Skip to Content

14 Excellent Ways to Substitute for Olives

Here are 14 excellent ways to substitute for olives whether you hate the taste or need a replacement in a pinch, plus 3 easy recipes to try!

Looking for easy ways to substitute for olives?

If you run out, your grocery store is out of stock, (or if you really just hate the taste!), here are 14 excellent olive stand-ins.

Olives 101

Several bowls of various sizes and colors filled with olives and olive tapenade.

Olives are small pickled fruits that grow on the olive tree, and they’re consumed all around the world.

Untreated olives have a bitter taste. So they’re either picked and pickled or pressed to make olive oil.

So, if you don’t like pickles, you probably won’t like olives either!

These fruits are also abundant in health benefits. Olives are filled with healthy fats and are a good source of iron, copper, Vitamin E, and calcium.

Their salty flavor makes them a great ingredient in pizza and in salads. And they’re also a great addition in certain pasta sauces, casseroles, and dips.

Types of Olives

There’s a wide variety of olives and you can find them in black or green. Black olives are milder and fully ripe compared to green olives.

Here are some common olive types:

  • Kalamata olives
  • Gaeta olives
  • Castelvetrano olives
  • Niçoise olives

These vary in taste, color, and texture. And this depends on where they’re grown, how long they’re grown, and how they’re cured.

Easy Ways to Substitute for Olives

1. Capers

Small white bowl filled with capers and a mini wooden spoon on wooden table.

This first substitute is the closest in taste to green olives. Capers have a similar briny flavor and the same green color as olives.

They’re readily available in stores. And, they’re a great replacement for olives in salads, charcuterie boards, and martinis.

2. Caper Berries

Caperberries speared with toothpicks on top of a white platter filled with finger food appetizers.

Capers and caperberries come from the same plant. Caperberries are the fully developed fruit from a caper bush, while capers are the immature buds.

So, naturally, caperberries make a great olive replacement, too!

And you can use them to substitute for olives the same way you would capers!

3. Artichoke Hearts

Wooden bowl filled with marinated artichokes hearts next to green garnish and fork.

Jarred artichokes are ready to eat and typically come in a salty and acidic marinade. The flavor is similar to brined or pickled olives.

This vegetable is great for dips like artichoke parmesan dip and other cheesy, bubbly dishes. Use artichokes to substitute in recipes similar to this.

However, because artichokes are larger than olives, you may need to cut the amount in half.

RELATED: 16 Good Ways to Substitute for Artichoke Hearts

4. Anchovies

Close up of crusty bread with red pepper and anchovy garnish secured with toothpick.

This substitute may seem like an unlikely replacement. But, anchovies have a similar salty, briny flavor when compared to olives.

And they work great as a topper for pizzas and appetizer finger foods.

5. Mushrooms

Small white bowl pilled high with button mushrooms with green garnish on wooden table.

Mushrooms have the same buttery and rich texture as olives. But they have a more mild flavor.

This makes them a great olive replacement for people who don’t like the taste.

You can also dress them up with a little vinegar or lemon juice if you want to try to mimic the flavor of olives.

Mushrooms are a great 1-to-1 substitute for olives on pizzas, salads, pasta dishes, and casseroles.

RELATED: Creamy Mushroom Swiss Chicken Bake

6. Pickled Peppers

Several jars and bowls filled with various pickled peppers on a wooden table.

If you don’t mind a kick of spice, you can use pickled peppers to replace olives. There are several varieties to choose from and some are spicier or more sweet than others.

Use pickled peppers to replace olives on cheese crackers, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and more.

7. Pickled Tomatoes

Clear glass mason jar filled with pickled cherry tomatoes next to a metal spoon.

If you don’t like pickled peppers, try pickled tomatoes instead.

Tomatoes pair well with lots of other ingredients, so it’s a versatile replacement. They have a slightly sweet flavor. And when pickled, they have a rich umami flavor, too.

Use pickled tomatoes anywhere you would olives.

8. Pickled Onions

Overhead view of a clear mason jar filled with pickled red onions on tablecloth.

Here’s another great pickled vegetable replacement for olives. You can easily make your own pickled onions at home with a quick brine.

