We all love Italian food: pizza, pasta, gnocchi; you name it.
The country is in love with tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese, basil, and olive oil.
Today we’re talking about the most popular antipasto (or Italian appetizer), the bruschetta.
Small two-bite sized savory treats that welcome you to the table and officially inaugurate the feast.
A slice of bread with toppings, how hard can it be?
Every bruschetta starts with a slice of bread. You can serve it plain or you can give it a beautiful golden color on the griddle or your handy electric skillet.
Then there’s the toppings…
Usually cold, but very nice when warm too, they give life to your new favorite finger food; they can be anything too, from cured ham to ripe tomatoes.
What happens is that bread and toppings complement each other.
Bread on its own is OK, but as a carrier of flavor; as a means of transport for other foods, from the plate to your mouth, bread fulfills its destiny; that’s why bruschetta is so prized.
Simple to make, casual, and inexpensive.
Bruschetta is great to start an evening, and it can become a fabulous conversation starter too.
And there’s more, if you make bruschetta yourself, its an opportunity to show off your inventiveness and cooking skills.
There are no two bruschetta alike, and toppings for bruschetta are infinite.
The best bruschetta add-ons depend on your taste, and there’s plenty of room for innovation and creativity.
Bruschetta Toppings: From Our List to Your Table
We love to top bruschetta with anything from regular toppings to barrier-breaking statements.
Whether you’re more of a traditional bruschetta type of person or a contemporary dreamer, here’s some inspiration for you.
Try some of our ideas and tell us which ones make your list.
1. Pears and goat cheese, A clean and salty bite
Some combinations become an instant classic, and that’s the case with this one.
Goat cheese is smooth and tangy, it’s the perfect base for many other toppings, especially when they contrast the tanginess with sweetness.
Top your bruschetta with cream cheese and add a robust slice of caramelized pear.
You can prepare your pears them by dusting them with sugar and baking them in the oven.
The flavors are warming and inviting. A dust of cinnamon before serving will take them to the next level.
See how Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef rocks this recipe here.
2. Cream cheese and smoked salmon, the flavors of the north.
You enjoy this combination every day in your neighborhood deli bagel, so you know it works.
Spreading a hefty amount of natural, silky cream cheese on your toasted bread is the perfect way to make a good portion of smoked salmon shine.
For an added layer of flavor, add capers and dill to complete your composition.
Think of Nordic flavors, the flavors of the sea.
Salmon is unctuous and luxurious enough to make your bruschetta unforgettable.
3. Tomato, basil and mozzarella, the Caprese way
If it works, don’t fix it. That’s what we say about the all-time classic combination of a Caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.
Start by topping your bread with a generous slice of mozzarella, add a juicy wedge of ripe tomato and top it all with a few leaves of basil.
Finish it with a drizzle of extra virgin, Italian olive oil, and enjoy.
With a bruschetta like this, you can skip the salad.
Serene makes a beautiful Caprese Bruschetta for House of Yumm.
4. Brie and sun-dried tomatoes, an umami bomb
Brie is not just another soft cheese; it’s THE most unctuous and decadent soft cheese around.
It’s nutty, creamy, and earthy; for its category, it’s one of the most complex and savory cheeses around.
Top your bruschetta with Brie and add a sizeable sun-dried tomato drenched in olive oil straight from the jar.
A sprinkle of coarse sea salt will liven the flavors making your bruschetta worthy of a blue ribbon.
Try making your own sun-dried tomatoes, it’s a satisfying project, and it’s easier than you’d expect.
While we’re on the topic, check out our list of baked brie sides (our favorites of course!).
5. Mango and zucchini blossoms
Here’s a different combination. Reserve this topping for your get-togethers with snobby friends, those who’ve seen and tried it all. We bet they haven’t tried these!
Start by sourcing fresh zucchini blossoms in your farmers market, avoid the canned versions.
Sautee the flowers with minced onion and a little salt. Let it cool and incorporate with ripe, diced mango.
Plain sweet and salty, yet sophisticated; this one is a home run.
Top your golden slice of bread with your new favorite off-the-beaten-path topping. It’s your time to show off.
6. Caramelized onions, goat cheese and red wine reduction, a fancy one!
Toppings for bruschetta are like Lego pieces, they come in all colors and sizes, but they always match.
This is the case with a nice scoop of caramelized onions and goat cheese drizzled with a red wine reduction.
Use your left-over red wine (if any) and let it simmer until thick. Add enough sugar to make a syrup.
If you’re out of wine or prefer to drink it, rather than to cook with it, use high-quality balsamic vinegar, the aged stuff. It will deliver.
7. Pico de Gallo, a Cultural Exchange
Some of the best bruschetta toppings come from bringing different cultures together: mixing and matching international cuisines, in this case, Italian with Mexican.
Start by making a proper Pico de Gallo sauce, the chunky salsa made of diced tomatoes, white onion and cilantro.
Spicy green peppers are optional, but a drizzle of lime juice isn’t; it brings the flavors together.
Top your bruschetta with your Mexican sauce and play some matching music. Let’s get the Fiesta started!
Look at this recipe from A Fork in Each Hand to see what we mean with a Pico de Gallo Bruschetta.
8. Sautéed Mushrooms and truffle, flavors of the earth
Mushrooms and truffles are earthy gifts from mother nature. They’re full of umami richness that makes them nearly irresistible.
They’re varied too, so get your hands on a few fistfuls of fresh mushrooms, like cremini or portobello (never canned, never dried,) and get working.
Don’t wash them, since mushrooms absorb lots of water, clean them with a damp cloth instead.
Slice them and Sautee them with a little garlic and onion.
Top your bruschetta with a beautiful bed of mushrooms and top it with a generous amount of sliced black truffle (just kidding, truffles are uber-expensive!)
