Caprese Salad with cherry tomatoes is hands down one of the most delicious salads and often favorites of everyone you are serving. And why not? Simple cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and fresh basil, all drizzled with a perfect balsamic dressing, make it flavorful and easy!
This Italian Salad, which contains simple ingredients of small tomatoes and fresh mozzarella balls, originates from Capri.
Why you will love this Classic Salad
The beautiful part of a Caprese salad is that all 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 general idea that tomatoes and mozzarella go with EVERYTHING, the best time to enjoy a Caprese salad is when fresh tomatoes hit, around July.
- Cherry tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes are relatively similar in that, in a pinch, grape tomatoes are a fine substitute. That being said, colorful cherry tomatoes go best in classic Caprese salad as they are larger and have a sweeter juice, which balances well with the balsamic. Colorful heirloom cherry tomatoes or wonder tomatoes are also a vibrant and delicious choice.
- Mozzarella cheese – Mozzarella balls, also called Mozzarella pearls, are a great choice in not only aesthetics of a beautiful salad but in flavor. You can cut down the pearls into smaller pieces if preferred, which can help with the cost of fresh mozzarella.
- Fresh basil – Do not use dried basil for this dish. Fresh basil is an absolute must. I like to purchase fresh basil plants from Lowes and grow my own.
- Regular balsamic vinegar – many classic Caprese salads only include a drizzle of olive oil, but balsamic vinegar combined with honey is a delicious balsamic glaze done in a pinch.
- Seasonings like fresh cracked pepper and season with a bit of kosher 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 salad recipes are all in the details and, while generally considered healthy, are not always great for every diet.
Dietary: Heads up! This salad with cherry tomatoes is also Gluten-Free and Paleo!
Disclaimer: Dietary information below is provided by Carb Manager If you are on a KETO or Low Carb diet, always make sure to double-check your data with this or My Fitness Pal based on the brands and weights you use. I am not responsible for the calculations but try to provide as much information as possible for readers to make informed decisions.
How to make Classic Caprese Salad
- Make the honey balsamic dressing: Add the balsamic vinegar and honey to make a sweet vinaigrette in a small bowl. Whisk together both ingredients well to incorporate honey.
- Add Tomatoes: Add whole or halved cherry tomatoes to the serving dish.
- Add cheese: Add mozzarella cheese balls. 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 like to cut them smaller so that I can quickly eat the combination of the three delicious ingredients in every spoonful!
- Combine: Combine Balsamic Honey drizzle and tomato salad. Mix all ingredients well until tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese are covered with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with sliced fresh basil. Prior to serving, season with salt and freshly cracked pepper.
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 used 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, if you’re looking to add a boost of flavor to your salad, try smoked mozzarella – not only is the color lovely, but the additional flavor from the cheese also adds something new and tasty to a simple salad.
The slightly smoky flavor plays well with balsamic vinegar and basil.
Fresh Basil in Caprese
The finishing touch to top off any Caprese Salad is fresh torn basil. Peppery and unique, I love fresh basil for the warm spice it gives my taste buds. Plus, I don’t 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 fresh cherry tomatoes and mozzarella salad could also tolerate more robust flavors like tarragon, dill, or green onion.
Grape Tomatoes or Cherry Tomatoes in Caprese?
As far as the variety of tomatoes goes, 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, other colors of tomatoes have different flavors. While pinks are much like reds, orange tomatoes are sweet-tasting, nearly like eating fruit! The sweet taste 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.
- I always use grape or cherry tomatoes in this recipe. While you can use them interchangeably, cherry tomatoes are sweeter and more watery than grape ones. Still, grape tomatoes tend to last longer in the fridge and are sometimes more accessible to get at the grocery store.
Related Caprese Salad Recipes
- Love the melty taste of hot cheese and fresh tomatoes? Try this Hot Caprese Dip Recipe. It’s a great dip to serve to a crowd!
- To bring the great flavors of Caprese into dinner, try this Caprese Stuffed Chicken recipe that puts all that cheese and tomatoes right in the center of the chicken breast.
- Strawberry Caprese Salad is a delightful filling salad that balances sweet summer strawberries, tomatoes, and the tangy balsamic into one.
- Caprese Ladybugs is the perfect summertime appetizer tray! Turn mozzarella, tomatoes, and olives into adorable little ladybugs. No need for talent, this one is EASY.
- Homemade Caprese Pizza is as delicious as it is beautiful with heirloom tomatoes.
- You won’t believe how well Ensalada Caprese with Pear goes with a summer BBQ.
- If you are looking for a simple summer dinner, this Caprese Sliders Recipe is done in mere minutes with ALL the flavor.
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