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Caprese Salad is made with layers of fresh tomato slices, basil, and mozzarella cheese, then drizzled with balsamic glaze and topped with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  It is the perfect summer meal that you will crave all year!

Tomato and mozzarella appetizers start your menu off with great color and flavors, so try Easiest Bruschetta Recipe or Italian Avocado Cucumber Salad.  These fresh and colorful apps are great for entertaining or for a typical Tuesday.

Caprese Salad on a white plate.

Caprese Salad Recipe

Summertime is one of my very favorite seasons! Being outside and seeing the bright colors makes me happy. I seem to crave lighter meals during this time of year and love this caprese salad recipe. Fresh fruits and vegetables become my go-to snacks and adding them to each meal makes it even better. Tomatoes are rich in flavor but have a light and airy taste to them. The fresh flavors in this salad come alive and make the perfect combination!

Tomatoes and mozzarella are the two main ingredients. The sweet and colorful tomatoes were so juicy and soaked in the balsamic glaze. The mozzarella’s soft, creamy texture was perfect! The basil and coarse salt gave just the right Italian spices that are original to this salad.  Don’t overlook this salad, it may be simple to make, but it is so impressive and beautiful on the plate. This caprese salad is my first choice for a fantastic summer salad for sure!

Where did Caprese Salad Come From?

The name literally means “salad of Capri” due to its original home on the island of Capri.  It is pronounced “Cuh-prey-zey.” There is not a real reason behind it but a few myths that formed around fresh tomatoes and a type of cheese with a sweet basil leaf over top. It is popular in Italy and one of the most famous salads there.

What’s in a Fresh Caprese Salad?

Whenever I am at the farmers market in the summer and I see all the fresh tomatoes I get so excited to create this colorful salad.  This ingredient list is so short I have it memorized.  It is really such a simple list of ingredients that picking quality is vital! It will make all the difference to have fresh from the garden or farm ingredients.

  • Tomatoes: I love to use ripe summer tomatoes from my garden or the local farmers market.
  • Mozzarella: Slice and layer with tomatoes. If you can’t find fresh mozzarella look for burrata or bocconcini before opting for the packed version that has been wrapped and water soaked and will be rubbery and won’t absorb the oils and flavors as well.
  • Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is the best for this salad.
  • Balsamic Glaze: Drizzle on top of the layers of mozzarella and tomatoes.
  • Sea Salt and Pepper: To taste.  My opinion is you must use a coarse salt and a freshly ground black pepper.
  • Basil: Fresh will give you the most vibrant flavor!

How to Prepare a Italian Caprese Salad:

To make this fresh and satisfying summer salad, you will just need to slice the ingredients, layer them, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze.  It will be ready in a flash and gone just as quickly because this caprese salad is unbelievably good!

  1. Slice tomatoes: Cut as evenly as possible into ¼ inch thick slices.
  2. Slice cheese: Use a cheese cutter to slice cheese into ¼ inch pieces.
  3. Layer: Place tomatoes and cheese on a plate in layers.
  4. Drizzle: Top with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic glaze.   Then sprinkle with flaked sea salt, pepper and fresh basil.

The Recipe Critic Pro Tip:

To create a professional looking display use a serrated knife to cut easily through the tomato and make clean even slices.  Also, make sure to match your tomato size to the size slice of cheese for the best looking presentation.

Ingredients for Caprese salad.


What do I Serve with an Italian Salad:

This easy fresh salad has sweet and fresh flavors that pair very well with savory sidekicks.  Add meat or bread to make this amazing appetizer into a complete meal.

  • Cured meat slices
  • Flank steak
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Toast
  • Salad

Salad Variations:

I love the original layered and drizzled version of this salad.  It presents so beautifully.  The red and white colors are even a bit patriotic if you ask me.  Here are some great ideas to take this salad to the next level.  I guarantee you will be craving these fresh flavors and making this salad a ton!  So, you may want a few variations to keep it interesting! 🙂

  • Chopped salad: Chop all the ingredients and toss with vinaigrette instead of layering.
  • SkewersStack grape or cherry tomatoes and mini mozzarella balls then drizzle with balsamic.

Storing Tomato and Mozzarella Salad:

The fresh from the garden flavors are clearly going to be most vibrant and bold if served immediately.  However, that is not always possible.  Sometimes, making a salad ahead can be a lifesaver and this salad can be made ahead.  I recommend storing the ingredients separately and layering and plating at the last second. To store, you will need to cover tightly in a container, aluminum foil or plastic wrap and then follow the freshness timelines below:

  • Sliced Tomatoes: 3-4 days refrigerated 2 months freezer.
  • Freezing tomatoes: Although they will last for 2 months in the freezer, I don’t recommend using frozen tomatoes for this salad because they will become mushy when you thaw them. If you plan to use them in a sauce or cooked meal it would be different, but for this salad, frozen tomatoes just won’t do.
  • Mozzarella: Refrigerate 1-2 weeks, Freeze up to 6 months.
  • Storing tip: When storing mozzarella wrap the cheese in wax or parchment paper before you cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Close up on caprese salad.

More Caprese Recipes:

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Caprese Salad

5 from 1 vote
By: Alyssa Rivers
Caprese Salad is made with layers of fresh tomato slices, basil, and mozzarella cheese, then drizzled with balsamic glaze and topped with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  It is the perfect summer meal that you will crave all year!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 People


  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • balsamic glaze
  • flaked sea salt
  • pepper
  • fresh basil


  • Start by slicing tomatoes 1/4 inch thick. Slice the cheese 1/4 inch thick. Layer the tomatoes and cheese on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Top with flaked sea salt, pepper and fresh basil.


Calories: 742kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 52gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 179mgSodium: 1434mgPotassium: 755mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 3582IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 1170mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian, Italian American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!


About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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