This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

This tomato basil salad captures the magic of the season! Marinate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a recipe that’s pure summer.

Tomato basil salad

Here’s a recipe for the depths of summer, when the afternoons are steamy and the farmers markets are packed with produce. Yes, tomato basil salad might be basic, but it’s the best kind of basic. The marriage of juicy, bright heirloom tomatoes and herby fresh basil is one of life’s greatest pairings. This combo never gets old. This salad is an easy way to enjoy it: simply marinate the two with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to bring out their inner beauty. Top with chunky sea salt and it’s a salad that works at any meal: lunch, dinner, brunch…or a snack in between.

Ingredients in tomato basil salad

This tomato basil salad is ultra simple: so the quality of the ingredients is key. The less ingredients, the more quality you need! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Ripe, seasonal tomatoes: The key to this salad: you must have the best tomatoes you can find. Only buy them when they’re in season! This salad is not for winter. Heirloom tomatoes have great flavor (see below). Try your local farmers market, or buy the ripest tomatoes you can find at the grocery. A mix of large and cherry tomatoes is nice.
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt or flaky sea salt
Tomato basil salad

Let the flavors marinade!

Here’s the key to this tomato basil salad: let the flavors marinate at room temperature so that they develop and intensify. Sure, you can eat it right away. But if you let it sit for even 15 minutes, the flavors come together into something even more wonderful.

The best marinating time is between 15 to 30 minutes: do whatever you have time for. Make sure to keep them at room temperature: do not refrigerate! Refrigerating dulls the flavors in tomatoes. You can marinate it for up to 2 hours before serving.

One tip: when serving the salad, use a slotted spoon! Lots of tomato juices will built up in the bottom of the bowl, so you’ll want to filter those out when serving.

How to thinly slice basil (chiffonade)

Wondering how to quickly slice basil into strips? It’s called chiffonade, which means “to crumple” in French. This word is used for the technique of cutting leafy vegetables into thin strips. You’ll need to chiffonade the basil for this tomato basil salad. It’s easy to do once you know a few tips:

  1. Roll the leaves: Place all the leaves in a stack, with the stems facing the same way. Roll up the leaves, toward the stem end.
  2. Slice: With a firm grip on your chef’s knife, cut the roll into thin strips cross-wise.

Want to see how it’s done? Go to How to Chiffonade for a video.

Heirloom tomatoes

What are heirloom tomatoes?

Heirloom tomatoes are a variety of tomato that has been passed down through several generations by saving the seeds. Each type of heirloom tomato has a different flavor and a beautiful color, from red to green to yellow to purple.

You don’t have to use heirloom tomatoes for this tomato basil salad: but they add a nuance of flavor and bright colors that make it irresistible! We love buying different heirloom varieties at our local farmers market. (We also try to grow them in our garden, but usually the squirrels get them first!)

Flavor variations!

This tomato basil salad is also endlessly customizable. Here are a few variations that we recommend for serving it:

  • Drizzle with basil dressing. Take it up a notch with this tangy Fresh Basil Vinaigrette.
  • Add fresh mozzarella or burrata. Turn it into a take on Caprese salad. For the best taste treat add burrata, a rich cream filled mozzarella.
  • Stir in mixed garlic. Add 1 small clove minced raw garlic.
  • Serve with toast. Scoop it up with homemade crostini.
  • Add chickpeas or white beans. Add drained beans, mixed with salt and pepper, to add a bit of plant-based protein.
Tomato basil salad

How to serve tomato basil salad

Here’s the thing: this tomato basil salad works for so many different occasions. In the summer, anything goes! Serve it as a healthy side dish for a meal on the grill, or use it for a summer brunch with a quiche. Here are a few ideas we love:

This tomato basil salad is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Tomato basil salad

Tomato Basil Salad

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This tomato basil salad captures the magic of the season! Marinate the flavors with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for a recipe that’s pure summer.


  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 handful cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup basil, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more for serving
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Chop the tomatoes, cutting off any tough parts of the core but leaving the seeds. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
  2. Thinly slice the basil (roll the leaves and then thinly slice them).
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently to combine.
  4. Cover and rest at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before serving. Transfer to a platter with a slotted spoon. Add sea salt to taste before serving.
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Raw
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Tomato basil salad

More tomato salads

There are so many great tomato salads to enjoy in the summer! Here are some more favorites:

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 for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. First of all let me say that I love tomatoes probably better than any other single food on earth!!!
    My kitchen will always, 24/7…365 have a bowl of tomatoes.
    I make a variety of this delicious salad. Mine has tomatoes, English cucumbers and avocado, for the dressing I use olive oil, fresh (and only) fresh squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper. I’ve been known to make it if I only have tomatoes, but this salad has to have at least 3 times as many tomatoes as anything else. I’ve tried it using balsamic vinegar but it just doesn’t taste as good as it does with lemon juice, but that’s just me.