This 20 minute cherry tomato panzanella is a warm version of the classic Tuscan bread salad made with fried bread, garlic, herbs and burst cherry tomatoes.

a platter with cherry tomato panzanella

This post was originally published on September 14th, 2012. We have updated the content to share it with you again today. The recipe remains unchanged.

Why We Love This Recipe

Though I love classic Panzanella Salad as much as I love summer (that’s a lot) sometimes I like to mix it up with this warm Cherry Tomato version of the classic Italian bread salad. It is great if you are growing cherry tomatoes in your garden, or happen to have some cherry tomatoes from the farmers’ market.

It still has the flavors of traditional panzanella, with garlic, herbs and the requisite olive oil. Instead of relying on the juices from slicing tomatoes to moisten the bread, this one uses the juices of the burst cherry tomatoes once they are cooked in the hot skillet with the fried bread! People, I am telling you, even though this is not traditional, this should be a new classic!

This Cherry Tomato Panzanella Salad is a simple and humble salad to serve as a main course or with chicken, fish or eggs. We love it with simple sauteed swiss chard, garlic marinated proteins such as shrimp or chicken cooked on the grill and salmon in foil. For a super fast dinner in 20 minutes, I lay a couple fried eggs on top and call it done.

Ingredients For This Recipe

ingredients for Cherry Tomato Panzanella with labels

Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe uses a whole quart (two pints) of cherry tomatoes to make it juicy and full of veggies. No need to cut them in advance, as the heat of the skillet will break them open. It’s is the magic of this recipe and it makes it even easier to prepare! Just give them a good rinse.

The Best Bread To Use For Panzanella

It is important to choose a bread that has great structure to it. Choose a thick crust chewy farm style bread that you slice yourself. Americanized grocery store “Italian” bread packaged in plastic will be too squishy and melt into the salad. It will lose its integrity from the moisture of the tomatoes.

Instead look for breads labeled “Farm Style” and it should be packaged in paper. It should have a nice crusty exterior. It is also best if it is not completely fresh.

Extra-virgin olive oil

Choose a good quality olive oil, but not the best most expensive as we will be cooking with this. If you happen to have any roasted garlic oil on hand that would be even better!

Garlic, Oregano (or Basil) and Balsamic Vinegar

To season this warm Panzanella salad, use a combo of cooked garlic and fresh herbs (either oregano or basil work) along with salt and pepper.

We will finish it off with a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar. I recommend a high quality balsamic for this recipe as it is the final touch and the quality will really stand out here. Aged is best if you have it.

How To Make Cherry Tomato Panzanella

frying the bread and garlic

Step 1: Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until it is hot but not smoking. Add in the bread, and cook it until it is browned on a few sides. This will take about five to six minutes.

Step 2: Add in the garlic and cook briefly until it is fragrant and just starting to brown.

cook the cherry tomatoes until they start to burst

Step 3: Add the cherry tomatoes and salt and cook while stirring until they start to blister and burst and let their juices off.

Step 4: Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the oregano or basil, pepper and balsamic vinegar.

Stir the panzanella every minute or so for about 5 minutes off the heat. The tomatoes will continue to break down and release their juices from the carryover heat of the hot skillet.

Expert Tips and FAQs

What is the best kind of bread to use for Panzanella?

Choose a thick crust chewy farm style bread that you slice yourself. Americanized grocery store “Italian” bread packaged in plastic will be too squishy and melt into the salad. Look for breads labeled “Farm Style” or “rustic” and it should be packaged in paper. It should have a nice crusty exterior. It is also best if it is not completely fresh. We call for day old bread in this recipe.

What is the best skillet to use?

For this recipe use a heavy cast iron skillet. The thickness of the pan will help it from having sharp temperature changes and prevent the bread and garlic from scorching. It also will hold its heat so you can continue to cook the cherry tomatoes to the perfect texture off the heat.

the skillet with the panzanella in it up close

More Recipes To Try

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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cherry tomato panzanella in a skillet with a wooden spoon

Cherry Tomato Panzanella

  • Author: Katie
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This easy 20 minute recipe for Cherry Tomato Panzanella Salad is cooked in a skillet to burst the cherry tomatoes. We’ve added in garlic, herbs and balsamic vinegar to season it.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cubed crusty farm bread
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, large ones cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add bread and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and crusty in places, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant and starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and salt and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to blister, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in basil or oregano, vinegar and pepper. Continue stirring as it cools in the hot skillet, about 5 minutes. Serve warm.



It is best to use a heavy cast iron skillet to make this recipe. That will help to prevent scorching, and allow you to continue to gently cook the tomatoes in step four. If you do not have a heavy skillet, make sure to monitor the heat and adjust it down if the skillet starts to smoke. You may need to cook it over low heat before adding in the herbs to let the tomatoes let off their juices.


Look for good crusty bread sold in a paper bag that you have to cut yourself. For best results use day old bread. If your bread is fresh, cut it into cubes, lay it out on a baking sheet and allow it to sit out for two hours before proceeding with the recipe.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 ½ cups each
  • Calories: 279
  • Sugar: 6 g
  • Sodium: 307 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 11 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 3 g

Keywords: cherry tomato panzanella salad, cherry tomato recipe,cherry tomato panzanella, fried bread panzanella