How To Cook Chicken Marbella for A Big Crowd
This recipe uses boneless chicken thighs but includes instructions for classic bone-in Chicken Marbella if you prefer it that way. When I decided to serve Chicken Marbella at my New Years Eve party (dinner for 100) I adapted the recipe for boneless chicken because I think boneless chicken is more elegant and easier to manage for a big party.
Bone-in chicken is fine for a small sit-down dinner but for a buffet it can be clunky and it takes up a lot of room on a serving platter. Plus, it's tricky to cut chicken off the bone while you're socializing at a party, and especially challenging if you're balancing your plate on your lap or standing at a cocktail table while doing it.
In my mind there's no debate about whether to use thighs or breasts. Chicken thighs are my favorite. They're so much better and juicier than breasts, which dry out easily, while thighs are difficult to overcook. The original Silver Palate Chicken Marbella Recipe calls for 4 whole chickens, cut into quarters. I've been served Chicken Marbella that way for decades and I've cooked it that way myself, but I have to confess that I've always passed over the breasts and gone right for the thighs.
The Story Behind Chicken Marbella
How To Make Chicken Marbella
- Marinate The Chicken Overnight: Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl: ½ cup olive oil, ½ cup red wine vinegar, 1 ½ cups pitted prunes, ¾ cup pitted Spanish green olives, ½ cup capers, 6 bay leaves, 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and puréed (I use this garlic press), ¼ cup dried oregano, 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and toss to mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and refrigerate it overnight.
- Bake: Arrange the chicken and all the marinade ingredients in two large shallow baking pans. Pour ½ cup of wine into each baking pan and sprinkle the chicken pieces evenly with the brown sugar. Bake the chicken for 45-50 minutes, until it's cooked through, basting once or twice with the pan juices.
- To serve, arrange the chicken on a serving platter and spoon the prunes, olives, capers and some of the juices evenly around. Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro. Serve the extra sauce on the side.
What to serve with Chicken Marbella
- Latkes. For Hanukkah dinner we always serve Chicken Marbella with potato latkes
- Potatoes: Mashed Potatoes, Smashed Potatoes or roasted potatoes are all great with Chicken Marbella
- Rice: Plain white rice is a perfect accompaniment
- Salad: This green salad or this tricolore salad
- A Green Vegetable: Instead of a salad, serve steamed or roasted broccoli, asparagus or green beans on the side
Here's the Chicken Marbella Recipe. If you try this, I hope you'l come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Yield: 8-10 servings 1x
This elegant Silver Palate Chicken Marbella recipe is the perfect dinner party dish. An easy dish to cook for a big group and the flavors are fantastically delicious.
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ cups pitted prunes
- ¾ cup pitted Spanish green olives
- ½ cup capers (a 2-ounce jar), with 1 teaspoon of the juice
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, peeled and puréed (I use this garlic press)
- ¼ cup dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 4 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs (18 or so pieces)
- 1 cup dry white wine (Vermouth works well)
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ cup of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
- In a large mixing bowl or plastic container, combine the oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers, caper juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in two large shallow baking dishes and spoon all the marinade ingredients on and around the chicken. Pour half the wine into each baking pan, and then sprinkle the all chicken pieces evenly with the brown sugar.
- Bake the chicken for 45-50 minutes, or until it's cooked through, basting with the pan juices after 20 minutes.
- To serve, transfer the chicken pieces to a serving platter and spoon the prunes, olives, capers and some of the sauce on and around the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with parsley or cilantro. Serve remaining sauce on the side. Chicken Marbella can be served at room temperature.
Make This with bone-in, skin-on chicken: To make this recipe with bone-in chicken, use '8-10 pounds of bone-in chicken parts' - thighs, drumsticks, breasts or any combination. Follow the recipe exactly as written only increase the cooking time to '50 minute to an hour' and baste 3 or 4 times while the chicken cooks, to keep it moist.
Prepare this ahead and serve it at room temperature: Chicken Marbella can be cooked up to two days ahead and kept, covered, in the fridge. Allow it to come to room temperature and spoon some of the juices over it before serving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: Recipe for Silver Palate Chicken Marbella, How to Make Chicken Marbella with boneless chicken thighs,
I have so many compliments on your recipes, Thank you ♥️👏👍🎉💥
You are so welcome. Thank you for letting me know Darlene 🙂 You made my day.
Hi Lisa I made this recipe as a taste test for a party I’m planing and my family loved it! How can I adapt this recipe to serve 60 guests? The make ahead feature makes this recipe a go to for my menu. Thank you
Hi Joann, I'm so glad you love this! it's one of my favorite dishes for entertaining. To prepare this for 60 I would assume that most your guests will each want 1 or 2 pieces of chicken and there will be some who come back for seconds. To be safe, I'd assume 2 thighs per person, so 120 boneless thighs which is about 26 pounds but best if you can have your butcher figure it out with you or determine how many thighs make a pound and then go from there. Even though you're scaling up my recipe by 6X, I think you'll be fine with 4X the marinade. But I suggest you do 6X the prunes, olives, capers and topping of wine and brown sugar. If you have 2 huge plastic containers or bowls, you can probably marinate a triple batch in each vessel. I suggest you cook the chicken in large heavy duty foil pans - 4 should do. Divide the wine and brown sugar among the pans and bake in 2 ovens, if you have them. You may need to add a little extra baking time with all that chicken being cooked at once. Good luck! Keep me posted!
I made this recipe for a small gathering of six friends last evening (Saturday). Prepared it Friday evening which was the key to it's success and ease of entertaining factor. Guests and family loved it!!
