Italian Bread Salad Recipe: Panzanella

Panzanella—the famous Italian bread salad recipe—is made in different ways in different regions of Italy. It’s traditional primarily in the central regions of Italy: Umbria, Tuscany, Lazio, Marche and Abruzzo.

In this recipe, characteristic of Marche, the bread is served in slices like bruschetta—rather than crumbled as it is served in other regions. All of the classic Panzanella recipe ingredients are here: tomatoes, basil, onion, vinegar along with some optional ingredients that pop up from region to region.

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How to Make Italian Bread Salad: Tips

No Crumbled Bread?

As we mentioned, the Panzanella Bread Salad recipe varies from region to region. The Panzanella recipe with crumbled (instead of sliced) bread is popular in the Tuscany and Umbria regions, among others. Here we are showing the Panzanella prepared as slices, which is more characteristic of the Marche region of Italy.

Marinate the Panzanella Ingredients to Develop Best Flavor!

Marinate the vegetables and seasonings together for about 30 minutes. Then, be sure to let the assembled Panzanella rest about 30 minutes to develop the best flavor before serving.

Combining the ingredients for our Panzanella Italian Bread Salad recipe.
Assembled Panzanella bread salad, in two layers.
The Panzanella can be easily served as slices!

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Italian Bread Salad Recipe: Panzanella

There are many variations of the famous Panzanella Bread Salad throughout Italy. This recipe is the perfect fresh spring or summer meal, with whole slices of sourdough bread and seasonal vegetables. So tasty!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Marination Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 5 people


  • 2 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber thinly sliced
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 2 carrots thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 9 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tbsp vinegar your choice! We use apple cider.
  • 4 pinches fine salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 4 leaves fresh basil
  • 14 slices sourdough bread thick, day old


Prepare the Vegetables

  • Peel and thinly slice: cucumber, carrots and celery.
    Thinly slice onion to taste.
    Cut the tomatoes into large, bite-size pieces. Cut them over a bowl to save the juice.
    2 ½ lbs fresh tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 4 ribs celery, 1 small onion, 2 carrots
  • Transfer all of these ingredients to a large bowl with the juice from the tomatoes.

Season the Vegetables

  • Add 4 basil leaves (torn in half) and 2 whole cloves of garlic to the vegetables. We will remove the garlic after the vegetables marinate. Give everything a good mix.
    2 cloves fresh garlic, 4 leaves fresh basil
  • Add the salt, vinegar, black pepper and at least 9 Tbs of olive oil to the vegetables. Give everything a good mix.
    9 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp black pepper, 4 pinches fine salt
  • Let the vegetables rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
    After about 30 minutes, remove the garlic and basil leaves.

Assemble the Panzanella

  • Quickly dip each slice of bread into filtered water. Arrange half of the bread slices next to one another on a serving platter. 
    14 slices sourdough bread
  • Generously drizzle olive oil on the bed of bread. Spoon the liquid from the marinated vegetables over the bread as well.
    Distribute half of the vegetables over the bed of bread.
  • Repeat for the second layer. 
  • Let the prepared Panzanella rest for 30 more minutes before serving it.
    Before serving, drizzle on more extra-virgin olive and salt to taste. Buon appetito!


Peel Celery Ribs
Remove the outer, stringy part of the celery with a potato peeler before dicing. 
Use Day-Old Bread
It’s best to use slightly stale (1-2 day old) bread for this recipe. This will ensure the bread can soak up liquid without becoming soggy!
Keyword healthy
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