Olive Biscuit Cookies Recipe

Adapted from a Susan Herrmann Loomis recipe - charming, snappy, salty-sweet olive-flecked shortbread deliciousness. Quirky yet sophisticated, they exist in some middle Earth realm between cracker and cookie.

Olive Biscuit Cookies

I don't remember exactly when the clipping for these little treats ended up in my recipe files. I do feel as if it has been there for the better part of a decade. The font at the top of the page reads Olive Biscuits, les Scourtins aux Olives de Nyons, the recipe printed on a scrap of paper that often floats to the top of my "must try" pile. Unfortunately, it would then filter back down again, gradually buried under new strips of newsprint and torn-out magazine pages. Up and down the pile it would float. Until now.

Olive Biscuit Cookies

I took the opportunity to bake a batch the other night when we had a full house that included little Jack and also Wayne's family visiting from the east coast. Out of the oven came two sheets of charming, snappy, salty-sweet olive-flecked shortbread deliciousness. They're quirky yet sophisticated, and exist in some middle Earth realm between cracker and cookie.

With a base of powdered sugar and white flour, they're not at all from the "Super Natural" pantry, but the recipe always struck me as intriguing enough to still want to give them a go. And I'm glad I finally did. I made the dough a day ahead of time, stamped and baked them the day of. I made them as part of a little pre-dinner snack assembly - these little olive biscuits, spicy nuts, and tiny champagne grapes. No fuss, and people were still hungry for dinner.

Olive Biscuit Cookies

I'm going to be honest, I suspect this is a recipe that will divide you into two camps. Many of you will love these salty, sweet treats, and some of you who won't like them a bit. I'll totally make these again. I love the look on people's faces as they are trying to figure out what is going on flavor-wise. The way they look at you as they discover something a bit unexpected. So, just know, before you dive in here - if you're not on the more adventurous side of the fence when it comes to food, or if you are the type of person who wants their cookies to takes like traditional cookies, you might give them a pass.

Olive Biscuit Cookies

As I mention down below, the recipe is one shared by Susan Herrmann Loomis. It was a family recipe shared with her by Jean-Pierre Autrand of Les Vieux Moulins in Nyons, Provence, and was published on Epicurious.com in 1999. You can read the comments from other people who have made them - like I said, two camps. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and instructions as I went along, reflected below.

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Olive Biscuit Cookies

Susan's recipe calls for olive from Nyons, preferably. Kalamatas are what I had on hand, and they worked out nicely. I thought they would stain the dough, but they didn't.

9 tablespoons / 4.5 oz / 130g unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup / 3 oz / 85 g powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups / 6.5 oz / 185 g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g cured olives, pitted and chopped
two pinches of sea salt

Either by hand, or with an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and billowy. Add the sugar, and stir until it is incorporated, then drizzle with the olive oil and stir until combined. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour by hand just until the dough is smooth. Add the olives and salt and stir just until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough. You'll end up with a sticky dough.

Place the dough in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper. cover it with a second piece of parchment paper and roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Because the dough is sticky, you need to use this method, plus it is quite convenient. Refrigerate the dough for at least 45 minutes, or overnight.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with racks in the top and bottom third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside while you stamp out cookies using whatever size of sharp edged cookie cutter you like. Sharp edges help cut through the olives. Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, rotating the pans from top to bottom, front to back once after about 8 minutes. Bake for about 12 minutes total for tiny cookies, and a bit longer for larger cookies. Just keep a close eye on them, and the edges will tell you when they are done baking.

Makes a few dozen tiny cookies, or a dozen or so larger ones.

Adapted from this, a Scourtins aux Olives de Nyons recipe shared by Susan Herrmann Loomis. This was a family recipe originally shared with her by Jean-Pierre Autrand of Les Vieux in Nyons, Provence.

