These crunchy, fleshy, fried olives are the perfect nibble to serve with festive cocktails. The saffron aïoli is an irresistible sidekick!
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What’s your favorite nibble with a drink? For me, it’s olives, hands down. Happy hour can’t be happy without a bowl of olives! I very often buy marinated olives at a local store, but I like to marinate them myself, too. It’s so easy to add a personal touch to the olives you serve:
Buy a jar of your favorite olives
Drain and rinse under cold water
If the olives taste “briny,” place in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for 15 minutes
Drain and pat the olives dry
Mix with your favorite olive flavorings (citrus zest, crushed fennel, coriander, black pepper, fresh herbs, etc.)
Cover with olive oil and let rest at room temperature for a few hours before serving. Alternatively, you can transfer the olives back into a jar and refrigerate them for up to one week. They’ll soak up more and more flavor with each passing day!
Marinated olives are a staple you should always have in the fridge, especially around the holidays. But I’ve got another memorable idea for serving olives: fry them! Say what? Yes, fried olives are pretty much the perfect nibble to have with festive drinks. They’re crunchy and so satisfyingly meaty! You can stuff them before frying, too: preserved lemon, cheese, and almonds are all tasty options.
Today I’m sharing my favorite fried olive recipe: Fried Olives with Saffron Aïoli. The amazing crunch of this snack, in which I stuff the olives with whole toasted almonds, contrasts delightfully with the soft olive flesh and the creamy homemade mayo. I hope—in fact, I bet—you won’t be able to eat just one!
Helpful Tips for Making Fried Olives
Pick the right olives: The best olive varieties for frying are the larger, meaty ones. Their fleshy size makes it worth the extra frying steps! In this recipe, I like to use either Spanish Gordal olives, or Italian Castelvetrano olives, both of which are super plump with a delicate texture.
Choose pitted olives: Fried olives are much more fun to eat if you don’t have to worry about nibbling around the pit. Plus, pitting creates room for stuffing in extra flavor!
Serve with a creamy dip: Yep, I’m vouching for homemade mayo. If you’ve never made it, don’t be intimidated: it takes two minutes to make in the blender or you can use a stick blender. The layering of garlic and saffron make this mayo extra special and flavorful. If you really don’t want to make mayo from scratch, look at the recipe notes for tips on pimping store-bought mayo.
Make-ahead: The fried olives can be made and fried ahead of time. Let them cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a half day. Reheat in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Create a whole spread: These big, plumpy fried olives can be the centerpiece of a whole, fuss-free spread of snacks. Here are ideas of bites you can serve alongside the fried olives: an alternate variety of marinated olives, cheese, chips, bread, crackers, pâtés, and cured meats.
Pour an easy drink with it: Tinto de Verano is a super easy, Spain-inspired drink that goes wonderfully with an olive-fueled happy hour. Add ice to serving glasses, fill halfway up with wine, then top up with sparkling lemonade. Garnish with lemon and orange wedges, and enjoy!
In a blender, or in the beaker of a hand blender, combine the lemon juice and saffron mixture, egg, garlic, mustard, and salt. With the blender running on the lowest speed, add the oil in a thin stream. The mayo will come together in seconds. Scrape down the sides if needed. For a thicker mayo, add up to an additional ¼ cup (60 ml) oil. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For the Fried Olives: Pat the olives dry with paper towels. Fill each olive cavity with a whole almond. Set the stuffed olives on a clean plate.
Prepare the breading stations: combine the flour, salt, and pepper in one bowl, lightly beat the egg in a second bowl, and combine the breadcrumbs and cheese in a third bowl.
Roll one stuffed green olive in the flour, then shake off the excess. Place the olive on a fork, then dip into the egg. Transfer the olive to the breadcrumb mixture and roll to coat all over. Set on a plate. Repeat to bread all the olives. For extra crunchy olives, return the breaded olives into the egg, then the breadcrumb mixture for a second layer of coating.Refrigerate until ready to fry.
Add about 3 inches (7.5 cm) oil to a saucepan. Clip a thermometer to the side of the saucepan, then set over high heat and heat until the oil is hot but not smoking, to 350°F (175°C).Place 3 to 4 olives on a slotted spoon and carefully lover them into the hot oil. Fry until the crust is golden brown, about 30 seconds, turning them a few times so they fry evenly.
Fish the olives out of the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat to fry all the olives.
Serve the fried olives warm, with the saffron aïoli.
Toasting raw almonds: Place them in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes, giving them a shake halfway through. Let cool completely, then use as directed.
Shortcut saffron aïoli: Combine 2 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon) with 1/8 tsp (pinch) saffron, crumbled, and let sit for 15 minutes. In a small mixing bowl, add 3/4 cup (180 ml) store-bought mayo. Add the lemon juice and saffron mixture, 1 large clove garlic, grated, and some black pepper. Whisk to combine thoroughly. Transfer to an airtight jar and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving to let the flavors infuse.
Did you make this?
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
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