How to Pit Olives With or Without an Olive Pitter: Multiple Methods and Tools

Olives are a tasty treat often associated with luxurious cocktail parties and Mediterranean delicacies. However, their hard and fibrous pits are tough and inedible and can make olive preparation tedious. Still, you can utilize several methods and tools to remove stubborn, unappetizing olive pits.

To de-pit olives, you’ll need to employ the right method. If you’re working with a small number of olives, you may want to use a handheld pitter. You could also use a knife, a pan, a paper clip, or your fingers. Larger quantities may benefit from electronic de-pitting machines.

In this article, we’ll explore all of the various ways you could de-pit olives with or without an olive pitter. We’ll discuss the different tools you could use and how to employ them effectively. We’ll also take a look at some of the most tried-and-true olive-stuffing methods and techniques.

Method One: With Olive Pitter

If you’re determined to enjoy the firmest, freshest, and most mouthwatering olives, you’ll likely want to obtain unpitted varieties. Those that arrive pitless tend to suffer from a melancholic sag that affects overall texture and mouthfeel.

De-pitting your gorgeous whole olives doesn’t have to be a labor of love when you have the right tools. Fortunately, there are dozens of consumer-friendly and commercial olive pitters available. Depending on your pitting needs, you may find satisfaction with a simplistic, handheld pitting device.

Of course, if you’re intended to serve hundreds of olives at a single time or a restaurateur, you may want to upgrade to an automated, electronic device. Doing so could save you a lot of time and frustration while ensuring that your recently de-pitted olives are still fresh and delicious.

OXO brand olive pitter being used to pit a black olive

Handheld Device

A handheld olive pitter can be a wonderful addition to any olive lover’s tool repertoire. These devices typically resemble wrenches or hand exercising gadgets. To use them, you place an olive onto one end of the device, then squeeze.

Typically, a sharp blade or point will then puncture the olive and dig deeper into the pit. Once the user releases their grip on the pitter, the ends move apart and release the olive pit. You should be able to slide the pit off the device and discard it safely.

The OXO Good Grips Olive Pitter is a fine example of a handheld pitter. It is easy to use, doesn’t require an excessive amount of physical strength to operate, and even includes a practical splatter shield to keep olives, fingers, and kitchen counters safe. The soft, non-slip grip is also well-suited to olive-juice soaked hands.

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Still, when you’re attempting to prepare dozens or hundreds of olives, this de-pitting method can be unbearably time-consuming. That’s why many olive lovers search for an automated pitting device. However, these electronic machines can be a challenge to master.

Electric Device

Most electronic olive pitters are primarily designed to handle cherries. Unfortunately, cherries and olives don’t share the same size or shape. This can make it challenging to use an automated electronic pitter successfully.

Commercial devices can be several feet long and typically require immense power sources. As such, electronic olive pitters that are consumer-friendly are often few and far between. This can make bulk de-pitting a near impossibility.

However, home chefs may find that de-pitting without a specific olive pitting tool results in faster preparation. Those skilled with a chef’s knife are particularly likely to enjoy faster and more convenient de-pitting.

Method Two: Without Olive Pitter

You may find yourself enjoying the pitting process without an official pitter device. In life, we sometimes over complicate things when attempting to make them more convenient. This may never be more true than when you’re talking about de-pitting olives.

As such, there are quite a few ways to rid yourself of fibrous pits without spending the extra dough on a specialized gadget. Some of the most popular versatile tools for de-pitting include:

  • A chef’s knife
  • A flat-bottomed skillet, pan, or pot
  • A fistful of fingers

Chances are, you already own most, if not all, of the above items. Consequently, these non-pitter solutions are some of the most affordable, practical, and convenient options for olive-loving home cooks.

Knife Method

If you’re a proud owner of a diverse knife set, this is your time to shine. If you only have a few knives, you can still put them to good use while de-pitting olives. When using a knife to de-pit olives, the most important trait to consider is a flat edge.

Chef’s knives tend to work well for this task, as most feature a broad, flat edge. However, smaller hands may benefit from using smaller-sized knives, just as larger cooks may experience better results using a cleaver.

