Basil Pesto Caprese Sandwich

This basil pesto caprese sandwich is the perfect packable lunch, made with four simple ingredients for easy prep and delicious flavor.
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With spring in full bloom and summer approaching quickly, we’re throwing it back to one of our favorite pastimes this week with our Basil Pesto Caprese Sandwich recipe. It’s the perfect packable lunch for picnics, beach days, and hikes! Made with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil leaves, and this yummy basil pesto, this vegetarian caprese sandwich tastes just like summer.

A basil pesto caprese sandwich on baguette

Alex and I used to love going out for picnic lunches in Boston, especially when the weather would start to warm up and classes were winding down. Boston’s Italian district, the North End, was our favorite spot to grab sandwiches, because nobody does sandwiches better than the Italians. You could always count on fresh baked bread and a perfect pairing of juicy tomatoes with creamy mozzarella cheese. So we’d pick up a sandwich, walk over to the Greenway, and enjoy a delicious lunch under the sun whenever we had the chance.

Now that we live in Southern California, we can go on picnic lunches pretty much anytime of the year, anywhere! Whether we’re at the park, the beach, or on top of a mountain after a long hike, we’re always looking for an excuse to eat lunch outside. That’s where our caprese sandwich with pesto comes in. With just a few simple ingredients and some good bread, caprese sandwiches are the easiest picnic lunch to prep ahead of time, toss in a cooler, and take on an adventure.

A basil pesto caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella and tomato
What’s In A Caprese Sandwich?

A traditional caprese sandwich needs three ingredients: 

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Mozzarella
  3. Basil

The caprese sandwich is related to the caprese salad, or Insalata Caprese. There are a few stories regarding the origins of this dish, but it’s agreed upon that the three colors of the dish are meant to represent the Italian flag: red, white, and green. Since we love using spreads on our sandwiches, we added a fourth ingredient to our caprese sandwich: basil pesto. It has a lovely flavor and vibrant color that fits right in with the fresh basil in our recipe.

Open face basil pesto caprese sandwich on a wooden serving platter

A caprese sandwich is the perfect summer lunch since tomatoes are fresh and in-season. It’s important to choose juicy, ripe tomatoes to get the most flavor out of your caprese sandwich. Likewise, a high-quality mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves bring so much flavor and texture to this dish. Choose your ingredients wisely, and you’ll notice a difference!

With that being said, we can’t forget to talk about the last ingredient that makes our caprese sandwich a sandwich: the bread! You’ll want fresh Italian bakery bread or a baguette for the best caprese sandwich. Take a look around your local grocery store or market for something that’s long, narrow, and feels soft and fresh. Sometimes we like to use traditional Italian filone bread for this sandwich, if we can find it! Otherwise, a baguette works perfectly well.

How To Make A Caprese Sandwich With Basil Pesto

Our basil pesto caprese sandwich recipe is super simple and easy to follow:

  1. Start by toasting sliced Italian bread under the broiler, just enough to lightly crisp the surface
  2. Slice up some fresh mozzarella and vine tomato, and pick a few fresh basil leaves
  3. Spread basil pesto onto both halves of the toasted bread, then layer with mozzarella, tomato, basil, and more mozzarella
  4. Close the sandwich and enjoy, or wrap up tightly in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to eat

Toasting the bread just a bit prevents it from getting soggy if the sandwich sits in the refrigerator for a few hours. Be careful not to toast it too much, though. You still want the bread to be soft when you bite into this sandwich. Also, we use a double layer of fresh mozzarella in our caprese sandwich (we love cheese), but you can stick to a single layer if you want this sandwich to be a little lighter and healthier. That’s the beauty of sandwiches – totally customizable!

Try our Basil Pesto Caprese Sandwich recipe below for your next picnic lunch and let us know what you think by rating, sharing, and commenting below!

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Basil Pesto Caprese Sandwich

This basil pesto caprese sandwich is the perfect packable lunch, made with four simple ingredients for easy prep and delicious flavor.
Servings 1 sandwich
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 4 oz Italian filone bread or baguette about 6 inches long
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese sliced into 6 discs
  • 1 small vine tomato sliced into 1/4-inch thick discs
  • 6 fresh basil leaves


  • Slice the bread in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil on low for about 3 to 4 minutes until lightly toasted.
  • Spread 1 tbsp basil pesto onto each half of the toasted sandwich bread.
  • Layer 3 slices of fresh mozzarella onto the bottom half of the sandwich bread, then top with tomato slices, basil leaves, and the remaining 3 slices of mozzarella.
  • Close the sandwich and serve, or wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.


Italian filone bread: This traditional Italian bread is similar to a French baguette, which makes it perfect for a caprese sandwich! If you can’t find it at the store, substitute with a soft French baguette or ciabatta bread.
Serving suggestions: This caprese sandwich is a great packable lunch for picnics, hikes, or beach days! If you want to prepare it ahead of time, wrap it up tightly in parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to eat. It will stay fresh for a few hours this way.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 767kcal
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil, basil pesto, filone, fresh mozzarella, italian bread, pesto, picnic, sandwich, spring, summer, tomatoes


Calories: 767kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 1697mg | Potassium: 450mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 2256IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 753mg | Iron: 5mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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