Transport yourself to the streets of Italy with this classic caprese sandwich, made simply with high quality ingredients like good bread, fresh mozzarella, basil, and ripe tomatoes.
It’s the perfect lunch. It’s the perfect dinner. You really can’t go wrong with a simple caprese sandwich made the way Italians meant it to be. Although there are some variations, this recipe is classic with one little twist!
Italian ciabatta bread is chewy and flavorful, stacked with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic, olive oil, and coarse salt. The tiny twist? The ciabatta is slightly heated in the oven to refresh them, and they’re rubbed with garlic warm out of the oven so each roll is scented with a hint of garlic. I mean…come on! No other words are needed. Let’s make these sammies!
Loving caprese but don’t want the carbs? Try this Bruschetta Chicken with all the flavors of caprese over deliciously grilled or baked chicken.
Caprese Sandwich Ingredients
- Ciabatta rolls – ciabatta is classic! Try to find long, rectangular ciabatta rolls (the amounts in this recipe are specifically for this). If you can’t find them, grocery stores often have smaller square rolls. If you can’t find those either, you can buy a full ciabatta loaf and cut it into 4 sandwiches, or use a baguette, focaccia, or other bread or rolls.
- Fresh mozzarella – I like pre-sliced fresh mozzarella to make life easy! You can also slice your own, or even buy buffalo mozzarella for a creamier version!
- Campari or Roma tomatoes – I love Campari tomatoes. They’re usually nice and ripe and meaty. Roma tomatoes are also classic. If you can’t find either, you can use cocktail tomatoes, regular tomatoes, or heirlooms.
- Fresh basil – you can’t beat it! You can also use pesto if preferred.
- Garlic – garlic rubbed on the ciabatta adds amazing flavor. You can opt out of the garlic if preferred.
- Good-quality thick balsamic vinegar – look for words like drizzle, glaze or reduction on the bottle. Also look for no sugar added. Good quality balsamic is naturally sweet!
- Extra virgin olive oil – look for good quality olive oil from Italy for the most authentic result.
- Coarse finishing salt – coarse sea salt or fleur de sel are great finishing salts for caprese sandwiches!
How to Make A Caprese Sandwich
Full instructions in the recipe card; this is just an outline!
Preheat oven to the broil setting. Using a sharp knife, slice the rolls lengthwise to create both top and bottom pieces.
Arrange the cut sides of the rolls facing up on a baking sheet. Broil the bread for a brief 2-4 minutes until it warms and just starts to toast.
Once out of the oven, rub a peeled garlic clove on each piece of bread. You might not need the entire clove.
Drizzle each piece with olive oil, making sure to be generous without saturating.
Place mozzarella slices over each bottom piece, ensuring full coverage. Add tomato slices to completely cover the mozzarella. Layer basil leaves over the tomatoes.
Drizzle the bottom halves with balsamic and sprinkle with salt.
Complete the sandwiches by adding the top halves. If desired, cut the sandwiches in half. Now it’s time to enjoy!
Additions and Variations
There are numerous ways to customize and enhance a traditional Caprese sandwich while keeping its essence intact. Here are some additions and variations:
- Pesto (instead of basil): buy it or make your own with the pesto in this Pesto Pasta recipe!
- Oven Roasted Tomatoes
- Grilled vegetables
- Arugula or spinach
- Sliced avocado or Avocado Pesto
- Different mozzarella varieties (smoked, burrata, etc.)
- Melt the mozzarella
- Sun-Dried tomatoes or Sun-Dried Tomato Olive Tapenade
- Caramelized onions
- Different bread (focaccia, baguette. sourdough, whole grain, etc.)
- Nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, etc.)
- Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts
- Press the sandwiches in a panini pressed or grilled in a pan like a grilled cheese
- Grill for a warm, smoky twist
Caprese Sandwich Serving Suggestions
Caprese sandwiches are a perfect meal on their own, but if you’re looking for delicious serving suggestions, here are some options!
- Side salad: try simple dressed greens, or a Classic Italian Salad.
