Chicken Breast Marbella


Back in the early 1990’s I catered a lot of weddings. One dish that made it’s way onto almost every menu was my version of The Silver Palate Cookbook’s Chicken Marbella.

Chicken Marbella was perhaps the signature dish from this hugely successful cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins – owners of the popular New York take-out restaurant for which the cookbook was named. I can’t say enough good things about this cookbook. It is a true classic and the source of much of my early inspiration in the kitchen. If you don’t own a copy, you owe it to yourself to get one: The Silver Palate Cookbook.

Back to the Marbella. The Silver Palate version is prepared similarly to a tagine. Chicken pieces (bone-in, skin-on) are marinated overnight then cooked in the marinade with prunes, olives and capers. Bone-in, skin-on chicken is delicious, but messy. I wanted to serve Chicken Marbella, but I needed a version that could be eaten gracefully by someone holding a small plate at a wedding reception or cocktail party. So I adapted the recipe and came up with a version equally as good. Sometimes as I worked the buffet, refilling platters and clearing dishes, I’d hear, “this is the best chicken I have ever tasted.” Music to my ears after working for three days straight to prep for a wedding.

Almost all of the ingredients from the original recipe are the same, but instead of marinating the chicken overnight before it is cooked, I pour the warm marinade over grilled, sliced chicken breasts and then marinate everything for a minimum of 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Our Cook for the Cure® PINK party gave me the chance to make one of my favorite all-time chicken recipes and I must say, it still tastes just as good as I remembered – The chicken is lightly sweet, yet tangy and surrounded by prunes, apricots and green olives, seasoned with oregano and parsley. Chicken Breast Marbella can be reheated in the marinade, or served cold or at room temperature. Personally, I like to eat it and serve it cold.

The recipe below will serve 12, but it can easily be doubled tripled, quadrupled… just make sure you have enough refrigeration space to hold the chicken while it marinades.

Chicken Breast Marbella
Author: A Passionate Plate
Serves: 12
This recipe has been adapted from the original Chicken Marbella in The Silver Palate Cookbook. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts replace the skin-on, bone-in pieces, making this easier to eat at a party.
  • 6 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried pitted prunes, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives
  • 1/2 cup capers and a little juice
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/8 cup dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the pan with a little olive oil non-stick spray (or brush lightly with olive oil) and place three of the chicken breasts in the pan. Cook the chicken until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes, then turn and lightly brown them on the other side.
  5. Remove chicken to a baking sheet lined with foil (the chicken will not be fully cooked at this point).
  6. Wipe out the pan if necessary, then repeat the browning process with the remaining three chicken breasts.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the chicken just until it is cooked through. (Test by cutting into a piece or using a meat thermometer – chicken should be 165 degrees). Be careful not to overcook the chicken or it will be dry. When the chicken is fully cooked, remove from the oven to cool.
  9. In a large saucepan, combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, white wine, brown sugar, prunes, dried apricots, Spanish olives, capers, garlic, and oregano. Heat the marinade to a boil and cook for one minute more. Stir in the parsley and remove from heat.
  11. Slice each chicken breast diagonally into thin strips. Place the chicken into a glass or ceramic casserole or other dish with sides, and pour the marinade over the chicken. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to two days.
  12. SERVE:
  13. Chicken Breast Marbella can be reheated before serving covered tightly with foil or a lid. Or, serve it cold or at room temperature.



  1. Kay Nichols says:

    I meant to say reheat in my ceramic dishes…

  2. Kay Nichols says:

    I am using aluminum foil pans to serve buffet style. Can I reheat in the aluminum foil pans after taking them out of my ceramic dishes? Or should I reheat in the shrimp dishes and serve in the aluminum foil pans? This recipe sounds absolutely perfect for my church dinner I am in charge of.

  3. Could you give us the recipe for citrus basmati rice? Thanks.

  4. […] Boneless Chicken Breasts Marbella – Photo from […]

  5. Donna says:

    This is my new staple “go to” crowd recipe!! I have a couple of subs – not a green olive fan, I use a few but mostly substitute our fav calamata olives, and instead of cutting prunes, I buy the diced dried plums/prunes. I served it at a Bridal Shower Brunch and then again for another Bridal Shower (diff bride, although the same crowd), a few months later. One was served cool then and the other I reheated. It was a smash hit at both!! The first found one of the junior bridesmaids hovering next to it, eating one piece after another for the better part of the party, preferring it even to the deliciously enticing sweet table – which included a chocolate fountain! At the second shower I heard squeals of delight as it made its way to the buffet table, with one bridesmaid (for both weddings) declaring her love for it, confessing that she had been dreaming about it and had so hoped we’d be serving it again!! So thanks for sharing your recipe – it’s had been a great gift!

