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Panzanella Salad

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With crispy, olive oil-soaked Italian bread, juicy tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers, panzanella makes a satisfying summer supper.

Spoon in a bowl of panzanella salad.

As the summer heat cranks up, I love the idea of serving salad for dinner—and nothing satisfies quite like a hearty bread salad, such as panzanella. This rustic Tuscan dish combines crispy, olive oil-soaked bread, juicy tomatoes, a medley of fresh veggies, fresh basil, and a garlicky vinaigrette. Originally conceived to repurpose stale bread, panzanella is so incredibly delicious that I’m more than willing to grab a fresh loaf to make it.

To me, panzanella holds its own as the ultimate light summer supper. However, to appease my meat-and-potatoes-loving husband, I usually pair it with grilled pesto shrimp or grilled chicken. The recipe is adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties.

“We LOVE this salad! Thank you. Everyone should have this recipe up their sleeve.”


What You’ll Need To Make Panzanella Salad

ingredients for panzanella salad
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Permeates the bread, adding richness and flavor while keeping the exterior crispy. Also forms the base of the dressing.
  • Rustic Italian Bread: Forms the base of the salad, providing crunch and soaking up the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Tomatoes: Adds juicy sweetness, a hint of acidity, and vibrant color to the salad.
  • Bell Peppers: Offer a crunchy texture and a subtle sweetness. You can use red, yellow, or orange peppers (or one of each of 2 of the colors).
  • Cucumber: Adds crispness and a refreshing taste, balancing out the richness of the bread and olive oil.
  • Capers: Add bursts of briny, salty flavor.
  • White Wine Vinegar: Provides acidity to balance the richness of the olive oil and bread.
  • Garlic: Infuses a subtle savory flavor, tying all the ingredients together.
  • Shallots: Contribute a mild oniony flavor. Red onion is more traditional, but I prefer shallots as they don’t overpower the other flavors in the salad.
  • Fresh Basil: Adds a fragrant herbaceous note.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

How To Make Panzanella Salad

cubed bread for panzanella

Begin by cutting the bread into 1-inch cubes. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread and 1/2 teaspoon salt; toss well.

toasting bread in skillet

Cook, stirring frequently, until the bread is crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Most recipes, including the one this is based on, will have you rest the salad for up to a few hours to allow the bread to soak up the dressing. I prefer the bread crispy, so I toss it at the last minute and reserve some to sprinkle over the salad as a garnish.

golden toasted bread cubes in skillet

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, capers, wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, pepper, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup oil.

vegetables and dressing ingredients for panzanella salad in mixing bowl

Toss well.

tossing vegetables with dressing for panzanella

Right before serving, add two-thirds of the toasted bread and basil to the salad.

adding toasted bread and basil to mixing bowl

Toss to combine, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Don’t be shy with the salt, as this salad begs for a lot of seasoning.

tossed panzanella salad

Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and sprinkle the remaining toasted bread cubes over top. Serve immediately so the bread doesn’t get soggy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add protein to panzanella salad to make it a complete meal?

Sure, you can add grilled chicken or shrimp to the salad. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, cannellini beans or chickpeas would work nicely.

Can I use gluten-free bread for panzanella?

Absolutely! A sturdy gluten-free bread will work nicely as a substitute for traditional Italian bread. If you’re not gluten-free, but don’t find Italian bread at your store, some other good options are a baguette, sourdough, or ciabatta.

Can I make panzanella salad ahead of time?

I don’t recommend making the entire salad ahead, but you can combine the ingredients for the dressing up to a few days in advance (hold off on the capers until you’re ready to serve the salad). Store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Spoon in a bowl of panzanella salad.

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Panzanella Salad

With crispy, olive oil-soaked Italian bread, juicy tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers, panzanella makes a satisfying summer supper.

