Chicken Marbella

What is Chicken Marbella, Anyway?

Chicken Marbella is one of the most delicious, innovative and timeless chicken recipes ever created.  When this dish was first created by The Silver Palate catering and take out shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it garnered an immediate following.  When the actual recipe for Chicken Marbella was published in the ground breaking The Silver Palate Cookbook, by Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, it was also a revelation, because of its eccentric ingredient list –Vinegar?  Olives?  Prunes?  Capers?  Garlic? Brown sugar? White wine?  All in one dish??

Chicken Marbella

But to taste it was to be converted, and so for a nice chunk of time in the 80s this dish made appearances on tables all over the country, sometimes for family dinners, but more often for entertaining.  I grew up on Chicken Marbella (my mother was an early adopter of it), and it was one of the first “grown up” meals I served to family and friends as a budding cook.  If you’ve never had it, I actually envy you trying it for the first time.

Years ago I even made it to bring in to a kindergarten potluck for one of my kids, as a dish that embodied our family cooking. Side note and full disclosure, my father Peter Workman was the publisher of all of the Silver Palate Cookbooks, and Sheila had become a dear family friend.   So not only was it a two generation (now three) favorite dish to make and eat, I really felt like Chicken Marbella was part of our family’s culinary history.

Chicken Marbella

The timeless recipe for one of the best chicken dishes on earth: Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook.

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Years later, this baked chicken recipe is often the centerpiece of my Passover menu, and often Rosh Hashana as well (it’s kind of Sephardic Jewish in nature, with the dried fruit and the wine, so feels perfect for the Jewish holidays).  Even though times change, and we move on to new recipes, this is not a dish to forget, or imagine to be dated in any way.  

The faultless and brilliant combination of flavors is timeless, the recipe is pretty foolproof, the chicken is unfailingly moist, and it can be made ahead.  You don’t have to sear the chicken, just marinate and bake.  It’s a fairly perfect chicken recipe.  (And, yes it’s Marbella not Mirabella!)

Chicken Marbella

What to serve with Chicken Marbella?

This would be a terrific Passover (or Easter or Rosh Hashanah) Menu – or any entertaining moment:

You can also enjoy Chicken Marbella at room temperature.  Cool the chicken in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter.  Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.  You can also eat it greedily cold from the fridge the next day for lunch.  It’s one of my favorite leftovers of all time.

Make it again, if you have forgotten it for a while, or make it for the first time, and tell me that you’re not a card-carrying lifetime Chicken Marbella fan.

Chicken Marbella

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Chicken Marbella for Passover

You know this dish, right? If you don’t, I so envy you, trying it for the first time.
Yield: 10 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish green olives or with pimentos
  • ½ cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic peeled and finely pureed
  • ¼ cup dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 chickens 2½ pounds each, quartered
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped


  • Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.
  • Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices, until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
  • With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.



To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in the cooking juices before transferring the pieces to a serving platter. If the chicken has been covered and refrigerated, reheat it in the juices, or allow it to come to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juice over the chicken.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 359mg | Potassium: 210mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. I have made this for family Seders for many years. I have made it with bone-in chicken pieces as well as boneless pieces (breasts cut in half or thighs). It’s easy and everyone seems to like it (although some family members ask for the cilantro to be put on the side). Sometimes I substitute parsley or chopped chives at the end. It has a Mediterranean/Sephardic flavor about it, no doubt from the capers, the fruit (prunes), and the garlic.

  2. Hello Katie- I am a friend of your parents through Phyllis Grann. Chicken Marbella is one of the best dishes of all time. I just found out I will be hosting Passover due to a sudden change of events. But, no problem, I have the perfect recipe. I think of your magical father often. Send my best to your mother. CLARE Grossman

    1. Thank you so much for your note! I’m glad to know Chicken Marbella will grace yet another Passover table! And I’ll pass your hello on to my mom for sure.

  3. Hello all – I am making this for the first time for Passover seder on Saturday. I am using 5 lbs of boneless thighs. I used the full amounts for the marinade, but now wondering how much brown sugar to put on the chicken. The recipe calls for 1 cup. Should I use 1/2 a cup? I welcome your thoughts from those who have cooked this recipe using boneless vs. bone-in chicken. Thanks in advance.

  4. This is five star recipe!
    Many thanks for reminding me of seders in the past when this was my “go to” recipe for the crowd.
    It’s good at room temp as well for later in the week.

  5. Silver Palate yesterday, today and always! This was in my freezer when my boys came home. It brings me back to those precious, hazy baby days.

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