Caprese Salad with Tomatoes, Basil, and Mozzarella

One medium tomato (1/3 pound) yields enough for a salad for one person, a large tomato (3/4 to 1 pound)  yields enough for two people. So scale the recipe up or down accordingly. If you are serving 4 people, you'll need about 4 medium-sized tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes. (These proportions yield a generously portioned salad.)

For a completely different flavor, you can substitute the mozzarella with thin slices of Parmesan.

Feel free to omit the balsamic vinegar if you want highlight more of the flavor of the tomatoes.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick (a serrated knife works best for slicing tomatoes)
  • Coarse salt like kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves carefully chopped or torn as not to bruise
  • 8 ounces, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Special equipment:


1 Salt the tomatoes: Sprinkle salt lightly over the tomato slices.

2 Assemble the salad: Assemble the salad by arranging alternating slices of tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella slices.

3 Dress the salad: Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the salad. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar, if using. Sprinkle lightly with pepper.

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  • Becca

    Simple and amazing! My mom loved it… drizzled some soy sauce on and it was DELICIOUS


  • Alex

    Classic, simple, yet so delicious.


  • Niketa

    I tried this recipe with pan fried halloumi …..and some crumbled feta too….all soo soo good.

  • Denise

    Whenever I make this, everyone goes nuts over it! You’d think I was Julia Child or something – lol! Thanks Elise! :)


  • harmony

    What a coincidence! We are making this for dinner tomorrow night. I have gorgeous huge leaves of basil from my mom’s garden, and fresh farmer’s market tomatoes. Also, on a hint from her, I make this salad with white balsamic vinegar. It has the same wonderful flavor as regular balsamic, but it doesn’t stain your tomatoes and cheese dark, so you still get that beautiful contrast of red, green, and white.

  • JamiJo

    I’m not a fan of raw ‘maters (they don’t like me, either), but I do make this for my boyfriend fairly regularly. I use wedges of home-grown Roma tomatoes or whole or halved cherry tomatoes instead of beefsteaks. Our grocery store also carries these awesome mini-mozzerella balls – I don’t know the name of the manufacturer, but the packaging calls them Cielegini (which is Italian for cherries, i believe). We also add a healthy handful of crushed and chopped garlic to ours, and let everything marinade in the fridge for a few hours. Goes great with grilled chicken, or so he says!

  • Sheeijan

    I tried this recipe out months ago, but I forgot to write a comment until now. Before this recipe, I have never eaten a raw tomato (not even in hamburgers). Now, I eat this dish at least once a week. This has become my absolute favorite dish. Over the summer, I hardly ate anything else. Once fresh tomatoes could no longer be found at the farmer’s markets, I had to turn to the grocery stores in desperation. They don’t taste nearly as good, but I think I can get by until next summer on them!

    Thanks so much for introducing me to such a lovely, healthy food.


    • Elise Bauer

      I love hearing stories like this. Thank you for stepping out and trying something new!

  • Irene

    Ack! Pure tomato envy strikes! I LOVE heirloom tomatoes, and I love them even more with basil and fresh mozzarella. A couple thoughts:

    Heirloom tomatoes are in general better than other varieties, however, in a challenging climate like mine, they aren’t as easy to grow, at least from my past experience. Given a choice, I would indeed take an heirloom. Thankfully my CSA provides me with bags full of them each August!

    There is a wonderful restaurant in my town which I splurge on twice a year. It’s L’Etoile – centered completely around home grown, fresh produce, and I naturally time my twice a year visits to (you guessed it) tomato as well as asparagus seasons. It’s hard to justify spending $12 for the salad course alone… unless it’s L’Etoile’s Heirloom tomato salad.

    And last but not least, I truly believe that the world’s most perfect foods involve fresh, uncooked tomato, basil, mozzarella and garlic.

  • signaturetaste56

    There’s a variation on this classic Caprese salad that can be used as an appetizer. Instead of slices of a whole tomato, you use cherry tomatoes, bite-size blocks of cheese, and basil leaves doubled over, all served on a skewer similar to a kabob skewer. It’s great for parties, etc.

  • Julane

    I live in northern California & while it’s hard to grow heirlooms here our great farmer’s markets and Whole Foods keep me in supply.
    I have made this salad for years. If you have a really good olive oil this is the time to use it as all the flavors will be enhanced. I sometimes use fresh lemon juice instead of balsamic for a change, which gives a nice fresh flavor. Of course, the other great way to use the three primo ingredients is to cut up the tomatoes, lots of basil, garlic, mozzerella, olive oil, basalmic vinegar and mix it up with hot pasta. The best summer dish hands down!

  • Oceanguy

    For summer, I prefer skipping the balsamic vinegar altogether. And of course, the best fresh mozzarella is mozzarella di bufala from Central and Southern Italy. Caprese… a big ball of cheese surrounded by sliced tomatoes with a bit of fresh basil and salt liberally drizzled with Olive Oil… maybe even add a couple of olives for garnish… For some reason I associate the salad with balsamic added with cooler months and heartier meals.

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Julie – these heirlooms shown come from the farmer’s market. It’s a little early in the season here for tomatoes, mine are still quite green. I find the tomatoes that are easiest to grow, and mind you I’ve grown tomatoes in foggy and cold San Francisco of all places, are the cherry or grape tomatoes. They just don’t seem to need as much care as the large tomato plants and they are wonderfully prolific.

    • Cindy

      We live in San Francisco’s Richmond district, zip code 94121, near 48th Ave by the ocean, with lots of fog. It’s too late for this year, but do you think cherry/pear/grape tomatoes would do well in our climate next year.

      • Elise Bauer

        Hi Cindy, on 48th by the ocean? I used to live on 14th Ave and Fulton for a while, and even that place was too foggy to grow tomatoes. When I lived in Bernal Heights, with a sunny, protected, south facing patio, we could easily grown cherry tomatoes that still produced in November. But where you are in the fog belt, I think you would be disappointed trying to grow any type of tomato. What does grow well where you are, are artichokes. They love the fog.

  • Julie

    I love summer tomatoes. Any tips from you gardeners on which varieties are easiest to grow in a small space?

  • CJ McDonald

    A light sprinkle of chopped chives or sweet onions on top of tomatoes is also wonderful.

    Don’t forget— there’s only two things money can’t buy. True love……and home grown tomatoes! ;)

  • Teresa

    I love the tomato, mozzarella & basil salad also. We sometimes add slices of avacodo and a sprinkling of pignolli nuts. – it’s delicious. Try some different flavored oils too. I brought home a lemon flavored olive oil from a recent trip to Italy and I could have cried when the bottle was finally empty. It was wonderful on this salad.