It’s peak tomato season, which means it’s also bruschetta season! By bruschetta, I mean the Americanized version of authentic Italian bruschetta, featuring ripe red tomatoes, basil and garlic on golden, toasted French bread.
That’s the only way I’ve known bruschetta to be. I like to finish my bruschetta with a light drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar, for flavor and beauty bonus points. It punctuates the end result with irresistible tanginess.
Bruschetta is the perfect appetizer for summer parties. In fact, I only make bruschetta during the summertime, since ripe tomatoes are the number one key to making great bruschetta.
At its best, bruschetta is light and crisp, covered in deep red tomatoes and full of fresh flavor. At its worst, bruschetta is soggy, pink and flavorless.
Let’s boycott sad bruschetta! I’m sharing all my tips in this post. Ready to make the best bruschetta you’ve ever had?
American vs. Italian Bruschetta
Real-deal Italian bruschetta is made of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, topped with olive oil and salt. Italian toppings vary, and I’m eager to come up with some fun alternatives.
Did you know that the “ch” in bruschetta is pronounced as a “k” sound? Brew-sket-tah. It’s true. Ask an Italian.
For this American bruschetta recipe, we’ll be using oven-roasted bread since it’s easier to make. You can grill your bread if you prefer some smoky flavor, though. I’ve provided instructions in the recipe notes.
We’ll stir some fresh garlic into the topping mixture, so it’s nice and garlicky but not overwhelmingly so. We’ll forego rubbing the bread with garlic, since I tried the end results with and without and couldn’t taste the difference. The garlic in the toppings is plenty.
Bruschetta is really simple to make with basic ingredients. The only tedious part is dicing the tomatoes, but it goes by quickly if you have good company or good music. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Ripe Tomatoes: Any variety will do. Use the best tomatoes you can find. I included a few yellow cherry tomatoes to make my bruschetta extra colorful.
- White Onion: You won’t find onion in every bruschetta recipe, but it adds a light crunch and additional flavor. With onion, you don’t have to overload your bruschetta topping with garlic to make it taste amazing.
- Fresh Basil: Only fresh will do. You’ll want to use a big handful, whether it’s from your garden or the store.
- Garlic: Not so much that your guests are embarrassed by their garlic breath! Use fresh garlic, pressed in a garlic press or minced by hand. Jarred garlic is just not the same.
- Crusty Baguette: Look for a slender loaf of crusty bread. We’ll bake it until it’s so crisp, it shatters when you bite into it. Delicious.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: We’ll brush the bread lightly with oil before toasting it, and we’ll stir some into the tomato mixture for richness.
- Thick balsamic vinegar: More on this below.
Watch How to Make Bruschetta
How to Make the Best Bruschetta
Use ripe tomatoes.
I know I just said this, but it bears repeating. Tomato bruschetta will always be best served during the summertime, but you can probably get by with cherry tomatoes in other seasons. I find cherry tomatoes to be the most consistent of all tomatoes.
Drain off excess tomato juice.
Most tomatoes (cherry tomatoes excluded) are quite juicy. When you toss diced tomato with salt, the juice exits the tomatoes, and you can end up with a watery bowl of tomatoes.
We don’t want soggy bruschetta, so pour off the excess juice before seasoning it at the end. This doesn’t take any extra time, and produces a more flavorful and consistent end result.
Brush both sides of bread with oil.
Oiling the bread ensures that both sides are golden brown and crispy (think of the difference between plain toast and homemade croutons). The oil also helps repel tomato juice so your toasts stay crisp.
Toast at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
High heat yields extra crispy toasts, which is what we’re going for. I’ll never suggest broiling bread because broilers vary considerably from oven to oven, and no one wants to light their toast on fire. Right?
Wait to assemble your bruschetta until you’re ready to serve, because tomato-topped bread will inevitably soften as time goes on. You could make the tomato mixture up to two days in advance, and the toasts a couple of hours in advance.
Balsamic Vinegar Notes
Here’s the deal: You don’t have to top your bruschetta with balsamic vinegar, but I really love the irresistible tang that good balsamic vinegar provides.
For a beautiful drizzle, use high-quality, thick balsamic vinegar. I don’t recommend using run-of-the-mill, runny balsamic because it pours rather than drizzles. You could stir some runny balsamic into your tomato mixture, but it will turn the tomatoes lightly brown and will make the flavor more uniform.
I love Napa Valley Naturals’ Grand Reserve Vinegar—it’s about $9 at well-stocked grocery stores like Whole Foods. Make sure you get the bottle with “25 stars” on it. It’s one of my go-to ingredients, and it makes the best simple salad dressing (light drizzle of balsamic, drizzle of olive oil, plus a pinch of salt).
Another easy store-bought option would be a balsamic glaze/reduction. DeLallo and Alessi make them.
Or, make your own balsamic reduction with regular runny balsamic. Bring 1 cup (or more) to a boil in a small, thick bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vinegar is reduced by half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the reduction to cool, then transfer to an air-tight jar and store in the pantry.
