Caprese Salad: the Authentic Recipe for a Classic Italian Salad, Perfect for Summer Time

Total time: 5 mins.
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 2 people
By Cookist

Caprese Salad is a cold summer appetizer typical of the region of Campania, a recipe originating from the island of Capri – hence its name – made with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Also ideal as a light salad, or a side dish, it is a fresh and light dish. It can be prepared in just 5 minutes and features the colors of the Italian flag: green, white and red.

What is Caprese Salad?

Legend has it that the Caprese Salad recipe was born in 1920 within the walls of the Hotel Quisisana in Capri, during a dinner organized for the writer Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. On that occasion the futurist poet complained about Neapolitan cuisine, which he said was too tasty: the chef therefore decided to use typical local ingredients to create a tasty but light dish, which immediately achieved enormous success, so much so that it became a cult of the island's cuisine.

Today the Caprese Salad is reinterpreted in many ways, from Caprese pasta to a savory pie, from the Caprese omelette to a delicious fried version. There is also no shortage of variations with eggplants or melon, as well as crostini or chicken Caprese. What we present to you, today, is the original authentic recipe, perfect to prepare in the summer and serve on many different occasions.

Tips for the Best Caprese Salad

  • Ensure that all your ingredients are fresh and ripe, so that you get the best taste and result out of your salad.
  • Make sure that your tomato and mozzarella slices are of the same size, to ensure that each bite is balanced. Drain the mozzarella slices so they don't release too much milk when you eat it, and slice the tomatoes just before assembling the salad, so they don't lose much of their liquid.
  • Avoid oversalting the ingredients, as this could overpower the delicate tastes present in the salad.
  • Tear the basil leaves by hand rather than cutting them with a knife to prevent bruising and maintain their aromatic oils. Garnish the salad with basil just before serving.

What Are the Best Tomatoes to Use for a Caprese Salad?

Look for fresh, ripe tomatoes that are medium-sized or large-sized. Beefsteak tomatoes are a great option, but you can also opt for fiascone tomatoes. Make sure they are firm, fleshy and without bruises and don't discard their seeds, because that's where most of their flavor is stored.

What Type of Mozzarella Cheese is Best for Caprese Salad?

For an authentic and exquisite Caprese salad, the best type of mozzarella cheese to use is fresh buffalo mozzarella, known as "mozzarella di bufala." This cheese, made from the rich and creamy milk of water buffalo, offers a superior texture and flavor compared to cow's milk mozzarella.

Caprese Salad Variations

  • You can use heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes instead, cutting them in smaller pieces or cubes, along with the mozzarella and toss them in a bowl instead of a plate.
  • Add sliced watermelon, peaches or strawberries to your Caprese salad for a sweet, refreshing flavor that goes beautifully with the existing ingredients in the salad. Figs are also fantastic in Caprese salad.
  • Try grilling the tomatoes before assembling the salad for a rich charred flavor.
  • You can make a deconstructed Caprese salad and add other ingredients like squash, avocado and zucchini. Get creative!
  • Instead of mozzarella, you can use fior di latte cheese or even burrata cheese for a creamier result.

Can I Make This Caprese Salad in Advance?

Yes, you can! You can prepare it up to 1 hour before serving it, keeping it in the fridge. But, in this case, remember to add the basil right before serving the salad, and season after you take it out of the fridge.

What Can I Serve This Caprese Salad With?

This Caprese Salad is excellent to pair with slices of homemade bread, but it's also the perfect condiment for a bruschetta, or for a panzanella salad. With its light, fresh flavor, Caprese is also a side dish perfect for any type of entree or main dish. It's amazing as a side with grilled chicken or fish, fried zucchini, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, any pasta dish, and even roast pork or a steak.

Can I Use Any Dressings for the Caprese Salad

While the traditional Caprese is elegantly dressed with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and oregano, you can elevate it further with a balsamic reduction or glaze, which adds a sweet and tangy dimension that pairs beautifully with the creamy buffalo mozzarella and juicy Cuore di Bue tomatoes. For a touch of zest, a lemon vinaigrette made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil, and a hint of Dijon mustard can brighten the flavors and add a refreshing twist. Another delightful option is a pesto dressing, combining fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, which introduces a rich and aromatic layer to the salad.

More Recipes You Need to Try for This Summer


Panzanella Salad

Lemon Salad of Procida

Zingara Sandwich

How to Store Caprese Salad

To best enjoy Caprese Salad it's better to consume it as soon as it is served. If there's any leftovers, however, you can keep them in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 1-2 days.


Mozzarella cheese
250 grams
Large red tomatoes
Fresh basil
1 tuft
Dried oregano
to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
to taste
to taste

How to Make Caprese Salad

Start by slicing the mozzarella cheese. This is where you see the quality of it: it needs to release a bit of milk.

Slice your large, ripe but firm tomatoes. Start to arrange your salad on a large plate, alternating mozzarella and tomato slices.

Season with salt, dried oregano and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Tear some basil leaves and let it garnish the salad. Enjoy!

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