- Soup: how about a bowl of Tuscan White Bean Soup or Chicken and Rice Soup?
- Antipasto platter: include as part of a spread, cutting sandwiches into small pieces.
- Grilled or roasted vegetables: I love simple Broiled Asparagus.
- Chips or crisps: complete the meal with a satisfying crunch.
- Mixed Olives: Citrus Marinated Olives are the best!
Caprese Sandwich Tips
- Try to add even amounts of each ingredient to your sandwiches for balanced bites.
- Use high quality ingredients for best flavors!
- Ciabatta rolls are a timeless choice! The quantities provided are tailored for crafting four rectangular ciabatta roll sandwiches. In case you come across smaller square rolls, this recipe will make approximately six sandwiches. Opting for a full ciabatta loaf will result in about four sandwiches. If ciabatta isn’t available, feel free to use focaccia, baguette, or any other preferred bread or rolls.
- To streamline the process, I often go for pre-sliced fresh mozzarella. However, if you prefer, you can slice your own mozzarella. Buffalo mozzarella is also a creamier option!
- Campari tomatoes are a personal favorite due to their meaty texture and vibrant red ripeness. Classic Roma tomatoes are also a great fit for Caprese sandwiches. In case neither are accessible, cocktail tomatoes, regular ripe tomatoes, or heirlooms can serve as alternatives.
- When shopping for balsamic vinegar, keep an eye out for terms like “drizzle,” “glaze,” or “reduction” on the bottle. Personally, I lean towards balsamic vinegar without added sugar, as its sweetness should derive naturally from the grapes themselves.
- Warming the bread and rubbing it with garlic are optional steps.
- While these sandwiches are best enjoyed immediately, they can sit at room temp for up to two hours or pop them in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
More Sandwich Recipes You’ll Love!
- BEST Salami Sandwich
- The Ultimate Leftover Turkey Sandwich
- Pesto Chicken Sub Sandwiches
- Tomato Sandwiches
- 4-6 ciabatta rolls see notes for details and alternatives
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella sliced
- 1 ½ pounds fresh Campari or Roma tomatoes cut into roughly ½ inch slices
- 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
- 1 large garlic clove peeled
- Good-quality thick balsamic vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse finishing salt to taste
- Preheat oven to broil. Slice rolls lengthwise with a sharp knife to create tops and bottoms.
- Lay the tops and bottoms cut-side up on a baking sheet. Broil bread for 2-4 minutes until warm and just starting to toast.
- Remove from the oven and rub the peeled garlic clove on each piece of bread. You may not use the whole clove.
- Drizzle each piece will olive oil (generously but not soaking).
- Lay mozzarella slices across each bottom piece of bread, covering completely. Add tomato slices, completely covering the mozzarella. Add basil leaves, completely covering the tomato slices.
- Drizzle bottom halves with balsamic. Sprinkle with salt.
- Add top halves. Slice sandwiches in halve if desired. Enjoy!
- Ciabatta is classic! The amounts listed above are specifically for 4 long, rectangular ciabatta roll sandwiches. If you can only find small square rolls, this recipe will yield about 6 sandwiches. If you use a full ciabatta loaf, it will yield about 4 large sandwiches. If you can’t find ciabatta, you can also use focaccia, a baguette, or really any other bread or rolls you desire.
- I like to buy pre-sliced fresh mozzarella to make life easier! You can slice your own mozzarella if preferred. You can also use buffalo mozzarella!
- I love Campari tomatoes because they are meaty and usually red and ripe. Roma tomatoes are also classic on caprese sandwiches. If you can’t find either, you can use cocktail tomatoes, regular ripe tomatoes or heirlooms.
- Look for words like “drizzle”, “glaze” or “reduction” on the balsamic vinegar bottle. I also prefer balsamic vinegar that has no added sugar since good balsamic is sweetened by the grapes themselves.
- Warming the bread and rubbing it with garlic are optional steps (but my favorite parts!)
- Caprese sandwiches are best enjoyed right away, but can be left on a platter for up to 2 hours or refrigerated for 1-2 days!