Caprese Salad


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Caprese salad is a classic Italian salad made with alternating slices of juicy, ripe tomatoes, and creamy mozzarella. It’s topped with fresh basil leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with salt and pepper. It’s simple, fresh, and one of my favorite summer salad recipes.

A plate of caprese salad

Caprese salad (also known as insalata caprese) is a classic dish from the Italian island of Capri. It’s simple, juicy, creamy, fresh, and my go-to salad whenever I travel to Italy. Imagine sitting in a cafe on the Amalfi coast, gazing out at the ocean while enjoying a freshly made caprese salad with an Aperol spritz. It’s the most perfect experience ever.

So, I say let’s bring that same experience into your kitchen and whip up this caprese salad recipe. It’s easy to make, light and refreshing, and guaranteed to be a hit for all your summer dinner parties and cookouts.

Ingredients for caprese salad on a table

Caprese Salad Ingredients

The most important thing about a caprese salad is the quality of the ingredients. That’s why it’s a summertime staple — when tomatoes and basil are fresh and at their best. Here’s what’s in it:

  • Tomatoes: Splurge on the juiciest tomatoes you can find. Whether that’s organic heirloom tomatoes or plum tomatoes, just make sure they’re ripe with no hint of green and almost about to burst.
  • Mozzarella: Again, don’t skimp on cheap stuff. Grab a big ball of fresh, creamy, authentic mozzarella (mozzarella di buffalo is also great) for the perfect texture. You’ll usually find it packed in water.
  • Fresh Basil: Pluck those leaves fresh from the plant right before serving, if possible. You want a bright green color and a fresh aroma that make you feel like you’re wandering through an Italian garden.
  • Olive Oil: I’m sure you’ve gathered the theme here, but freshness is also crucial with olive oil. Opt for an excellent cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil with a bit of a bite. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be good. California Olive Ranch and Lucini are two of my go-to brands.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: I’ll be the first to say that balsamic vinegar is not classic or necessary on caprese salad, but boy do I love it. And when it’s made into a balsamic reduction, it’s thick, sweet, and lovely. You can add it or leave it off, it’s up to you!
  • Salt and Pepper: Use a flakey salt like Maldon Salt or triangular sea salt for that perfect texture. Just don’t use table salt. Add freshly cracked black pepper for the finishing touch.

Helpful tip: If you’re abundant with fresh tomatoes, use them to make other Mediterranean favorites like my zucchini noodle caprese, marinara sauce, Greek salad, or this Nicoise salad!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below

How To Make Caprese Salad

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. Once sliced, simply alternate them in layers on a plate. You can place the layers in a vertical row or round them out into a circle as I did. It’s all about presentation here!

Layering caprese salad on a plate

Add the finishing touches. Layer the basil leaves in between the tomatoes and mozzarella, with a few baby leaves on top. Then, drizzle the olive oil and balsamic reduction on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper before serving. Then — cue the bottle of wine!

Making caprese salad on a plate

Storage Tips

Caprese salad is always best served fresh. But you could also make this up to 24 hours in advance (without the oil and balsamic vinegar). Just slice up the tomatoes and mozzarella and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

If have a few slices left over, the salad will also keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Just note that the tomato will soften over time.

Close up of a caprese salad

More Caprese Recipe Ideas

If you want to get creative, try these fun caprese recipes! And if you’re looking for more salads to entertain with, any of these salad recipes or summer salads will impress. 

There’s never too much caprese salad during summer. So once you make it, let me know what your thoughts are on this recipe in the comment box below!

A plate of caprese salad

Caprese Salad Recipe

5 from 9 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Caprese salad is a classic Italian salad with juicy tomatoes, mozzarella, basil leaves, and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar — perfect for summer festivities. Watch the video below!



  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, sliced
  • handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic reduction
  • flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Prep the tomato and cheese. Add a slice of tomato to a plate, then add a slice of mozzarella on top. Keep alternating slices of tomato and mozzarella until you've used up all of the ingredients.
    Making caprese salad on a white plate
  • Add the basil. Place fresh basil leaves in between the layers. I prefer smaller basil leaves to keep them whole, but if you have large basil leaves you can cut them up.
    Caprese salad next to basil
  • Finishing touches. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic reduction on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.
    Caprese salad with balsamic vinegar

Lisa’s Tips

  • Make sure to check out my separate recipe for how to make a Balsamic Reduction (Balsamic Glaze). It’s easy and much better than store-bought. 
  • You can get creative and substitute the tomatoes for a variety of fruits, including peaches, nectarines, strawberries, and more. Use what’s in season!


Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 360mg | Potassium: 262mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1152IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 296mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Caprese Salad, Caprese Salad Recipe, Insalata Caprese
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally posted July 2019, but updated to include new information.

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. The Caprese salad looks amazing. Will be making the Caprese Salad for company this coming Sunday. Is there a particular  balsamic vinegar that you recommend – which brand did you use to make your balsamic reduction. Thanks5 stars

    1. This salad will be perfect for serving to guests! You can see which brand I use in my Balsamic Reduction recipe post :)

  2. A friend from Italy was visiting me and was shocked to see me use basil pesto on my Caprese. I mix my pesto with olive oil so I can drizzle it – I always have pesto in my freezer and don’t always have access to fresh basil leaves.  

    He uses a black olive tapenade. It is an absolutely delicious option, I can assure you. The rich and salty tartness of the olive spread plays very well with mozzarella and ripe tomatoes. 

    1. I love pesto on caprese as well. It may not be as traditional, but I say go with what tastes good. Just like the tapenade!

  3. I love salads and I’m always on the lookout for fresh summer salads. I can’t wait to try this!5 stars

  4. I made this yesterday for a get together and it was a huge hit! Classic recipe and I love your tips!5 stars

    1. Awesome! I’m so happy you loved the recipe Emily. Caprese salads always seem to be a hit. :)

  5. Definitely one of my favorite salads, too. And great taste with that balsamic vinegar – I always go back to it no matter what else I try from time to time :-)5 stars

    1. Happy I’m not the only one who loves it with the balsamic. I know it’s not as traditional, but I just love balsamic on just about anything. ;) Thanks Danielle!