This easy recipe for elegant Make-Ahead Caprese Skewers with pesto dressing is simple yet delicious. Featuring fresh mozzarella balls, basil, cherry tomatoes, tortellini, and topped with pesto dressing, these mini caprese bites are an absolute family favorite. They are also the perfect appetizer to serve at holiday parties, game day bashes, or even backyard barbecues and summer picnics!
Also known as mini-caprese skewers, caprese salad skewers, caprese on skewers, or caprese kabobs, this quick and easy appetizer is a fun twist on the classic caprese salad, containing fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. The only difference is these bite-size pieces are threaded on skewers.
Full of flavor, the skewers make an awe-inspiring presentation and will wow your family and friends with their fresh taste and colorful appearance.
Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
- Cherry tomatoes – or grape tomatoes provide tasty bites of tomato deliciousness! If your tomatoes are large, feel free to cut them in half.
- Fresh mozzarella balls – smooth, creamy fresh mozzarella is essential in this recipe. If you can’t find the balls, you can buy a ball or log of fresh mozzarella and cut it into cubes.
- Tortellini – I used spinach tortellini, but you can use any kind you like. I prefer refrigerated fresh tortellini, which can usually be found in the dairy section of your grocery store.
- Fresh basil – because it’s not caprese without basil. I usually chop it up and use it for a garnish, but you could also thread a basil leaf on each skewer if you like.
- Basil pesto – is the main ingredient in the dressing, which is also delicious over roasted vegetables or grilled meats and seafood. If you like to make your own, you might want to check out my recipe for Southern Basil Pesto, which is made with pecans instead of the more common pine nuts. You can use either homemade or purchased pesto. I prefer refrigerated over jarred if buying the pesto, but the latter will work in a pinch.
- Olive oil and red wine vinegar – combine with the basil pesto to make the show-stopping pesto dressing. A quick stir, and you are done!
Wooden skewers – are essential to this recipe; they hold everything together. Without them, you would have a caprese salad. I like to use six-inch skewers, but feel free to use shorter or longer ones.
How to make this recipe:
- Mix olive oil, pesto, and red wine vinegar in a glass jar or bowl and mix well to make the dressing.
- Prepare the tortellini according to the package directions. Drain and let cool.
- Thread one cherry tomato, a mozzarella ball, and then the cooked tortellini on each skewer.
- If making ahead, cover your skewers with plastic wrap and store them in your refrigerator along with the dressing.
- When you are ready to serve this appetizer, drizzle on a bit of dressing and top with the chopped basil.
Frequently asked questions:
Versatile caprese skewers can be served as an appetizer or a side salad. They make a terrific hand-held after-school snack for the kids. I also like to pack them in a container and take them to the beach for a fun, protein-filled, easy-to-eat snack.
Of course, variety is the spice of life! Some ideas include substituting peach slices or strawberries for cherry tomatoes. You can also add prosciutto, salami, ham, or even cooked bacon for variety.
For added flavor, you can also marinate the mozzarella balls in Italian salad dressing or even in the pesto dressing before threading them on the skewers.
To make caprese skewers ahead, make the dressing and assemble the skewers. Cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Add the dressing when you are ready to serve.
Leftover caprese skewers can be stored covered in the refrigerator and are best eaten within two to three days.
- For the pesto, you can use either homemade or purchased jarred or refrigerated pesto.
- I like to use fresh mozzarella balls, but you can substitute regular mozzarella cut into cubes. Fresh mozzarella balls usually come packed in water and can often be found in grocery store salad bars.
- Use the cheese-stuffed spinach tortellini you find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. It generally can be found next to the cheese. Don’t use dried pasta.
- Also, if you want to make these caprese skewers a little more substantial, feel free to add a cube of salami, ham, or summer sausage.
- You can substitute balsamic glaze or even Italian salad dressing for the pesto dressing. You can find balsamic glaze next to the balsamic vinegar at the grocery store.
More make-ahead appetizer recipes:
If you like this appetizer recipe, you might also be interested in these other easy make-ahead favorites:
- Bourbon Pecan Brie Bites
- The Ultimate Blue Cheese Spread with Pecans
- Cranberry Pecan Mini Goat Cheese Balls
- Easy Creamy Crab Mornay Dip
- Black-Eyed Pea Hummus
- Easy Mardi Gras Hot Muffuletta Dip
- Cranberry Brie Bites
For even more appetizer recipes, you can peruse all of my appetizer recipes here.
★ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
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Make-Ahead Caprese Skewers Recipe
- Wooden skewers
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 9 ounces refrigerated spinach tortellini cooked according to package directions, drained and cooled
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella balls or cubed mozzarella
- ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
For the pesto dressing
- Mix the olive oil, pesto, and vinegar in a small bowl or jar and mix well.
For the caprese skewers
- Thread, a cherry tomato, mozzarella ball, and spinach tortellini on each skewer.
- Just before serving, lightly top with the dressing.
- Garnish with basil.
*This recipe was originally published on December 9, 2015. Republished on December 18, 2019, with expanded directions and new tips, and republished again on September 22, 2021, with the addition of a FAQ section and new photos.