Thank you Panning the Globe for another delicious dinner recipe that allows me to entertain and enjoy the company.
hi Jane - Thanks so much for your note. I'm so glad this recipe worked out well for you and was enjoyed!
Was so excited to make this dish, but it was way too sweet for me. After checking other recipes, it seems 1/4c brown sugar is the average amount. Wondering if yours is correct or maybe a typo? I think it would've been great with less sweetness.
Hi Martha - I'm so sorry the chicken was too sweet for your taste - that must have been a big disappointment. My recipe doesn't have a typo. In fact, I reduced the amount of sugar that's called for in the original Silver Palate Recipe, from 1 cup down to 3/4 of a cup.
Thank you for this great adaptation. I served it last year for Christmas dinner for 8 people, and it was a huge hit. This year I’m serving 12 for Christmas and wondered if you could advise how much to scale up. Would advise I increase all ingredients by 50 percent. Or, make as shown here and just add a couple more Linda of chicken. Not sure how many thighs to figure per person. Thank you!!
Hi Carol, I'm glad you have had good luck with this recipe. I usually like to assume 2 boneless thighs per person. Not everyone has 2 but then there are leftovers and this dish is great the next day, too! If you're making enough for 12 I'd probably use 50% more of everything except the bay leaves - I think 6 bay leaves is plenty. Happy Holidays and happy cooking!
Absolutely wonderful, had this in the early 90s, this recipe was most similar to that one...easy to make, serves a dinner party...everyone loved... it is a recipie that surprises the palate. The fussiest eater will love this.
I'm an average cook...at best, but this recipie made me feel like showing off.
If hesitant...don't be...serve some old fashioned PLANTERS PUNCH, a nice green... AND MASHED POTATOS...A TRUE WINNER...
Delicious and make ahead, except for baking. So happy with this recipe and very elegant!! I’ve made it and served it both hot and at room temp. Lots of compliments!!
Hi Ann - I'm glad the recipe worked out so well for you! Thanks for circling back around to leave a comment!
Shouldn’t the bone in thighs with skin be sautéed first or just use skinless.
Hi John - I suggest using boneless, skinless thighs for this recipe. It works really well. The flavors of the marinade are so delicious that you don't need skin and you don't need to sauté the chicken first. Just marinate it and then add the wine and brown sugar and pop it in the oven.
what can you substitute if you hate olives
You can double the amount of capers - capers have a salty briny flavor that's very similar to the flavor of olives. I can't think of anything else except maybe pickled pearl onions.
I made chicken Marbella fir the first tim in 1983 for a dinner party. I had never heard of cilantro, but saw it in my local produce store so bought it to use instead of parsley. I had often made a dish I’d never made before and they’d always been well received. This time, I took a bite and my heart sank. It was terrible. Everyone at the table said it was delicious and I was certain they were lying. I have since learned that I must be one of the ten percent who detest cilantro.
Hi Marcia - Unfortunate that your first experience with chicken marbella was spoiled by cilantro. You are definitely not alone in your dislike of cilantro. I love it but I am close friends with a few people who are "super tasters" and they think cilantro tastes like soap. I have to be mindful of that when I have them over for dinner. I hope you've been back to making chicken marbella and enjoying it - with parsley!
Fantastic recipe, thank you. Quantities are spot on.
Hi Katarina - I'm so glad you enjoyed the dish! 🙂
Thanks for sharing this! I have made this dish for years and am looking forward to this updated version. I am a bit confused about the make-ahead directions. Should this dish be cooked in its entirety 2 days ahead and then reheated or should it sit in the marinade 2 days ahead and then cooked?
Hi Beth - Thanks so much for pointing this out. I was unclear and I just updated that note. What I meant to say is that if you're planning to make this ahead and serve it at room temperature, you can fully cook it up to 2 days ahead of time.
I am in process of making this recipe and do not see when cilantro or parsley are used. Is it just me??
You are right! I'm so sorry and thank you for pointing this out! I never mentioned that the parsley or cilantro is a garnish that you sprinkle on the finished dish. I will make that update to the recipe.
Oh brilliant, thanks. I marinated it over night, cannot wait to bake and taste today. I love cilantro so I didn’t want to miss out on this flavour.
Fantastic recipe. I haven't made this for years and found your delicious looking recipe on Pinterest. I love how you've adapted it for boneless thighs. Absolutely delicious!
Excellent recipe. Years ago I bought the Silver Palate cookbook and this certainly was a very popular recipe. Hadn’t made it in years and then I happen to run across your version using boneless and skinless chicken thighs! Why did I never think of that! I love it even more - great for company and no bones to eat around. I now also use less sugar and more olives and prunes. Thank you for your version.
BTW - by mistake I added the brown sugar and wine in the marinade and it tasted great so I continue with my mistake - just less to think about when I’m baking it off.
Hi Ruth - It's great to get your feedback on this dish - especially since you've made the original version. I'm so glad you enjoyed this boneless skinless version. Also great to know that it turns out well even if you add the wine and sugar with the marinade. I'm sure I must have made that mistake too over the years. 🙂
Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.
Absolutely delicious, definitely a keeper. Thank you
You are welcome - I'm so glad you enjoyed!
Great Chicken Marbella recipe.
Karen Lee Kirk
For years I’ve made chicken Marbella with Cornish Hens. I’m having a dinner party next weekend for 8 and so glad I ran across this recipe using the boneless thighs! I also add dried apricots which are delicious and give the dish a beautiful fall color.