Prep time: 60 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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I made these and loved them. I tweaked the recipe just a little bit. I used 1/3 whole wheat flour, added a teaspoon or so fresh minced rosemary, and then substituted earth balance vegan butter for the butter. The only problem I ran into was after I refrigerated the dough for a few hours I tried using a cookie cutter and the dough was a little too soft. I just made hand shaped cookies and they were so tasty!


Tried them, liked them. I took Patty’s advice and cooked them longer. About 18 minutes. They came out really good. Just brown. Possibly using unbleached flower could of been the reason for a much longer cooking time (it actually took 15 minutes to get to the recipe done stage). Next time I think I’m going to switch the flower to whole wheat and possibly exchange 1/4 cup for wheat germ in order to add some protein and extra texture to them!


must try these, they do look intriguing! salty and sweet, my favourite taste combination 🙂


I just made these cookies and had that problem too. Maybe the dough needed to set up longer than 45 minutes in the fridge? Or maybe I needed to work faster to get the cookies into the oven? Because the cute airplane cookie-cutter shapes I used look like crash landings.
Also, I made these by replacing a 1/4 cup of the all-purpose flour with buckwheat flour. Super good! I totally recommend trying it!


Help. Has anyone made these? I just made them and they completely spread into one huge cookie! It was as if it had too much butter. Where did I go wrong? They are still good but a very thin cracker instead of cute cookies.


Ryan- I actually made these as drop cookies using granular sugar since that was all I had on hand- estimated the portions to get a more drier drop cookie consistency dough. They were delicious! Definitely recommend giving it a go.


they looks delicious!!!


Yum! These look great! You rarely get these in Taiwan, so these will probably be a rare treat!


Was excited to try these little salty-sweet gems. The recipe is easy enough. Made them yesterday and they were not what I expected. Oh well. Glad so many of you seem to like ’em. Enjoy!


Hi Heidi,
I would love to try these! I was thinking of giving them 2 different twists – 1 with fresh herbs (I was thinking sage, but basil or rosemary could work too) and 1 with dried cranberries instead of olives. But I was wondering, how do you think it would turn out if I used regular instead of powdered sugar? Do you think it just wouldn’t work, or would it call for more/less sugar? My blog is about cooking on a really tight budget and I want to try to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible 🙂


I think I will fall into the love catagory! Great recipe!


Made these cookies last night! They were very intriguing! My brother liked them, but to me, they were just very interesting and weird, lol. I used Kalamata olives. I think they are ok, and kinda like them, but I don’t think I will make them again in the future, lol. Like you said, we’d either love em’ or hate em’. All I could taste was olive with a sweetness tint to it, lol. Thanks for the recipe though! I love trying new things!


I am very intrigued by this recipe! Hopefully I can give it a go soon. I love the interplay of salty/sweet flavours, so I imagine I will love these. They look like the perfect pre-dinner treat with a glass of wine.
Heidi xo

Heidi - apples under my bed

My stepdaughter and I made a batch. I left the second pan in the oven a bit too long, so the cookies were browner than in Heidi’s photo. But not burned. Turns out we actually liked the slightly over- cooked ones better–they were more cracker-like and the flavors were more concentrated than the cookies baked “correctly.” Regardless of baking time, none of the cookies went to waste. We loved the recipe and will make them again.


these look so cute and tasty!


A follow up to my previous comment: I rolled this dough into a log and refrigerated it for a few hours and it sliced up into perfect little ‘coins’ just fine–and oh wow, so perfect and delicious!
Today has been a complete ‘101Cookbooks Day’: We made and canned a huge pot of Golden Tomato Sauce (I think we seeded and diced about a bushel of tomatoes!), baked up a batch of these yummy Olive Biscuit Cookies *and* finally tried out the Roasted Delicata Squash salad from a while back (http://bit.ly/coEJAH) FYI: The salad was also absolute and total PERFECTION. Comments are closed on that recipe but we couldn’t find fingerlings so we substituted wedges of fun Russian Blue potatoes we found at the market this week & skipped the radishes and it was amazing. Thank you Heidi for continuing to inspire! 🙂
HS: Thanks for the nice note Lynne, it’s nice to hear you’re enjoying the recipes.


