I'm always on the hunt for incredible (and easy) chicken recipes. And I especially love chicken thighs. Ina Garten is one of the best chefs out there and when I saw this chicken marbella recipe years ago I was completely intrigued. It's a tangy, briney, chickeny delight of an entree that is very easy to prepare! I like to highlight popular recipes from time to time on my blog and today I give you Ina Garten's Chicken Marbella.
The Sweet, Briney, Tangy Flavor Profile of Chicken Marbella is a New Must-Have For Me
In order to appreciate this recipe, you must adore an olive, caper, red wine vinegar flavor profile with a touch of sweetness in the prunes and brown sugar to off-set what could be an overly savory dish. I know, it sounds intimidating, and I can relate to that. For most of my life, I avoided olives and capers. Briney, salty, tangy were not my thing. Then something changed. I'm not sure when or why. It could be that I love Chicken Piccata and would use capers when I make that. It could be because I love Ralph's German Meatball Soup and, sure, capers were good in that too.
Ultimately, I needed to open my mind to new flavor profiles and so I allowed, finally, olives and capers into my life on a more permanent basis. And I'm so happy I did this. The capers had weedled their way into my taste buds over many years. The olives came via this very recipe: Ina Garten's Chicken Marbella. When I saw the pictures of this dish I was drooling. But olives? Hmmmm... I wasn't sure I could finally make the leap and embrace them. But I did and I've never looked back!
Ina Garten's Chicken Marbella is All About the Marinade
There is a whopping head and a half of garlic in this recipe which shocked me at first. But it's really the perfect amount. There are a lot of other things happening in the marinade: olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers with the brine, olives, tons of oregano, pitted prunes, salt and pepper. It's seriously the most delicious-smelling marinade my nose has ever met. And I do loooove my garlic so I'm all in with it! The great thing about this recipe (which is mostly putting the awesome marinade together) is this is an easy-level recipe. There's not a lot of technique. Before you start your prep, be sure to check out my post on how to trim the fat from chicken thighs.
Chicken Marbella packs a punch of flavor and is great to serve at a dinner party. And again, the smell of the marinade when you make it and then when you cook it is out of this world!
Easy Prep if You Opt for Chicken Thighs for Marbella
The original recipe calls for cutting up a whole chicken. This can be too intimidating. I opted to go with chicken thighs to make things easier. Evenly sized pieces = same cooking time. You do need to trim the fat from the thighs before marinating and cooking. This only takes a few minutes. Then you put everything together in a bowl or large ziplock bag and let it marinate overnight. There is almost nothing to do but put it in the oven the next night. It's so easy! What are you waiting for?
Side dishes that pair well with this: mashed potatoes, white rice or buttered egg noodles. To keep this on the lighter side you could go with a side salad.
Now go forth and cook! Really, cook amazing food for yourself and your loved ones. You're all worth it!Print
Ina Garten's Chicken Marbella
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 55 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 portions 1x
Want to impress your dinner guests or be the star of the next pot luck you attend? Make Ina Garten’s Chicken Marbella – a tangy, savory delight and a true gourmet!
- 8 bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ cups large pitted prunes (I used Sunsweet)
- 1 cup large green olives, pitted (see note #1)
- ½ cup capers, including juice (1 3.5 ounce jar)
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 ½ heads of garlic, peeled and minced
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- ½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt
- Check out my video of this recipe and follow along while you cook.
- Trim the fat from the chicken thighs.
- Peel one and a half heads of garlic. I know – it seems like a lot. The garlic should be minced so peel it and run it through your mini food processor. If you don’t have a mini, just use a knife to mince it. Set it aside for now.
- For the marinade: Use a large bowl that will fit the marinade and all 8 chicken thighs. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, pitted prunes, capers and the juice from jar, bay leaves, the minced garlic, oregano, 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, olives. (Personal choice: I used a bit more prunes and olives than the recipe called for because I like it that way. Also, I added a splash of the brine from the jar of the “bistro blend” olives).