Instead, drizzle your appetizers with truffled oil, expensive but attainable.
9. Peas and mint, bright colors and a delectable fragrance
This one is a charmer. Get fresh peas and blanch them in boiling water or use some good-quality canned peas (drain them well.)
Mix them with bright, coarsely chopped mint leaves, a pinch of salt, and refrigerate.
Add cream cheese to your bruschetta, which will help your bright green topping stick.
Then add a handsome amount of peas and mint on top.
This bruschetta looks beautiful, and they taste even better.
This topping comes with a warning:
It’ll be hard to impress your guests after this minty appetizer.
10. Beef tartare, one for the most memorable moments
Beef tartare will forever be tied with fine dining. There’s something elegant and posh about finely minced raw beef; it’s a statement.
The secret is using prime meat with just the right balance between lean meat and fat.
You might think tartare tastes like nothing, but oh boy! It has a distinct, imposing personality.
Prepare your tartare with capers, black pepper and olive oil.
And for a vegan option, try a tomato tartare, it’s subtler but equally impressive.
Krissy from Key Ingredients rocks this recipe for Crostini with Beef Tartare and White Truffle Oil.
11. Manchego and Chorizo, Heart flavors, Ole!
Another cultural exchange, this time with Spain and its hearty food.
Top your bruschetta with a spoonful of crispy, slightly burned chorizo and cover it with a sliver of original, aged Manchego cheese.
Congratulations! You’ve made a tapa!
Because bruschetta and tapas have more in common than you think, they’re both bite sized appetizers designed to get your appetite going.
In case you’re not familiar with chorizo, it’s a Spanish, spicy, bright-red sausage of intense flavors and a dominating profile.
Break it down in a steaming pan and make sure it’s cooked through.
Here’s a simple approach to making this deliciousness:
12. Garlic and olive oil, because simple is beautiful
It’s not always about starting with a bang, a subtle, flavorful type of bruschetta might be just what you need to make your dinner a concert in crescendo.
There are a few steps to get it right, though: peal entire heads of garlic halfway so they stay in one piece.
Chop off the hard tip and drizzle with olive oil. Bake your garlic heads until they become soft and mushy.
Delicately squeeze the aromatic puree into a bowl and mix with more olive oil.
This is what I call a true aioli. Garlic and olive oil made into a spread.
Cover your bread slices with it, add a kiss of salt and prepare yourself for an experience of a lifetime.
13. Banana and Nutella, because who doesn’t like dessert?
To keep things varied, we wanted to open the door to another kingdom entirely: the sweet bruschetta.
Spread Nutella on your bread and top it with banana slices (or any ripe fruit, for that matter) to end up with bruschetta like you didn’t imagine existed.
Sure, starting dinner with your new sweet creations might not be the right choice, but we’re sure you’ll find a use for them. The kids love them, by the way!
The Best Bruschetta Toppings: Contorni, other complementary antipasti
Whatever topping you chose, we know your bruschetta will be a success.
Whether you went for fruity or cheesy, classic or unconventional, you’ll successfully get your party started and everyone’s appetite going.
People relax when they eat with their hands; the dinner table becomes a playground.
Bruschetta has that effect; they’re just fun to eat (and fun to make, so lucky you!)
An Italian table is all about abundance, so don’t let your bruschetta take all the hits, or there won’t be enough to go around!
Here are a few other antipasti that go great with your Italian themed dinner.
Choose a few, place them strategically along the table and let everyone have a bite of everything.
The following are a few ideas to get your creativity going.
The goal is to fill out the table with different colors and textures with different flavors to cater to all tastes.
Antipasti is about celebrating that people came together around the table. And you’re the host, so have fun too.
Olives are oily and meaty, satisfying finger foods to pop to your mouth between bruschetta bites.
They’re a Mediterranean staple and help create an authentic Italian theme.
Season them with a splash of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of oregano.
Prosciutto, mortadella, soppressata, you name it! Italian excel in this department; quality is a given.
Mount a handsome cured meat platter and throw in your favorite hams, sausages, and any other indulging slice of meat.
Because you can’t go wrong with cheese. Visit your local cheesemonger and get a beautiful set of cheese, from blue cheese to fresh and creamy, from aged Parmigiano to mild medium-bodied cheeses like pecorino.
Sliced or diced, it doesn’t matter; people will stuff their faces either way.
Now, this looks like a party!
Fruits are nature’s treats. When ripe, figs are as good as the fanciest high-brow dessert.
Fig’s season peaks during summer and people in-the-know hoard them, so act fast and get an armful of luscious figs to enhance your guests’ dining experience.
Make sure you have enough bread. Split it into as many baskets as needed to be in everyone’s arms reach.
Make sure you buy a different type of bread than the one you used for your bruschetta. If you went white, get multi-grain, if you used a Parmesan roll, get a few loaves of sourdough.
Ok, this one is not food, but it’s essential in any Italian dinner.
Choose a fruity, tangy red wine like a Chianti or a light, mineral white wine like a Trebbiano.
Even better open a few bottles of each and let people pour themselves.
Italian food is better enjoyed surrounded by family, so make the calls, bring everyone together, tell the stories, crack the jokes, and enjoy a good, authentic Italian meal.
Who would have thought it all started with bruschetta?
What to Put on Bruschetta
- Pears & Goat Cheese
- Cream Cheese & Smoked Salmon
- Brie & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Mango & Zucchini Blossoms
- Caramelized Onions
- Pico de Gallo
- Mushrooms & Truffle
- Peas & Mint
- Beef Tartare
- Manchego & Chorizo
- Garlic & Olive Oil
- Banana & Nutella
- Choose your desired Bruschetta topping recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create tasty Bruschetta toppings to complete your meal!