I have made these a few times and they are phenomenal – just a hint of sweet and the olive flavors are strong and delicious.
I think I rolled mine into logs and then cut them like refrigerator cookies. Very crumbly dough.


I really want to make these for our wine & ‘Mad Men’ get together this evening and I have everything in the pantry–except cute little cookie cutters 🙁 I’ve made a balsamic shortbread cookie before that I did as ‘coins’: Rolled the dough into logs, froze and then sliced with a sharp knife into rounds. Do you think I could do that here?


As an olive lover, I knew I HAD to make these. Last night I whipped up a batch. I used Kalmata olives. And the verdict? A HUGE hit with the family. Husband called them “more-ish”, teen boy raved on them. They were even better the second day, and today teen daughter had friends over and they all loved them well, eating up every last one. One girl even took the recipe home. She said, “They’re just the the perfect mix between salty and sweet. Really excellent.” Thanks for the recipe. Much appreciated!




I think there´s a mistake in the ingredients. 3/4 cup of sugar is 160gr and not 85gr?
HS: Hi Olivier, no, I believe it is correct as measured, powdered sugar. Much less weight than regular.


I am a new fan and follower of your blog, it is fabulous! I lived in Italy for a while and these type of biscuits can be common in certain Mediterranian regions. I’ve never seen them here in the U.S. I’m looking forward to trying them

Miriam Barton

At first I thought you had lost it, then I remembered that none of your recipes have EVER disappointed me. I bought my first cookie cutters and got to baking. These are wonderful. I think they would taste fabulous with herb cocktails.


How cute they are! I love the whole savory sweet thing going on right now.. Yum!

Rocky Mountain Woman

Marvelous…. They are very cute.

Frédérique (Bio Recettes)

These sound really interesting. I like that you served them pre-dinner paired with spicy nuts and champagne grapes- the sweet and spice seems like it would all work great together.


Since I used up all my butter last night making the spiced butter pasta, I replaced it with just shy of 1/2 of olive oil. The dough was a lot more crumbly, but the cookies held together just fine and the taste was great.


I thought these look familiar!!
I made these when I first read Susan’s book ‘On Rue Tatin’. They are DELICIOUS!!! (I recommend the book too). Great share Heidi!


What a lovely simple ingredient list. I think calling these biscuits makes them much more agreeable than calling them cookies. Yet…they’re so cute and cookie-like!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance

Now here in Australia, a biscuit means what you call a cookie, so “olive biscuit cookies” sounds like a strange tautology…


I have always imagined olive in savory baking so this new twist of making sweet olive cookies is unique adventure that I am willing to take. Looks so lovely.

Pam @ Kitchen cookware

I’ve been fortunate to have these cookies many, many times, and I can attest to the fact that they’re wonderful. And I can never get enough. For those apprehensive about olive ‘cookies’, think of them like cheese crackers; short, crumbly, buttery biscuits with a savory flavor.
Yours, of course, are beautiful. All that’s missing is a glass of icy rosé alongside!


Wonderful…Must be so delicious. Will definatelly try over the week-end. Tx 4 sharing, Heidi…


Must try these! They sound delightful!


Any other suggestions for what kind of olives–I assume any black ones–would work best if you don’t have access to Nyons or harrisa ones? Thx!


…great combination of ingredients und your pictures are really mouthwatering.


There’s another great-sounding version of this in Dorie Greenspan’s new book, Around My French Table, from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Check it out!


I made a recipe last year for the same kind of cookie, it was called Kalamata olive shortbread. It is one of my favorite cookie treats! Salty and sweet and buttery..I will post a pic on the 101 cookbooks picture share, but this cookie looks pretty much the same. yummy time to try it again!


These are so pretty. They remind me of when I was a kid, going over to my grandmothers at Christmas. I hope they taste as good as they look.


