Muffaletta Olive Salad
Often used in the classic New Orleans sandwich, a good Muffaletta Olive Salad is delicious in its own right. Spread it on top of grilled chicken or serve with pita chips as a dip!
If you had told me some years ago that I would not only eat a sandwich topped with olives, but I would love it, too, I would have called you crazy. The much-younger version of myself would’ve turned his nose up at a muffaletta sandwich. The current version of myself would eat a muffaletta sandwich for lunch and dinner…heck, maybe even breakfast, too!
What is a Muffaletta Sandwich?
A muffaletta sandwich is an iconic New Orleans sandwich. The sandwich was first created in 1906 at Central Grocery on Decatur Street in New Orleans. They still make amazing muffalettas at Central Grocery, and I would say a stop there for lunch is a foodie requirement when visiting The Big Easy.
A muffaletta (also spelled muffuletta) is a sandwich layered with Italian meats and cheese – delicious. But the gamechanger when it comes to a muffaletta is the olive salad that goes on top. As if the layers of salami, ham, mortadella, Swiss cheese and provolone are not enough, a thick layer of olive salad gets spread onto the sandwich as well. I know olives in a sandwich might seem odd, but the muffaletta is one heck of a delicious sandwich. The line out the door at Central Grocery on a daily basis is proof of that!
What is Muffaletta Olive Salad?
So what exactly goes into the olive salad that makes the muffuletta such a unique sandwich? A Muffaletta Olive Salad is a tapenade of sorts. The ingredients are finely chopped so that you can spread the mixture on top of a sandwich.
Speaking of ingredients, a classic Muffaletta Olive Salad includes olives (both green and black) as well as giardiniera, olive oil, garlic, oregano and a bit of red wine vinegar. I also like to throw some pepperoncini into the version I make – the acidity from the pepperoncini balances the olives quite well. #Trust
The most obvious use of Muffaletta Olive Salad is to put it on a muffaletta sandwich. That’s obvious enough. But we actually like to make this salad as an appetizer of sorts. We just serve it with pita chips or toasted pieces of sesame bread for a tasty (and unique!) snack. A muffaletta sandwich is always made on round Sicilian sesame bread. Serving the olive salad as an appetizer with toasted sesame bread is a fun nod to the sandwich itself.
This Muffaletta Olive Salad recipe is super easy. I typically use canned olives for simplicity, and I pulse them several times in a mini-chopper until they’re finely chopped. (Just be careful with this step – the olive salad isn’t supposed to be smooth. You just want to pulse the ingredients a couple of times to chop ’em up.)
If you’re looking for a good mini-chopper, I recommend this Cuisinart immersion blender + mini-chopper. Whether it’s chopping olives for olive salad, making a tiny bit of whipped cream for a dessert or blending up a soup, this is one heck of a handy kitchen tool!
Whether you’re getting into the Mardi Gras spirit or looking to recreate some classic New Orleans food at home, I highly recommend this olive salad. We love it, and I hope you do, too!
Did you make a batch of this Muffaletta Olive Salad at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog) – I’d love to see your version!
Muffaletta Olive Salad
- 1 10-oz. jar pitted green olives, drained
- 1 6-oz. can pitted black olives, drained
- ½ cup giardiniera mix celery, carrots, cauliflower, peppers, etc., drained (see note)
- ½ cup pepperoncini sliced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Finely chop green olives, black olives and giardiniera and pepperoncino; place mixture in a medium mixing bowl.
- Add remaining ingredients (garlic, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil); stir until well combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve on crusty bread, sandwiches or on top of grilled chicken.
Looking for some more classic New Orleans recipes? Check out these other favorites, too:
Spiced® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that spicedblog.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.
Cant wait to make this soon for me i never had muffaletta olive salad before BTW your red velvet whoopie pies and ombre cake are on my list to make them for me perfect for my after office meals love your recipes as always brightens up my day everyday after work
So this olive salad normally goes on top of a delicious sandwich that is iconic in the New Orleans area. But we realized that it’s pretty darned delicious just by itself. I hope get the chance to make this one, Ramya!
Oh that looks good! I’ve never made it from scratch!
Oh Mimi – you need to make this! Promise me you’ll make this!!
I love having muffaletta olive spread on sandwiches, but I’ve never thought of making my own! Talk about packed with flavour. And such a great idea to serve with chips … perfect for Friday night. Extra pepperoncini for me, please. Love the briny, vinegary spice.
Oh you should totally make your own muffaletta olive salad, Dawn! I’m telling you – this is delicious! And you’re right about making your own – you could add extra pepperoncini. Yum!
Oooh, I love muffaletta sandwiches — this olive tapenade looks so delicious! Will have to give it a go!
Oh this tapenade is absolutely fantastic, Michelle. We love just dipping pita chips into it!
this sounds fabulous and tasty david! I do love me a lot of flavour!
Oh this olive salad is fantastic, Sherry – I highly (!!) recommend making a batch!
I’ve never heard of Muffaletta Olive Salad (nor the sandwich) – and you know, it’s quite embarrassing because I am the Salad King 🙂 Great combination of flavours and textures; that’s a perfect example when two cultures / cuisines meet together and come up with something unique and super tasty. I am definitely making this!
Oh, since you are the salad king, I do think you are therefore required to make this olive salad. (And while you’re at it, go ahead and make a muffaletta, too – you won’t be sad about it!) 🙂
What a great idea to serve this muffaletta olive salad on its own – so many wonderful flavors and textures, why should it be relegated to just a sandwich spread? (Though I love it that way too!)
I do love olive salad on a sandwich, but one time we made too much…and that’s when we realized that it makes for a pretty fantastic dip by itself. So much flavor!!
This looks like it’s jam-packed with flavor, David! And you know, I still haven’t had a muffaletta sandwich? Shocking, I know… but it’s on my bucket list. I figure I should have it on its home turf first and that will take a trip to NO. Also on my bucket list!
Frank. Stop everything and eat a muffaletta sandwich. You’re right, though…you kinda need your first experience with a muffaletta to be in New Orleans. Then you can come home and recreate it. I’m telling you, though – this is the olive salad to use. It’s fantastic! And we’ve just gone straight to dipping pita chips in it. So tasty!
This sounds like a delicious and unique recipe! I’ve never heard of a muffaletta sandwich before, but the combination of Italian meats and cheese with the olive salad tapenade sounds like a winning combination. I love the idea of using it as both a sandwich topping and a dip, and the ease of the recipe makes it even more appealing. Can’t wait to try it out!
Muffaletta sandwiches are amazing! They are a unique New Orleans creation, but we make our own here at home quite often. And a good olive salad is required for a muffaletta – it might sound strange to put olives on a sandwich, but it works!!