They have a pungent flavor with a little bit of heat. And they’re great for sandwiches, on pizza, or served with cheese.

9. Pickled Carrot

Clear glass mason jar filled with bright orange pickled carrots with wooden spoon.

If you’ve got extra carrots lying around, you can turn them into pickles the same way you would pickled onions.

They’ll offer a similar salty, briny flavor as olives. And they work well on sandwiches and salads.

The texture will be different, but if you like a little crunch, it might be the perfect substitute for your favorite recipes.

10. Dill Pickles

Homemade whole dill pickles in a clear glass jar next to cucumbers on table.

Rounding out the pickled category, are dill pickles, of course! Store-bought or homemade, dill pickles make a great substitute for olives, too.

They pair well with cheese. And they’re great for sandwiches and charcuterie boards.

Plus, they’re a lot less expensive!

RELATED: 16 Easy Ways to Substitute for Dill

11. Blue Cheese

Close up of blue cheese crumbles with various nuts on a dark surface and background.

Blue cheese has a strong flavor and salty taste, similar to olives. However, the texture is a lot different. If you don’t like olives, blue cheese might be the perfect substitute.

It’s a great replacement for olives as a garnish. And you can use it on salads, sandwiches, and even dips and spreads to add the salty, pungent flavor of olives.

12. Green Peppercorns

Large wooden bowl filled with green peppercorns on a rustic wooden table.

Green peppercorns are harvested earlier than black peppercorns. So they have a much less intense flavor.

If you don’t like the briny, salty flavor of olives, you can use green peppercorns for almost any of your favorite recipes.

They have a similar look. And they work especially well as a garnish for fish.

Your dish will have a milder flavor, but it shouldn’t disrupt the overall balance of the recipe.

RELATED: 13 Easy Ways to Substitute for White Pepper

13. Lemon Juice and Salt

Whole fresh lemon next to glass mason jar filled with lemon zest and salt.

If you’re in a pinch, you can use lemon and salt to mimic the flavor of olives. Your dish will obviously lose some texture and volume, but the flavor profile will be preserved.

Use salt and lemon to taste. Start with a little and add more as desired.

RELATED: 17 Awesome Ways to Substitute for Pineapple Juice

14. Sundried Tomatoes

Clear glass jar filled with sundried tomatoes in oil and a metal spoon.

Sundried tomatoes are a great substitute for olives for those who simply don’t like them. They’re usually packed in olive oil and have a similar bright and savory flavor. But they’re less salty and briny.

You can use sundried tomatoes on sandwiches, salads, to top a pizza, in pasta sauce, and more!

Bonus Substitutes

In case you need a substitute for olive oil, here are some great options to try! Olives and olive oil share many of the same health benefits. So, it’s a great oil to incorporate into your diet.

But if you run out or don’t like the taste, these substitutes will do in a pinch:

  • Coconut oil. This oil is great for sauteing and roasting. But not a great substitute for salad dressings because it’s solid at room temperature. Use it if you don’t mind a slight coconut flavor in your dish.
  • Canola oil. This neutral oil is a great substitute for olive oil in almost any application. However, it’s not a great finishing oil replacement because it doesn’t have a bold flavor like olive oil.
  • Sunflower oil. You can use sunflower oil as a 1 to 1 replacement anywhere you would olive oil. It has the same smoke point, so it’s particular good for sauteing and frying.
  • Peanut oil. Peanut oil is popular in Asian stir fry recipes and curries. Use it as a 1 to 1 substitute when pan frying.
  • Walnut oil. This oil is great for salad dressings and cold preparations. But, it will turn bitter when introduced to heat.

NOTE: Vegetable oil isn’t the best substitute for olive oil, but you can use it in a pinch. However, you’ll lose out on the health benefits other, higher-quality oils have to offer.

Recipes with Olives

Here are some easy and delicious recipes with olives to try! Use these to test out your favorite way to substitute for olives above!

Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad

Pasta salad to go with pizza in a white bowl.

Tri Color Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing

Close up of zesty Italian pasta salad in large metal mixing bowl.

The Best Hawaiian Haystacks Sauce Ever

Hawaiian haystacks sauce and toppings on a white plate.
Pinterest graphic with text and collage of ingredients used to substitute for olives.
scroll top arrow