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Panzanella Salad (with the Best Dressing!)

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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Why we Love this Salad:

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.

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?

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:

  • Crusty French Bread (with a spongy center) – not the cotton candy soft french bread.
  • 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.
  • Rustic Sourdough Bread – this has a different flavor profile that you’ll love
  • French Style Country Bread – crusty stale country bread works well

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 crisp and the centers should be chewy. Remember, we aren’t making croutons.

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

What Else Can I Add to this Italian Salad?

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 add 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 – 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 Dishes:

Panzanella Salad

5 from 5 votes
Panzanella Salad in mixing 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, Side Dish
Calories: 295 kcal
Servings: 6 people as a side salad

Ingredients

For the Tomato Panzanella Salad:

  • 6oz 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
  • 4 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:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

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 9-11 minutes until toasted then set aside to cool. Edges should be golden brown and crisp and the centers should be slighly chewy.

  2. In a small bowl, combine vinaigrette dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.

  3. Place remaining Panzanella salad ingredients into the same mixing bowl you used for the bread. Add the cooled bread. About 15-20 minutes before serving, drizzle on the dressing and toss the salad gently to combine. Garnish with more chopped basil to serve.

Nutrition Facts
Panzanella Salad
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.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

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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

  • 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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