Bruschetta! Blistered sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and tangy balsamic glaze over crispy grilled bread. Ready in just 15 minutes. Now, this is how to make the perfect tomato bruschetta recipe!
Say it with me, broo-SKEH-tah! Bruschetta is one of the simplest classic Italian appetizers made with diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, and often, fresh basil, over sliced grilled bread coated in extra virgin olive oil.
From the Roman verb “bruscare”, which means “to roast over coals” or “to toast,” bruschette (plural) dates back to 16th century Italy! But these handheld grilled toasts with tomatoes never get old, with many delicious variations on the classic (I even made it with shrimp and avocado once, which I know is a huge digression but is still so tasty)!
I never met a bruschetta I didn’t like, and I do love it with raw diced tomatoes, especially during the summer months when perfect ripe tomatoes are readily available. But this tomato bruschetta recipe with saucy blistered cherry tomatoes is another level of delicious (and a good way to make it nearly any time of the year even if your tomatoes are not the greatest).
What is the best bread for bruschetta?
Look for sturdy, crusty bread that will stand up to the tomato mixture without getting soggy too quickly. In Italy, Pagnotta bread, which is made from durum wheat flour and Italian sourdough starter, is the traditional bread used for making bruschetta, but it’s hard to find elsewhere. In this recipe, I use a thin loaf of French baguette, which gives me perfect small slices for a bite-size bruschetta. Ciabatta bread is another good option.
And don’t be afraid to use day-old or slightly stale bread, which is sturdier since it had time to dry out. A brush of good extra virgin olive oil and a little time on the griddle will give yesterday’s bread new life!
Avoid the crumbly, soft bread varieties (like sandwich bread).
Ingredients: What you’ll need for this tomato bruschetta recipe
- Extra virgin olive oil – I used our Nocellara EVOO, which is a moderately intense olive oil with the aromas of freshly-picked tomatoes and vegetables (perfect for this recipe)!
- Cherry tomatoes – 3 cups of sweet cherry tomatoes that you can just toss in the skillet whole, no need to chop them.
- Fresh basil – You’ll need about ½ an ounce of basil or about 10 to 15 basil leaves, thinly sliced into ribbons (see my tips below for how to do this).
- 1 French baguette, ciabatta, or another crusty loaf or loaf – The loaf should weigh about 1 pound. And like I mentioned earlier, day-old or slightly stale bread is great to use here.
- Minced garlic – 2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves, minced.
- Balsamic glaze (optional) – Just a drizzle of balsamic glaze to finish. You can totally omit this if you don’t have it on hand, but it does add a hint of tangy sweetness over the warm garlicky tomatoes. I used store-bought balsamic glaze, but you can make your own by simmering balsamic vinegar and brown sugar (like I do in this recipe) until reduced to a syrupy consistency.
How to make bruschetta
This warm bruschetta recipe is so easy to make in about 15 minutes! Here’s how:
- Cook the tomatoes. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add 3 cups whole cherry tomatoes and let them cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. The tomatoes will begin to pop, so use a splatter guard over the pan. Add 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss the tomatoes and garlic a bit and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir occasionally. The tomatoes will “explode” and the skin crack a little and blister – this is exactly what we’re looking for!
- Grill the bread. While the tomatoes cook, prepare the bread for bruschetta. Slice a 1-pound baguette into ½-inch slices on the diagonal. Brush one side with EVOO. Arrange the bread olive oil side down onto a hot cast iron pan or griddle and warm the bread. If all the bread can’t fit at once, do this step in batches. While one side toasts, brush the other side with EVOO. When the bottom side is golden with darker edges, flip the bread and toast the other side. The toasting time should be about 4 minutes, total, depending on how hot your griddle is.
- Assemble the bruschetta. Transfer the warmed bread to a platter. Spoon a generous amount of blistered tomatoes onto each slice and top with a sprinkle of ribboned basil and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The balsamic glaze is optional, but I highly recommend it! Serve immediately.
Tips for the best bruschetta
- Start with good ripe tomatoes. Look for tomatoes without blemishes or dark spots. They should be fragrant and firm, yet soft enough with some give when you apply pressure. I used cherry tomatoes, but other ripe tomatoes of your choice will work here. If you end up using larger tomatoes in this recipe, you'll need to dice them up.
