Panzanella Salad

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Panzanella Salad-this classic Italian bread salad is made with homemade croutons, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, basil, and tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It’s a definitely a summer favorite!

Panzanella Salad in bowl

Are you guys ready for THE salad of the summer?

Oh yes, this Panzanella Salad is the perfect way to celebrate summer. It is a MUST make when summer produce is at it’s peak. It’s the salad you will want to make when your garden is overflowing with goodies or when you come home from the farmers market with a basket of fresh produce.

I look forward to it every single year. I mean, it really isn’t summer without it.

What is Panzanella?

It’s an Italian salad that is usually made with soaked stale bread (in this case, croutons), along with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil. It’s commonly served in the summertime because of the delicious in-season produce that makes the salad SO good!

There are no greens, bread is the base and that is a VERY good thing. Bring on the carbs!

Panzanella Salad croutons on sheet pan

Ingredients

This is a pretty classic Panzanella! It’s made with:

  • Homemade Croutons– I love making homemade croutons for this salad. Italian, French, and sourdough bread are all good options.
  • Tomatoes– I recommend using ripe cherry or grape tomatoes. Large tomatoes can get too juicy and make the salad mushy.
  • Cucumber– I love adding cucumber for a fresh crunch.
  • Bell pepper– You can use red, yellow, orange, or even green! Use your favorite! I used yellow for sweetness and I love the bright yellow color.
  • Red onion– Cut the red onion into thin slices. If you prefer onion in smaller bites, you can dice the red onion.
  • Basil– Fresh basil is best for this salad.
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette– I love using my homemade dressing. I promise it’s easy to make!
Panzanella Salad Ingredients in bowl

How to Make Panzanella

  • Start with Homemade Croutons! You’ll only want to bake them for 10-12 minutes for this recipe so the bread can be dried out and crispy, but not totally toasted. Check them EARLY to make sure you don’t burn them. I really like using garlic powder and Italian seasoning on the bread crumbs to add a little extra flavor.
  • In a large bowl combine the cooled croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, basil, salt, and black pepper.
  • Make the Balsamic Vinaigrette! This is a quick and easy dressing recipe, it only takes a few minutes to make and it’s SO much better than store bought.
  • Toss everything together until all of the ingredients are well coated. I like to let the Panzanella Salad sit for 20-30 minutes before serving to really let the flavors combine.
  • Pro tip-prep ahead and make the croutons and balsamic vinaigrette in advance!
Balsamic vinaigrette pouring over Panzanella Salad

Variations

This salad is very flexible. Here are a few ideas for mixing it up!

  • Use roasted red peppers instead of fresh bell peppers.
  • Add fresh mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, or crumbled feta cheese.
  • Stir in chickpeas or white beans.
  • Add extra herbs like fresh Italian parsley, mint, or chives.
  • Sweeten things up by adding fresh peach slices or sweet corn.
  • For a salty, briny kick, add in olives or capers.
  • Gently stir in avocado slices. Avocado makes everything better!
Tossing Panzanella Salad in a bowl

Serving Suggestions

It’s a wonderful summer salad to take to any BBQ, backyard dinner, or picnic. To make it a part of a delicious summertime dinner, it can be served along side:

How to Store

This Panzanella Salad is best served the day it’s made. It doesn’t keep well for later because the croutons will continue to absorb dressing and get mushy over time.

Panzanella on a plate with fork

More Summer Salad Recipes

Panzanella Salad

This classic Italian bread salad is made with homemade croutons, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, basil, and tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. It's a definitely a summer favorite!

Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Total Time
40 minutes
Cuisine
Italian
Servings
8

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 6 cups homemade croutons
  • 3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large English cucumber, chopped
  • 1 yellow or red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the Dressing:

Instructions

  1. First, make the homemade croutons. Make sure you only bake the croutons for 10 to 12 minutes for this recipe. You want the bread to be dried out and crispy, but not completely toasted. Also, I like using the seasonings on the croutons, but you can omit the garlic powder and Italian seasoning if you want plain bread cubes for this salad. It’s good either way.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the croutons, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, basil, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Make the balsamic vinaigrette. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well until the salad is completely coated.
  4. For best results, let the salad sit for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. This salad is best the day it is made.
Nutrition Facts
Panzanella Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 162 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 162mg7%
Potassium 257mg7%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 1023IU20%
Vitamin C 28mg34%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Photos by Molly

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Maria Lichty

I’m Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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