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What Is Caprese?

Expand your culinary skills with caprese. Find all the answers to your most pressing questions about caprese: what it is, how to use it, and more.

Tomato Caprese Salad
Caprese is an incredibly fresh and simple dish to serve, all season long.

What is Caprese?

An Italian term, the word caprese refers to the combination of fresh Mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, sweet basil, salt, and olive oil. Most commonly it applies to the ever-popular caprese salad which originated in Capri, Italy. However, it can also be applied to pasta, pizza, and sandwiches as long as the traditional ingredients are present.

With such simple ingredients and bold flavor, it’s no mystery why the flavors have become so popular.

What You’ll Love About Caprese

  • There are just 5 simple, budget-friendly ingredients that create the dish.
  • You can keep it completely vegetarian or add your favorite protein.
  • It’s easy to transform into an extravagant meal by combining it with all your favorite foods.
  • With no cooking required, it comes together in mere minutes.
  • It’s light enough to serve as an appetizer yet filling enough to be a complete meal.
  • Full of nutrients and fiber, it’s a recipe you can feel good about eating.

Key Ingredients for Caprese Salad

Though there are many different versions of caprese salads, the primary ingredients remain the same. Here’s what you need:

  • Fresh tomatoes form the base of the dish. Typically, Heirloom tomatoes are used but feel free to mix and match all your favorites.
  • Plenty of fresh Mozzarella belongs here! There’s nothing quite like the slightly salty, creamy taste and texture, and we highlight it even more with a pinch of salt.
  • Aside from pesto sauce, this is your best chance to use lots and lots of basil. Sweet and peppery, its fresh flavor is a staple for this recipe.
  • Good quality olive oil is key. Since there are so few ingredients, splurging for a top-notch oil and enhancing it even further with a dash of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze, which is thicker and sweeter, will take your salad from good to great.

How to Make Caprese Salad

It may look fancy, but caprese couldn’t be easier to make. Here’s what to do:

  1. Use a sharp knife to thinly slice the tomatoes and cheese.
  2. Layer the slices on a plate, letting them overlap to form a pattern of red and white.
  3. Tuck fresh basil leaves in between the layers, and feel free to add more on top.
  4. Sprinkle a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper on top to bring out the natural flavors even further.
  5. Finish off your salad with a generous drizzle of your favorite olive oil and balsamic or better yet, balsamic glaze.

Caprese Commonly Asked Questions

How do you pronounce Caprese?

The Italian word is pronounced kah-pray-zay, with emphasis on the middle syllable. Not only is Caprese delicious, but it’s super fun to say.

What is the difference between Caprese and bruschetta?

Caprese is most often served as a salad. Meanwhile, bruschetta is a dish made with small pieces of toasted bread topped with a tomato and basil mixture.

Are Caprese and Mozzarella the same?

Although often confused, the two are not the same. Mozzarella is the type of cheese used to make caprese.

Can I prepare this dish in advance?

Caprese is best served fresh but can be kept covered at room temperature for a few hours.

More to Cook and Eat

Also Try Grilled Chicken Caprese Salad with Avocado

Grilled Chicken Caprese Salad with Avocado

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Arranging Caprese on a plate

Caprese Recipe

5 from 25 ratings
Expand your culinary skills with caprese. Find all the answers to your most pressing questions including what it is, how to use it, and more.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 49 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Amy Dong


  • 3 medium-sized, ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
  • 12 oz fresh Mozzarella, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Balsamic vinegar or Balsamic glaze for drizzling


  • Layer: Arrange sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella on a large plate so that they overlap. 
    mozzarella and tomato slices
  • Garnish: Tuck the basil leaves in between the layers of tomatoes and Mozzarella, using as much or as little as you'd like. Then, sprinkle a bit of kosher salt and black pepper on top.
    Arranging Caprese on a plate
  • Drizzle and Serve: To finish the caprese, drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top, making sure each slice receives a drizzle. Serve immediately. 
    caprese salad topped with balsamic on a white plate


*We love balsamic glaze for caprese, as it is much thicker than balsamic vinegar, with a sweeter profile and richer flavor. 
*Nutrition facts do not include condiment amounts used to taste.
*If you enjoyed this dish, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 84kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.8g | Protein: 18.2g | Cholesterol: 10.2mg | Sodium: 422.3mg | Fiber: 1.3g | Sugar: 1.4g
Course: Appetizer, Main, Salads
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Vegetarian
Method: Assemble

Add a comment

Recipe Rating


    • Dee
    • 5 stars

    Caprese is one of my favorite salads. I love how thorough your post is. I learned some new tips and tricks!

      • Amy Dong

      Thanks, Dee!

    • Valentina
    • 5 stars

    This looks so yummy, I have heard of Caprese salad but never made it. I can’t wait to try out your recipe and thanks for sharing.

    • Laura Arteaga
    • 5 stars

    Love Caprese salad, but as well, Caprese ingredients on pasta, pizzas, and bread. The combination of flavors is simply fantastic. This post taught me a lot more about this Italian recipe, thanks a million for all the useful information and ideas!

    • Susan
    • 5 stars

    This is the perfect summer appetizer. Especially with that balsamic drizzle! It’s amazing the difference a little balsamic makes!!

    • Kristina
    • 5 stars

    I love caprese as an easy lunch or healthy finger food for get togethers. The fresh mozzarella makes all the difference- I get mine from a local farmer’s market and it’s incredible!

    • Jacqueline Debono
    • 5 stars

    Caprese salad is a staple in our house here in Italy during the summer. I make it with tomatoes and basil from our garden and olive oil from the local farmers! One of the best Italian summer recipes ever!

    • Jersey Girl Cooks
    • 5 stars

    Caprese salad is my favorite! I love all your tips and tricks for making this!

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you!

    • Sophie
    • 5 stars

    It’s a light and elegant dish that’s perfect for a quick appetizer or a light lunch. Everyone loved this Caprese Salad, and I’m already planning to make it again

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you liked this!

    • Sharon
    • 5 stars

    This cold caprese salad was easy to assemble and the perfect dish to use garden fresh vegetables and herbs in.

      • Amy Dong

      So glad you liked it, Sharon!

    • Cathleen
    • 5 stars

    This article was so helpful to me. To be honest, I didn’t know what caprese was to start with haha. Thank you so much for sharing this 🙂

      • Amy Dong

      Glad it was helpful!

    • Sabrina
    • 5 stars

    Delicious and so simple. Thanks

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you!

    • Oscar
    • 5 stars

    Looks delicious, can’t wait to make it.

    • Elizabeth
    • 5 stars

    This was so interesting! I want to make the salad now. 🙂

      • Amy Dong

      You’ll love it!

    • Jules
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely the best Caprese ever!! And that balsamic drizzle ooh!

      • Amy Dong

      Yay! Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Maur
    • 5 stars

    I’ll be making a caprese aalad this weekend. Thanks for the extensive information

      • Amy Dong

      You’re welcome!

    • Dana
    • 5 stars

    This is so easy to make and looks great on the table.

      • Amy Dong

      Yes! So glad you liked it.

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