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I have many variations of Caprese salad recipes here on Wholesome Yum (ideas below!), but recently realized that I don’t have the regular, classic version that I actually make most often. So, here it is — and Caprese salad is the ultimate summer salad!
With the classic combo of tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and simple dressing, this is an iconic side dish for any Italian meal… just like the ones I had when I visited the island of Capri in Italy! (There, they called it insalata Caprese.) And unlike other Italian-inspired salads like artichoke salad and arugula salad, a Caprese salad needs no greens.
Why You’ll Love This Caprese Salad Recipe
- Juicy, fresh tomatoes
- Mild, creamy fresh mozzarella cheese
- Herby, peppery basil
- Simple, sweet and tangy dressing from balsamic vinegar and olive oil
- Variety of textures
- Simple ingredients
- Ready in just 5 minutes
- Perfect healthy side dish for summer
- Easy to pair with steak, chicken, and a variety of Italian dishes
Caprese Salad Ingredients
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for tomato Caprese salad, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Tomatoes – Find the best tomatoes you can. Larger sizes are for better slicing. For even more fresh flavor, get heirloom tomatoes or in-season tomatoes at your local farmers market.
- Fresh Mozzarella Cheese – Use fresh, whole milk mozzarella for classic presentation. These often come in a pre-sliced ball for convenience. Avoid low-moisture varieties. Buffalo mozzarella would also be delicious, or you can use burrata to make a burrata salad.
- Fresh Basil Leaves – Larger leaves work better to match the size of the tomatoes and mozzarella.
- Olive Oil – Since it makes up the bulk of the Caprese salad dressing, use extra virgin olive oil for best flavor and classic taste.
- Balsamic Glaze – For drizzling. Although you can find pre-made balsamic reduction at many stores, you can also make homemade balsamic glaze easily. It’s as simple as reducing balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
How To Make Caprese Salad
This section shows how to make easy Caprese salad with balsamic, including step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Slice. Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices (8 slices of each).
- Arrange. Layer tomato, mozzarella, and basil on a serving platter.
- Finish. Drizzle the salad with oil and balsamic vinegar glaze. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top to taste.
The version here is how restaurants in Italy served Caprese salad when I visited, but feel free to change it up! Here are some ideas:
- Cherry Tomatoes – Swap the slices of tomatoes for halved cherry or grape tomatoes instead. Cut mozzarella into bite-sized pieces (or use fresh mozzarella balls) and toss the salad instead of alternating ingredients.
- Avocado – Slice avocado thinly and alternate with other ingredients. You could also make this chopped avocado Caprese salad recipe.
- Pesto – Spoon or drizzle basil pesto on top of finished dish. This is in addition to usual dressing for Caprese salad.
- Greens – Chop the Caprese salad ingredients into bite-sized pieces and arrange on a bed of kale, spinach, or romaine. Then, add more dressing to taste.
- Chicken – Add chicken and greens with this chicken Caprese salad recipe.
- Peaches – Swap one tomato for a ripe peach. Slice and prepare as usual.
- Pasta – Chop everything into bite sized pieces, then toss with cooked and cooled pasta of choice. (You can also use either raw or cooked zucchini noodles.) Finally, dress as usual, adding more to taste if desired.
This recipe for Caprese salad tastes best when it’s fresh. However, you can cover and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 days. (If possible, store without the dressing.) Avoid freezing this salad.
What To Serve With Caprese Salad
If it has Italian flavors, it can go with this dish! Try these easy pairings:
- Chicken – Caprese salads pair perfectly with creamy chicken marsala, easy balsamic chicken, or Mediterranean chicken for an Italian vibe. You can also keep it simple with more versatile chicken meals, like grilled chicken breast or garlic butter chicken.
- Pizza – Serve this salad with your fave pizza! I often choose veggie-centric pizza-inspired options, like portobello mushroom pizza, mini eggplant pizza, customizable pizza bowls, or cauliflower pizza crust.
- Noodles – Choose your favorite pasta dish, or opt for healthier eggplant lasagna, eggplant rollatini or spaghetti squash.
More Caprese Salad Recipes
The classic flavor of Caprese shines in so many dishes! Try these other easy versions:
Caprese Salad Recipe
Caprese Salad Recipe (5 Minutes!)
This easy Caprese salad recipe with simple dressing combines 5 fresh ingredients to make an incredible summer side dish. Ready in 5 minutes!
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Make balsamic glaze according to the instructions here. (Alternatively, use store-bought for true 5-minute salad prep!)
Cut the tomatoes and mozzarella into thick slices, for a total of 8 slices of each.
Arrange the tomato slices, mozzarella slices, and basil leaves on a platter, alternating them.
Drizzle the Caprese salad with olive oil and balsamic glaze.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
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Serving size: 1/4 entire recipe (2 pieces each of tomato, mozzarella, and basil)
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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