Skip to main content

How to Make Perfect Crostini and Bruschetta: It's More Than Just Toast

  • Author:
  • Updated date:
Crostini and bruschetta are the perfect treats for get-togethers. These diverse recipes will make your mouth water.

Crostini and bruschetta are the perfect treats for get-togethers. These diverse recipes will make your mouth water.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

— Aristotle

You're Probably Wondering...

What is a crostini?

Well, the actual word is Italian for "little toasts." A small slice of bread is toasted, adorned with sweet and/or savory toppings, and served either warm or at room temperature.

But I've Also Heard Of...

Bruschetta. What's the difference? There is a subtle difference (but to say there is no difference at all will bring about a lengthy and heated discussion with any person of Italian descent, trust me).

Bruschetta is more about the bread than the toppings. In fact, the word bruschetta is derived from the word bruscare, which means to roast over coals. A big, rustic loaf is cut into ample slices, toasted on a grill, and then rubbed with the cut side of a clove of garlic. A drizzle of good-quality olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and you're good to go. Some people like to 'fancy it up' with chopped fresh tomato, torn basil leaves and perhaps just a kiss of balsamic vinegar.

What's so exciting about toast?

What's so exciting about toast?

Why Are We Getting So Excited About Toast?

Look back at the quote from Aristotle. Simple ingredients, each on their own, are good, but combine artisanal bread with garden-crisp vegetables, fresh herbs, and the best meat and cheeses; how can you go wrong?

Combine bread with other ingredients.

Combine bread with other ingredients.

Let's Focus on the Basics

Every building project begins with a firm foundation—even Italian toasts rely on a good-quality base. This is not the place for the middle-of-the-shelf two loaves for a dollar bread. Not Wonder Bread. Not sandwich bread. Crostini and bruschetta are based on sturdy bread with a crisp crust and a soft and tangy interior, something artisanal, rustic, and crusty.

Italian toasts rely on a good-quality base.

Italian toasts rely on a good-quality base.

1. The Bread

I've already told you that you need to use a crusty loaf from the bakery. Your next step is to make diagonal slices—angle your knife 45 degrees so that you have slices long and slim instead of straight up and down.

The perfect slice is 1/2-inch thick.

2. The Toasting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange the bread on 2 large baking sheets and brush each slice on both sides with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. (If the undersides are not browning, turn the crostini over once during baking). Let cool on baking sheets. Top crostini with desired toppings, and serve. Let cool completely.

3. The Beautiful, Glorious Toppings

How many ways can you make an Italian "little toast"? The only limit is your imagination (and what you have available in your pantry). Let's begin with the well-known savory little bite we call bruschetta, which, by tradition, holds diced chopped tomatoes and fresh basil.

Basic Bruschetta

Basic Bruschetta

Recipes/Suggestions in This Article

  • Basic Tomato/Basil Bruschetta
  • Cranberry/Bacon Jam Crostini
  • Shrimp/Avocado Crostini
  • Smoked Salmon/Marscapone Crostini
  • Italian Meatball Crostini
  • Apricot/Goat CheeseCrostini
  • Whipped Feta/Olive Tappendade Crostini
  • Mushroom Pesto Crostini
  • Apple and Honey Crostini
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Spread and Strawberry Crostini
  • Sweet Cherries with Ricotta Crostini

Basic Bruschetta Ingredients


1 1/2 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes

Romas are meatier; fewer seeds

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Provides a bite, a bit of heat

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

Dressing for your "salad"

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

sweet and tangy

6 basil leaves, thinly sliced

herby bright flavor

1/2 teaspoon salt

brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

the bite of heat rounds out the flavors


  1. Slice the tomatoes vertically into quarters. Remove the seeds (with the tip of a spoon or your fingertips), then roughly chop the tomatoes into small dice.
  2. Mix diced tomatoes with the remaining ingredients. Don't top the toast with tomato mixture until ready to eat (these quickly get soggy, and you want the toast to be crisp/crunchy).

Now that you know the basic recipe, I'm going to share some flavor combinations with you.

Meat Recipes

Below are some meet recipes.

Cranberry-Bacon Jam crostini

Cranberry-Bacon Jam crostini

Cranberry Bacon Jam Crostini

Marion is the "chief cook, bottle washer, recipe developer, photographer, writer, social media crazy person, and founder of Life Tastes Good". And she also created this savory bite of cheese, smoky bacon and tart/tangy cranberries.

And here are some more great flavor combinations:


  • 1st Layer: Mashed avocado with a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • 2nd Layer: Shrimp, cleaned, shelled, and cooked
  • Garnish: Dash of smoked paprika

Smoked Salmon/Mascarpone

  • 1st Layer: Mascarpone cheese with chopped chives
  • 2nd Layer: Smoked salmon (sliced very thinly)
  • Garnish: Fresh dill sprigs and rinsed drained capers

Italian Meatball

  • 1st Layer: Marinara sauce
  • 2nd Layer: Pre-cooked frozen meatballs warmed according to package instructions and sliced in half
  • Garnish: Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese

Vegetarian Recipes

Below are some vegetarian recipes.

Apricot/goat cheese/pistachio crostini

Apricot/goat cheese/pistachio crostini

Apricot/Goat Cheese Crostini

Jessica Erin of provides this introduction to her site: "I am the recipe developer, photographer, and writer behind this here blog! You will find a little of everything, including healthy meals, comfort food, and my favorite - sweets. So stay awhile...I hope you're hungry!"

Her apricot/goat cheese crostini has it all—tangy goat cheese, sweet brightly-colored apricots, and the crunch of salty green pistachios.


  • 1st Layer: 1 cup feta, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 2 T Parmesan and 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2nd Layer: Mix of ripe, green, and Kalamata olives, chopped
  • Garnish: arugula leaves, torn

Mushroom Pesto

  • 1st Layer: Basil pesto
  • 2nd Layer: 3 cups assorted sliced mushrooms sautéed in olive oil
  • Garnish: Shaved Parmesan cheese

Dessert Recipes

This is not the first time I have introduced you to Maria and Josh, the humans behind the sweet blog twopeasandtheirpod. They are so creative I feel it's worth taking another look. Maria's apple/honey crostini requires one different step—the bread slices are topped with brie prior to going into the oven.

Brie, apple, and honey crostini

Brie, apple, and honey crostini

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread With Strawberries

  • 1st Layer: Nutella
  • 2nd Layer: Fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Garnish: Pinch of sea salt

Sweet Cherries With Ricotta

  • 1st Layer: Fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2nd Layer: Sweet cherries, pitted, chopped, and mixed with sugar
  • Garnish: Lemon zest

© 2017 Linda Lum