Thursday, January 31

What's the Difference Between Bruschetta and Crostini?

Bruschetta and crostini? What's the difference?

They’re both wildly popular, easy-to-make Italian appetizers of toasted bread with toppings.

However, when the sweet Shn of Mishmash! asked me about this a while back, I really had to think about it.

In my family, bruschetta was toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil, tomatoes, and basil, while smaller slices of toasted bread with various toppings were called crostini.

I wanted to provide you with a more thorough explanation of the difference between the two, so I explained to Jeff that we needed to take a trip to Italy to conduct research for my blog. We were all packed to go until Bernanke cut the fed two more bits yesterday thereby dropping the dollar further against the Euro, quashing our plans. So instead I just Googled it.

Brushcetta, from the Italian "bruscare," which means "to roast over coals," refers to the bread, not the toppings. Rather large slices of bread are grilled, rubbed with garlic, then drizzled with olive oil. They are usually topped with tomatoes and basil, though other toppings from meats to vegetables can be used.

Crostini, "little toasts," are thinner, smaller slices of bread (usually from a baguette) that are always toasted then piled with various toppings, such as vegetables, savory spreads, and cheeses.

Honestly, technicalities beyond that just aren't important. If it’s crispy bread toasted with olive oil and piled with savory toppings and cheese, just call it “irresistible.” Then make some for the next party you're going to where everyone will love you for it.

That’s why I'm bringing my Roasted Pepper, Olive, and Brie Bruschetta (not crostini -- did you see the size of those bread slices?) to lovely Mansi’s Game Night party. This is a fast, easy, and vegetarian recipe, which is just what Mansi wants. With garlicky roasted peppers, salty olives, and creamy Brie cheese, this is flavorful, classy bruschetta that takes 15 minutes to make.

What's your favorite way to make
bruschetta or crostini?

Roasted Pepper, Olive, and Brie Bruschetta

Print recipe only here.

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced cured olives, such as Kalamata and Cerignola
1 cup bottled roasted red and yellow peppers (thinly sliced or diced)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

8-10 ounces of soft Brie cheese, sliced, or 1 ounce per slice of bread
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
extra chopped fresh parsley, optional garnish

1 loaf of crusty Italian bread, such as Ciabatta sliced into 8-10 thick slices
1 whole garlic clove, paper removed
4-5 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 teaspoon per slice)

To toast the pinenuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat. Gently shake the pan handle to ensure even toasting, for about 1 minute, or until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, olives, roasted peppers, parsley, and red pepper flakes. Stir until well combined. (This topping can be made up to a day or two in advance and placed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before applying to bruschetta.)

Grill bread slices on an outdoor grill (or on a grill pan indoors, like I did) until lightly charred and crispy. You could also place them under the broiler. Rub each toasted slice with the raw garlic clove and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.

While the bread is still warm, top with brie then olive mixture. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and extra chopped parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.

Vegetarians, please avert your eyes.

When I made this bruschetta, I served it with shrimp for added protein (and because Jeff loves shrimp). It makes a fast and easy mid-week dinner.

Serves 2

2 teaspoons olive oil
12-14 jumbo shrimp, deveined and cleaned
the juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a large skillet over medium heat, add oil. Once warm, add shrimp, and saute for 5-7 minutes, turning shrimp once or twice until opaque and crispy. When almost finished, season with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place shrimp on a plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and sprinkle with finely chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

You might also like:
Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Calzones
Watercress, Seckel Pear, and Brie Salad
Mediterranean Jacket Potatoes
Homemade Pizza with Fennel Sausage and Rapini

Other bruschetta posts you might like:
All about bruschetta from Chickspeak.
Pear and Squash Bruschetta from Chef Mark Porcaro, featured on Pear Panache.

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RecipeGirl said...

Hi Susan,

Nice to run into another San Diego food blogger! Beautiful day today, eh?

I've often wondered what the difference was between the two. I have lots of recipes in my files that are labeled as "crostini" and "bruschetta." To me, they're both a slice of baguette with some stuff on top! But I appreciate the education!!

Nice blog- I'll visit often :)


Pille said...

Thank you, dear Susan, that was informative. I knew there was a difference, but I wasn't quite sure what :)

Finla said...

Oh you can serve me both veg and non veg any time.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Thanks for the education. I'm a classic bruschetta lover. There is nothing better than toasted garlicky bread topped with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Good thing my garden tomatoes will be ripe in only seven months.

(Insert eye roll here. It's 2 degrees today. I'm starting to go crazy.)

Peter M said...

Susan, I do know the diff but your public service announcement is appreciated.

What most don't know is that Bruschetta is proniunced, "Brrrooose-ketta", not Brooshitta! lol

Le Flâneur Novice said...

"Yes! What's the difference between bruschetta and crostini? And hey what's crostini?" is what I said when I first saw the title of the post lol

Thanks Susan, it was a new thing to me.

And my best way of bruschetta is the same as your family tradition. And I sometimes prepare it with mozarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers! I love this trio, too!

Namratha said...