More Fresh Tomato Recipes
Have a tomato surplus? Lucky you! Here are a few more fresh tomato recipes:
- Easy Tomato Salad
- Heirloom Caprese Salad
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Tomato & Feta Dip
- Classic Pico de Gallo
- Ultimate Gazpacho
Please let me know how your bruschetta turns out in the comments. I hope it becomes your go-to summer party appetizer.
Tomato Basil Bruschetta
- Prep Time: 31 minutes
- Cook Time: 9 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 24 individual servings 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Italian
You can make classic tomato-basil bruschetta at home with simple, fresh ingredients. It’s easy! Start by dicing your tomatoes (see step 2) to give them time to drain while you work on the remaining ingredients. Recipe yields 20 to 24 small toasts.
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes (about 5 to 6 medium tomatoes, but any variety will work)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- ½ cup finely chopped white onion (about ½ medium)
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil (about ¾ ounce)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 baguette (French bread)
- 4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- Thick balsamic vinegar (see notes within post) and optional Maldon flaky sea salt
- Preheat the oven (or a gas grill*) to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean-up, if desired. If your baking sheet is smaller than mine, you may need to make the toast in two batches.
- Dice your tomatoes and transfer them to a medium mixing bowl, leaving the tomato seeds and juice behind on the cutting board. Stir the salt into the tomatoes, and add the onion, basil and garlic as they are ready. Stir to combine and set the mixture aside to marinate while you work on the bread.
- Slice your baguette on the diagonal into pieces no wider than ½-inch (see photos). I can usually fit 20 to 24 slices on my large baking sheet; you might have some bread left over. Lightly brush both sides of each slice with olive oil (this will require about 2 to 3 tablespoons oil).
- Place the slices in a single layer on your prepared baking sheet and bake them on the middle rack for 6 to 9 minutes, until they’re crisp and nicely golden on top. Transfer the toasts to a serving platter(s), if desired, and set aside.
- When you’re ready to serve, carefully drain off the excess tomato juice that has accumulated in the bowl, using your hand as a stopgap. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine, and season the mixture with additional salt, to taste (I usually add another ¼ to ½ teaspoon). If you don’t feel like your bruschetta is garlicky enough (I like mine lightly but not overwhelmingly garlicky), add another pressed clove of garlic.
- Top each toast with tomato mixture, tipping your spoon against the bowl to release excess juice as necessary. Lightly drizzle a couple of tablespoons of thick balsamic vinegar on top, and sprinkle lightly with flaky salt if you have any. Bruschetta is best served promptly.
*How to grill your bread: Simply brush the slices with olive oil as directed and place them directly on the grill grates with tongs. Cover and let the bread toast for about 3 minutes. When the undersides are golden, with nice grill marks, carefully flip them with tongs and repeat on the other side. Transfer to a large serving platter and top them with the tomato-basil mixture and optional balsamic vinegar and/or flaky salt as directed.
I’ve made the pesto & white bean crostini in your cookbook probably around half a dozen times now, and everyone who’s tried it loved it, but I’m excited about trying to make this authentic version of bruschetta (and no I did not know about the ‘k’ in the pronunciation! Language is awesome).
I love it! Thanks for your comment, Hayley.
Paige Cassandra Flamm
You had me at balsamic! This looks fabulous!
Thank you, Paige!
We love this! I used my panini grill to prepare the toasts. Thanks for the recipe!
You’re welcome, Linda!
I tried this last night and boy was it goood!! The fam loved it too.
Wonderful! Thank you for your review.
This is how it’s made in NY, except we tend to use red onion, to reduce the bite. Awesome with fresh tomatoes and basil straight from the garden.. Mangia !
Thank you for sharing, Kathie! I appreciate your review.
I made this last night. It is a lovely recipe, with a few things that set it above other very similar recipes for bruchetta. First is the instructions to bake the bread slices. So superior, and easier, than broiling and flipping. Then using a balsamic reduction as a drizzle versus mixing it with the topping ingredients, which as Kate points out, just makes everything look muddy. Love the reminders to drain off the tomato liquid, too. Finally, adding a few flakes of maldon salt to finish is genius. Thank you so much for a great recipe and for such clear and explicit directions.
Thank you, Jeanne!
I made the bruschetta tonight and it was great! I used tomatoes from my garden, two kinds, grilled the baguette like you mentioned in the recipe, and found the thick balsamic. This recipe is going to be a staple every year in the summer. Thanks for sharing it!
You’re welcome! The thick balsamic is so good!! Thank you for your review, Holly.
Superb !. Love good in food.
Please keep posting more dishes.
thanks and best wishes,
Kancor-a pioneer in the field of Ajowan Extracts.
We loved this recipe. It has been added to family favorites.
That’s great to hear, Brenda! Thank you for taking the time to review.
Yummmm! You have the best recipes!
Thank you, Ryan!
My garden is overflowing with tomatoes (grape and cherry) at the moment, so I made this bruschetta for dinner alongside a giant salad and cheese platter. It was super fresh and delicious!
