“What Are Capers?”


Until I started reading food blogs, I would have sworn capers were a type of fish that came in a can that no one except for old ladies and Nigel Thornberry ate(Does anyone know what I’m talking about?). But then I saw them, green little pearls that sort of look like fish eggs, except they were being used in vegan recipes. That only confused me more.

One day I was working in my restaurant and our job was to make the salsa verde used as a pork topper. The ingredients for it are simple: Parsley, jalapenos, shallots, and capers. I asked my shift manager what capers were, figuring she’d know having gone through culinary school, but her guess was as good as mine.


I went home that night and looked it up online and found out that capers are actually buds from the caper bush that are pickled to give a tart flavor toβ€”the perfect touch to any dish(Side note: How did people know things before the internet? Seriously, I have no clue). I was excited to find them in Trader Joes and even more excited to make a dish with them. I’m leaving town on Friday and had a few too many open cans of beans in my refrigerator so I combined them to make this delicious bean salad.


Bean Salad With Capers

Ingredients(Makes 4 servings:

  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup cannellini beans
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste



  1. In a large bowl, toss together the beans, olives, capers, and oil until evenly mixed.
  2. Taste and add salt if necessary. Serve room temperature.


If you want to make this starting with unopened cans of beans, use a full can of chickpeas, black beans, and cannellini, 1/2 cup of olives, 2 Tablespoons of capers and the same amount of oil.

Fess up: Did you know what capers are?

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32 Responses to “What Are Capers?”
  1. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    August 17, 2011 | 9:08 am

    I feel like the geeky student raising their hand before anyone else but, yes I did know what they are πŸ™‚ Love them and their salty bite!

  2. Faith @ For the Health of It
    August 17, 2011 | 9:09 am

    I actually love capers, and when I used them in the dish I made for my family for Easter, they went “wow, Faith, I thought you were vegetarian – why do we have caviar in the pasta!” Funny stuff – apparently that’s a common misconception.

    SN – Wild Thornberries reference FTW! I used to love that cartoon!

  3. Caroline @ chocolate and carrots
    August 17, 2011 | 9:13 am

    I had no idea what capers were…but I totally know who Nigel Thornberry was. πŸ˜‰ I actually have a friend named Capers. Weird.

  4. Stina
    August 17, 2011 | 9:29 am

    I had no idea what capers were, but I hate them and will pick them out of any dish so I didn’t really care.

    Kudos on the Wild Thornberries reference!

  5. Kristina at spabettie
    August 17, 2011 | 9:30 am

    YES, I know and love capers. Mmm, salty tart goodness.

    I will admit I had to google Nigel.

  6. Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg
    August 17, 2011 | 9:34 am

    I LOVE capers!!! At some gourmet shops, you can get GIANT ones that are really tasty!

  7. Hannah
    August 17, 2011 | 9:44 am

    Too funny! I’ve loved capers for as long as I can remember – I used to eat them by the spoonful as a kid (well, only one spoonful at a time πŸ˜› and I also used to sip on vinegar). Love the salty briney hit!

  8. Natalie S.
    August 17, 2011 | 10:25 am

    I love capers! I first discovered them in my parents’ fridge. Being the adventurous kid I was, I just took a huge spoonful… and it was GROSS! But after a while, my taste buds acclimated, and now I love capers on everything πŸ™‚ I especially love caperberries. They look so beautiful!

  9. kathy
    August 17, 2011 | 10:35 am

    ha! I now have a clear answer for “capers” if ever confronted by Alton Brown πŸ™‚ RT’d!!

  10. Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa
    August 17, 2011 | 10:53 am

    I haven’t eaten capers all too much, but really do enjoy them! A few weeks ago, I had an eggplant based dip that had capers in it, delicious! That reminds me that I was going to try to recreate it…

  11. Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats
    August 17, 2011 | 12:30 pm

    I had no idea what capers were until I started watching the Food Network! lol. I ask myself the same thing about knowledge almost everyday! I am a Googleaholic. I would be lost without it!

  12. Caitlyn
    August 17, 2011 | 12:43 pm

    The only reason I know what capers are is because, when I was a child, my mom would also put them on the dinner table when she made a certain chicken dish. I’ll tell you what, though, that dish was so bland it needed the salty kick of the capers!