I honestly don’t know what camp i’d fall in. probably the latter, because I usually don’t like black olives. i do like quirky recipes though, so maybe i’ll give it a try anyway!

heather @ chiknpastry

This sounds amazing – I will totally be trying this out, although I will have to vegan-ize the recipe. It should be no problem, I have made lots of vegan shortbreads so I’ll work in the olives from this recipe. Thanks for sharing!
HS: Please report back Heather. I know there are a bunch of people curious about a vegan version.

Heather Loves Healthy Vegan Recipes

There is a food importer here that has olives from Tunisia spiked with harissa! I can’t wait…
HS: Those would be perfect here. Maybe with a hint of chopped preserved lemon?

Clint in Seattle

I love your cookies 🙂


Taiwan farmers grow some really delicious olives, and like to cure them in interesting ways, such as coating them with plum powder.
I think this recipe would be a hit with my Taiwan friends. Taiwanese tend to be very adventurous foodies and enjoy trying something ‘different.’
Thanks as usual for your great ideas.
Marc in Taiwan

Marc in Taiwan

Hi Heidi –
Longtime reader, first time commenter! I made these tonight and had bundles of fun in the process. I swapped out the sugar for agave nectar (I’m trying really hard to kick the non-natural sweeteners) and it worked really well. Thanks for the recipe and great blog.
HS: Ada, let us know how much agave nectar you used. Thanks in advance!


How wonderful these look! Olives are among my favorite ingredients, and I don’t see how putting them into the most adorable biscuits ever could possibly be a bad thing. Thank you for sharing this recipe, I’ll certainly be adding it to my repertoire.


Hi heidi, wow what a strange and wonderful idea! I’m still trying to get my head around sweet/ salty things…. My partner would love these though. Vietnamese love their sweet salty mixes like sweet banana rice flour cake served with salty coconut cream. I prefer mine sweet…but slowly slowly I’m coming round to the idea. Beautiful photos as always 🙂


They look really good !

Jules Brisbane

Yum! How amazing do those look?


Love this! My 50th is coming up and I’m bringing treats for the teachers lounge to celebrate. My theme is “Black…”. Would you mind if I call these “Black” Olive Biscuit Cookies- just for the day?
I love your recipes. They really help me get through Easter lent. 40 days no meat, dairy,fish or olive oil. I’m so glad I found your site.

Tammy K

i’m sure i’m gonna love these! i should make them soon! i’m sure they’re worth the effort

Adriana from Baking Powders

I am just adventurous enough to EAT these cookies if some kind soul made them for me, but not adventurous enough to attempt making them myself.

Jeannie @ FoodSaver Reviews

A friend had savory olive cookies at an open house. I didn’t detect any sweetness in them, however. She wrapped the dough around rosy pearl olives. Delectable!! Can’t wait to try this recipe.


if I was to make vegan versions of these, might 7:2 good quality Soya Margarine and maple syrup work? hmmm… I wonder. Any tips?


are you kidding…anything with olives in it is a friend of mine! Can’t wait to try….scouring for olives in the pantry!


Hi Heidi!
YUM! I can’t wait to try these- I already bought the ingredients!
We have a wonderful local cookie company (www.larkfinefoods.com) from Gloucester MA that sells Scourtins! I’m so excited to find a recipe to make my own cookies for parties!

Chef Citron

do you think you could make these with mixed marinated green/brown olives or would that be too strange a flavoring?


I’ve been eating olives from Nyons all summer long as my country cabin is not too far from there – a lovely area in “la Drôme provençale” you should definitely consider visiting 😉
Shall I bake your biscuits or go by them directly from the mill ? Both solutions sound exciting !


A version of the biscuits are sold at Mr. Autrand’s shop on the site of his family’s 18th c. olive & soap mills in Nyon. I think we owe it to ourselves to make a trip to taste-test!


The cocoa nibs idea sounds great to serve with a glass of port after dinner. I’ll try it both ways – something different to serve.


Awesome! I know I will love these!