Terry Henry Lippold
I just subscribed and am excited to try your recipes. They look like they have more flavor than others I have tried.
One problem. I have printed two recipes and both took 4 pages to print. The last page has nothing but one line of very small print of the name of the recipe and your name on it. Couldn’t that be fitted on page 3? Better yet, how about fitting that and a much reduced Nutrition Facts on page 2 so I could print both sides of one page for each recipe??? I love food but I also love trees…
Hi Terry, I’m sorry you are frustrated. Did you use the print option in the recipe? Typically, it’s just one to two pages depending on the recipe with the amount of ingredients and instructions. You can always set your printer preferences to not print pages, too.
thanks for this post ^_^
Made this for my family and they loved it!! Thank you! I will be keeping this for future parties!
Your’e welcome, Shin! Thanks for your review.
Dear Kate, I just want to let you know that the Napa Valley Grand Reserve that I learned about on your website, and that my family now just loves, is no longer being produced. It has been replaced by a product with the same name and stars but with nowhere near the same flavor. It is now aged in oak barrels not cherry wood. Stock up on the old one before it’s gone!
This is amazing! Thank you.
Great recipe thanks a perfect way to finish off a day old baguette
I added a little chopped cilantro and rosemary and did 50/50 olive oil and garlic Infused Olive oil.. Delicious
Made it! Used gluten free bread
The whole family returned for seconds and thirds.
Printing and keeping! ❤️❤️❤️
I made the bruschetta mix to use up some tomatoes and it was SO yummy, even without in-season tomatoes. I used shallot instead of onion and bumped up the garlic. We had it on toasted sourdough bread and tried it with both ricotta and chevre (ricotta won – the bruschetta shines way more) and lots of balsamic drizzle. Thanks so much for the recipe!
Thanks for sharing this amazing bruschetta tomato recipe wih all of us. It is really amazing. A best ever bruschetta recipe i have ever tried.
can I add fresh mozzarella to the recipe?
Is the 2 T thick basalmic the amount to drizzle over ALL the toasts, or each toast?
All over :)
Love this! I’m not a tomato person, so I generally stay clear of bruschetta, but I love all of your recipes and figured I’d give this one a try while tomatoes are in season. It’s delicious!
I’m happy this one was a hit for you, Melissa! Thank you for taking the time to review.
Made this for a birthday and it was a huge success!! Everyone was raving about the delicious flavors. This was simple to make, I will certainly make again!
When making the bruschetta a day in advance , should I add the extra virgin olive oil ? Or do you add the oil right before serving. Thanks !
Hi Lisa! Follow the tomato mixture instructions and then you can finish them on the toast when you are ready to serve.
i made exactly as written except I used purple onion for more color. it was delicious! Exactly what I was looking for! Thanks!!!
This is top notch, A++!! Made it yesterday with grilled bruschetta and again today with baked bruschetta. You have this down to a science, it is so scrumptious, thank you! Also the balsalmic you recommended is delish and a new pantry staple.
I’ve made your bruschetta 3 times and it is a favorite. I used to do the garlic rubbing, but your way is much easier. I think the aged balsamic drizzle adds the finishing touch. Delicious!
I love it, Myrna! Thank you for taking the time to report back on your thoughts.
Super yummy! We loved it, thank you for the recipe! I spread the chopped tomatoes out over a strainer while I diced up everything else and I think that might have helped with the liquid too. Thank you again!
I live Whittlesea, Australia. Your dish is so yummy. Just polished it off with my better half.
Wow!!!! This recipe is a keeper although I made a few changes. We used 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes as I am in love with them … drained well and added some baby yellow Roma’s. Used red onion, the basil but also added chopped cilantro plus another clove of garlic to taste. We also sprinkled some Parmesan on before drizzle of Nona Pias balsamic glaze (our favourite). 5 stars!!!!!
I’m glad you loved it, S! Thank you for your review.
Nice recipe although I kept it Italian by using Italian bread, in this instance, ciabatta. Didn’t see the point making an Italian plate with French baguette. Just my choice. Thank you. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’ve made tomato basil brusketta before and it’s always been a hit! I loved the tip of the flakey salt! And I like the oven temperature… I always toasted them on the broiler and I was never happy with the results on 450! I want to try them on the grill, so not to heat up the house. Thank you for posting your fantastic recipe and techniques! We just had it for dinner on this hot summer night! ~Joy
Amazing bruschetta recipe! Followed it exactly. Thank you!
Hi Kate, great recipe for summer. Hear in England are tomatoes are only taste good if home grown!super starter for guests arriving. Thank you. Sue, from Cheshire.x
I made this for a 4th of July party. It was excellent.
Second time making this bruschetta recipe. Super big hit at family gatherings. The balsamic reduction is an amazing topper! I use a little more garlic but otherwise make it as written.
That’s great, Kym!
I really loved the recipie! tysm for it
Great recipe I add toasted pecans and fresh Parm in the end
Can you add Burrato to this recipe?
I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure. Let me know if you try it!
Great light and healthy appetizer. I use Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze. Thanks!
You’re welcome, Suzanne!