Panzanella Bread Salad

As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Marinating time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8


  • 4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes*
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

* If you don't have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.


Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.

Serve at room temperature.

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  • Cris C

    Soaking raw onions in ice water for 30 minutes will also remove some of the bite and leave the crunch.

  • Holly

    I cooked my onions in some butter left them cool an then added them by cooking the onions takes off some of the raw bite

  • Mike Benayoun

    I see a lot of recipes where people don’t soak the bread in water, which is the way traditional panzanella is made. I personally sprinkle water+vinegar on the bread to get it wet before I incorporate it to the vegetables.

  • Steve Hoge

    We made a panzanella this evening with 4 kinds of our homegrown tomatoes and added half-rounds of mozzarella and crispy pancetta along with the briefly seared peppers and onion threads. Oh, almost forgot the chunks of perfectly ripe avocado. Deliciious!

  • Karenaperville

    I made this today and it was delicious! Good tomatoes and bakery bread are a MUST for the great taste that this recipe will provide. We had this along side fish and that was all that was needed. We loved how the flavors all shined through, complimenting each beautifully! I personally wouldn’t change a thing!

    One question for Elise: You end the recipe with the caveat regarding refrigerating the salad after making it since it’s a “no-no” for fresh tomatoes in terms of texture and taste…. but after eating it, leftovers should be refrigerated overnight for next day use, correct?

    • Elise Bauer

      Depends on how long you want to store it. There’s no meat or dairy in it, it will be fine at room temp for several hours. All of the components are fine at room temp (just covered). So, it depends on how long you want to store it. I do think refrigerating garden fresh tomatoes hurts their taste and texture. Of course if you are using tomatoes that have already been chilled, then the damage is done, so it doesn’t matter. And some hot house tomatoes that I’ve had don’t have great flavor to begin with. But good garden tomatoes? I wouldn’t refrigerate if I could avoid it.

  • FoodandFrets

    I soak the red onion in water for a few minutes to mellow them slightly. I also add red wine vinegar and bake the bread drizzled in olive oil and sea salt to crisp up. Thanks to Florence Knight and her wonderful book ‘One – A cook and her cupboard’ for these tips!

  • Elena

    Had this dish with a fried egg on top at a restaurant in Petoskey, Michigan and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten. Thought you’d like to hear about that spin on the recipe. Thanks, Elise.

  • Kristen

    Made this last night with an olive loaf, delish!

  • Bob Y

    This is my favorite summer salad. To make it even more delicious, I fry the bread chunks in olive oil. Not only does it add great flavor and and crunch; as the bread sits in the dressing it begins to very slowly dissolve, thickening the sometime watery sauce. I also sprinkle the tomato chunks with a bit of salt and let them drain for 1/2 hour or so, which gets rid of excess moisture and intensifies the flavor of the tomatos. Sounds so good, think I’ll make it tonight for dinner :).

  • Cookin Canuck

    Sitting on the back patio, with a glass of red wine and a bowl full of a panzanella salad epitomizes summertime to me. I need to start picking our backyard tomatoes and make this for my family.

  • Kate

    I lived in Sicily for 3 years and ate this salad all the time. One of my favorites! In Sicily they add orange segments to it.

    • Sandy S.

      Kate, thank you for reminding me that oranges and tomatoes can really taste wonderful together! A few yeas ago I was served a shrimp scampi garnished with tomatoes and oranges, that was scrumptious! I went on a binge of that combination but had since forgotten it. You have brought it to light, again. Thank You!

  • DigitalSignalX

    What a great recipe! We use a similar arrangement every time there is left-over corn bread too, it adds a delicious crumbly sweetness to the mix.

  • CliveLitchfield

    My Italian neighbours in Tuscany use stale bread which is grated then steeped in just enough olive oil to soak into the bread, (any extra oil can be squeezed out) to give the bread the consistency of couscous, they then add any and all available in season salads and raw vegetables cut up really small, add capers, olives, salt and pepper, mix it all together and put into individual small dishes for a starter or into one large bowl for people to help themselves to as a side salad. Dress with vinegar or lemon juice to taste.

  • Kristin

    Elise… delicious, simple, and beautiful! It got rave reviews at our weekend picnic. I have made many things from your blog in the last few years, and I must say that this is going on a permanent favorites list! If I didn’t already love tomatoes, the photo alone would make me try this salad.