These sound unusual and sophisticated.
Can’t wait to try them: )


I am going to make this! Looks yummy


Wow -definitely trying these! What kind of cookie cutters are those?


How novel! I’m going to try these with white whole-wheat flour and palm sugar ground into a powder in my spice grinder. I would love to freeze a log of these and slice off thin biscuits when guests stop by.

Erin @ Blue Egg Kitchen

These look wonderful and seeing that your nephew liked them is all the more encouraging. Thanks for sharing details of accompaniments, it’s very helpful as I often think… OK, what would work with this?


Will make these this weekend, but my question is about the glass DISH you’ve displayed them in. My guess is it’s a small dish, and I have two just like it that I bought at an antique store, with no idea what they were originally for (darkroom use? butter?) I use mine for butter. Any ideas on origin?


They are very cute!
When do you add the two pinches of sea salt in the dough or you sprinkle the top with it or both?


My wife loves to make these kind of cookies for the holidays. I find that they are not, too sweet, therefore, I like them better. They are just the right size for popping into your mouth and not getting too full.


Absolutely beautiful! Love the pictures and the adorable lil olive oil cookies. Thank you for sharing; have a great day.

The Healthy Apple

I’m not adventurous, but these look interesting. Don’t you love the feeling of finally trying a recipe??? Oh, the culinary to do list…

madge @ vegetariancasserolequeen

These sound really awesome, Heidi. There’s a little coffee shop near me that makes addictive olive cookies that really sound like they could follow this recipe to a T. Can’t wait to find out. (I’ve already stolen their peach shortbread idea and see no reason to stop now.)


hi, is the sugar necessary for the texture, could it be replaced with a small amount of rice syrup or agave? I was wondering if you have tried.


These sound so interesting and are cute for a dinner party! Thanks for sharing 🙂


This look delicious and perfect for a fall dinner party! Thanks!


These are so dang cute, I imagine them with a glass of champagne. Heidi, where can we find your adorable wee cookie cuttters?


Thank you, Heidi, for giving us the recipe in weight and volume. It nudges me to finally get a scale, but still allows me to try the recipe. Very thoughtful and most appreciated.
As a part of the adventurous foodie camp, these sound like a delightful cocktail hour nibble. Can’t wait to give them a whirl.

Pam @ Sticks Forks fingers

These look amazing but was hoping for vegan-friendly biscuit made with olive oil instead of butter to make for Daniel, my favorite vegan son.
Dare I substitute?


you made them so cute and appealing. i am going to follow your lead and make these this weekend! they are adorable!

the urban baker

These are just darling.
Is powdered sugar the same as icing sugar/confectioner’s sugar?


Ok this one is on my to do list. So cute and looks so great. Thanks!


I recently tasted salty/sweet shortbread cookies that my friend baked and they were soooo good. When I saw your recipe I knew I would love it at least as much. Thanks for sharing, I will be baking!


I have had these, and they are delicious. If you don’t have time to fuss with cookie cutters, I have formed the dough into a log before refrigerating it and then just sliced off cookies. Much easier, but not as pretty.


I have wanted to try these for ages after a friend made them. Glad you posted about them. I nos have another idea for the apps/HDO’s I am always asked to bring to a gathering.


Your rosemary-olive oil chocolate cake made a believer out of me! Can’t wait to try these. (And make the cake again too!)


Cookie + cracker = heavan.
This recipe sounds really interesting. I like that it’s both salty and sweet. We are fans of this in this house… Now all I need is for a baker to come over and bake them 😉

Mary (What's Cookin' with Mary)

Well, this recipe certainly caught my attention! I like salty! I like olives! Now I just need adorable tiny cookie cutters!

The Rowdy Chowgirl

I love almost everything you post on your blog. These are very pretty. But I have to draw the line at black olives in cookies.
How would someone make them into a wonderful, savory cracker?
HS: Hi Kelly, no problem – do a quick search through the archives, there are a number of savory crackers in there.