- Give the marinade a good mix until everything is well combined.
- Add the trimmed chicken thighs to the marinade and make sure all the chicken thighs are coated well.
- Wrap the bowl in plastic and let marinate for 24 hours. Turn the chicken a few times during the marination process. I didn’t have space in my fridge for a bowl that size, so I transferred all the chicken and marinade to a 2-gallon Ziplock bag. If you do this, make sure to squeeze out the air and massage the chicken and marinade together. Turn the bag a few times during the marination process.
- Once the chicken is fully marinated it’s ready to cook! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the chicken in a large baking dish/pan. Ina’s recipe suggests a 15”x18” dish/pan. Mine was 15”x13” and worked fine. A 10"x15" could work too if you have smaller chicken thighs or if you're only making 6 chicken thighs instead of 8. The chicken should be skin side facing up then arrange the prunes, olives, capers and marinade around the chicken pieces.
- Add the dry white wine to the baking pan. Make sure to pour it around the chicken and not on top of the chicken.
- Sprinkle a few pinches of salt on top of the chicken. Ina’s recipe called for 2 teaspoons of salt here, but I felt that was a little too much for me. The choice is yours. A couple of pinches sprinkled on top was fine.
- Same with the pepper. Ina’s recipe called for 1 teaspoon here, but I used about half that amount.
- Last step – sprinkle the light brown sugar on the chicken pieces. Remember: this is a savory, salty, briney dish and to balance that salt we need a little sweetness that we get from the prunes and this brown sugar on top.
- Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until internal temp of chicken is 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken when finished and cover the baking pan in foil. Be careful – it’s hot. I used my potholders to secure the foil. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and then serve.
- Side dishes that pair well with this: mashed potatoes, white rice, buttered egg noodles. Or to keep this on the lighter side go with a side salad.
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- For the olives: Ina’s recipe suggested pitted green Cerignola olives. I can never find these at the grocery store. I used a combination of olives. I used pitted green castelvetrano olives and a “bistro blend” which included pitted green and kalamata olives in a seasoned brine. Traditionally, the recipe calls for pitted green olives.
- This is not a crispy chicken skin dish. If you want crispy skin you could put just the chicken pieces on a small sheet pan and stick under the broiler for a few minutes at the end… HOWEVER, it could burn very easily since we sprinkled the brown sugar on the top of the chicken. Keep this in mind if you decide to do this. A lower rack may be the best option and keep your eye on it.
Love this recipe — my mom's been making it for about 30 years. It's from the Silver Palate Cookbook, the original Chicken Marbella recipe that everyone rifs from. Ina's adaptation of that recipe has an extra 1/2 head of garlic. Go, Ina!
Allison! Oh, yes, I am familiar with the Silver Palate Cookbook - the original masters of Chicken Marbella! The garlic. I remember the first time I made it I was like, what the what? But I LOVE garlic and I trust Ina. This dish is one of my all time faves!
Could this be done with boneless skinless chicken breasts?
Hi Lucille - I've never made it with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. In general, dark meat chicken (like bone-in chicken thighs) are wonderfully forgiving when baked for nearly an hour. They are tender, moist and delish!! Boneless breast of chicken tends to dry out and even get tough if cooked that long. That being said, I did look around the internet and there are people who say you can make it with boneless breast of chicken. I'm not sure I would take the risk, but if you do - let me know how it turns out. Best of luck!!
This recipe sounds delicious. What is your recommendation for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or at least bone-in and skinless thighs? Thanks!
Hi Donna - sorry for the delay in responding. I haven't made it yet with boneless thighs or skinless bone-in thighs. It think I might have to do this soon. 🙂 I did look around at some other recipes on the internet. For the boneless, skinless version it seems best to keep the chicken thighs "rolled up" when you cook them and not lay them out flat which makes sense to me. For the bone-in, skin off version I think following the recipe as is will be fine. Let me know what you ended up doing I would love to heat how it came out!