Servings: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes


  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups rustic Italian bread, cut into 1-in cubes (about ¾ lb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1½ pounds tomatoes, cut into 1-in cubes (about 2 large)
  • 2 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, cut into 1-in cubes
  • 1 small English or hothouse cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced shallots, from 1 large shallot
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup fresh chopped basil


  1. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bread and ½ teaspoon salt; toss well. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bread is crispy and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, capers, wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, pepper, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ½ cup oil. Toss well.
  3. Right before serving, add two-thirds of the toasted bread and basil to the salad. Toss to combine, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary (I usually add about ¼ tsp more salt). Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle the remaining toasted bread cubes over top. Serve immediately so the bread doesn't get soggy.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 327
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 28 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 497 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • What a delicious accompaniment this is to your grilled chicken, which is also perfection. I made it exactly as written and I wouldn’t change a thing. The shallots add a nice burst of flavor without having to bite into red onions pieces which are usually an ingredient in panzanella. I made extra croutons for the hungry college-aged kids, and they disappeared. Another well-balanced and delicious recipe from my favorite chef!

    • — Mary M. on July 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious & fresh. I bought a take & bake baguette so I oven baked the bread.

    • — Mp on May 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • We moved and I’m ashamed to say that we still are not unpacked (4 years in!!) and, although I have both of your (great) cookbooks, they are still packed in a box. I love your cooking and teaching style and your recipes which is why I am so grateful for your website so that this VERY slow to get 100% moved in family can still enjoy your delicious recipes! Your Panzanella salad is one of our favorites and while getting ready to serve it tonight with some seafood and summer sweet corn, I wanted to thank you – again.

    • — Annie on September 4, 2022
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  • This salad turned out great even without the croutons which actually made it a healthier version of the salad.

    • — Jereamy on August 21, 2022
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  • This is a very nice salad and a great way to utilize the fresh veggies of the season. So light and refreshing and goes very well with seafood. I also think it would do well along side a heartier meat entree.

    • — Glinda on June 25, 2022
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  • Delicious and beautiful colors. Not sure about the effort to make my own “croutons”. Next time I might buy large bread shop made croutons to save time.

    • — karen on June 19, 2022
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  • My husband won’t eat tomatoes (during high school he worked in a tomato canning factory) so I cut way back on the tomatoes and use watermelon and top the salad with a bit of feta cheese. A wonderful summer salad.

    • — Sandzi on June 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am making this tomorrow to go along with your scallops recipe. Because the scallops are so hands on and fast, I was wondering if I could put the salad together (without the tomatoes and croutons) and put it in the fridge until the scallops are ready, then fully assemble it? I’m not that good at multitasking 😅! Do you think that would ruin the salad? Thanks! (Very nervous to try my hand at making scallops for the first time)

    • — Turtle on May 6, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, that should be fine (and I’d hold off on the basil as well). Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,
        This salad was a big hit! So many compliments! Quick question; if we want to enjoy this salad for lunch throughout the week, can I make the dressing ahead of time? And if so, what ingredients do I add? Example: do I put the capers and shallots in the dressing or wait until I’m putting together the salad? I’d like to make a big batch of the dressing so I can just throw the salad together quickly at lunch. Thanks for this amazing recipe!

        • — Turtle on July 26, 2022
        • Reply
        • Glad you like it! Yes, it would be okay to make the dressing a few days ahead. I’d combine the wine vinegar, garlic, shallots, pepper, the ½ teaspoon salt, the ½ cup oil (I’d hold off on the capers).

          • — Jenn on July 26, 2022
          • Reply
  • I was skeptical about the capers, but they added a lovely subtlety that really made the dish! This was a hit at my dinner party last night – which are turning into unofficial “Once Upon a Chef” fan clubs because everyone always asks for the recipes and I pull out your two cookbooks to show them. Thank you for another win!

  • We LOVE this salad! Thank you. Everyone should have this recipe up their sleeve. Although simple, follow the recipe to get the proportion of each vegetable right. It is worth making!!!

    Just a few tips or reminders:

    MUSTARD-I also add about a tsp of Dijon mustard to the dressing. It adds a nice bit of flavour without dominating. I think I looked up Ina Garten’s version at some point and discovered hers had mustard, so it wasn’t any genius on my part. Mustard always rounds out vinaigrettes.

