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Marinated goat cheese with olive oil, thyme, and a bit of spice is one of the easiest and most crowd-pleasing appetizers we know. It’s an entertaining protip that everyone should know.

marinated goat cheese appetizer with olive oil and spices in an orange serving dish
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Why we love this recipe

This lightning-fast hors d’oeuvre is equally good for a spontaneous cocktail party and at the holidays. It keeps people happy while freeing you up to do other things.

Just add a cute spreading knife and a box of crackers (or some toasted baguette slices, if you’ve got all the time in the world), and you’ve got a crowd-pleasing starter in just a few minutes. It’s:

  • Beautifully creamy
  • A little bit tangy
  • A touch spicy
  • Delightfully savory

Regardless of what else you’re serving and how hard you’ve worked on it, this dish will always be a favorite. It really makes you think.

I first published this recipe here in 2010, adapted from Joy of Cooking. I’ve since updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the short list of ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe.

ingredients in bowls
  • Fresh goat cheese (also called chèvre) is creamy, tangy, and savory. It’s so good on its own that marinating it is almost ridiculous — in the best possible way.
  • Use a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, since you’ll really taste it.
  • Fresh thyme pairs beautifully with goat cheese, but so do many other herbs and herb blends, and you can get creative here. From chives to za’atar, the sky’s the limit.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make a fabulous marinated goat cheese appetizer in five minutes. It couldn’t be easier.

step by step
  1. Place the chèvre into a shallow serving dish — or divide it in half and place it into two dishes for easier access for many hands.
  2. Pour the olive oil overtop.
  3. Sprinkle on the thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  4. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving with crackers or toasted baguette slices. (This isn’t strictly necessary, but it does help the flavors to meld a bit.)

Expert tips and FAQs

What should I serve it with?

Simple crackers and/or toasted baguette make a great accompaniment. Apple and pear slices would work well, too.

What other herbs and spices can I use?

Chèvre plays well with a wide variety of flavors. Instead of (or in addition to) thyme, try: basil, chervil, chives, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest, mint, scallions, parsley, rosemary, sage, or tarragon.

Spice blends like herbes de Provence, za’atar, or dukkah would be great.

Beyond herbs, other great additions include chopped almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or pecans, a drizzle of honey, chopped olives, chopped dried apricots or cherries.

Can I make this recipe in advance?

Absolutely. Prep it up to 24 hours in advance right in the serving dish, cover tightly and refrigerate if you’ll be keeping it for more than an hour or two. Pull it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

More favorite ways to use fresh goat cheese

marinated goat cheese appetizer with olive oil and spices in an orange serving dish

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marinated goat cheese appetizer with olive oil and spices in an orange serving dish
4.82 from 11 votes

Marinated Goat Cheese

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Marinated goat cheese with olive oil, thyme, and a bit of spice is one of the easiest and most crowd-pleasing appetizers we know.
Prep: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
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Enter your email and I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus get great new recipes every week!
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Ingredients 

  • 1 8- ounce 227-gram log fresh goat cheese (chèvre)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons picked fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Place the goat cheese in a small, shallow serving dish (or cut it in half and place it in two dishes).
  • Pour the olive oil overtop, and then sprinkle the goat cheese with the thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
  • Leave to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes.
  • Serve with crackers or toasted slices of baguette.

Notes

  1. Fresh goat cheese (also called chèvre) is creamy, tangy, and savory. It’s so good on its own that marinating it is almost ridiculous — in the best possible way.
  2. Use a good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, since you’ll really taste it.
  3. Simple crackers and/or toasted baguette make a great accompaniment. Apple and pear slices would work well, too.
  4. Chèvre plays well with a wide variety of flavors. Instead of (or in addition to) thyme, try: basil, chervil, chives, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest, mint, scallions, parsley, rosemary, sage, or tarragon. Spice blends like herbes de Provence, za’atar, or dukkah would be great. Beyond herbs, other great additions include chopped almonds, pistachios, walnuts, or pecans, a drizzle of honey, chopped olives, chopped dried apricots or cherries.
  5. Prep this dish up to 24 hours in advance right in the serving dish, cover tightly and refrigerate if you’ll be keeping it for more than an hour or two. Pull it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
I first published this recipe here in 2010, adapted from Joy of Cooking. I’ve updated the post for clarity, but the recipe remains the same.

Nutrition

Calories: 92kcal, Carbohydrates: 0.3g, Protein: 5.3g, Fat: 7.8g, Fiber: 0.1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Snacks and Starters
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to Umami Girl’s email updates, and follow along on Instagram.

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Carolyn Gratzer Cope Bio Photo

About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.82 from 11 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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16 Comments

  1. This recipe is truly a high class one. I can’t wait to have it try and taste this one. I would also like to share the appetizer Potato baskets. These are a creative and delicious hors d’oeuvres perfect for any event.

  2. I really love goat cheese desserts, their are awesome. If I have guests, I just make goat cheese deserts and they love it. Are there any other good uses for goat cheese?

  3. Carolyn,

    So funny. I was just thinking about you and how I have not seen you on Twitter nor how I have gotten any updates on your site. Then I was over at Nourish and saw your name there. So I poked around and sure enough for some reason you were bounced off of my Twitter. I am not sure why I have not received any updates but am going to sign up again.

    I love this simple appetizer – they are the best ones. A few herbs, a nice piece of cheese and a some bread – I could make it a meal actually!

    Hope all is well.

    Denise

  4. Hi Camille, I only recommend tenting the plastic wrap so it doesn’t smear the cheese, herbs and oil together and interfere with the pretty look of the dish when you serve it. (Although now that you mention it, maybe I’m just trying very hard to compensate for the fact that this dish is so easy it hardly qualifies as a recipe….) Either way, if you plan to serve it to guests, the tenting does help to keep it looking nice.