What can you substitute for bruschetta?

Bruschetta is a popular Italian appetizer consisting of grilled or toasted bread that is rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, tomatoes, basil, and other ingredients. It makes a delicious starter for any Italian meal, but you may need a substitute if you don’t have the ingredients on hand or want to try something new. Luckily, there are many tasty options for alternatives to classic bruschetta.

Bread Options

The base of bruschetta is bread that is grilled or toasted to create a crispy surface to support the toppings. While Italian bread like ciabatta or baguette work best, you can use any type of bread you have available. Here are some ideas:

  • Sourdough
  • Whole wheat
  • Rye
  • Pita
  • Naan
  • Baguette
  • Focaccia
  • Cornbread
  • Pumpernickel

The key is to use day-old bread that won’t get too soggy under the toppings. Cut or tear the bread into slices, cubes, or small pieces before toasting or grilling.

Topping Ideas

While the traditional bruschetta topping is diced tomato, basil, garlic, and olive oil, you can get creative with different topping combinations. Try these ideas:

Vegetable Bruschetta

  • Grilled or roasted vegetables like zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, mushrooms, or asparagus
  • Sautéed spinach with garlic and Parmesan
  • Caramelized onions
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Avocado

Cheese Bruschetta

  • Soft cheese like goat cheese, ricotta, or burrata
  • Melted mozzarella
  • Crumbled feta or gorgonzola
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
  • Mashed avocado with crumbled queso fresco or cotija

Protein Bruschetta

  • Prosciutto or other cured meats
  • Shredded rotisserie chicken
  • Chopped hard boiled eggs
  • Sautéed shrimp
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • White beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Hummus

Fresh Herb and Olive Oil Toppings

  • Chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, or thyme
  • Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Pesto
  • Tapenade
  • Romesco sauce
  • Chimichurri

Sweet Bruschetta

  • Mascarpone and figs
  • Ricotta with honey and orange zest
  • Mashed strawberries
  • Sliced peaches with honey
  • Whipped cream with vanilla bean
  • Nutella
  • Sliced bananas with nut butter

Mix and match any combination of bread, spreads, vegetables, cheeses, herbs, and other creative toppings to invent your own bruschetta substitute!

Full Bruschetta Substitute Recipes

To give you some inspiration, here are a few full recipe ideas for delicious bruschetta substitutes:

Caprese Bruschetta


  • 1 French baguette, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, diced
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic glaze
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Toast for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.
  2. In a bowl, gently mix together diced tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic glaze. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Top each piece of toasted bread with tomato-mozzarella mixture. Drizzle with extra olive oil if desired.

Whipped Feta Bruschetta


  • 1 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 8 oz feta cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1⁄4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. In a food processor, combine feta, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth and whipped.
  2. Brush ciabatta slices with olive oil. Toast in oven at 400°F for 5-10 minutes until crisp.
  3. Top toasted bread with dollops of the whipped feta mixture. Garnish with black pepper and chopped parsley.

Avocado Toast Bruschetta


  • 1 loaf country bread, sliced
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Toast bread slices in a 400°F oven until crisp, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mash avocados with lime juice, cilantro, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread mashed avocado over toast. Top with diced tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil.

Pesto Ricotta Bruschetta


  • 1 French baguette, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup pesto
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Toast baguette slices in 400°F oven until crisp, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, mix together ricotta and pesto until well combined.
  3. Spread ricotta mixture over toasts, then top with diced tomatoes and basil.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Making Ahead and Storing

One advantage of bruschetta is that the toasts can be made ahead of time, then topped just before serving. Here are some tips:

  • Slice and toast or grill bread up to a day in advance. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
  • Prepare any cooked vegetable toppings in advance and store refrigerated.
  • Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, herb, and garlic marinades ahead of time. Store refrigerated.
  • Prep any vegetables or cheese toppings a few hours before and store refrigerated.
  • Assemble bruschetta right before serving for the best texture and flavor.

The bread bases and vegetable or herb oil toppings also freeze well for longer term storage. Here’s how:

  • Slice and toast bread, cool completely, then freeze slices in a single layer in an airtight container or bag. Defrost at room temperature when ready to use.
  • Freeze chopped raw vegetables in a single layer on a sheet pan before transferring to bags for storage. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using.
  • Herb and oil mixtures can be frozen in ice cube trays or small containers for easy use. Defrost in the refrigerator before tossing with bread.

Serving Suggestions

Bruschetta makes a fantastic appetizer or snack served family-style for dipping and sharing. Here are some serving ideas:

  • Arrange toasted bread slices on a platter with small bowls of various toppings in the center for DIY assembly.
  • Set up a bruschetta bar with a selection of pre-assembled toasts, vegetables, cheeses, and dips.
  • Stack rounds of bruschetta on a tiered platter or tower for a dramatic presentation.
  • Serve individual bruschetta on small plates as a starter course for more formal dining.
  • For parties, pass bruschetta on trays so guests can easily nibble.
  • Pair bruschetta with wines like Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, or sparkling Prosecco.

The informal, hands-on nature of bruschetta makes it ideal for buffet gatherings where people can customize their toasts with favorite flavors.

Bruschetta Alternatives Around the World

While bruschetta has Italian origins, many cultures have similar concepts of topping toasted or grilled breads. Explore global versions for even more bruschetta inspiration:

Crostini (Italian)

Crostini means “little toasts” in Italian. Toppings vary, but common versions include chicken liver pâté, creamy Cannellini beans, or ricotta and honey.

Pan con tomate (Spanish)

This classic Spanish tapa features grated tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil on grilled bread. Variations might add Serrano ham or Manchego cheese.

Pita and za’atar (Middle Eastern)

Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend. Sprinkle it over toasted pita bread along with olive oil and labneh (strained yogurt) for a quick dip.

Avocado toast (Australian)

Hailing from Australia, the recent avocado toast craze substitutes creamy avocado, lime, and chili flakes for bruschetta’s tomatoes and basil.

Open-face sandwiches (Scandinavian)

Smørrebrød and other Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches serve small toppings like fish, meat, and cheese on thin, crispy rye bread.

Garden toasts (British)

British garden toasts pile vegetables, creamy cheese, and fresh herbs atop hot buttered bread for a seasonal treat.


Is bruschetta supposed to be toasted?

Yes, bruschetta requires bread that is grilled or toasted to create a crunchy base for the toppings. Toasting brings out the bread’s flavors and provides texture contrast.

What bread is best for bruschetta?

Classic bruschetta uses an Italian bread like ciabatta, baguette, or focaccia. In general, look for a rustic artisan bread with a crispy crust and slightly chewy interior when toasted.

Do you need to oil the bread for bruschetta?

Lightly brushing the bread slices with olive oil before toasting helps them get crispy. You can also rub a cut garlic clove over the surface for extra flavor.

How do you keep bruschetta crisp?

Assemble the toasts just before serving to prevent the bread from getting soggy. You can prep components in advance, then combine everything at the last minute. Avoid overloading the bread with wet ingredients.

Can you make bruschetta gluten-free?

Yes, use gluten-free bread or crackers instead of regular bread. Good options are gluten-free baguettes, brown rice crackers, or nut-based breads which get crunchy when toasted.


Bruschetta is one of those perfect party foods that pleases all palates. The garlicky, herbaceous flavors pair beautifully with a variety of toppings from classic tomatoes and mozzarella to avocado and hummus. While bruschetta requires few ingredients, it’s versatile enough to substitute with almost any bread and seasonal vegetables you have on hand. So get creative with mixes and matches to invent your own signature bruschetta forsnacks or starters. Your friends and family will love experiencing all the fresh flavors.

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