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Home > Salad > Panzanella Salad with the Best Dressing (VIDEO)

Panzanella Salad with the Best Dressing (VIDEO)

Panzanella Salad with crusty bread, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and the best homemade vinaigrette dressing. Try this bread salad once and it will become an instant favorite. Tomato Panzanella is right up there with our popular Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad.

Panzanella Salad tossed in a bowl garnished with basil

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Our garden produces so many tomatoes and tons of basil in summer and we love creative and delicious ways to take advantage of them at their peak of freshness before we start freezing batches of Roasted Salsa and Canning Tomatoes. My whole family loves this tomato salad, even my 11-year old son who otherwise doesn’t like tomatoes, but went back for refills.

Panzanella Video Tutorial

Watch how to make this Panzanella recipe (and you’ll even learn how to make homemade croutons). There are so many reasons to love this recipe:

  • Leftover bread – this is the best way to use up leftover bread, particularly crusty, hearty bread like sourdough or Ciabatta which is a sad thing to go to waste.
  • Ripe Tomatoes – while most salads call for firm tomatoes, Panzanella is marvelous with tomatoes that are a bit overripe and at their peak of sweetness.
  • Make-Ahead – you can pre-make the croutons (they will keep up to a week at room temperature).
  • The Best Dressing – you’ll love this simple red wine vinegar, garlic, and olive oil vinaigrette. It’s light, vibrant, and adds tons of flavor to this salad. You can also make it ahead.

What is Panzanella?

Panzanella is a Tuscan Salad that is popular throughout Italy. It is a chopped salad with toasted bread, tomatoes, onions, and fresh basil. The salad is soaked in a simple vinaigrette dressing that makes every bite mouthwatering and delicious.

Ingredients for Panzanella Salad

What is the Best Bread for Panzanella?

A sturdy stale bread works best and is less likely to become soggy from the dressing, which makes this a brilliant way to use up leftover bread. These are the best bread varieties for Panzanella:

  • Ciabatta Bread – with a thick crust and alveolar holes that keep it from getting soggy
  • Baguette – also crusty on the outside, spongy inside, similar to our Wreath Bread.
  • Sourdough Bread – this has a different flavor profile that you’ll love
  • Focaccia Bread – this makes for some super tasty croutons.
Bread Salad with Tomatoes in Bowl

How to Make Panzanella Salad

1. Toast the Bread: slice your stale crusty bread into 1-inch pieces. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Scatter on a baking sheet and bake at 400˚F for 9-11 minutes then set aside to cool. Note: Edges should be golden brown and fully dried through so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Crusty bread tossed in oil and baked on baking sheet

2. Make the Dressing: combine vinaigrette dressing ingredients (extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, grated garlic, salt, and pepper) and whisk to combine.

Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients mixed together in measuring cup

3. Toss Salad: Place remaining Panzanella salad ingredients into the same mixing bowl you used for the bread. Add the cooled bread. Drizzle on the dressing 15-20 minutes before serving and toss gently to combine. Garnish with more basil.

Panzanella Salad ingredients arranged in bowl with toasted bread, tomatoes, basil, onion and cheese

Variations

We love changing up this salad based on what we have on hand. Some of our favorites are:

  • Cheese – adding fresh mozzarella or feta cheese adds protein and adds a little salty bite
  • Chicken – add diced Rotisserie Chicken to make this a Chicken Panzanella
  • Salami – adds that salty bite that we find irresistible, like in our Pasta Salad.
  • Colorful Tomatoes – use a variety of heirloom or cherry tomatoes or both. The more colorful, the better!
  • Cucumbers are delicious, but they tend to get juicy so consider seeding them.
  • Olives – add your favorite olives to turn this into a Greek Panzanella
Mixed panzanella salad with tomatoes and bread

What to Serve with Panzanella Salad

This salad can be served as a side salad or as a light and satisfying lunch. The addition of toasted bread and mozzarella cheese makes it hearty and satisfying. We love to pair it with these Italian-Inspired Dishes:

Panzanella Salad Recipe

4.99 from 51 votes
Prep Time: 18 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Panzanella Recipe in white bowl
Panzanella Salad with crusty bread, juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, and the best homemade vinaigrette dressing.
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $8-$10 (varies by season)
Keyword: panzanella, panzanella salad
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Salad
Calories: 295
Servings: 6 people as a side salad

Ingredients

For the Tomato Panzanella Salad:

  • 6 oz crusty bread*, (1/2 loaf) cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 2 lbs ripe tomatoes, cut into small wedges or bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, halved mozzarella pearls
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, (about 22 leaves), coarsely chopped, plus more to garnish

For the Vinaigrette Dressing:

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place bread in a mixing bowl, drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake for 9-12 minutes until toasted then set aside to cool. Edges should be golden brown and crisp and the centers should be fully dried through.

