Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer everyone loves. Learn how to make it with crunchy bread and a tasty garlicky topping of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and basil.
This recipe is quick and easy to make, and it’s the perfect dish for a wonderful dinner with friends and family.
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Bruschetta, pronounced “bruˈsketta,” is a simple yet incredibly delicious meal made from thick grilled slices of bread rubbed with garlic and topped with a mix of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and tomatoes.
Despite its humble roots, bruschetta has become an iconic Italian dish that you’ll find served as an aperitivo or as an appetizer in hip bars and restaurants from Rome to New York, from Berlin to L.A.
But if you are lucky to travel around the Italian countryside, you can try traditional bruschetta made with homemade sourdough bread toasted on a charcoal grill rubbed with garlic and topped with cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
The combination of these simple ingredients is a match made in heaven.
In this post, we’ll show you how to make a traditional bruschetta recipe with tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
However, remember that you can top your bruschetta with almost anything you have at hand. See the “variation” chapter below for ideas and inspiration.
Choose good bread from your local baker, a big wide loaf made from mainly wheat flour, and even better if made with sourdough. Italian and french bread is generally best.
Get one with a compact crumb and a nice crust, and cut slices at least 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) thick. It makes the best bruschetta!
Avoid packaged toast bread for bruschetta; its texture is too soft and weak. It won’t hold your toppings and won’t be as satisfying when you bite it.
Italians usually don’t use baguette slices for bruschetta, but feel free to do so if you like.
Vine tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, beef tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or cherry tomatoes.
The tomatoes must be ripe but not overripe to have the best flavor. If it’s not tomato season, opt for small cherry or plum tomatoes.
Garlic is an essential ingredient in bruschetta. We use it to brush on the bread and for the tomato mix.
Red onion is not used in Italy for bruschetta, but if you want to add some, feel free to do so.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is best because it has a richer and fruitier flavor than regular olive oil.
The best oils are generally cold-pressed, unfiltered, and imported from Italy, Spain, and Greece, but they can get costly.
Look for a quality stamp that says “Aceto Balsamico di Modena I.G.P.”
That means the vinegar is made in a protected and specific geographical area around Modena in Italy, following traditional production methods.
You can also add a drizzle of balsamic glaze on top of your bruschetta, but that’s optional.
Fresh Basil leaves
Fresh basil leaves are essential with tomato bruschetta.
If you can’t find fresh basil, replace it with dried or fresh oregano.
Salt and black pepper
Salt is necessary to add flavor to the tomatoes. We recommend fine sea salt or kosher salt.
Rinse the tomatoes, dry them, then cut them into small dice.
You can discard some of the liquid if they are very watery.
Tip: if you use cherry or plum tomatoes, cut them into 4 or 8 pieces, depending on their size. If you use larger tomatoes, remove the stem before cutting them.
To a mixing bowl, add the diced tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, grated or crushed garlic, salt, black pepper, and chopped basil leaves.
Toss until well combined, then taste and just for salt.
Let the mixture marinate at room temperature for about 10 – 15 minutes.
In the meantime, slice the bread into half-inch (1.2 cm) slices.
Arrange the bread on a baking sheet or grill rack and toast it in the oven with the broiler function until golden and crunchy.
You can turn the slices around to broil them on both sides for extra crunchy bread.
Tip: it only takes a few minutes to toast the bread, so keep an eye on it! You can also toast the bread on a grill or grill pan.
While the bread is still warm, rub it with fresh garlic to infuse it with garlic flavor.
Top each slice with one or two tablespoons of tomato mixture. Don’t add too much of the liquid at first. You can sprinkle some on the slices rights before serving the bruschetta.
Serve on a platter or cutting board as an appetizer, snack, aperitivo, or crunchy and healthy dinner.
Bruschetta is best served as a colorful and crunchy appetizer. Still, you can also have it as a main dish for dinner, especially if you prepare it with different toppings-see variations chapter for ideas.
That’s a popular week-night dinner in Italy, where people make a large bruschetta platter with plenty of veggies and cheese as toppings and enjoy it as a family dinner.
You can pair bruschetta with a side salad or with other mains such as:
- Chickpea salad (cherry tomatoes, corn, olives, parsley, cucumber, chickpeas, mustard, etc.)
- Easy chickpea farinata (chickpea flour, olive oil, pepper, parsley, etc.)
- 15-minute lemon tofu (lemon juice, cornstarch, parsley, tofu, olive oil, etc.)
- Eggplant Parmigiana (eggplant, tomato passata, garlic, basil, parmesan cheese, etc.)
- Moroccan carrot salad with lentils (carrots, almonds, lentils, cumin, mustard, parsley, etc.)
Oil and Garlic Bruschetta
This one’s the most traditional and popular type of bruschetta in Italy. It’s called “fett’unta” in Tuscany, which means “oily slice.”
While that doesn’t sound particularly good in English, trust us, it’s one of the simplest, tastiest, most rustic dishes you can have.
The secret? Cold pressed, locally grown, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil from the Italian hills, crusty sourdough bread toasted on charcoal, and plenty of fresh garlic.
Avocado and tomato bruschetta
Avocado bruschetta is what we make for dinner when we want something tasty and fulfilling but don’t want to spend hours cooking.
Creamy diced avocado melds perfectly with tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
I like to call this Italian guacamole, and there’s no better way to serve it than on a crunchy slice of toasted bread rubbed with garlic.
Mushroom bruschetta is one of Louise’s favorites. Follow our recipe for sautéed mushrooms, then use them to top the toasted bread, and you have a delicious and simple appetizer that everyone will love.
Artichokes are delicious on bruschetta! You can get marinated artichoke hearts, cut them into smaller slices, and add them to the bread.
