In my opinion, there is no better Italian appetizer than Bruschetta.
Bruschetta is the traditional Italian appetizer made of tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar glaze, olive oil, and cheese, served over large slices of Italian or sourdough bread.
It’s light, sweet, tangy, and when prepared right, will feel like it’s melting in your mouth.
Growing up, I always loved Bruschetta. I would eat it in the morning for breakfast, using the freshest tomatoes my mom would be growing in her garden.
To be honest, Bruschetta is still my favorite breakfast in the summertime.
But as I got older, I was happily surprised to find out that many Italian restaurants serve Bruschetta as a starter, and it is the perfect appetizer to enjoy with friends. I now almost always take advantage of it.
In Italy, especially, I think I would order one serving of Bruschetta a day. Zero shame.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. I had to come home from Italy, but as soon as I landed, I took it upon myself to learn how to make the best Bruschetta imaginable with good quality ingredients.
And today, I’m going to show you how to make it. Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to perfect this easy appetizer.
Ingredients for Bruschetta
Mozzarella cheese: The key here is to use fresh mozzarella cheese. You can use fresh mozzarella pearls (mini mozzarella balls) or dice your mozzarella into small pieces. Whatever you do, just make sure it’s fresh.
Fresh tomatoes: Using fresh tomatoes rather than store bought tomatoes is such a game changer. Many people love to grow these themselves. If that’s not your speed, you can buy these from your local farmer’s market! I like to make my bruschetta with regular or Roma tomatoes rather than cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes.
Fresh basil: Same deal as the tomatoes, it’s all just so much better fresh.
Garlic: Jarred garlic is NOT an option here! Don’t mince the cloves, rather rub the cloves directly over the toasted bread after the fact.
Balsamic vinegar glaze: In my opinion, this is the star of the show. You can get a bottle of this from your local grocery store, just get a quality one.
Extra virgin olive oil: Use a quality EVOO, one that you won’t mind tasting!
Italian bread: We recommend a sourdough over French bread, but this is entirely up to your personal preference.
Grated Romano cheese: Is it really an Italian dish if it isn’t being served with grated Romano?
How to make Bruschetta
Preheat your oven to 400° and brush extra virgin olive oil all over the bread slices. Toast the bread until golden brown, flipping halfway through.
While the bread is toasting in the oven, begin to prepare your tomato by dicing it.
Roll up your basil leaves tightly and slice them into little thin ribbons.
Toss your basil and tomato into a large bowl with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Take your toasted slices of bread and rub the garlic clove directly over the surface of each slice, covering each slice of bread with the flavor of the garlic.
Next, begin to prepare your mozzarella. If you have a fresh mozzarella ball rather than mozzarella pearls, use your hands to break up the cheese into small pieces.
Once mixed, spoon your bruschetta mixture onto the slices of bread. Top with mozzarella.
Q: How long is Bruschetta good for?
A: Unfortunately, this really doesn’t keep well at all, so try to serve it immediately.
Q: What’s the difference between Bruschetta, Caprese, and Crostini?
A: Crostinis are pretty much the same thing, only the bread is typically a smaller, rounder, toasted french style baguette slice rather than the large Italian bread bruschetta is known for.
Caprese, on the other hand, is the name of an Italian tomato salad containing most of the ingredients of bruschetta. A caprese salad is served as (you guessed it) salad, on a plate or in a bowl and not over bread. The mozzarella and tomatoes are also prepared differently, as they are sliced rather than diced into smaller pieces.
Bruschetta, crostins, and caprese are obviously all in the same family. But in my opinion, bruschetta is more popular and more widely enjoyed around the world.
Q: What kind of cheese do I use with Bruschetta?
A: A lot of people prefer to make their bruschetta with burrata, but I personally like it better with fresh mozzarella cheese.
In my opinion, it’s creamier, firmer, and has a better flavor and texture to it.
People will sometimes choose to forgo the mozzarella altogether and opt for just light parmesan, bringing out the flavor of the tomatoes and balsamic. While delicious in and of itself, and more of a traditional bruschetta, I find this to be tart and lacking in creaminess.
What do I serve with Bruschetta?
Wine: Sitting in Rome, I enjoyed my Bruschetta with a bottle of Rosso di Classe Merlot. It was perfect!
Main course: Sometimes, I like to cook chicken breasts and broil some of the leftover mozzarella on top of them at the end. Once they’re finished, I spoon some of the Bruschetta mixture on top of the breasts, and eat this as my meal, adding in some red onion if I have any. It comes out perfect every time!
Other appetizers: If you’re choosing to serve this with a bunch of other Italian appetizers, I recommend making an antipasti platter. The flavors of your bruschetta will contrast really well with the other Italian meats and cheeses.