes the pizza after baking—adding tangy bursts of flavor in every bite.
Greek Panzanella Salad with Feta & Olives
This vibrant Greek salad features classic ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and tangy feta—mixed with crunchy homemade croutons, fresh arugula, and a simple oregano dressing.