  • Kassandra

    Just made this. LOVED it! Added mozzerella and baby arugula. Yummy! Thanks for all the great ideas.

  • Ed

    Looks great. Just out of curiosity…in the picture it’s looks like there’s yellow tomatoes it prosciutto?

    That would be yellow tomatoes, and some very dark red tomatoes. ~Elise

  • Julia L.

    Hi Elise! Delicious and easy, as ALWAYS. Thanks!

  • Joanna

    Hi Elise, this does look delicious, and makes me very jealous that I don’t have a garden of my own with fresh tomatoes!

    If you’re interested, I caught an episode of Good Eats a few days ago focused on tomatoes, and Alton Brown turned a BLT into a panzanella. (Rightly called “TBL” because of course the tomatoes are the most important.) I haven’t made it yet, but I’ve been having dreams about this idea! The recipe is here:
    if you want to give it a shot!

  • Fuji Nana

    I made this over the weekend when Fuji Mama and family came for dinner. She recognized it right away from this site. It was delicious! I love the idea of salad + bread being one. It definitely simplifies things. I will be making this again and again.

  • Jessie

    Once again another delish dish! Made it for dinner on a hot Pasadena night, just added a little red wine vinegar. Thanks for the perfect no-cook summer meal!

  • Carrie

    What a timely post! The salad was delicious and simple to cut down to feed two.

  • katie c

    Needs vinegar too. I use sherry wine vinegar tho balsamic might add a nice sweet element.

    Actually, there should be enough acid in the tomatoes so that you don’t need vinegar. But if not, then of course, vinegar or lemon juice will do the trick. ~Elise

  • Teresa

    I love panzanella, and wait patiently (not really) for my tomatoes to ripen to make it. I usually add an acidic element, usually in the form of champagne vinegar. Yum!

  • Josie

    I’m curious to see if this could work with gluten free bread slightly toasted in the oven with just a dab of olive oil… It looks delicious!

  • anny

    I toast day old italian rolls, rub on raw garlic, and cut the bread crouton size and throw it into the salad and I too add red wine vinegar. Tomatoes make summer bearable.

  • Eva LaSway

    An excellent addition: Take the bread crumbs, drizzle them with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix them up, bake at 400 for about 5-10 min til golden. You can actually do a bunch and keep in a container for a week so you’re not turning on the oven too much during the summer.
    They add an excellent flavor to this wonderful salad!

  • laura

    This looks wonderful! I often make a similar version with fresh mozzarella.

  • Joyce from the Central Valley

    Panzanella is a summer staple in our house. The recipe I have uses a can of anchovy filets, too, which add a depth of flavor that is quite delicious. My little chocolate peppers are just starting to come in, so I threw in a couple of those, too, thinly sliced. Yum!

  • julie

    I love this dish! I add edamame beans to mine, which I find is a great touch.

  • Aaron

    Would this be alright with a fresh lemon squeeze or would that upset the balance of the dish?

    I would try it and see if I liked it. ~Elise

  • Traveling Culinary Artist

    Love this salad, and some of my favorite additions are chick peas, bell peppers, feta cheese, splash of red wine vinegar. Variations are boundless. The trick for me is to remember we’re only two and make a size that we can finish in one sitting!

  • Lulu

    Panzanella is one of my favorite things in the world! I make mine just like this, except I always add either olives or capers.

    Interestingly enough, I prefer this salad after several hours in the refrigerator. On a hot day, it’s delicious and refreshing.

  • Dara

    Panzanella is one of my favorite summer salads. Even though it’s considered a peasant dish, it somehow feels so decadent and satisfying, particularly when using peak-of-the-season produce. I love to add sauteed wild mushrooms to my panzanella salads as well.

  • Patrick

    We love Panzanella! I like to add a splash of red wine vinegar, which I think really ups the flavor of the whole dish. My wife doesn’t care for raw onions, so I usually substitute some green onion tops in its place. Great blog, keep it up!

  • Phoo-d

    This is such a beautiful salad! Last year I made an autumn panzanella with sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, and sage. It is definitely time for a big summer version. You are so right about the basil. My bushes keep coming back with a vengeance!