  2. In a small bowl, combine vinaigrette dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Set it aside for the flavors to meld while you prepare the rest of your salad ingredients.

  3. Place remaining Panzanella salad ingredients into the same mixing bowl you used for the bread. Add the cooled bread. About 10-15 minutes before serving, drizzle on the dressing, adding it to taste. Toss the salad gently to combine.

Recipe Notes

Use sturdy bread like Ciabatta or Sourdough and your croutons will be less likely to get soggy. 

Nutrition Facts
Panzanella Salad Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 295 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 15mg5%
Sodium 375mg16%
Potassium 392mg11%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1493IU30%
Vitamin C 22mg27%
Calcium 118mg12%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Jo
    August 19, 2022

    We loved this recipe. I made the croutons in the air fryer from focaccia and ate half of them before I served the salad. Will be definitely making this again.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 19, 2022

      Hi Jo! I can eat these croutons all by themselves lol! So glad you enjoyed this recipe! 🙂

      Reply

  • Sharif
    August 18, 2022

    Hi

    Is it possible to replace red wine vinegar with a different vinegar ?

    Thanks

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 19, 2022

      Hi Sharif, I have only tried this with a different vinegar, so I can’t advise. Balsamic may work here, but it will change the flavor profile. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

  • Becky
    August 18, 2022

    Want to try this recipe! Am wondering if can use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 18, 2022

      Hi Becky! I have only tried this with red wine vinegar, so I can’t advise. Balsamic may work here, but it will change the flavor profile. If you experiment, let me know how you liked the recipe.

      Reply

  • CB
    August 14, 2022

    Amazing! Love this as an alternative to the traditional caprese salad!!! Soooo delicious!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 14, 2022

      I’m glad you liked it!

      Reply

  • Mirna Zelada
    August 8, 2022

    I will try the salad.
    It look delicious.
    And just to let you know I found the shark infron of the olive oil.

    Thank you kindly for sharing your recipes.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 8, 2022

      Hi Mirna! Thank you. I hope you love this salad!

      Reply

  • LISA CHESTNUT-KUSZMAR
    August 6, 2022

    Hi love the salad, I was telling my husband who is deaf, and planning to make the salad tonight. thank for the recipe. Loves it.
    Lisa

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 6, 2022

      I’m so glad he loved that! Thank you for sharing that with me, Lisa!

      Reply

  • Kathy
    August 5, 2022

    I too enjoy your recipes and all the extra helpful info. I’m asking what kind of bread did you use in the video? I could only find the take & bake ciabatta. I baked it but it didn’t seem the best because there were quite a few hollow areas. Will try another bread.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 5, 2022

      Hi Kathy! I have made this salad with sourdough and Ciabatta! They both work great in my experience. They both will have holes more or less depending on the loaf you purchase. It’s hard to tell without seeing the inside of the bread loaf. I hope you have more success on your next attempt.

      Reply

  • Karen
    August 5, 2022

    Hi Natasha,
    I have all the Ingredients for this recipe and definitely going to make this for dinner and can’t wait to eat it. Thanks for another great recipe!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 5, 2022

      Hi Karen! You’re very welcome. I really do hope you enjoy it. 🙂

      Reply

  • Bobbie
    August 5, 2022

    I saw sharky! He popped up at your right and peaked over the chopping board. This salad is like Bruschetta appetizers (which I love), but even better. I will be trying this one. How very elegant. Your cooking videos are definitely my favorite online. I always learn something new and useful. Thank you!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 5, 2022

      That is very kind, Bobbie! So glad you enjoy my recipes. I hope you love this salad! 🙂

      Reply

  • Sandy Matza
    August 5, 2022

    Natasha, I’m making this tonight. Looks so refreshing and light. Yur the Best. Keep the recipes coming. You have a very handsome son.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      August 5, 2022

      Thank you, Sandy! I hope you love this recipe.

      Reply

  • Sonia K
    June 24, 2022

    Love your recipes, this one looks fabulous so gonna try. Thanks for sharing! 👩🏻‍🍳

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      June 24, 2022

      You’re very welcome!

      Reply

  • candace
    May 13, 2022

    wonderful with arugula too and big green olives. this recipe is quick and healthy love it!!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 13, 2022

      Thank you for the review, Candace!

      Reply

  • Mary
    April 10, 2022

    Absolutely delicious – everyone I make it for wants the recipe. It is my new go-to salad for events now!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 10, 2022

      Great to hear that, Mary! Thanks a lot for sharing that with us.