Once you’re comfortable using a knife with a medium-to-large edge, you can begin the de-pitting process. Grab a clean cutting board and place your whole olives in a nearby prep bowl. When you’re ready, place a single olive in the center of your board. Hold your knife horizontally, with the sharpened blade pointed away from your body above the olive.

Slowly and gently bring the flat portion of the blade onto one side of the olive, allowing the pressure to push the pit toward the opposite end of the olive. Once you see the pit peeking through, you can lay your knife in a safe location on the board and pull it from the olive.

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Of course, if you’re uncomfortable using a sharpened object to de-pit your olives, you could always choose to use a pan instead. 

Pan Method

Flat-bottomed cookware such as skillets, pans, and pots can be fantastic makeshift olive pitters. To employ this pitting method, you’ll also want to use a cutting board. Like with the knife method, you’ll want to press against your chosen olive with the flat portion of your tool, being as gentle as you can.

This pressure will allow the pit to pop out of the olive’s ‘posterior’ side. Once you can see the brown pit emerging, you can release your pressure on the pan and remove it by hand.

Finger Method

Your fingers might end up being your fastest and most reliable de-pitting tools. Of course, if you have very large fingers or are not particularly dexterous, this method might not work well for you. However, if you have long, slim fingers or short, tiny digits, you may remove olive pits by hand.

At first, you may accidentally split your olives while removing their pits. That’s completely normal. As you continue forward, you should begin to improve your de-pitting technique. If you start off slowly and take your time, you’ll end up with more unsplit olives and gain muscle memory.

If you’re feeling a little naughty, you could also take this moment to relish fresh olive juice on your fingers. However, if you’re midway through the preparation process, you’ll need to wash your hands before handling more whole olives.

Should you plan on stuffing your olives, you may also want to wait until you’ve finished de-pitting and stuffing to lick your fingers. This will ensure you get a potent blend of flavors and that you don’t waste or wash away any delicious juices.

Stuffing Methods

While plain and pitless olives are a culinary treasure, stuffed olives provide an elevated take on the classic treat. There are hundreds of options when it comes to stuff olives, and this includes how you decide to stuff them.

There are two primary stuffing methods that you could choose. The first one requires your fingers and hands, and the second method requires a store-bought stuffing tool. The ideal olive stuffing method for you will depend on your preferences.

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Still, if you’re looking to de-pit, stuff, and serve olives in the shortest amount of time possible, your hands may be the smarter choice. Olive stuffing devices can be finicky and difficult to wield, resulting in a slower preparation process.

By Hand

Unless you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, you may find stuffing olives by hand yields the highest-quality results. This is especially true of those using thicker, creamier fillings and stuffings. Of course, you will need to accept having messy fingers if you choose to use your hands.

While many are tempted to don food-safe plastic gloves during the stuffing process, they can become more a nuisance than a help. If you’re not looking forward to sticky, stuffing-covered fingers, you may want to opt for a handheld stuffing tool instead.

With a Handheld Tool

Handheld olive-stuffing tools vary in size and delivery capacity, but they tend to resemble hypodermic needles. To use these handy devices, you’ll need to dip the tip of them into your stuffing material and pull upward on the device plunger.

This will suction your stuffing into the device’s empty cavity, holding it there until you deploy the plunger. Some types of stuffing, especially thicker varieties, can be difficult to apply with such a tool. However, you won’t get your fingers messy if you decide to take this route.

The Norpro Stainless Steel Olive Stuffer is an affordable, easy-to-clean olive stuffing tool best-suited for larger varieties of olives, including Cerignola olives. Unlike comparable metal models, this particular device features non-slip grips for easier plunging and suctioning. 


There are many ways to enjoy a pitless olive without dealing with limp, unappealing pre-pitted varieties. You could invest in a handheld pitter or try your luck with an automated, electric device. However, you could also choose to use one of many common kitchen and household tools to get the job done.

A chef’s knife works wonder for removing olive pits, as does a flat-bottom pan. And naturally, you could also choose to use your fingers to pluck the pits out of your olives. Similarly, when it comes to stuffing, fingers are often the most effective and efficient tools.

However, you could also choose to stuff your olives using a store-bought stuffer. As you can see, there are many ways to de-pit, stuff, and enjoy olives. Which will you choose?