Caprese Salad

July 6, 2020

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy.

The perfect Caprese Salad recipe! Layered with juicy fresh tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella, deliciously flavorful fresh basil, and it’s finished with rich extra virgin olive oil, and a mildly sweet and tangy balsamic reduction.

Talk about tempting!

Caprese salad layered in a pretty design shown on a white platter.

Fresh Caprese Salad with Balsamic Glaze

The traditional Italian caprese salad (pronounced “cah-preh-zseh”) is typically made with just tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and olive oil but I love the addition of a balsamic reduction. It adds so much flavor!

Once you try it this way you’ll never look back.

It’s unbelievably easy to make and only requires a handful of basic ingredients. And you can serve it as an appetizer or side dish.

Sometimes it’s the simple, most humble ingredients and methods that create the most delicious dishes, and this caprese salad is proof of that.

Who could resist these layers of flavor paired with a pattern of impressive, eye catching colors?

I think we could eat this every week for the rest of our lives and never get tired of it!

Caprese Salad Ingredients shown in this image. Includes fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Caprese Salad Ingredients

  • Fresh mozzarella: I like to buy the pre-sliced to make things go faster, just make sure it’s sliced about the thickness we are looking for here. Of course you can buy it whole and slice on your own – the taste isn’t any different either way.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Don’t use standard refined olive oil, it should include the words “extra virgin.” This type of olive oil is less processed and has more flavor.
  • Fresh tomatoes: I like to use vine ripened tomatoes from the store, or of course garden grown tomatoes are the best.
  • Fresh basil: Avoid any basil that is dark and bruised. Look for vibrantly green leaves that aren’t wilting.
  • Balsamic vinegar: No need for crazy expensive balsamic vinegar here but do use something decent with a well balanced flavor.
  • Honey: This ingredient is optional and you can just add it based on how tart/sweet the balsamic vinegar you use is.
  • Salt and pepper: Add this to taste to bring out, and compliment the flavors of the dish.

Balsamic vinegar simmering in a small saucepan. Balsamic glaze shown in a spoon after reduced and thickened.

How to Make Caprese Salad

  • Make balsamic reduction: Whisk together balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then reduce heat to low and let simmer until thickened and reduced down to nearly 2 Tbsp, about 8 – 11 minutes.
  • Let it cool: Pour into small bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  • Assemble salad: Layer tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and basil on a rimmed serving platter.
  • Dress and serve: Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic glaze and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

What to Serve with Caprese Salad

I recommend serving this with grilled chicken (something like my Garlic Herb Grilled Chicken), Homemade Breadsticks or No Knead Bread, or a pasta main dish.

Overhead image of carpese salad with balsamic glaze on a white platter.

Possible Variations

  • Add avocado slices.
  • Substitute half peaches for half of the tomatoes.
  • Skip the balsamic glaze if you prefer.
  • Take a shortcut and buy a store-bought balsamic glaze, instead of making it yourself.
  • Try it with a homemade Italian dressing instead of the oil and balsamic.
  • Add a clove of minced garlic.

Tips

  • I love to make it in the summer when you can get the best tomatoes because it really does make all the difference.
  • Use a decent olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It doesn’t need to be high end but it should have a well rounded flavor.
  • With this salad you want to prepare shortly before serving for best results.

Close up image of caprese salad.

More Amazing Caprese Recipes to Try

Caprese Salad

5 from 1 vote

The perfect appetizer or side! This salad is layered with juicy fresh tomatoes, creamy fresh mozzarella, deliciously flavorful fresh basil, and it's  finished with rich extra virgin olive oil, and a mildly sweet and tangy balsamic glaze.

Servings: 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey (optional*)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/3-inch slices (about 20 oz.)
  • 16 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/3-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then reduce heat to low and let simmer until thickened and reduced down to nearly 2 Tbsp, about 8 - 11 minutes.

  2. Pour into small bowl and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.

  3. Layer tomato slices, fresh mozzarella slices and basil on a rimmed serving platter.

  4. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic reduction and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • *Honey may or may not be needed based on the brand of balsamic vinegar use (tartness/sweetness) and personal preference. You can omit if preferred or even increase the amount if preferred.
  • This is also delicious with avocados slices, or a little minced garlic. Another option is to omit the balsamic glaze if preferred.
Nutrition Facts
Caprese Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 348 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 484mg21%
Potassium 311mg9%
Carbohydrates 10g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 15g30%
Vitamin A 1404IU28%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 400mg40%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Caprese Salad
Author: Jaclyn