Caprese Salad Recipe

All you need are the freshest ingredients to make a simple caprese salad&mdashbut resist the balsamic vinegar.

The key to a perfect Caprese salad is not messing it up. Photograph and video: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • High-quality ingredients in perfect balance showcase their simplicity.
  • Crunchy sea salt adds both texture and flavor.

There's really nothing to it: Get the absolute best-quality tomatoes, olive oil, basil, and mozzarella you can find, put them on a plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and serve. The hardest part is resisting the temptation to add anything else, but stay strong and step away from the balsamic vinegar.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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  • 1 1/2 pounds (675g) best-quality ripe tomatoes, mixed sizes, at room temperature
  • 8 to 12 ounces (225 to 340g) best-quality fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size chunks
  • Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel
  • Coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves


  1. Cut tomatoes into an assortment of slices and chunks and spread over a large plate in a single, slightly overlapping layer. Tuck chunks of mozzarella into the tomato pieces. Drizzle generously with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and black pepper. Tear basil leaves into small pieces with your fingertips and spread them on top. Serve immediately.


If you have fresh mozzarella from the dairy, do not refrigerate it, as this will cause it to tighten and lose its juicy texture. If you find yourself with refrigerated mozzarella, the best way to restore it to its former glory is by submerging it in warm, salty milk for a spell.

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