This super simple chopped caprese salad comes together easily with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto. This is great way to use your juiciest and tastiest cherry tomatoes, and with the pesto infusing basil flavor through the salad, it’s OK to make this without fresh basil!

Why we should be chopping our Caprese Salads into tiny pieces

I am a big fan of so-called “chopped salads”, where all of the ingredients tend to be cut into similar sizes and you can get a little bit of everything in one forkful. I rarely make a big varied chopped salad because, well, it’s a lotta chopping. But one day I got curious to see how a simple Caprese Salad (which would traditionally involve larger sliced pieces of tomato and mozzarella all layered up nice and pretty) would turn out in the chopped style, and I completely loved it.

If you’re wondering why this would even make a difference, allow me to explain…

We chop our baby tomatoes into quarters, and once they’re cut that small they leach more juice. We also cut our mozzarella into small pieces, and a ball of fresh mozzarella is extra soft inside so those super soft pieces will end up soaking in lots of that juice. The whole thing is just… very juicy. As the salad sits out, more and more juices accumulate on the bottom of the bowl, and to be honest, it doesn’t look that great – it’s kind of sloppy – but it sure tastes good. Just scoop it up and eat it off a spoon, or over some bread, and enjoy that unmistakable taste of summer.

You only need four ingredients – and it can be made without fresh basil

Let’s discuss how this all works…

  • Baby tomatoes: For this salad to work well, they need to be at the peak of juicy summer goodness. You can use cherry or baby plums or baby heirlooms, it’s all good here. You could even use larger tomatoes and dice them.
  • Fresh mozzarella: The kind that is stored in water is perfect. You can use bocconcini balls if you wish (halved or quartered) but I find chopping a larger ball nicer – it’s more soft and juicy that way.
  • Pesto: A spoonful of pesto negates the need for fresh basil here. It adds the basil flavor as well as a subtle lemony tang and depth of flavor from the garlic and cheese. This recipe can work well with either fresh (homemade or deli) pesto or jarred pesto, but it’s not exactly the same. The jarred pesto is much oilier and saucier so you would want to err on the side of using less. (You can add fresh basil too if you want, you just don’t have to!)
  • Extra virgin olive oil: is used to dilute the pesto and make it more like a runny dressing.

Other Ideas and Additions:

  • Make it leafy: Throw in some small pieces of chopped lettuce and make it a leafy chopped salad if you wish. To be honest though, with the addition of lettuce I am not sure my simple pesto + olive oil hack will carry enough flavor, so I’d refer you to my punchier Simple Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing if you go down that route.
  • If your pesto isn’t very textured (different brands vary quite a bit), you can add some parmesan / Italian hard cheese shavings, some pine nuts, or other pesto ingredients to add texture to the bowl if you want to.
  • I also toyed with adding black olives and diced red onion to this recipe to boost the flavor. Neither felt needed, because if you use peak tomatoes here you will have adequate flavor, but they were tasty additions nonetheless .

Chopped Caprese Salad with Cherry Tomatoes & Pesto

This super simple chopped caprese salad comes together easily with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto. This is great way to use your juiciest and tastiest cherry tomatoes, and with the pesto infusing basil flavor through the salad, it's OK to make this without fresh basil!
5 from 3 ratings


  • 10 oz cherry, grape and other baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 4.5 oz fresh mozzarella , drained weight – this is the typical size of one ball of mozzarella from the supermarket
  • 1-2 tbsp basil pesto, see notes
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, see notes
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Chop your tomatoes. To get them as uniformly sized as possible, I like to do the following:
    With round cherry tomatoes, I slice them into quarters from the top down.
    With more oblong shaped grape / baby plum tomatoes, I halve them lengthways and then cut them again widthways.
  • Chop your mozzarella. If you have a large ball, cut it into thick slices and then into squares. You want the pieces just a little bigger than the tomato chunks, but not too big.
  • Add the tomatoes and mozzarella into a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix through.
  • Whisk together the pesto and olive oil, and drizzle it in. Mix through, give it a taste test and add additional pesto and olive oil or seasoning if desired.
  • Serve. You can store any leftovers in the fridge for a few days.


Pesto and olive oil quantities: Start with 1 tablespoon of each and add more to taste. Typically I would use 1.5-2 tablespoons of pesto if I have a very chunky fresh pesto (like the one pictured) but only 1 tablespoon if it’s a runnier and oilier jarred pesto.
Calories: 154kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 25mg, Sodium: 243mg, Potassium: 179mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 638IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 175mg, Iron: 1mg