Caprese Salad is hands down one of the major salad favorites of everyone. And why not? Its simple cherry tomatoes, balls of mozzarella and fresh basil all drizzled with a perfect balsamic dressing makes it flavorful and easy!
Caprese salad is simply a salad that encompasses tomatoes and mozzarella originating from Capri.
Perfect as a summer salad, you can use nearly any kind of tomatoes combined with fresh mozzarella slices with only seasonings or dive into the more creative recipe versions that contain balsamic vinegar, mozzarella pearls, and mixed tomatoes like we used in this cherry tomato salad.
Caprese Salad Recipe
The beautiful part of a Caprese salad is that all of the traditional and class flavors pair well with chicken or creatives like crumbles of blue cheese or avocado. Do not be afraid to experiment and make a custom Caprese salad that you will love to change up and eat daily! While many people love to serve fresh salads like this in the holidays due to the colors and pretty much general idea that tomatoes and mozzarella go with EVERTYHING, the best time to enjoy a Caprese salad is when fresh tomatoes hit, around July.
Scroll to the bottom for a printable version of this post, including all measurements and instructions, so you can follow along in your kitchen without being on your phone. Here is what simple ingredients you need to gather to get started:
- grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or even seasonal tomatoes on the vine
- pearls of Mozzarella cheese or sliced fresh mozzarella
- generous amount of fresh basil
- balsamic vinegar reduction – many classic Caprese salads only include a drizzle of olive oil, but balsamic vinegar reduction is a widely known taste of this salad
- seasonings like fresh cracked pepper and a bit of salt
ALTERNATIVELY: You can also make this 10 minute Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette that goes with this recipe beautifully.
Is Caprese Salad Keto Friendly?
Delicious fresh salads are really all in the details and while generally considered healthy, are not always great for every diet.
Dietary: Heads up! This caprese salad recipe is Gluten Free and Paleo!
Disclaimer: Dietary information below provided by Carb Manager.
If you are on a KETO or Low Carb diet, always make sure to double check your own information with this or My Fitness Pal based on the brands and weights you use. I am not responsible for the calculations but do try to provide as much information as possible for readers to make informed decisions.
Mozzarella Pearls or Mozzarella Slices?
My favorite part of Caprese Salad is the mozzarella cheese.
Thankfully now that just about every grocery store has a specialty cheese section, there are so many different types of fresh mozzarella to add. While the original recipe was believed to use cow’s milk fresh mozzarella, buffalo-milk mozzarella has become the modern favorite.
When I’m looking to get this appetizer on the table even faster, I use balls, otherwise known as pearls, of mozzarella – no slicing necessary.
However, ff you’re looking to add a boost of flavor to your salad try smoked mozzarella – not only is the color lovely, the additional flavor from the cheese adds something new and tasty to the salad.
The slight smoky flavor plays well with the balsamic vinegar and basil.
Fresh Basil in Caprese
The finishing touch to top off any Caprese Salad is fresh torn basil. Peppery and totally unique, I love fresh basil for the warm spice it gives my taste buds. Plus, I don’t really think the dish is the same thing at all without that tang.
- Oregano – minty with a hay-type flavor – and lemony-thyme are great basil alternatives to try. The mild tomatoes and mozzarella could also tolerate stronger flavors like tarragon, dill, or even green onion.
Grape Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes in Caprese?
As far as the tomatoes go, I used grape tomatoes in my Caprese Salad but you can use cherry tomatoes as well.
Cutting them in half is usually best. Although the classic Caprese Salad uses stunning vine-ripened red tomatoes, you shouldn’t feel limited to these alone.
- While red tomatoes have a rich and robust flavor to them, other colors of tomato have totally different flavors. While pinks are much like reds, orange tomatoes are sweet tasting nearly like eating fruit! The sweet flavor is lovely beside the creamy mozzarella and the balsamic vinegar.
- Yellow tomatoes are less tangy than their red counterparts, partially because they are a lower-acid tomato variety.
- Personally I always use grape or cherry tomatoes in this recipe. While you can use them interchangeably, cherry tomatoes tend to be sweeter and more watery than grape tomatoes, but grape tomatoes tend to last longer in the fridge and are easier for growers to get to the grocery store safely.
MAKE HONEY BALSAMIC DRESSING: a small bowl, add the balsamic and honey to make a sweet vinaigrette. Whisk well.
ADD TOMATOES: Add grape or cherry tomatoes to the dish.
ADD CHEESE: If desired, you can cut the cheese into halves or even quarter them. I left them whole because it looks prettier/more contrast of large and small and white. I do like to cut them smaller so that I can easily eat the combination of the three delicious ingredients!
COMBINE- Combine your drizzle and salad together, mix well until tomatoes and cheese are covered with vinaigrette and then sprinkle with fresh basil.
Classic Caprese Salad
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes - halved
- 1 container - 8 oz, fresh Mozzarella cheese balls, drained
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Add halved cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese balls and fresh chopped basil to a bowl and mix well.
- In a small bowl, add balsamic vinegar and honey.
- Whisk well to combine.
- Drizzle Balsamic honey dressing over cherry tomato and cheese mixture.
- Can be served immediately or put in fridge for an hour to get cold and combine flavors.
- Store covered in a refrigerator.
- You can substitute cherry tomatoes for grape tomatoes
- If you cannot find mozzarella cheese balls, grab fresh mozzarella logs and quarter.
- Easily use this recipe convert salad into Caprese skewers or add avocado and chicken for a more hearty dinner salad!