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Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese is a cult dish of Italian cuisine.

It’s ready in less than 5 minutes and made with the most simple ingredients like sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese seasoned with basil leaves, oregano and extra virgin olive oil.

Caprese salad originated in Campagna region on the small island of Capri in the golf of Naples.

And as many Italian dishes the geographical origin gave the name to the dish.

There is a legend that Caprese Salad was first seen in 1920s at the dinner reception of a famous Italian poet and his colleeges at Hotel Quisisana of Capri.

It was an attempt to add fresh notes to the classic menu of the restaurant AND emphasize on the patriotic colors of Italy that are represented so well in Caprese Salad.

Simplicity in preparation and a perfect marriage of the ingredients made Insalata Caprese an unbeatable choice, especially for summer menu.

But before you start slicing tomatoes and mozzarella in anticipation of enjoying Caprese Salad there are some ground rules on how not to ruin what’s already perfect.

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad Ingredients

First and foremost – ingredients are key.


Make sure you use the most fresh tomatoes you can get. Better yet if they come on a sprig that guarantees incredibly fragrant and fresh tomato.

Make sure your tomatoes are not overripe. Too ripe tomatoes will result mushy and will have too much juice going in the salad.

Choose tomatoes ripe enough but still with a nice crunch to them for the best result.

I love using beefsteak tomatoes or bull’s heart tomatoes for my Caprese Salad as they have less water and taste fantastic. Butt you can get away with any kind of tomatoes you like as long as they meet all the criteria above.

Mozzarella Cheese

Mozzarella is the second most important ingredient in the the salad.

So make sure you choose it responsibly as well 😉

You’ve probably guessed it – fresh and quality mozzarella is your best bet.

When you cut mozzarella see if it leaks any excess milk or water.

If so tap each slice with a linen towel before assembling it on a plate. You don’t really want any water or milk in your salad.

Basil & Oregano

Green basil leaves fresh picked from your garden or your windowsill is the dream scenario.

But those bought from the farmers market this morning will do a good job as well.

Dried oregano is relatively an optional seasoning but it’s used a lot.

It balances well with fresh basil and fills some spicy notes that otherwise you would want to kick up with some ground pepper.

And the last, but mostly important thought…

RESIST adding anything else.

Especially balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze or other dressings!

I know, temptation is high but if you resist it the reward will pay 10 fold.

Fresh, full of genuine flavors Caprese Salad just like if you’d have it in Italy 😋

Caprese Salad Variations

Use Mix of Tomatoes – add more colors to your Caprese Salad by adding yellow, purple or other color tomatoes you have on hand. You can tear mozzarella cheese in pieces instead of slicing it into perfect slices and do the same with basil leaves. This will be a more rustic version but certainly without sacrificing the taste.

Pasta Caprese – enjoy tomato, mozzarella and basil flavors in one delicious Pasta Caprese. You can make it as cold Caprese Pasta Salad or indulge yourself with hot and creamy cold season version.

Caprese Sandwich – Caprese Salad + a piece of freshly baked Ciabatta Bread or better yet this super easy No Knead Ciabatta Roll generously drizzled with extra virgin olive oil AND… you have the best summer bite on the go.

Caprese Skewers  – instead of using regular tomatoes and large mozzarella ball, get cherry tomatoes and small mozzarella pearls instead. This makes a perfect appetizer for crowded parties.

Full Recipe

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}
5 from 1 vote

Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Caprese Salad or Insalata Caprese or tomato, mozzarella and basil salad is a a cult dish of Italian couisine.
Print Pin Rate / Comment
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4


  • 3-4 medium size tomatoes , preferable of the same size
  • 8-10 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste (optional)


  • Wash and dry tomatoes and basil with a paper towel.
  • Cut each tomato and mozzarella ball into slices.
  • Layer tomato, mozzarella and basil slices on a platter.
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and oregano or black pepper if you like.
  • Serve as a salad or as an appetizer.
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Caprese Salad {How Italians Make It}

Do you have your favorite way to make Caprese Salad and can you think of any other ways to eat/serve this Caprese masterpiece?
Let me know  in the comments below!

Caprese Salad {How Italians Really Make It}

Buon Appetito!

Recipe Rating


Sunday 9th of April 2023

Thank you for not perpetuating the sin of adding balsamic to this simple salad to interfere with its subtle elegance. Balsamic is lovely and has its place but definitely not here. It is nearly impossible to find a restaurant in the US that respects this Italian salad the way it was intended to be enjoyed.

Monday 1st of August 2022

I agree w/ Sue P. They are not just writing a recipe, they are publishing a piece of writing. It should be edited properly.

Pasta Caprese {With Only 5 Ingredients!} - Italian Recipe Book

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

[…] Caprese is a delicious and flavorful summer pasta made with famous Caprese Salad ingredients – tomatoes, mozzarella and […]

Sue P

Saturday 29th of January 2022

Use your Auto-correct Please!! It’s Gulf , Not Golf ( that is a game ) It’s But , Not Butt ( u sit on this ) It’s Colleague, Not Colleeges ( no clue what this word is ) It’s Most Not Mostly It’s Tear ( as to rip apart ) Not Tire ( that’s on a car , bike )

Monday 27th of June 2022

They’re sharing a recipe, not writing a paper. We all understood.

Tina J

Sunday 20th of March 2022

@Sue P, You missed couisine (in recipe) and " You guest it!" (under sandwich).

If you would have spent the time thinking about it before copy and pasting errors, you might have realized that since it is a purest Italian recipe, English might not be the writers first language.

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Friday 1st of January 2021

[…] Recipe: […]