Our caprese sandwich is an Italian-inspired recipe. It features ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves stuffed in crunchy Italian focaccia or crusty bread.

Our twist on this recipe is the addition of umami-rich sun-dried tomatoes, crispy arugula, and creamy basil pesto.

Prepare for a burst of Italian flavors, nicely packed in a creamy, crispy, crunchy, bready, and juicy handy little package.

Caprese sandwich on a white cutting board

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian diet.

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What is a Caprese sandwich?

caprese sandwich with hands

A few recipes are as Italian as a caprese sandwich in colors, history, and taste.

The name Caprese comes from the jaw-droppingly beautiful island of Capri on the western Italian coast across Naples.

The legend goes that a patriotic Italian carpenter stuffed his lunch-break sandwich with mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil to proudly recreate the Italian flag after the Second World War.

From there, caprese became a salad, pizza, and pasta and spread across the world. From Rome to Rio, everyone loves this simple Italian dish.

easy caprese sandwich

If done well, a Caprese sandwich is one of the most satisfying, comforting, and delicious sandwiches you can sink your teeth into.

We recommend focaccia or ciabatta bread. You can make focaccia at home by following our no-knead focaccia recipe. It’s really simple.

Alternatively, go for crusty bread. You definitely want the crunch!

For the sauce, we use creamy basil pesto, which you can get at the store or make with our basil pesto recipe.

Also, we recommend adding sun-dried tomatoes in oil – they are loaded with savory taste and umami – and a handful of arugula.

You will love the soft crumb and crunchy crust of the focaccia, smothered in creamy pesto and stuffed with crisp arugula, dripping-fresh mozzarella, sweet, juicy tomatoes, and savory sun-dried tomatoes.

For vegans: Substitute vegan pesto for regular pesto and vegan mozzarella for regular mozzarella.

Ingredients and Substitutions for Caprese Sandwich

Ingredients for caprese sandwich

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Bread

We like to make our caprese sandwich with thick and fluffy focaccia bread with a crispy crust.

You can get it at the store or make it at home with our ridiculously easy no-knead focaccia recipe.

Substitute crusty bread, ciabatta bread, baguette, sourdough bread, or any other artisanal bread with a sturdy crumb for focaccia bread.

Tomatoes

Fresh, ripe tomatoes are a good option. Vine tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and beefsteak tomatoes are all good options.

Mozzarella

We recommend whole fresh fior di latte mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella that you slice at home into thick slices.

For something gloriously messy and drippy but indescribably delicious, try burrata. But I warned you—it will get messy!

For vegans: There are several options on the market these days. We tried almond-based mozzarella, coconut-oil-based mozzarella, rice milk-based mozzarella, and cashew-based mozzarella, and they are all great options because they can be sliced.

Basil & Basil Pesto

We use both fresh basil leaves and basil pesto.

The basil pesto not only adds basil flavor but also moisture and creaminess.

You can use store-bought pesto, homemade basil pesto, or vegan pesto.

Sun-dried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil add a bold, savory flavor that pops as you bite into the sandwich.

Substitute a drizzle of balsamic glaze for sun-dried tomatoes. They have a similar flavor profile.

Salt, Black Pepper, olive oil

Season the ingredients as you add them in with pinches of sea salt, black pepper, and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.

crisp and golden brown focaccia

How to make a Caprese sandwich

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Cut the bread open and lay it flat on a cutting board. We like to use focaccia bread.

Tip: If you are making this to eat right away, we recommend warming the bread before making the sandwich.

focaccia bread cut in half on a cutting board

Spread both sides with a generous smear of basil pesto.

Add a small handful of arugula and two slices of mozzarella on the bottom slice.

Season the mozzarella with a pinch of salt, a twist of black pepper, and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.

Caprese sandwich with mozzarella and arugula on a cutting board

Add 2 to 3 tomato slices, 2 to 3 sun-dried tomatoes, and 4 basil leaves. Optionally, drizzle with a teaspoon of balsamic glaze.

Top with the bread and enjoy.

Tip: To enjoy the sandwich warm, pop it in an air fryer at 400°F or 200°C for 3 minutes. A sandwich or panini press can also work.

Caprese sandwich with pesto and mozzarella

Serving suggestions

Caprese sandwiches are excellent as a packed lunch, snack, or quick dinner.

We like to warm them in an air fryer for about 3 minutes at 400°F or 200°C.

Louise likes to have it next to a salad, like:

Storage & Make Ahead

Make ahead: Surprisingly enough, the Caprese sandwich is delicious even hours after it’s made. The pesto soaks into the bread, making it super tasty.

Refrigerator: Keep in an airtight container or wrapped in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Freezer: It’s best not to freeze it.

More sandwich ideas

Caprese sandwich with tomatoes and arugula

Caprese Sandwich

By: Nico Pallotta
No ratings yet
Our caprese sandwich is an Italian-inspired recipe. It features ripe tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves stuffed in crunchy Italian focaccia or crusty bread.
Prepare for a burst of Italian flavors, nicely packed in a creamy, crispy, crunchy, bready, and juicy handy little package.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 sandwiches
Course: Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Amrican-Italian

Ingredients

  • 2 (4½-Inch squares) focaccia bread substitute ciabatta bread or baguette.
  • 1 (6 to 8 ounces) mozzarella ball substitute vegan mozzarella | sliced into ¼ inch or 0.6 cm thick slices.
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes sliced into ¼ inch or 0.6 cm thick slices.
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 6 tablespoons basil pesto or vegan pesto
  • 1 packed cup arugula
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained from the oil.
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 2 twists black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic glaze optional

Instructions 

  • Cut the bread open and lay it flat on a cutting board.
    focaccia bread cut in half on a cutting board
  • Spread a generous smear of basil pesto on both sides.
    Add a small handful of arugula and 2 – 3 slices of mozzarella on the bottom slice.
    Season the mozzarella with a pinch of salt, a twist of black pepper, and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.
    Caprese sandwich with mozzarella and arugula on a cutting board
  • Add 2 to 3 tomato slices, 2 to 3 sun-dried tomatoes, and 4 basil leaves. Optionally, drizzle with a teaspoon of balsamic glaze.
    Top with the bread and enjoy.
    Tip: You can pop the caprese sandwich in an air fryer at 400°F or 200°C for 3 minutes. A sandwich or panini press can also work.
    Caprese sandwich with pesto and mozzarella
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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