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Chicken Marbella is a popular recipe from the Silver Palate cookbook. The sweet and savory combination of capers, olives, and prunes in the tangy marinade for boneless chicken breasts is flavorful and delicious.
Sometimes it pays to step out of your comfort zone. When you do, you are rewarded with exciting new flavor combinations that you would never dream up.
That's exactly what happened when I worked up this baked chicken recipe for our make-ahead and freeze meal assembly stores. (Spoiler alert: it freezes beautifully!)
I read about The Silver Palate's easy Chicken Marbella and decided to give it a try. It was an instant hit...not just at the store, but with our family too. The chicken is juicy with flavorful pops of sweet and sour. The end result has big flavors.
This famous dish is fancy enough for company but easiest enough for a busy weeknight dinner. Use our selection of the best Chicken Marbella side dishes to create a memorable meal.
What is Chicken Marbella?
Chicken Marbella is a dish from The Silver Palate Cookbook, written by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso in 1982, which popularized easy entertaining for home cooks. The dish gets its name from the city of Marbella, Spain, and contains a variety of Mediterranean flavors.
It has sweet and savory notes from chicken marinated in a mixture that includes briny capers, sweet prunes, and salty olives. It's baked with brown sugar and white wine too.
It is a favorite for special occasions and large parties because it can be prepared in advance and is unique!
Here's what you'll need to make this easy Chicken Marbella recipe:
- Chicken - We used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for a healthy take on the classic dish. The original recipe calls for whole chickens with skin cut into quarters; the skin is left in place and creates a sweet, crispy topping. However, any chicken will work with this recipe.
- Marinade ingredients - Garlic cloves, oregano, capers, caper juice, prunes, green olives, bay leaves, and red wine vinegar.
- Brown sugar is sprinkled over the top of the chicken as it bakes and glazes it. We used a reduced amount. Even less sugar can be used. But, add some because it contributes to the balance of the dish.
- Dry white wine is poured around the chicken as it bakes.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Note: Pitted dates, raisins, apricots, or other dried fruit can be substituted for dried prunes.
And, if you're worried that guests might not take to "prunes," try calling them "dried plums." It works every time!
Ideally, marinate Chicken Marbella overnight. However, if you don't have that much time, we suggest at least 4 hours.
However, there's another option.
Add the marinade ingredients to a resealable plastic bag with boneless chicken breasts, and FREEZE IT!
The marinade seeps in while it's freezing and can work some more while the chicken defrosts.
Once the chicken is marinated, it's easy to assemble and bake Chicken Marbella:
- Place chicken pieces and all the marinade in a single layer of a large baking dish, spooning so the capers, prunes, and olives are evenly distributed.
- Pour wine around the chicken.
- Sprinkle brown sugar on the chicken.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it's not over or undercooked.
To serve, use a slotted spoon to move chicken to a serving platter. Spoon some juices over the top. Place the remaining pan juices in a small bowl and serve that too.
Fresh parsley is the perfect garnish for this recipe.
Can you Freeze Chicken Marbella?
Chicken Marbella can be frozen before or after you cook it, so it's a popular choice for a dinner party. Here's how to do it:
Uncooked - Add all marinade ingredients and the chicken to a sturdy, plastic storage bag. Remove excess air and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, defrost the chicken overnight in the freezer. Pour the chicken and marinade into a baking dish, add white wine and brown sugar, then bake as usual.
Cooked/Leftovers - Store leftover Chicken Marbella, including the cooked marinade, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator. To reheat, spoon juices over the chicken, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes. Chicken can also be covered and microwaved for several minutes.
What to Serve with Chicken Marbella
Serve Chicken Marbella with something that will soak up the flavorful pan juices. It will liven up whatever else is on the plate.
Our favorite way to round out this meal is to make 5-minute couscous and stir in some of the sauce and goodies (i.e. prunes and olives.) Rice, quinoa, farro, or any other grain will work. Crusty bread is also a must.
Serve Chicken Marbella hot or cold! Yep. Cool the chicken to room temperature. Warm the juices and drizzle over the top. Serve it with a nice, cool salad.
Depending upon what's in season, vegetables that pair with Chicken Marbella include:
- Green beans
- Wilted spinach (Drizzle olive oil in a pan, add minced garlic and baby spinach leaves and stir and cook for several minutes until the spinach leaves are wilted.)
Check out the complete list of what to serve with Chicken Marbella.
More Chicken Recipes
If you're on the hunt for entertaining-worthy chicken recipes that could be made at home, check out these recipes:
Did you make this recipe?
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Chicken Marbella (with Boneless Breasts)
- 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tablespoons capers with juices
- 2 Bay leves
- ½ cup dried prunes pits removed (I slice the plums into strips.)
- 8-12 green olives
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- Combine marinade in a resealable plastic bag. Place chicken breasts in the bag. Marinate for about 4 hours or overnight, turning the chicken over at least once to coat all parts of the chicken with marinade.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Place chicken breasts and all of the marinade in a single layer in a baking dish, and spoon the marinade over the top of the chicken.
- Pour wine around the chicken and sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar over each chicken breast.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove bay leaf and spoon sauce over the top of the chicken halfway through cooking or more often for best results.
- Spoon more sauce over the chicken at serving time and the serve the rest in a bowl on the side.