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

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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!


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