​How to Make Panzanella Salad

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Have you ever had the pleasure of enjoying a panzanella salad? It’s not often on the menu, so I tend to forget just how amazing and delicious it is. I love making it in the summertime and sitting back to enjoy the delicious memories of enjoying this classic Italian salad in all of the summers before.

If you have never enjoyed a panzanella salad, biting into it will wow you. When you try to make it yourself, you will be wowed again when you discover how simple it is. No way can a salad that is that good be so easy to create. It takes whatever veggies you may have on hand (although tomatoes are a must) and a day old baguette. Yes, it really is that simple.

How to Make Panzanella Salad


Here’s the thing. Panzanella salad was invented as a way of using up the hardened ends of old bread. That means you need a harder variety of bread that is stale. The hard crust and the stale texture helps keep it from getting too soggy in the salad.

The absolute most important player in this salad is the baguette. You have to use the perfect bread for the perfect salad. Start with a French Loaf Baguette. Our Traditional French Bread recipe is perfect. It is a delicious and the perfect base for the Panzanella Salad. 


Be sure when you bake the French Loaf you use the Superstone® Baguette Baker: it's perfect because it produces the crackly crust that we are looking for with this salad. Its key benefit is that the interior is unglazed which means that it will absorb moisture much better which allows for just the right consistency in the loaf.

For a really great Panzanella Salad experience, I recommend making 2 of the french loaves the day before you plan to enjoy the salad. One loaf is for mixing into the salad and one to enjoy alongside it. 

Once done, cut one of the loaves into chunks, spreading them over a cookie sheet, leaving them out on the counter overnight. This allows it to stale and harden, which is necessary for your salad.


The next important player in the Panzanella Salad game are the tomatoes. You need a good, firm tomato for the best flavor. The variety of tomato you use is solely based on preference, but I have found good luck with the heirloom variety.

Other Vegetables Needed for Panzanella Salad

Truthfully, you can be done with just the bread and the tomatoes. A traditional Panzanella Salad is just that. Outside of the bread and tomatoes, though, you can actually use whatever vegetables and other ingredients that you want. I just love that about Panzanella Salad. It is great for using up what you have to make a delicious side dish that is a perfect pair for many different main course meals.

I have found that fresh from the garden vegetables are amazingly delicious in a Panzanella Salad. Ingredients like green or red onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, corn or anything else you love can make a delightful addition.

While you can use whatever you would like, I really enjoy getting as many vibrant colors as possible, because a colorful salad is a beautiful salad!

Ingredients Needed to Make a Panzanella Salad

While you can technically use any ingredients you want, here are the ingredients that I have found that make a delicious panzanella salad.

1 Baguette aged a day and cut into croutons (about 8 cups)

3-4 large tomatoes (8 cups chopped)

1 large cucumber

1 cup chopped bell peppers (red or yellow)

½ cup of chopped red onion

½ cup mozzarella

½ cup basil (thinly sliced)

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

A pinch of salt

Pepper, to taste

These Panzanella salad recipes by Serious Eats and Ina Garten are great, too. be sure to give them a try.

Rules for making the Best Panzanella Salad

There are two rules that must always be followed for making the best panzanella salad.

Let it sit.

The best panzanella salad requires patience. You cannot mix it up and gobble it up right away. A waiting period is a must. You can let it rest for at least a half hour, but I have found that about an hour's wait is just about perfect (although some people like to wait for up to 4 hours).

This wait time is crucial to the flavor of your salad. This stage of the process is where the bread absorbs the flavors of the tomatoes and other ingredients.

Do not refrigerate.

Tomatoes and refrigerators are not a good match. Tomatoes can and will lose their flavor in the fridge, especially once they are chopped up and opened up to the air more.

Additionally, the longer the salad is in the fridge, the more likely it is that your bread will become soggy.

It’s best to eat the salad the same day and avoid refrigeration completely.