How interesting! I love cookies and I love olives, but putting them together? I think I’ll have to try them. The cookie cutter shapes are also very cute!


que buena pinta tiene, cuando pueda las hago 😉
Looking forward to when it may do them;)

virginia ramirez garcia

I’m sure they taste really good and all but mostly I think they just look cute! 🙂

tabitha (from single to married)

Oh my favorite comment from Epicurious is “they taste like cookies with olives in them”….very insightful. : )
I love love love savory cookies, but I think the powdered sugar is what’s making me hesitate to go whip up a batch, powdered sugar seems so powerfully sweet. I will have to be feeling pretty adventurous!


I love making biscuits as is, but you throw in some olives and make them into pretty shapes and I’m super sold. These look awesome!


Ooo…Abraco in NY serves something like this. They’re delicious! Must try!


I just had to put this in there since it hadn’t been said yet. While I would love to try them if somebody else made them, I really don’t think I’d be a fan. And I love salty-sweet combo, but olives? In cookies? Eww.
HS: Yeah, I know some of you aren’t going to be able to get past the olives. But if it’s any consolation, my nephew really liked them?


I’m definitely intrigued by these little bites. I suspect that I’ll love them so I’m definitely going to try them and, hey, if no one else wants them then more for me! Thanks!


LOVE THIS!!! Sweet and savory and salty…and the recipe looks very doable…..for anyone even me….


I am in the camp of can’t get enough of these. I am a savory kind of girl and these look really good. I am thinking they might freeze well and make easy appetizers.

Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

I have to admit, I did a double take on this one. Olive cookies, wtf?! I mean, surely I read that wrong. Consider my curiosity currently piqued. Definitely gonna have to give these a go. Have a hunch I may be in the ‘yes’ camp:)

The French

These look great, I love the idea of mignon petite shapes, and I’m a lover of Kalamata olives..always on stand by in the pantry!


This is my first time commenting…I am amazed! I can’t wait to try these! I live in the southeast where the majority of people fix the standard mini smoked sausages in a barbeque sauce/grape jelly concoction as appetizers/party food. (I say “Yuck”!) I always try to introduce something new and adventurous. These look perfect! Looks like I need to plan a party!


It’s been a while since I’ve had olives d’Nyon, which are my favorite for the concentrated flavors and shriveled supple texture. I think I would make these simply to have people keep on guessing what is in in them. I like how you stamped them with such cute shapes!

Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

i´ll give these a try at once and i´m absolutly positive that i´m gonna love them!


I love the look of these! I know my family will love them!


Oh they look adorable and delicious!

Simply Life

My mother’s dream cookies!

A Teenage Gourmet

I wonder if you could use cocoa nibs in place of the olives. It would probably push it a little farther into the sweet side, but I’ve always thought nibs tasted sort of olive-y. I’ll have to give it a try!


Mmmm fabulous. I love olives!

Jessica @ How Sweet

Wow – these sound like yummy little gems.
Does anyone think they would work with whole wheat flour? And is there such thing as powdered unrefined sugar?


hi heidi,
wow, real olive bits in sweet cookies? that’s interesting! these are a kind of things i must try and i can’t wait – perhaps i might sneak some chopped rosemary into the dough, even. oh i love your cookie cutters 🙂 cute cookies!
HS: Love that idea Chika, hope all is well with you!


I think these look delicious – I love savoury cookies, although these seem as though the sweetness of the sugar would be quite evident. There was a bit of a trend in restaurants here a few years ago for things like candied olives as a component of a dish…….but salty/sweet, I’m a fan!


Count me in the adventurous camp! I am hosting a chili cook-off for my colleagues soon and I’m thinking these little gems would make a great appetizer. Thanks.

Joe @ Eden Kitchen

Hey i am surely in the ‘ love it’ camp 🙂
Made in small sizes i think it is a wise way to have salty sugary nibbles , not to be had in mouthfuls…
BTW… it seems ‘130 unsalted butter ‘ should be ‘130 g unsalted butter’ , it is obvious but a correction will be better i think..


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