    If it had’t been for that, I would have had no idea what capers were!

  13. Errign
    August 17, 2011 | 1:51 pm

    I LOVE that you brought up Nigel Thornberry.

  14. Paige @ Running Around Normal
    August 17, 2011 | 6:08 pm

    I thought capers were fish too!!
    I have, in fact, eaten capers *with* fish:) I’ve never thought to put them in a bean salad, though .This looks tasty!

  15. BroccoliHut
    August 17, 2011 | 8:47 pm

    I actually did know what capers were from one of my nutrition classes. I love adding them to pasta sauce!

  16. Smith & Ratliff
    August 18, 2011 | 10:28 am

    I’m more shocked that someone working in a restaurant *didn’t* know what they are!

    But yes, I knew, and they’re quite tasty little buggers too!

  17. Halley (Blunder Construction)
    August 23, 2011 | 1:09 pm

    I do know what capers are from my high school days working at Bertucci’s! I had to portion them out for the pasta cooks, and it was one of my least favorite tasks! I think capers smell like formaldehyde IMO. 😑

  18. […] Three Bean Salad with Capers over sauteed kale/garlic/lemon […]

  19. Hannah-lyz
    February 3, 2012 | 5:20 pm

    I used to think capers were fish too, but I learnt what they were long before my bf! Bless him. Now he’s a bit of an addict.. which I take no responsibility for! hehe.
    Aaahh the Thornberry’s! I adored that cartoon as a kid! Aliza was a bit of a role model for me as a kid hehe, I may need to track that cartoon down again…. x

  20. Pam
    April 12, 2012 | 3:19 pm

    I think you were confusing capers for Kippers…..(AS WAS I) haha

  21. Nkem
    August 22, 2013 | 10:50 am

    I also thought that capers were fish kind of like anchovies! Lol

  22. Liz Freeman
    September 2, 2013 | 12:48 pm

    Had no idea what capers were til I googled it! I too thought it was a type of fish! Never tried them.

  23. Mary
    September 27, 2013 | 12:02 pm

    The little fishies are kippers.

  24. Kathy
    October 27, 2013 | 6:22 pm

    I too thought that capers were a fish of some sort and I was leafing through a cookbook (some of us do still use the actual books – although I too use the internet) and there was a recipe for a caper sauce – I asked my Mom and she didn’t have a clue. So took myself downstairs and looked it up on the internet – I too wonder what we did before the internet – Thank you for your description.

  25. The Omnivore
    August 9, 2014 | 8:49 am

    I grew up eating capers (particularly with smoked salmon on bagels for you non-vegetarians) so I knew them as something that goes well with fish. But I’ve always loved them, also in tuna salad. Last night I mixed them with black beans for the first time in a salsa — delish!

  26. Marsha
    August 26, 2014 | 9:56 am

    No, I actually didn’t know, nor have I ever tasted them. Became curious when one of my sisters texted me that she had made a dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers and a coupla other ingredients to top fresh tomato slices with mozzarella cheese.

  27. Mike Mastridge
    October 8, 2014 | 10:49 am

    I knew what capers AND kippers (the little fishy things) are. Love capers in pasta, bean salads, and other recipes. Kippers, not so much. Closest I can get is anchovies blended in an antipasto or in a vinegarette dressing, to add a bit of saltiness.

  28. bobbiemac
    December 23, 2014 | 11:16 pm

    No, had to ask the big G. Goggle. Lol.

  29. yea
    January 24, 2015 | 12:20 pm

    no I didn’t know thanks for your insight on this I’m not sure I would like them but I’m going to try them anyway .

  30. Gina
    February 5, 2015 | 10:01 pm

    I love capers, but the flavor can be overpowering if used too much. They go great in pasta dishes. Pasta salad with black olives, peas, carrots, onions and capers; and mac and cheese with capers and whatever else you want to put in it. Why eat boring? Eat capers.

  31. rose
    February 18, 2015 | 4:19 pm

    I did not know what caper were until I lookEd for it on my iPhone. after I did it sounds delicious and very easy to prepare

  32. Ann
    October 25, 2015 | 7:43 pm

    I kinda thought wasn’t fish!! I didn’t know they were a bud! so kippers must be fish???!! I didn’t to use the word incorrectly having people. thinking fish & not plants!!! thank you!!!!