      Reply

  • Emily
    February 11, 2022

    Made this recipe for the first time today. A great discovery!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 11, 2022

      That’s so great! It sounds like you have a new favorite!

      Reply

  • Melanie Flores
    February 5, 2022

    Amazing!!!! Fresh tasting. Great side with juicy roast chicken. I added slivers of crunchy toasted Genoa salami.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      February 5, 2022

      Yum! That’s just awesome! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review, Melanie!

      Reply

  • Mary
    August 12, 2021

    Love your recipes. This was spot on. I used balsamic cause I have giant Costco bottle and added grilled chicken. Having leftovers tonight. Yum!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 12, 2021

      That’s awesome, Mary! So great to hear that you loved this recipe!

      Reply

  • Ruth Smith
    August 3, 2021

    This is the best salad, exactly as written. Love it.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 3, 2021

      Thank you, Ruth!

      Reply

  • Madeline
    August 3, 2021

    You have been posting videos on my page and I love your recipes and your style of cooking: chopping, breading, etc and I love you and your family…I am so happy to be a part of your blog. Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 3, 2021

      Aww! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my videos and recipes, Madeline! Are you seeing them come through your Facebook page? 🙂

      Reply

  • Judy
    July 31, 2021

    You are adorable! And best of all—you make things look pretty easy. Love this website-it’s now in my “favorites!”

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 31, 2021

      Thank you for that wonderful compliment, Judy!

      Reply

  • Gabor
    June 23, 2021

    Me and friend had a salad off, I made mine with salami and she made hers with chicken, it was really nice both ways. Great recipe

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 23, 2021

      YUm! Love that! Thank you for sharing this great review with me, Gabor!

      Reply

  • Armstrong
    May 29, 2021

    You must let this salad rest in the refrigerator at lease 4 to 6 hours until it all gets marinated together. Otherwise it will have no taste.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 29, 2021

      Thank you so sharing that Armstrong! We love it fresh but that sounds tasty!

      Reply

  • Marisa L
    May 2, 2021

    Hi Natasha, I am very interested in trying out this recipe, can I use store bought croutons or do you recommend in making them?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 3, 2021

      I love the flavor and texture of the homemade croutons, but if I were to use a store-bought crouton, I would probably go for the ones from Costco made out of focaccia bread.

      Reply

  • Carmine Battista
    April 2, 2021

    Made this with pepperoni and green olives. Soooo good!

    Still waiting for your Food Network show!!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 2, 2021

      You’re so nice! Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Shirley
    December 27, 2020

    Love your recipes they are simple and what most people like to eat. I can’t eat a lot of onions so I omit them with a lot of your recipes. Keep the good stuff coming.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 27, 2020

      Sounds good, Shirley. So great to hear that you’re enjoying my recipes!

      Reply

  • Pat
    September 14, 2020

    OMG! This is my new favourite! Only change was feta cheese instead of mozzarella as that’s what I had. It was a big hit!
    D E L I S H!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 14, 2020

      That’s just awesome Pat! Thank you for sharing that wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Michelle
    September 9, 2020

    can you get your bread ready ahead of time and then make the whole thing later in the day?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      September 9, 2020

      Hi Michelle, yes that would work great to make the bread ahead.

      Reply

  • Stephanie
    August 31, 2020

    I just loved all of the delicious flavors in this salad! And the homemade croutons were the perfect touch!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      August 31, 2020

      Hi Stephanie, I’m so glad to hear you loved the flavors. That dressing really takes it over the top and the croutons of course!

      Reply

  • Wendy
    August 30, 2020

    I am really enjoying your recipes and am looking forward to more ‘meat-free’ recipes – though I have certainly made your meatloaf several times!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 30, 2020

      Thanks for your good feedback and suggestion, Wendy!

      Reply

  • Olga
    August 29, 2020

    Just perfect for my garden grown tomatoes and basil!! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 29, 2020

      You’re welcome Olga! I’m happy you enjoyed that!

      Reply

  • Betsy
    August 29, 2020

    My husband has always maintained that croutons with dressing and a few other toppings is a salad. You just proved him right. Deliciously right! Fresh, bright, and oh, so yummy!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 29, 2020

      I’m so glad! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful feedback with me Betsy!

      Reply

  • Lisalia
    August 28, 2020

    Yummy! My family loved this salad. It’s so so good with all the ripe tomatoes we have now. The perfect thing to make with tomatoes. Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 29, 2020

      You’re welcome!! The garden is full of them and this is seriously the best salad for fresh tomatoes!

      Reply

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