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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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! Thanks!

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. Thanks


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