A classic Caprese Salad recipe made with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and a simple caprese dressing. Serve as a side dish or an appetizer, this fresh salad only takes 10 minutes to prepare!
Looking for more appetizers? Try my Classic Cheese Ball, Spinach Artichoke Dip, or learn how to create the Perfect Charcuterie Board!
Why I love this recipe:
- Elegant – This salad has the freshest ingredients and when they are combined, the taste is perfection! I fell in love with this salad when I ate it every night with dinner while I was in Italy.
- Quick – The easiest salad you will ever make, from start to finish is just 10 minutes! Serve as a side dish or an appetizer.
- Easy to Customize – Depending on what you like, you can drizzle on balsamic glaze, use heirloom or cherry tomatoes, or add more veggies! Look under my variations for some ideas.
What is Caprese Salad?
Caprese salad is an Italian dish, also referred to as Insalata Caprese. The dish received its name from Capri, an island off the coast of Naples, Italy.
You will notice that my recipe doesn’t include balsamic vinegar. A true caprese salad isn’t served with balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze, but feel free to add it if you love the flavor! Simply drizzle 1-2 teaspoons on top of the salad after assembly.
- Mozzarella – fresh mozzarella (like this log commonly found in grocery stores) is best. Or substitute fresh mozzarella balls packed in water, or burrata cheese.
- Tomatoes– be sure your tomatoes are not overly ripe. You want them to be slightly firm with a copper red coloring. Use a serrated knife to get a good cut.
- Basil– use small whole leaves, or rip larger basil leaves gently, by hand, rather than cutting them with a knife.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil- lightly drizzled on top. I like to use a good quality, that’s pure extra virgin.
- Salt and pepper– to taste.
How to make Caprese Salad:
Slice Cheese and Tomato: Slice a large log of fresh mozzarella and a large tomato. I like to use a serrated knife, to get a good clean cut. Sprinkle a little bit of salt on your tomato slices.
Assemble: Arrange salad by alternately laying slices of tomato and mozzarella on a plate.
Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over top (this serves as the caprese salad dressing). Tuck basil leaves throughout, or sprinkle them on top. Garnish with a little sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Serve: Enjoy your caprese salad fresh!
Make Ahead Instructions:
To Make Ahead: This easy Caprese salad is definitely best served fresh but it can stay in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you need to make it ahead of time, slice the mozzarella and tomatoes and store them separately in the refrigerator.
- Balsamic Glaze : balsamic is not traditionally added to caprese salad, but feel free to drizzle on a little at the end. You can make your own balsamic glaze, or I love the Trader Joes brand).
- Cherry Tomatoes: If you’d like, substitute cherry tomatoes either whole or halved.
- Veggies: You could add some cucumbers, lettuce, avocado, or any of your favorite veggies.
- Peaches: use fresh sliced peaches in place of tomatoes.
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- 1 or 2 large tomatoes , sliced into medium thin slices (about 8)
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese sliced into medium thin slices (about 8)
- large handful fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Use a sharp serrated knife to slice the mozzarella and tomato into about ¼ inch (or thicker if you like) thick slices. If the tomatoes are extra juicy, sprinkle them with a little salt before adding to a plate.
- Grab a large plate and alternately add tomato and mozzarella slices, slightly overlapping.
- Drizzle a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle basil over the top, or tuck smaller leaves throughout. Garnish with fresh cracked sea salt and pepper.
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I originally shared this recipe May 2019. Updated June 2022.
Nice explanation and tips for assembling this dish. I would always bring something like this for a potluck or holiday party when I worked at a hospital. Some bozo would ask me for the recipe every damn time.
It was hard to even give a reasonable response.
Just look at it – lay out the 3 different ingredients.
Every. Single. Time.
Brings back memories from being stationed In Gaeta and Naples! Grazie😊
Thanks for a simple recipe. It was better than caprese salad I’ve had at an Italian restaurant.I used fresh mozzarella from Costco and it was perfect.
hi lauren, I am sharing this salad on the weekend edit over at everyday edits dot co. I love the simplicity (no toothpicks required)! Ha! laura
I am a lover of italian food.especially from Naples.
Would you have a recepie alio de oilio spaghetti.