Mozzarella Tomato Basil Salad

This mozzarella tomato basil salad is all about summer’s best: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and peppery fresh basil. And it’s out of this world.

Mozzarella tomato basil salad

Can there be a recipe that’s too simple to write down? We hope not, because this one might be one of the simplest there is. But though it’s easy to make, it’s truly one of the greatest taste treats known to man. The mozzarella tomato basil salad is a thing of glory, when the summer tomatoes are the juiciest and the summer basil is bushy and prolific. It’s also called Caprese salad (salad from Capri, Italy) and it’s one of the most iconic Italian recipes out there. Eat it as a side dish for entertaining, or as Alex and I do: with two forks, eating off the same plate and exclaiming “Wow!” every few seconds or so.

Related: 15 Summer Side Dishes You Need

Heirloom tomaotes

How to make mozzarella tomato basil salad

Now, the key to a stellar mozzarella tomato basil salad is this: the highest quality ingredients. Let’s start with the tomatoes. If you are reading this and it’s not tomato season: you may want to reconsider making this recipe!

For the tomatoes

For this salad, you’ll need to start with ripe, in season, local (if possible) tomatoes. When we made this recipe, we used heirloom tomatoes from our local farmer’s market. What are heirloom tomatoes? Heirloom tomatoes are a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family by saving the seeds. When you buy heirloom tomatoes, you’ll notice that their color and shape are much more varied than the typical round red tomato. They can vary from chartreuse to gold to purple to orange, from small and round to large and squat.

Of course, you can use any variety of tomato for this recipe. But we love using heirloom tomatoes because of the variety of colors and sizes on the plate. Buying local tomatoes helps support your local farmers: so if there’s a chance to do so, we heartily recommend it! (Ours were from local Full Hand Farm.)

Related: 15 Best Fresh Tomato Recipes

Mozzarella tomato basil salad

For the mozzarella

For the mozzarella in this salad, fresh mozzarella is a must. Again, the flavor of this salad depends on the quality of the ingredients, so higher quality mozzarella is better. Ask at your local grocery store if you’re looking for help with finding a good quality mozzarella. Or better yet, find a local cheesemaker! We’re lucky to have local fresh mozzarella here in Indianapolis, so if you live in a big city, this might be an option for you. (Tulip Tree Creamery is our source if you’re local.)

We like to tear the mozzarella into large pieces for our mozzarella tomato basil salad, but you could slice it too. Whatever looks beautiful to you!

How to harvest basil

For the basil

If you can grow fresh basil at home yourself, do it! Our top tip for summer cooking is to grow a basil plant. It’s easy to do, and you’ll find yourself using it on everything. There is nothing quite like the flavor of fresh basil in the summer! It’s also much cheaper to grow at home. We have a tutorial for how to do it: How to Grow Basil.

Of course, you can also buy basil at the store! Depending on your grocery store, it can vary in quality: especially in the winter months. Of course, this mozzarella tomato basil salad is best in the summer…did we say that yet?!

Balsamic reduction

Topping this mozzarella tomato basil salad

The simplest version of mozzarella tomato basil salad is simply olive oil and salt. Again, quality matters, so use the highest in quality olive oil that you can. Olive oils vary widely, so try to find one that fits your budget that you also like the flavor of.

And if you’d like, drizzle with some homemade balsamic reduction. It’s not required, but it adds a tangy pop to the flavors that steps it up a notch! To make homemade balsamic reduction, you simply simmer balsamic reduction for about 10 to 15 minutes until it reduces in about half and makes a syrupy drizzle. It’s perfect for crostini, sandwiches, salads, pizzas: and this mozzarella tomato basil salad, of course! Here’s how to make balsamic reduction.

How to store tomatoes

One final thought: let’s talk about how to store tomatoes! Have you heard to never store tomatoes in the refrigerator? This is mostly true. When you get those beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the farmers market, set them on your counter to fully ripen. However, according to Food52, you can store ripe tomatoes in the refrigerator! If they’re fully ripe, it can extend their life a few days.

Just make sure to allow refrigerated tomatoes to come to room temperature before serving. No one likes a cold tomato!

Mozzarella tomato basil salad

This mozzarella tomato basil salad recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free, try some brands of vegan mozzarella: we’ve heard there are some good ones these days (comment below if you know of one).

Mozzarella tomato basil salad

Mozzarella Tomato Basil Salad

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 large platter (2 large or 4 small servings) 1x


This mozzarella tomato basil salad is all about summer’s best: ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and peppery fresh basil. And it’s out of this world.



  • 6 to 8 ripe heirloom tomatoes, of different colors and sizes
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic reduction (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper


  1. Slice the tomatoes and place them on a plate.
  2. Top with torn mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and if desired, balsamic reduction. Top with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately. (Does not save well; tomatoes should not be stored refrigerated.)

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Mozzarella Tomato Basil, Mozzarella Tomato Basil Salad, Caprese Salad, Tomato Salad

Looking for more salad recipes?

Outside of this chopped salad recipe, here are a few of our favorite salads on A Couple Cooks:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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