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Caprese Salad: the effortless recipe for the classic Italian vegetarian salad

Total time: 10 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist

If you're looking for an easy, elegant salad you can serve this summer, Italian Caprese salad is perfect for you. Made with layers of thick-sliced ripe, juicy tomato, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and homemade balsamic vinegar, this light, easy-to-make salad is wonderful for an occasion.

Caprese salad gets its name from the island of Capri, just off the coast of Naples in Campania; the name means “salad of Capri”. The colors in this delicious salad match the colors on the Italian flag, like the famous margherita pizza.

It's a fantastic salad to accompany everything from fish to steak and anything in between. Don't be surprised if you find yourself making Caprese salad regularly!

What are the Best Tomatoes for a Caprese Salad?

Look for fresh, ripe tomatoes that are medium to large. You'll want the slices of tomato to be roughly the same size as the slices of mozzarella. Beefsteak tomatoes are a great option.

You can also use heirloom varieties for more color. At the end of the day, you can use any type of tomatoes you like as long as they're ripe and ready to eat!

How to Make Caprese Salad

Caprese salads are as bright and eye-catching to look at as they are delicious and refreshing to eat. Fortunately, it's super easy to make this tasty summery Italian salad. Arrange a slice of tomato on your serving platter. Place a piece of mozzarella over it, followed by another tomato. Alternate between tomato and mozzarella, layering each so it's visible.

Next, put a basil leaf between each piece of mozzarella and tomato. Season the salad with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve.

Tips for Making Classic Caprese Salad

Use high-quality balsamic vinegar for drizzling over your Caprese salad. Alternatively, you can use a balsamic reduction for a more intense flavor.

Make a honey-balsamic reduction for extra sweetness.

Not a fan of balsamic? Stick to olive oil.

What to Serve with Caprese Salad

With its light, fresh flavor, Caprese salad is a great side dish for almost any entree. It's amazing as a side with grilled chicken or fish, fried zucchini, eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, virtually any pasta dish, and even roast pork or steak. Because it's so light, Caprese salad works with just about anything!

Caprese Salad Variations

Use heirloom tomato varieties to create a gorgeous rainbow Caprese salad.

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!

As long as the flavors are bright, fresh, and summery, you can't go wrong.

Instead of mozzarella try burrata.

How to Store Caprese Salad

Wrap your Caprese salad in cling film, then place it in the fridge. Enjoy within 3 days.

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medium tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 to 4
fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch slices
12 to 16 oz
Fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
balsamic vinegar to taste


Arrange a slice of tomato, followed by a slice of mozzarella on a serving platter.

Continue alternating between the two, positioning each piece so it's visible.

Place a piece of basil between each piece of mozzarella and tomato.

Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper, then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Try to use tomatoes that are roughly the same size as your mozzarella.

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