Very good looking and I bet great tasting Bruschetta Susan, I love Bruschetta! And thanks for the enlightening words on the two...very useful for ignorant souls like me :D

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Looks delicious and I like brie. I wonder if mushrooms would work nicely on there...

Suganya said...

In my house, bruschetta is for lunch and crostini is for tea :)

Anonymous said...

So funny, I've wondered about that before. And I pretty much rationalized it exactly the way you did. Makes me want to spoon some of that roasted tomato tapenade I made on toasted baguette!

Anonymous said...

I've also always been under the impression that crostini are also crispier than bruschetta. Bruschetta have the softish bread-y center after toasting while crostini are crispier all the way through. Maybe I've had differnt crostini and bruschetta than other people?

Anonymous said...

Silly Italians ;) It's both delicious...or can be if the topping is. Even though I don't like peppers, I'd eat that bruschetta any time ;)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said... research trip to Italy??? That sounded awfully good -- as do your bruschetta and crostini, both of which are favorites in our house.

Anonymous said...

I actually remember my "first" bruschetta, it's never been as good since!

Sig said...

Thanks for the informative post Susan... Research trip to Italy, that sounds like a great idea... :) I so want to write a post about Greek food... now I know what I need to do :D

Asha said...

I just went to Iran and came back, will post at FH this month!:))
Great post. I knew that....NOT!:P

Meeta K. Wolff said...

That's how Jamie Oliver explains the difference between crostini and bruschetta in his Jamie's Italy. I prefer bruschetta because i can never resist the stuff crostinis are simply far too small a bite for my greedy appetite!! Looks delish!

Suzana said...

Thanks Susan, I've learned something new today! I love both bruschetta and crostini and these look really yummy. You're making me hungry and I just had dinner a little back!

Coffee and Vanilla said...


I just came back from my sister in Bristol and I saw your post.... she made bruschetta for me... but when I read your post I realize it was actually crostini....:) toasted bread rubbed with garlic, topped with zucchinis and onions fried on olive oil, sprinkled with black pepper and Parmesan :) I will make it and post pictures one of those days.

Have a great weekend, Margot

Mansi said...

Though I already knew the diff, reading your plans about Italy made me smile:) we too are so planning on a Europe trip this year, but looks like the economy is not helping at all!!!

thanks for the delicious recipe Susan! I love bruschettas!:)

Mishmash ! said...

Thanks a bunch for this post...oh..I really wish you could take a trip to Italy sometime :D It would have been great right if we food bloggers could go to different places and write about authentic food ! Dream...dream..dreams will come true , right :)


Manggy said...

Yum! I think you have pretty much nailed on the head what my preferred toppings for bruschetta are! :)

PS Should've definitely taken that trip to Italy anyway, heh heh :)

Gattina Cheung said...

oh no... hope you will make the trip next time, I mean very soon!
I always saw bruschetta as starter in restaurant's menu (in Roma), no crostini though.

Emily said...

Brie, roasted peppers, and salty olives? I think those are 3 of my most favorite foods.
I'm drooling.

Susan said...

I was always under the impression that crostini could be crunchy like breadsticks; at least that's how some are marketed in the stores. Ah, bother. I won't quibble. Love them both. Love the peppers & olives, too.

Katy said...

Love them both! I think I actually prefer crostini, just because with thinner pieces of bread, they tend to be less messy. My favorites are tomato and goat cheese, or mushroom and parmesan, or smoked salmon and olive oil! I'm sure there are others, but OMG this is making me hungry!!!

KELLY said...

My favorite crostini is topped with a mixture of roasted red peppers, caramelized onions, feta cheese, garlic, and herbs.

My recipe for "Feta Bruschetta" is here:

Terry at Blue Kitchen said...

Okay, Susan, I am having a totally Pavlovian response right now. This sounds amazing. All of it.

I've never had much success with flavoring things [bread, meat or whatever] by merely rubbing them with raw garlic. It's usually so subtle as to be not worth the effort. So instead, I infuse the oil with raw bashed garlic cloves beforehand, at least for a few hours. Then the oil beautifully adds a nice garlic hit when you drizzle or brush it on whatever you're making.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Well, I'm sorry you didn't get to go to Italy, but at least I know the difference now! Of course, I would have to hop a plain to the west coast to get a taste of that VERY tempting bruschetta you've just served up! Or, I suppose I could make it myself ...

Anonymous said...

I thought crostini was just the bread bruschetta was served on...I had some great crostini AND bruschetta at this duck dinner I went to!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lori-Great to meet you! Thanks for visiting.

pille-Oh, good, I'm glad you liked it.

happy cook-I would too!

kelly-Fresh tomatoes from the yard (insert eye rolls and sigh of contentment). ;)

peter-Well, my pronunciation may not be perfect, but thankfully, I've never pronounced it the second way. :)

bal-Capers add a zesty, briny flavor, don't they?

namratha-I'm happy you found it helpful! :)

mike-I love buttered mushrooms on toast.

suganya-I'll have lunch or tea at your house anytime!

lia-I know, once I see it, I want to eat it!

anonymous-Maybe the centers are softer because of the larger bread slices? I use ciabatta a lot, and since it's a hard bread, the whole piece gets pretty crunchy.

