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This delicious panzanella salad is easy to make and bursting with fresh summer flavors.


Summer tomato season calls for allllll the panzanella salads! ♡

This classic Tuscan bread and tomato salad is one of my absolute favorite summertime meals, transforming a handful of humble ingredients into something so special and satisfying. It’s easy to make with homemade garlic croutons (yes, a quick homemade batch is essential to achieve the proper crispy/chewy texture for panzanella), which are then tossed with juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp bell peppers and cucumbers, tangy red onion, loads of fresh basil, and your choice of creamy feta or mozzarella. Then everything gets tossed with a red wine vinaigrette and left to rest for 30 minutes so that the croutons can soak up all of those gorgeous fresh flavors. It seriously tastes like the best of summertime in every bite and those vibrant colors are always such a showstopper. The perfect dish for the season!

That said, one of the best things about panzanella is that it’s endlessly versatile. So feel free to customize your own salad by swapping in whatever type of leftover bread, veggies (or fruit!), cheese, or vinaigrette that you happen to have on hand. However you make it, panzanella deserves a spot on every summer meal rotation. So grab a few pints of fresh tomatoes and let’s make a batch together!

Panzanella ingredients

Panzanella Ingredients

Here are a few quick notes about the panzanella ingredients that you will need to make this simple bread salad:

  • Garlic croutons: It’s essential (in my opinion!) to make homemade croutons here so that they are the proper texture — crunchy and golden around the edges, yet still slightly soft with a bit of give on the inside so that they’re easy to chew. Stale, crusty bread works best for making croutons, but I’ve honestly made plenty of batches with a fresh loaf and can vouch that either will work. You’ll just need 5 ingredients to make a quick batch — a small loaf of ciabatta or sourdough, olive oil, garlic powder, fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
  • Red wine vinaigretteI most often use a basic red wine vinaigrette when making panzanella, but feel free to use any other vinaigrette you love that pairs well with these ingredients.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Small cherry or grape tomatoes add the perfect pop of fresh sweet flavor, juicy texture, and beautiful color to panzanella salads. I often like to reach for multicolored tomatoes this time of year, but go with whatever ripe tomatoes look good!
  • Feta cheese: I alternate between making this salad with crumbled feta, goat cheese and pearl mozzarella balls — they’re all wonderful options! We used feta in the batch pictured here, whose tangy, creamy flavor always tastes delicious.
  • Cucumbers: Thinly sliced English or mini cucumbers add a lovely hint of crunchy texture and fresh flavor to the salad.
  • Bell pepper: I love adding either a yellow or red bell pepper to panzanella salads for extra sweetness, color and crisp texture.
  • Red onion: Red onions add a nice hint of sharp, slightly sweet flavor to contrast the sweetness of the tomatoes. Sliced shallots could also work well here if you prefer a more mild oniony flavor, or you can always briefly rinse the sliced onions to reduce the intensity of their flavor as well.
  • Fresh basil: Finally, don’t be shy with adding in plenty of chopped fresh basil leaves to the salad! The wonderful aromatic flavor of fresh basil really makes this salad come alive, so I vote the more the merrier.

How to make panzanella salad

Panzanella Tips

Full instructions for how to make panzanella are included in the recipe box below, but here are a few additional tips for making the best panzanella:

  • Use homemade croutons. I’ll say it again…panzanella is just a million times better when made with homemade croutons. This gives you the chance to use good-quality bread, season the croutons to taste, and bake them until they’re crispy yet still slightly soft inside, which is the perfect texture for enjoying a big bite.
  • Choose the ripest, sweetest tomatoes available. I really prefer the sweetness that smaller cherry or grape tomatoes lend to panzanella, but feel free to use whatever variety of ripe, sweet tomatoes are available.
  • Don’t overmix. Be gentle when tossing the salad, especially since the croutons become a bit more delicate once they are soaked with the dressing.
  • Rest the salad before serving, if possible. If you have an extra 30 minutes to spare, panzanella tastes even better after the dressing has had a chance to sit and soak into the croutons and other ingredients. However, if you’re in a hurry, it’s still delicious served right away. :)

Panzanella salad

Panzanella Variations

Here are a few more variations that would taste delicious with this specific panzanella recipe:

  • Grill the croutons and veggies: Grill the croutons and tomatoes on the grill for an extra bit of charred, sweet flavor.
  • Add peaches or nectarines: Add ripe diced peaches or nectarines to the salad for extra sweetness.
  • Add balsamic glaze: Add a drizzle of balsamic glaze to the salad just before serving.
  • Add greens: Add a few handfuls of your favorite greens to the salad, such as baby arugula, spinach or kale.
  • Make it gluten-free and/or vegan: Use your favorite gluten-free loaf of bread to make gluten-free panzanella, or omit the cheese to make vegan panzanella.

Panzanella salad in bowl

More Summer Salad Recipes

Looking for more fresh summer salad recipes to toss together this summer? Here are a few of our favorites!

Panzanella salad closeup

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  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x



Panzanella Ingredients:

  • 1 batch red wine vinaigrette 
  • 16 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • half of 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Garlic Croutons Ingredients:

  • 1 small loaf (about 10 ounces) ciabatta or sourdough bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper


  1. Make the croutons. Heat oven to 375°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the bread in the center of the sheet in a pile and drizzle evenly with the olive oil and garlic powder, then toss so that it is more or less evenly coated. Spread the bread out in an even layer, then season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the bread is crispy yet still slightly soft in the middle. (Baking time will totally depend on the type of bread you use, so keep an eye on it!) Remove from the oven.
  2. Make the vinaigrette. While the croutons are baking, prep the vinaigrette.
  3. Toss. Combine the croutons, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion and basil leaves in a large serving bowl. Drizzle evenly with the vinaigrette and toss to combine. If you have 30 minutes to spare, this salad really benefits from a brief period of resting so that the ingredients can marinate more fully in the vinaigrette. But if not, no worries…just serve immediately and enjoy!

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