- Use day-old bread since it is a bit drier than fresh bread, and will not become mushy easily.
- Grill the bread: Grilling the bread gives it good flavor and provides a crisp, sturdy surface for the juicy tomato topping.
- Serve immediately so the bread does not get mushy (yes, if this sounds like the most important thing, it kinda is).
- Use fresh garlic since it’s one of the key-flavor makers in this bruschetta recipe. Fresh garlic is more pungent and garlicky than pre-minced garlic.
How to chop basil into ribbons (chiffonade)
Slicing basil leaves into ribbons is easier than you might think! The “fancy” term for it is chiffonade.
To chiffonade like a pro, start by stacking the basil leaves one on top of the other.. Roll the leaves into a tube lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, point the tip of the knife down and slice through the basil bundle to get beautiful ribbons. Basil leaves are delicate and bruise easily, so be as gentle as you can.
Bruschetta recipe variations
Make it your own! There are many possibilities to play this blistered tomato bruschetta up. Here are a few ideas:
- Use any tomatoes you like. I cooked some cherry tomatoes here, but any ripe tomatoes can be chopped up and used here instead. You do not need to cook tomatoes for bruschetta either.
- Add cheese. Add mozzarella to the bread when you’re toasting the second side to warm it up and melt it slightly. Or add it to the bread when you transfer the bread to the platter.
- Add a layer of basil pesto! If you don’t have fresh basil, spread a little basil pesto on the grilled bread, then top with the tomato mixture.
- Use other herbs. Oregano or marjoram can also be used in place of basil. Add dried oregano or marjoram to the tomato mixture or at the end with the basil, if you like.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
If you want to work a bit ahead, you can cook the tomatoes a night in advance and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them in a skillet over medium-high heat until warmed through then follow the recipe from there.
How to serve it
Bruschetta is a great appetizer or first course, especially if you're going for an Italian meal!
As a party appetizer, you can fully assemble the tomato bruschetta and serve it on a platter, or you can serve the tomato mixture in a bowl with the basil ribbons on top and the grilled bread on the side. This way, you can allow everyone to build their own bruschetta for the perfect crunchy, never soggy bread.
Leftovers and storage
If you foresee leftovers, don’t assemble all your bruschette. Only assemble as many as you think you’ll need, and store leftover blistered tomatoes in an airtight container in the fridge. Store leftover toasted bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
More tomato and bread recipes:
Easy Blistered Tomato Bruschetta
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes
- ½ ounce fresh basil, about 15 leaves sliced thinly into ribbons
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 loaf baguette or other French loaf, about 1 pound
- Extra virgin olive oil, I used our Nocellara Italian EVOO
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- Balsamic glaze, to your taste, optional
- In a large nonstick pan, heat 2-3 tablespoon EVOO over medium heat until shimmering. Add in the tomatoes and let them cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. (Use a splash guard for safety as the tomatoes will begin to pop in the oil.)
- Add the garlic and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss around a bit. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the tomatoes are cooking, slice the French baguette on the diagonal into ½-inch slices. Brush the bread on one side with a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Heat up a cast-iron pan or griddle on high heat. Once the pan is heated, arrange the bread onto the pan, olive oil side down. If you cannot fit all the bread onto the cast-iron pan, warm the bread in batches.
- Brush the top of the bread with extra virgin olive oil. Once the bottom side is golden brown with some darker edges, flip the bread. The bread will take about 2 minutes per side, depending on how hot your pan is.
- Move the bread to a serving platter. Spoon blistered tomatoes onto each piece of bread. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze over (optional) and a sprinkle of basil.
- The best bread for bruschetta: Day-old or slightly stale work great for bruschetta. I used a French baguette in this recipe, but ciabatta would also work well.
- Make ahead tips: Cook the tomatoes a night ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat over medium-high heat in a skillet. Grill the bread and assemble the bruschetta when you're ready to serve.
- Leftovers: If you think you'll have leftovers, don't assemble al the bruschette (plural). Only assemble as many as you need. Store leftover tomatoes in an airtight container in the fridge, and leftover toasted bread in an airtight container at room temp. Leftovers will keep for around 3 days.
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