Best Substitutes For Olives: Guide To Delicious Alternatives

As a chef, I’ve experimented with many different ingredients to find the perfect substitutes for olives. Capers, for example, were always my go-to ingredient because of their similarity in taste and texture.

However, I’ve found that pickled peppers are a great substitute for olives in dishes that need a little kick of spice. In one of my recipes, I replaced olives with sun-dried tomatoes and my guests were pleasantly surprised by the richer, sweeter flavor.

The key to finding the best substitute for olives is experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try new things and let your taste buds guide you toward the perfect ingredient for your dish.

Read on to explore some of the best substitutes for olives that you can use in your everyday meals.

Can I Really Replace Olives?

Black and green olives.
Black and green olives.

Of course, it all depends on the dish you’re preparing and what flavors you want to achieve. The substitutes we’ve provided here are great alternatives but they won’t work in all types of dishes.

However, don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and ingredients to find your perfect recipe.

A pinch of chili flakes or a handful of capers may be just what you need to add some zest to a dish that’s lacking olive flavor.

Best Substitutes For Olives

Capers: The Ultimate Olive Substitute

If you’re looking for a substitute that has a similar flavor profile to olives, then capers are your best bet. These small, pickled flower buds are packed with a salty, tangy flavor that works well in Mediterranean cuisine.

You can use them in pasta dishes, salads, or as a garnish for fish. If you’re looking for a non-pickled version of capers, try green peppercorns.

These little green berries come packed in a brine, making them a perfect substitute for olives.

Pickled Tomatoes: A Tangy Alternative

Pickled tomatoes have a slightly sweet, tangy flavor that can be a great substitute for olives in many dishes.

They work particularly well with salads and sandwiches and can add a burst of flavor to pasta dishes too.

Artichoke Hearts: A Meaty Substitute

Artichoke hearts have a flavor similar to olives, with a meaty texture that can be especially satisfying in dishes that require a little more substance.

They’re an ideal substitute for olives in pasta dishes like cacao e pepe or even as a pizza topping.

Pickled Peppers: A Spicy Alternative

Pickled peppers are a flavorful substitute for olives if you’re looking to add a kick of spice to your dish.

They work particularly well in pasta dishes, on salads, and as a topping for sandwiches to add a zing of flavor.

Sun-Dried Tomatoes: A Rich Substitute

Sun-dried tomatoes are a great substitute for olives if you’re looking for a sweeter flavor.

They work particularly well in pasta dishes, on salads, and on pizza because they give the dish some added richness.

Cheese: A Salty Substitute

While not a substitute that may come to mind at first, cheeses like feta or blue cheese have a salty flavor that can be used as a substitute for olives in dishes.

The great texture and saltiness of these cheeses work well in salads and pasta dishes.


Are Olives The Only Source Of That Umami Flavor In Mediterranean Cuisine?

No, olives aren’t the only source of umami flavor in Mediterranean cuisine. Ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and cheese can all contribute to the umami flavor present in this style of cooking.

Which Olive Substitute Works Best In Sandwiches?

The best olive substitute for sandwiches is pickled peppers or pickled tomatoes. These substitutes offer a similar tangy flavor that can be a great addition to any sandwich.

Can I Use These Olives Substitutes In Cocktails?

Yes! Substitute olives in your cocktails with pickled onions, pickled tomatoes, or pickled peppers. The tangy flavor will add a unique twist to your favorite drink.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.