linda-I agree. They're both fabulous.

margot-I'll be trying yours when zucchini comes in season here. Mmmm good.

lydia-I won't give up that easily!

alanna-Isn't that great when a food memory is that special?

sig-Start saving now!

asha-So we'll be seeing some authentic Iranian cuisine then? Hope so!

meeta-J.O.? Ooh, I feel smart now.

suzana-It's the crispy bread-- it's irresistible!

mansi-I hope your trip goes ahead. Darned fed. ;)

shn-That sounds like a great idea!

manggy-I'm still gonna try.... :)

gattina-See, I need to go to Rome now!

emiline-oh, good. :)

susan-I've seen that too. Perhaps it's both ways?

katy-Mushrooms and parmesan--my favorites!

kelly-Absolutely anything is better with caramelized onions.

terry-Oh, yes, garlic infused oil is divine. Feeling a little Pavlovian myself now.

tw-Aw, hop on over. Southwest is having a special!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Hillary-I know, it can be confusing.

Cris said...

Oh, this event that Mansi is sponsoring is so good, can't wait to see the round up! Love bruschettas, and funny the first time I had them I was in the US.

Deborah Dowd said...

Thanks for clearing up that mystery. You have saved me from a culinary faux pas! I guess most of what I make is crostini since I llike experimenting with a variety of toppings. Maybe I should come up with one with clams in honor of New England and what, hot dogs(?) in honor of New York!

Tracy said...

Huh. I never thought about the difference between crostini and bruschetta. I guess I thought crostini was the bread. Interesting. Whatever they are, yours look great.

Katie Zeller said...

How inconsiderate to ruin your trip like that! I'd sue!
Olives, peppers and cheese....
Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very summery and delicious! A great combination of ingredients!



Anonymous said...

On my visit to your blog today i learned two things. That lemonquats existed, and the difference between Bruschetta and Crostini. You should teach in cooking school! hehe

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Thanks for clearing that up. Have always wondered. Technicalities apart, I love both in their vegetarian versions.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

cris-I'm sure the round-up will be delicious!

deborah-Clams and hot dogs--perfect!

tracy-I'm glad you liked it.

katie-I know! ;)

rosa-Oh, thanks a lot!

zen chef-Aw, thanks so much!

aparna-You're welcome!

Lore said...

First thought after reading your post was "oh, God I wish I could eat only these appetizers for the rest of my life !"

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

We hardly ever have crostini in my house--the OH doesn't particularly care for the baguette-type bread.

Anyway, YUM! I love roasted red peppers and shrimp no matter what they're with ;)

Ivy said...

Susan thanks for stopping by. Actually it's the first time I've heard about Bruschetta and Crostini but we still do these in Greece and I just love the simplest one of all which is rub a garlic on the toasted bread, add extra virgin olive oil and oregano, a pinch of salt and eccolo.

Anonymous said...

Eat Brushetta all the time. Crostini not familiar with that food. Being Sicilian shame on me!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

lore-Aw, that is so sweet of you. Thanks!

michelle-My husband prefers thick loaves too.

ivy-I just love fresh oregano, but I'm not familiar with eccolo. Perhaps I should come to Greece to taste it!

gourmetexpress-Really? That's ok. More bruschetta will make up for it.

Pip said...

Wow Susan, I'd love brie and roasted pepper together, even if I'd call them crostini and not bruschetta. The typical Italian bruschetta wants garlic and olive oil only, but you can also add chopped fresh tomato an basil. Everything else you call it crostini. ;)

Jaime said...

hmmm - thanks for the education :)

my favorite way is to spread cream cheese, then top with some fresh basil, and then some sun dried tomatoes (that were in oil, drained)!

Shaheen said...

I like mine with tomatoes olive and lots of mozzarella cheese. oh, and a dash of oregano seasoning!

Good to learn the difference b/w the two.

Anonymous said...

Great post, your Italy research comment had me laughing, I am needing to do the same thing there! Thank you for your version of bruschetta!

Anonymous said...

Crostini vs bruschetta the debate continues! A terrific tool to rub a garlic clove on a crostini or bruschetta is a garlicboss

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Susan,
Well, wouldn't you know it. I was just updating links for August and I got to revisit your resourceful post. It seems, I've had this link and your Fresh Fig, Arugula, and Mascarpone Bruschetta link, on a post I did for my daughter's birthday last year!

It was nice to drop by again, I better bookmark you so I stop by again. Thanks, Louise

Unknown said...

Ok great info, now how do I make either without the bread going soggy?

Unknown said...

How come the bread doesn't go soggy?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

gerry-Make sure you toast the bread well before adding toppings and don't add toppings until you're ready to eat.

Anonymous said...

very good! just made it last night - added some sweet golden cherry tomatoes and made the shrimp over a bed of baby arugula - yum!

Julia said...

Ha ha, perfect. We were just having a discussion about the difference (if any) between bruschetta and crostini. I typed it in to Google and your post was at the top. It appears we're not the only ones who have this question. :) Love your recipe ideas.