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This Caprese sandwich is a stunning crowd pleaser! Layer tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto aioli for a splash of flavor.

Caprese Sandwich
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What’s better than the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil? Not much, in our opinion. So try this summery delight: the Caprese sandwich! This riff on the classic Italian salad from Capri layers the classic ingredients as a sandwich filling, with an irresistibly creamy, pesto aioli that adds a pop of savory brightness to each bite. It’s the perfect idea for an easy no-cook summer dinner, picnics, and more. When our son Larson tried a bite, he said, “Can we eat this every day?” We felt the same!

Ingredients in a Caprese sandwich

A Caprese sandwich is a sandwich that uses the ingredients in the classic Italian Caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. There are many variations on this concept, sometimes using arugula, balsamic vinegar, or other spreads to embellish the sandwich. The traditional Italian version of Caprese salad doesn’t use balsamic vinegar or reduction and we don’t think the flavor pairs correctly, so you won’t need that here. For this recipe, we’ve used our fan-favorite pesto aioli as a creamy spread that adds a pop of savory flavor to each bite.

Here’s what you’ll need for this Caprese sandwich:

  • Ciabatta bread or other artisan bread: This Italian bread is soft and perfect for sandwiches! Steer clear of a French baguette, which can be tough to bite through. Any other type of artisan bread works: focaccia is especially good.
  • Ripe tomatoes: This is a must! This sandwich only works with the ripest, juiciest tomatoes, much like a good BLT.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese: Purchase it in an 8 ounce ball and slice off slices for the sandwich.
  • Fresh basil: All you need is a handful of leaves per sandwich.
  • Baby arugula: Arugula adds a bit of texture and flavor variation. Make sure to buy baby arugula in a box or bag, which has a feathery texture and milder flavor. Avoid mature arugula that’s sold in bunches: the flavor is too strong.
  • Pesto aioli: This is the kicker! The pesto aioli blends basil, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and absolutely makes the sandwich. Do not leave it out!
Caprese Sandwich

Tips for making the pesto aioli

The key to any good sandwich? A great sandwich spread. You absolutely cannot have a dry sandwich with unseasoned bread. Here, the pesto aioli adds just the right creaminess and seasoning to the entire sandwich. Here’s what to know about the pesto aioli:

  • Use a large or small food processor. A small blender would also work.
  • It works for several sandwiches. The quantity you’ll end up with is 10 tablespoons, so depending on how much you use it should work for 3 to 4 sandwiches.
  • You can make it in advance and store refrigerated. Keep in mind, the color does fade slightly over time.
Caprese Sandwich

Make ahead for a Caprese sandwich

This Caprese sandwich is perfect for a picnic: but does it hold up over time? Yes! Some sandwiches get soggy over time, but this one holds up well. However, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  • Spread each bread side with pesto aioli and have a layer of arugula and basil over each. This protects the bread from direct contact with the tomato or mozzarella, which can make it soggy.
  • If serving within 2 hours, refrigeration is not needed. The mayo in the sandwich spread should be refrigerated after 2 hours.
  • Otherwise, wrap and refrigerate or keep in a cooler until serving. The bread does become tougher when refrigerated, so allow the sandwich to come to room temperature before serving if possible.

Alternate method

You can also make a Caprese sandwich as a panini or hot sandwich, like the Panera Caprese sandwich. Simply use sliced sandwich bread to build the sandwich. Then toast it in a panini press for 3 to 4 minutes, or grill in a grill pan or skillet for 2 minutes per side.

Caprese Sandwich

More Caprese themed foods

Caprese has become a shorthand for anything that stars tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Of course, nothing beats the classic Caprese salad, made the Italian way with a drizzle of great olive oil and salt. Here are a few variations on the theme:

This Caprese sandwich recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, serve on gluten-free bread.

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Caprese Sandwich

Caprese Sandwich

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 sandwich 1x


This Caprese sandwich is a stunning crowd pleaser! Layer tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto aioli for a splash of flavor.



For the sandwich

  • 2 slices ciabatta bread (or focaccia or other artisan bread)
  • 2 slices ripe tomato
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1 handful baby arugula
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pesto aioli (see below)

For the pesto aioli (makes 10 tablespoons)

  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup high quality mayonnaise


  1. Make the pesto aioli: In a food processor, blend the garlic until roughly chopped. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and mayonnaise. Blend until a smooth, creamy sauce forms. (Store leftovers refrigerated for 2 weeks.)
  2. Season the tomato slices with a pinch of salt. On each slice of bread, slather the pesto aioli. Build the sandwich by layering half the arugula and basil, the tomato slices, mozzarella slices, more arugula and basil, and then the aioli-slathered bread. Enjoy immediately, or wrap and refrigerate until serving.
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Summer
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Sarah Epplin says:

    This is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. I was already a fan of caprese salad, but the aioli put the ingredients over the edge. So good!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  2. Valerie VanBergeijk says:

    Phenomenal! Dinner tonight was these sandwiches and your amazing Classic Potato Salad. Thanks so much for the excellent recipes. My husband and I are enjoying preparing them together.

  3. Cathy R says:

    This might be the single BEST sandwich I have ever had. The pesto aioli is amazing! Thank you the inspiration and the fantastic recipe – as always!