  6. Lynne says:

    What would you serve as a side to this?

  7. Barry Zeidman says:

    Is it supposed to taste very vinegary?

  8. Cindy says:

    Is there any downside to cutting the prunes and apricots into smaller pieces?

    • MaryMiller says:

      Cindy, there is no downside at all, except perhaps that it changes the appearance a bit – the big pieces of apricot add a nice color and contrast.

  9. Janet Gordon says:

    I made this and took it to a wedding where the bride and groom asked for potluck contributions rather than gifts. Everyone was asking, “Who made that chicken dish? It’s incredible!” And it was! Actually, better than the original recipe which I have made several times. I doubled this recipe and grilled the chicken breasts on the barbecue (do not char it!) rather than brown and bake which was easier for me for such a large crowd. I plan to make it again for a dinner party I am having soon but this time I will re-heat it rather than serve it cold. It is fantastic and so easy!

  10. Katy says:

    I have made the Silver Pallette version several times, but I’m excited to make this ahead of time with this recipe! 2 questions: is there a reason the directions say to marinate in glass or ceramic? (I’m doubling the recipe and was hoping to put it in a larger metal pan.) And, what temperature and time duration do you recommend for reheating? I’d hate to make this wonderful dish and dry out the chicken in the reheat! Thanks!

    • MaryMiller says:

      Hi, Katy – I’m glad you are going to give this a try! To answer your questions, I recommend a glass or ceramic dish because of the high acid content in the marinade. I think as long as you have a non-reactive pan you are fine! There might be no problems at all with a metal pan, but I always hate it when things take on that tinny taste. As for reheating, I would cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil (or a tight fitting lid) and heat at 350 degrees until the chicken reaches 165. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Let us know how it turns out!

    • Donna Lee C. says:

      I was fascinated with the bride and groom requesting potluck dishes instead of gifts, I loved your idea of taking this to the wedding, using the chicken breasts, and the way you cooked it- I plan to try it that way as soon as I get a chance. Did the bride and groom already have established households, and did they provide some of the things for the meal or dessert, cake, refreshments, snacks or hors d’oeuvres? I was just curious how and why they planned it, how it turned out. It just sounded like such a good idea to me and I wanted to know more about it in case I had a chance to use or adapt it for a wedding or some other type of celebration. Your chicken looked delicious!

  11. Fern says:

    Please let me know how to warm it so it may be served hot. What temperature and for how long?

  12. Pattie says:

    This is an incredible recipe. Thank you so much. I had found other versions, but wanted to use skinless, boneless breasts instead of thighs. I hope never to lose this recipe.

  13. Siobhan says:

    Hi, I would like to try this out for my dad’s 70th on Wednesday night. I think my older crowd would prefer it got but at what temperature do you recommend to reheat & for how long??. Thank You

  14. Judith de Haan says:

    This is so much better than the original dish! I made it for my book club and they gobbled it all up (such dainty ladies) and asked for your recipe. Now I am cobbling together a slow cooker version for my turkey breasts. Christmas eve dinner never looked so easy! Thanks so much for your ingenious take on this wonderful dish.

  15. […] fan favorite main dish was the chicken marbella. i debated whether i needed to make a chicken in addition to the brisket, but i decided to go for […]

  16. Niki Pickett says:

    I would love to make this recipe ahead and freeze. Specific instructions? Espacially the thawing process.

    • MaryMiller says:

      Hi, Nick –

      Sorry for the delay getting back to you on this. I have made this recipe many, many times but have never tried freezing it. My only suggestion would be to thaw it in the refrigerator and then cover tightly and reheat in the oven. You might have better luck using boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you plan on freezing… the breast meat might dry out during the reheating process. Please let me know how it goes!


  17. Mark says:

    I am going to serve hot on a buffet. How long do I heat it in the oven the day of the party?

  18. Jeanne says:

    Wow. Wonderful dish and so easy! I prepared this yesterday morning, anticipating a summer day and not wanting to heat up the kitchen in the evening. I did not have all the ingredients so did a bit of improvising – raisins and cranberries for the dried apricots and kalamata olives for the green olives. It was outstanding and I am looking forward to leftovers tomorrow. Thanks, Mary and Joy, for another amazing dish!

  19. […] an excellent cold salad. We love serving this at parties and it makes a wonderful accompaniment for Chicken Breast Marbella. Fresh herbs and a refreshing citrus vinaigrette keep the flavor […]

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