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Best Caprese Salad (Classic Recipe)

There’s nothing quite as classic as a colorful Caprese salad. The mixture of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves is so flavorful and filling.

It’s hard to believe something so simple tastes so good, but it does.

Caprese salad made with sliced tomatoes. mozzarella cheese and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic dressing and olive oil.
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Much of that is due to the bright, zesty balsamic glaze. It takes already delicious ingredients and dials them up a notch.

Caprese salads are classic Mediterranean fare. They’re perfect for brunch or a light dinner.

You can enjoy it by itself or as a delightful side dish for pasta, pizza, and more.

Caprese Salad Ingredients

Unlike some salads, Caprese salads don’t have a ton of ingredients. In fact, their simplicity is part of their appeal. You only need a few things:

  • Tomatoes – People often use cherry tomatoes for Caprese skewers and sometimes even salads. However, this salad works best with large tomatoes cut into thick slices.
  • Mozzarella – If you have access to small mozzarella balls, those work well. You can also just thickly slice mozzarella. Either will work fine.
  • Basil leaves – Be sure to get fresh basil leaves. The dried stuff won’t work here. You need the actual leaves, not just the flavor.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Some people don’t add olive oil to their Caprese salads. They stick strictly to the balsamic glaze. But it tastes best with both.
  • Balsamic glaze – A simple mixture of brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. (See instructions for making it on the recipe card below.)
Caprese salad made with sliced tomatoes. mozzarella cheese and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic dressing and olive oil.

How to Make Caprese Salad

Like most salads, the Caprese salad is a breeze to make. Here’s what to do:

1. Make the balsamic glaze. Before starting on the salad, whip up some fresh balsamic glaze. (Unless you already have some stored in the fridge.)

Heat the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture reduces by half.

2. Arrange the salad ingredients. Alternately place the tomato slices, mozzarella, and basil leaves on a large platter. Let the ingredients overlap slightly.

3. Finish topping the salad. Finally, drizzle the salad with olive oil and the balsamic glaze. Season it with salt and pepper, and voila!

At this point, you can serve the salad right away or refrigerate it for up to an hour. (It tastes best chilled.) Either way, enjoy!

Top view of a platter of Caprese salad made with mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Recipe Variations

Want to try something new with your Caprese salad? These variations can help:

  • Vary the tomatoes. As mentioned above, some people prefer small cherry tomatoes in their salad. If you want to go that route, that’s perfectly okay! You can even experiment with multiple tomato types in a single salad.
  • Marinate the mozzarella. Want to add even more flavor to the salad? Marinate the mozzarella balls ahead of time. Here’s a recipe that’ll show you how.
  • Dial up the seasonings. Once the salad is ready, add a dash of cayenne pepper for heat or Italian seasoning for flavor. You can use other dried herbs from your spice rack, too.
  • No basil? No problem. Basil is the typical herb for Caprese salads. However, you can try fresh oregano or mint instead.
  • Use burrata instead of mozzarella. Burrata is simply mozzarella with extra cream. It takes the salad up a notch, making it slightly more decadent.
  • Make it fruity. Try a mixture of peaches and tomatoes. Or add some of your favorite sliced summer fruits.

What to Serve With Caprese Salad

Caprese salads are Mediterranean in origin. Therefore, they taste great with most Mediterranean and Italian dishes. Try pairing yours with any of the following:

Best Caprese Salad (Classic Recipe)

Servings

6

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servings
Prep time

10

minutes
Calories

180

kcal

Try this classic Caprese salad for a show-stopping dish! The blend of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil is light, refreshing, and delicious.

Ingredients

  • Caprese Salad
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced

  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • How to Make Balsamic Glaze
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or honey)

Instructions

  • For Caprese Salad
  • Alternate and overlap the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil on a large platter.
  • Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic glaze over the arranged salad. Sprinkle it with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  • Serve it immediately or cover and refrigerate it for about an hour to let the flavors meld. Enjoy!
  • For Balsamic Glaze
  • Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar (or honey) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Simmer it on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Let the glaze cool completely. Store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Notes

  • While basil is traditional, feel free to include fresh mint or oregano for a different twist.
  • For a more filling meal, serve it with crusty bread to soak up the delicious juices.
Caprese Salad

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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