Tomato mozzarella sandwich or Caprese panini is a delicious summer meal made with fresh creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, basil pesto, crunchy onions and spicy jalapenos. It is easy, flavorful, comforting, and comes together in 20 mins.
I am sharing how to make a Caprese sandwich or a perfectly golden, gooey and crispy tomato mozzarella panini with and without a panini press.
My family loves Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich with Pesto. We prefer it as quick lunch or dinner during summer. It's a flavorful, delicious, and filling meal. Even perfect as a picnic sandwich and my kids love it in their lunchboxes too.
I was in London, UK when I first tasted the tomato and mozzarella panini at costa and instantly loved it. It was my go-to lunches those days.
After coming to the US, I have tried every possible Caprese sandwich be it the Panera or Starbucks tomato mozzarella panini.
The ultimate grilled cheese at Zupas also reminds me of Caprese panini so finally had to recreate it at home. And am excited to share my version is so much more delicious!! You must try it!
About The Recipe
Tomato Mozzarella Panini, also known as Caprese Sandwich is a simple Italian sandwich made with fresh juicy tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, and flavorful basil pesto.
Caprese panini (or mozzarella tomato basil panini) is very popular and on the menu for most of these fast-casual restaurants like Starbucks, Panera, Costa, and Zupas (with different names).
After trying most of them, this is my take on the classic tomato and mozzarella panini, and certainly more tasty!!
In addition to the staples like tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto, I like adding some onions for crunch and jalapeños for a spicy kick. For extra flavor, you can also add some lettuce and roasted tomatoes.
You can serve it as a sandwich or grill it using a panini press or on the stovetop in a pan until crispy, golden, and gooey. Either way, this tomato mozzarella pesto sandwich is delicious, and juicy, and bet you can stop eating.
The Pesto Tomato Mozzarella sandwich is the perfect summer meal for lunch or dinner and great for picnics too while the fresh juicy tomatoes are in season.
But even after, we love this Caprese panini with soups, salad, pasta, or just on its own.
You need just a few so use the best quality ingredients to make the tomato mozzarella sandwich.
Bread - Use good quality bread. I prefer Sourdough bread or Ciabatta for this sandwich but white, Italian, Multigrain or your favorite bread will also work.
Mozzarella - Use fresh mozzarella for the best flavor. I use the pre-sliced kind that comes in the log. If that is not available, use slices or shredded cheese but fresh is altogether a game changer.
Tomatoes - Use the best quality tomatoes here. Summer usually has a great variety so use fresh ripe tomatoes of choice. I have used beefsteak tomatoes but you can also use Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, tomatoes on the vine, or any of your choice. For more flavor, add roasted tomatoes.
Pesto - You can use homemade basil pesto or store-bought one. Or try the spinach basil pesto for added flavor and nutrition. For store-bought, I like the Costco Kirkland one which is always stocked up in my fridge.
Onion - We love onions and the flavor and crunch they add. I have used red onions. You can skip these based on your preference.
Jalapeno - If you love it spicy as we do, add some sliced jalapeños to your sandwich, they add a mild kick without overpowering the flavors and work so well with mozzarella and tomatoes.
Seasonings: Salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and chaat masala (optional). Chaat masala is not a traditional seasoning for this recipe but I like to add it for that Indian twist plus it adds more flavor. You can skip it too.
Please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements of ingredients.
How To Make Tomato Mozzarella Panini (Stepwise)
1 - Take two slices of bread and spread butter on both followed by pesto.
2 - Next layer one bread slice with sliced tomato, onion, and jalapeños. Season with salt, black pepper, and chaat masala (optional but highly recommend).
3 - Top it with mozzarella slices and close with the other slice (pesto side facing down).
4 - Tomato mozzarella sandwich is ready! Repeat steps 1-3 to make more sandwiches. You can serve it right away or grill (toast) it to make a panini.
How to make panini using the panini press
Preheat the panini press. Lightly spray with oil (if required). Apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the sandwich and place it butter side down in the press.
Apply a thin layer of butter to the top slices of the bread. Close the lid, and grill for about 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is evenly golden and the cheese is melted.
How to make panini without a panini press
Don't have a panini maker? Don't worry I got you covered. You can either use a grill pan to get the classic panini marks or use your regular pan or griddle (without grill marks).
5 - Place the grill pan on the stovetop and heat on medium heat. Apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the sandwich and place it on the pan butter side down.
Here is the trick to get the panini press effect, place parchment paper on top of the sandwich followed by heavy cookware. This creates the same effect as the plates pressing against the sandwich in the panini maker. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom side is golden.
