It’s officially the most wonderful (foodie) time of the year: tomato season. Is there anything better than in-season, juicy, fully ripe tomatoes? We think not, which is why we celebrate one of our favorite summer vegetables with this delicious slice-and-assemble heirloom tomato salad. It requires exactly as much effort as you’re willing to expend on a steamy late-summer day, and the result is a salad perfect for cook-outs, date nights in, or lunch-for-one. You may be tempted to skip the crispy panko crumbs; don’t, they put the whole thing over-the-top.

heirloom tomato salad in a pan

What are heirloom tomatoes?

Brandywine, Cherokee purple, green zebra, Hawaiian pineapple, Mr. Stripey…these are a few of our favorite things. Or at least favorite heirloom tomato varieties. Heirloom tomatoes are non-hybrid tomatoes that are grown from seeds that have been specifically saved from fruit with ideal qualities–flavor, juiciness, and color. And each variety of heirloom tomato has a unique flavor and color, so pairing a few varieties together makes for a salad that’s anything but boring. While this salad will work with a more regular beefsteak-style tomato, we encourage you to shop your local farmers market or grocery store for peak-season heirloom tomatoes.

Making Ahead?

Someone is bound to ask: can this heirloom tomato salad be made ahead of time? Absolutely yes. In fact, we love this salad even more once it’s sat for a bit and the tomatoes have had some time to marinate in their own juices. The acid from the tomatoes also helps to mellow out the raw red onion slices, marrying those two flavors together in a way that’s hard to achieve when freshly prepped. To make ahead, arrange the tomatoes and red onion slices on the tray and salt and drizzle with oil as per usual. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours or until ready to serve. Right before serving, top with fresh herbs, flaky salt, and those glorious crunchy panko crumbs to your heart’s content.

More 15-Minute Sides

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Brooke Eliason
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy


  • 4 lbs heirloom tomatoes, slice crosswise/widthwise into ¼-⅓ inch slices
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 Tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • dill or other fresh herbs
  • ¼ cup panko
  • finishing salt such as fleur de sel or flaky sea salt


  • Lay the sliced tomatoes on a large serving tray or cookie sheet, staggering the different sizes and colors throughout. Sprinkle the red onion on top. Drizzle ingredients with 2-3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Tear the fresh basil into smaller pieces and sprinkle over tomatoes and onions. Sprinkle dill or any other fresh herbs, roughly chopped, on top.
  • In a small skillet or nonstick pan, warm 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the panko and cook until browned, 3-5 minutes, tossing with a spatula regularly to avoid burning. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and then sprinkle over tomatoes and onion. Sprinkle a pinch or two of finishing salt over tomatoes and serve immediately

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