Best Caprese Salad Recipe – The Cookie Rookie®

This Caprese salad is a classic Italian dish and this is the best recipe you are going to find! Fresh and delicious with a vibrant basil dressing, this salad is to die for! Serve as an elegant appetizer or as part of a fuller meal. Easy and quick to make but so impressive and full of flavor!

The best caprese salad served on a light blue plate

If you are looking for a great recipe to make the most of this years tomato harvest, look no further! This is a great salad for entertaining, so easy to make but oh so delicious! 

How to Make The Best Caprese Salad Recipe

  • Place the basil and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor and push the process button. While the basil is processing, slowly add the olive oil and continue processing until the basil/oil/salt mixture looks like a thin pesto sauce.

  • Slice the mozzarella into 6 (1/4”) slices and slice the tomatoes into 6 (1/4”) slices.

  • Alternate the cheese and tomato slices on a plate and drizzle with the basil-oil. Season lightly with flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Refrigerate, lightly covered, up to 1 hour or serve immediately.

  • Enjoy!

Close up of a caprese salad

Tomato and mozzarella salad with basil dressing on top

What is a caprese salad?

Caprese salad (insalata caprese) is a traditional and simple Italian salad made form mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. It features the colors of the Italian flag (red, green and white) and is traditionally served as an appetizer rather than a side dish.

The best caprese salad dressing

The dressing for this salad is simple, a bit like a lightened up pesto. It’s made with only 3 ingredients:

  • fresh basil leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt

It sounds basic, but the flavor really is to die for when spooned over the mozzarella and tomatoes. It’s fresh and vibrant and brings the whole dish alive!

The best caprese salad dressed with fresh basil leaves

Tomato, mozzarella and basil on a fork

Use the best and freshest ingredients

My recipe for the best caprese salad is simpleto make, with simple ingredients, so you really should be using the best and freshest ingredients you can so that those flavors really sing:

  • Basil – as fresh as you can, like just picked!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – you really need to go with extra virgin for this dish, it is more expensive, but it is unrefined and has an amazing flavor with a slight peppery taste. Buy the best you can afford.
  • Tomatoes – you want to use the ripest and most flavorful tomatoes and organic is always a good bet. Large summer tomatoes such as plum work well.
  • Mozzarella – as with the olive oil, buy the best you can afford. It should be whole milk and not mass processed like those little balls you can buy. Local is always best.

Close up of caprese salad on a fork

Top Tips to Make The Best Caprese Salad Recipe

  • Use the best quality and freshest ingredients you can to really make the salad sing.
  • Presentation is a huge part of this dish, layer the tomatoes and mozzarella as in the pictures and finish the dish with fresh basil leaves.
  • This recipe only make a small Caprese Salad, but makes enough basil oil for two-three large Caprese Salads. Keep the oil refrigerated in an airtight jar, up to 2-3 days. If desired, the basil-oil can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred to a zip-lock bag for longer storage. Thaw in the refrigerator one day before using.

What to serve with Caprese Salad

Looking for some main course ideas that would pair perfectly with this Insalata Caprese? Check out these fun options:

Top down shot of caprese salad with dressing

Be sure to check out these other fresh and tasty salad recipes!

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Classic Italian Pasta Salad Recipe

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