6 - Now remove the cookware and parchment paper, apply a thin layer of butter to the top slices, and flip.
7 - Now place back the parchment paper, and cookware and cook until the bottom side is golden too.
8 - Remove from the pan. Crispy tomato mozzarella panini is ready! Slice, and serve.
The tomato mozzarella sandwich is delicious as is but here are a few variations to try when you want to switch things up.
- Use pickled onions and pickled jalapeños instead of raw ones.
- Add greens like spinach or lettuce for a boost in nutrition.
- Use roasted tomatoes instead of fresh or use both together for added flavor.
- Layer on some avocados to make it creamy.
- Add balsamic glaze or reduction for a touch of sweetness and tang.
- Use sun-dried tomato pesto instead of basil pesto for a twist.
- Add shredded rotisserie chicken or grilled chicken to make it a chicken Caprese sandwich.
Serve the tomato mozzarella panini warm while the cheese is still all melty and gooey.
The sandwich is juicy, flavorful and so delicious. It's a great meal and quite filling just on its own especially if you are using fresh mozzarella cheese.
If you don't plan to eat this panini immediately and want to pack it for a picnic or lunchbox here is what to do. After you remove the sandwich from the pan, place it on a cooling rack so that the bottom doesn’t get soggy. Pack once it's cooled completely.
For best and maximum flavor, use the freshest and best quality ingredients. This is especially true when it comes to mozzarella and tomatoes.
Use thick sturdy bread for this sandwich. Sourdough bread, ciabatta, and focaccia are perfect for this sandwich and hold up well.
For more flavor, add roasted tomatoes, pickled onions, and jalapenos. Add greens like spinach or lettuce to increase nutritional value.
Basil pesto (homemade or store-bought) is perfect or try the spinach basil pesto for added flavor and boost of nutrition.
You can serve this as a sandwich (without toasting) or grill it for a crispy panini (with or without a panini maker). Either way, it is delicious!!
Frequently Asked Questions
Caprese is an Italian recipe usually a salad made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, flavored with salt and olive oil.
Tomato mozzarella panini is best served fresh/warm. You can prep the ingredients ahead of time and keep them refrigerated. Assemble the sandwich just before serving.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat the sandwich on the pan on low heat before serving. It does tend to get a little soggy so consume it in a day or two.
More Sandwich Recipes
More Tomato Basil Recipes
Hope you enjoy this Tomato mozzarella sandwich | Caprese Panini!! If you give this recipe a try, please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card. Thank you ❤️! You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!!
Tomato Mozzarella Sandwich | Caprese Panini
- 4 slices sour dough bread or ciabatta
- 2 tablespoons butter mayo (optional)
- 4 tablespoons basil pesto 1 tablespoon for each slice or as required
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- 1 tomato sliced
- ½ small red onion sliced (optional)
- 1 jalapeño sliced
- salt pepper as per taste
- 1 teaspoon chaat masala optional, adjust to taste
Making tomato mozzarella sandwich
- Take two slices of bread and spread butter on both followed by pesto.
- Next layer one bread slice with sliced tomato, onion, and jalapeños. Season with salt, black pepper, and chaat masala (optional but highly recommend).
- Top it with mozzarella slices and close with the other slice (pesto side facing down).
- Tomato mozzarella sandwich is ready! Repeat the above steps to make another sandwich. You can serve it right away or grill (toast) it to make a panini.
Make tomato mozzarella panini (with panini press)
- Preheat the panini press. Lightly spray with oil (if required). Apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the sandwich and place it butter side down in the press.
- Apply another thin layer of butter to the top of the slices. Close the lid, and grill for about 5-7 minutes, or until the bread is evenly golden and the cheese is melted.
Making tomato mozzarella panini (without panini press)
- You can either use a grill pan to get the classic panini marks, or you can use your regular pan or griddle too (without grill marks).
- Place the grill pan on the stovetop and heat on medium heat. Apply a thin layer of butter to the top of the sandwich and place it on the pan butter side down.
- Here is the trick to get the panini press effect, place parchment paper on top of the sandwich followed by heavy cookware. This creates the same effect as the plates pressing against the sandwich in the panini maker. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom side is golden.
- Remove the cookware and parchment paper, apply a thin layer of butter to the top slices, and flip.
- Place the parchment paper, and cookware and cook until the bottom side is golden too.
- Remove from the pan. Tomato Mozzarella Panini is ready! Slice, and serve.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on Dec 26, 2013, but was republished with, step-by-step instructions, new photos, tips, and a video in Aug of 2022.