Or you can make a quick and tasty artichoke pesto and use it as a spread on the toasted bread.
Roasted Pepper Bruschetta
Follow our recipe for Italian-style roasted and marinated bell peppers, then cut them into smaller pieces and add them to toasted bread for a delicious bell pepper bruschetta.
Eggplant pairs beautifully with toasted garlicky bread. The best way to cook eggplant for bruschetta is sautéeing with some tomatoes and basil.
Pick your favorite pesto and use it as a spread for bruschetta. We have tested and are happy to recommend basil pesto, arugula pesto, kale pesto, artichoke pesto, red pepper pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, olive tapenade, and romesco sauce.
You can use different types of cheese for bruschetta. We recommend something that melts, such as fresh mozzarella, stracchino, and pecorino, but you can also use our vegan melty cheese (picture) for a non-dairy option.
Top the cheese with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a piece of sun-dried tomatoes.
That’s somewhat less traditional, but it’s so delicious it’s become a staple in our house. Of course, we use our creamy avocado spread as a topping.
The combination of smooth and crunchy is lovely. Here’s the recipe for our avocado spread.
Caponata is a tasty Sicilian sweet-and-sour eggplant dish that is delicious on a slice of toasted bread.
Here’s our recipe for eggplant caponata.
Tofu cream cheese bruschetta
Ready in 5 minutes and great as a snack, spread, and sandwich idea, our tofu cream cheese is tasty on bruschetta. You can flavor the cream cheese with veggies or sprinkle it plain with fresh herbs.
Here’s our recipe for tofu cream cheese.
Sautéed zucchini right off the pan and onto a slice of toasted bread rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, and topped with toasted pinenuts and fresh basil.
Zucchini bruschetta is an original and fantastic idea for a starter or side dish. Here’s the recipe for our sautéed zucchini.
Ricotta and caramelized onions bruschetta
Tomato Confit Bruschetta
Another classic Italian bruschetta is one with olive tapenade. This rich, bold, and tasty spread is excellent on crusty bread.
During tomato season – from May to October in the northern hemisphere – try to get your hands on organic red ripe tomatoes from sunny regions.
In winter, opt for small cherry or date tomatoes.
Eat raw tomatoes at room temperature for the best flavor. When you eat your tomatoes cold, they won’t taste as much.
Marinating your tomato mix is essential to get a fuller flavor. The garlic will infuse your mixture, and the tomatoes will absorb some salt and vinegar, enhancing their taste. 15 minutes at room temperature is enough.
Drain excess water
If your tomatoes are watery (and if you buy them at the supermarket, they will be watery), remove at least half of their water, or else your bruschetta with tomatoes will be too wet. This is especially important if you make your bruschetta with toasted baguette.
On the other hand, you want to leave some of the water as it is full of taste and will help soften harder bread.
Rub with garlic
Rub a fresh garlic clove (not the whole clove, just the tip) on the bread while still warm. The heat will help the garlic aroma infuse into the crumb’s cracks. It will taste so much better than just adding garlic to the tomatoes.
It’s pronounced broo-sketta, not bruh·sheh·tuh!
Yes, if made with good quality, mostly plant-based ingredients. For example, making it with artisan sourdough bread, tomatoes, good olive oil, sea salt, and garlic is a healthy meal.
Yes. But it would be best if you assembled it last minute. Slice the bread and prep the tomato mix (or any other topping) beforehand. Then when your guests arrive, toast the bread and top it up with your tomato mix.
No. Bruschetta with tomatoes cannot be frozen.
Yes, you can (and should) eat bruschetta with your hands. If you travel to Italy, you’ll see that everyone, including businessmen and women dressed in suits, eats bruschetta with their hands.
Ideally, bruschetta should be served warm soon after making it so that the bread stays crunchy and doesn’t get to dry and hard.
Bruschetta is sliced toasted bread with a topping. Even a simple topping of rubbed garlic and olive oil upgrades your slice of toasted bread to bruschetta status.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: you can’t assemble the bruschetta ahead of time because the bread will get soggy. However, you can slice the bread and make the tomato mixture beforehand, so when you want to serve it, you’ll only have to toast the bread and top it.
Refrigerator: you can store the toppings in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container. You can also keep the bread in a basket for a few days. 2 to 3 days old bread is excellent for juicy tomato bruschetta.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
More Bread Recipes
If you love crusty and bready recipes, take a look at these family favorites:
For many more starter ideas, check out our starters category page.
- 10 slices crusty bread or baguette cut into ½ inch or 1.2 cm thick slices.
- 1 pound tomatoes any variety as long as they are ripe
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic 1 for mixture, 1 for rubbing on bread
- 15 leaves fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Rinse 1 pound tomatoes, dry them, then cut them into small dice.You can discard half of their liquid if they are very watery.
- To a mixing bowl, add the diced tomatoes, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 clove of grated or crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 15 leaves fresh basil (chopped).
- Toss until well combined, then taste and just for salt.Let mixture marinate at room temperature for about 10 – 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, slice the bread into 10 to 12 half-inch thick slices (1.2 cm).Arrange the bread on a baking sheet or grill rack and toast it in the oven with the broiler function until golden and crunchy.You can turn the slices to broil them on both sides for extra crunchy bread.
- While the bread is still warm, rub it with fresh garlic to infuse it with garlic flavor.
- Top each slice with one or two tablespoons of tomato mixture. Don't add too much of the liquid at first. You can sprinkle some on the slices rights before serving the bruschetta.
- Serve on a platter or cutting board as an appetizer, snack, aperitivo, or crunchy and healthy dinner.
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