    GROWING BASIL- Also I let my basil grow too long this year. I failed to pick it at its prime for a variety of reasons…I didn’t know basil would go bitter when it overgrows to the seed stage. Now I know. Argh….I will need to replant some new pots.

    • — Gabriella Sacchetti
    • Reply
  • I will be making this tomorrow. Love panzanella. I just had it for lunch at a restaurant which used a recipe quite a bit like this, but added some beans for protein and arugula for its peppery bite. Quite good.

  • My husband and I enjoyed it tonight. It’s easy and tasty and a nice change.

  • I love, love, love this recipe. It is so refreshing and such a change from regular green salad. I served it with rib eyes and used your suggestion of putting half of the croutons (which were delicious on their own) in the salad and the rest of them on top when serving for crunch. Loved the seasoning and it looks so pretty too! I really like that you make it ahead and throw in the fridge and pull out a beautiful and wonderful dish to serve. I will make again and again!

  • LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this salad, I could eat it all day. It is like a new form of toasted tomato sandwiches which never grows old. Thank you!!

  • This dish is delicious! Flavors and textures are all amazing. I have a couple tips: if you don’t think you can eat it all at once, before you put the bread in the salad, split the salad in half, then mix in half of the bread and keep the other half dry, separate from the other half of the salad. Then when it’s time to enjoy the rest of it, mix in your reserved bread to the reserved salad. Don’t try to simply put the bread on your plate and then put the salad over the top. The textures and flavors were all off. You really need to mix in the bread. Anyway, it is an amazing salad that all the adults in my family enjoyed thoroughly!

  • I started making this last summer and recently made it again! We are huge fans of Panzanellas and I love the capers in the dressing of this one! This is an amazing meal with grilled steak tips on top of it! I also use Olive Oil Ciabatta for the bread and just tear it into small pieces. It is a wonderful dinner!

  • I made this salad in late July for a friend’s 60th birthday barbecue. The Panzanella Salad was her favorite from the wide selection of salads at the party. Weeks later, she still talks about how delicious it was. I love being the food rockstar!

  • Made this & ate it for dinner, then breakfast (with a fried egg & sautéed greens) & then lunch the next day

  • So delicious. I didn’t have white wine vinegar so I used white balsalmic vinegar. Thank you!

  • This is such a good way to use up dry bread – the older the better, practically, because of that great crispy/chewy bite once the croutons soak up the salad juices. Kids and hubby all love this “bread salad.”

  • My whole family loves this dish! I toasted the bread pieces in the oven and added cannelini beans for some added protein. Otherwise, followed the recipe as written and this is a perfect summer salad.

  • This salad is absolutely delicious and so easy to make! My husband loved it, as did I. It is flavorful and colorful; what’s not to like?

  • Amazing and so easy to make. I left out the capers because my husband doesn’t like them and it was still delicious. Definitely making this again very soon.

  • This was excellent! Although I also made the homemade croutons- it was great without them as well.

  • I made this salad along with your restaurant style salmon. Delicious! Another winner! Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Colette Dryden
    • Reply
  • Can you toast bread in oven as croutons

    • Yes, that will work. Enjoy!

  • Is there a substitute for the capers or can they be omitted?

    • It’s fine to just omit them, Lynda. Hope you enjoy the salad!

  • I’ve always wanted to try panzanella, I remember seeing Ina make it on Barefoot Contessa years ago, but I’m a picky fresh tomato person so I’ve always put it off…until today when I checked my inbox and saw your recipe, realizing I had everything I needed fresh from the garden. I can’t stop eating it. It’s amazing! I’m sure the stellar veggies and fresh baked bread have a lot to do with it, but your flavors are spot on! Per usual 😁 thank you for the perfect addition to my summer time dinner rotation!

  • Yes, I made this, I have all the barefoot contessa books by the way… the salad was very good, I will make it again from time to time. thank you, David (I don’t know how to share it on Instagram or I would.)

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