Now you can enjoy the quintessential appetizer from your favorite Italian restaurants at home! Nothing beats bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar that’s been jazzed up with some spices and garlic. It’s so simple, yet so amazing!

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

Last night we went on a family coupon date. Sounds super exciting right? A date, with all your kids there, where you run errands…wait.

I had no idea there were so many perks to buying a house. I mean, the tax deductions are nice and all, but…those coupons, man. Normally I balk at coupons. Too much work. But you send me a coupon for a free rotisserie chicken in the mail, just because I bought a house in the neighborhood? I am ALL over that.

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

(Can you see me?? Hiiiiiiii)

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

One of the coupons we redeemed was from McDonald’s, but not because they knew we just bought a house. They sent a flyer announcing that they are now serving breakfast ALL DAY. Is this a local thing or everywhere?? Have you heard about this? I don’t even eat at McDonald’s that often, but I’ve always thought fast food chains were stupid for not serving breakfast all day long. Denny’s and IHOP know where it’s at. (BACON. Bacon is where it’s at.)

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

We ordered chicken nuggets for the kids, and when the lady asked what kind of sauce we wanted I said ketchup. But then Eric chimed in, “Can we get some honey too?” And I assumed he meant Honey-Mustard.

Nope. Fist full of ketchup packets, and 2 packets of straight up honey.

Me: Why did they give us honey?
Eric: Well I asked for it.
Me: Why do you want honey?
Eric: For the kids to dip in.
Me: You want our kids to dip their fries in honey.

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

They loved it, by the way. I had a hard time arguing with Eric in face of the fact that ketchup is just sugar that’s been citric acid-ed. And also because if you are feeding your kids McDonald’s, why even try? (I’ll tell you why. Nothing gets everywhere like honey does. NOTHING.)

While we are on the subject of inappropriate food dips, let me introduce you to your new favorite appetizer. Do you remember the first time you dipped warm bread into olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Did you hear heavenly choirs up above? I know I did. I was at my sister’s wedding, and I was seriously mad that no one had ever told me that this was a thing. An awesome thing. The BEST thing.

Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip from The Food Charlatan

I did a little research on this oil and vinegar appetizer tradition and found out that it’s not an Italian thing. At all. This is just America at it’s finest: “Let’s take this super filling bread and dip it in oil. That will make us so hungry for our dinner!” Am I the only one who gets full on bread at restaurants and then has to take most of my dinner home? No regrets. Bread for dinner is always a good choice.

Warm it up a bit, add some garlic and spices, and this stuff is irresistible. It would be perfect to serve as an appetizer at Thanksgiving! You could skip the olive oil if you want and just throw down a plate of straight-up honey. At least you know the kids will like it.


Restaurant-Style Olive Oil and Balsamic Bread Dip

4.82 from 22 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
Now you can enjoy the quintessential appetizer from your favorite Italian restaurants at home! Nothing beats bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar that's been jazzed up with some spices and garlic. It's so simple, yet so amazing!


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, good quality
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 2 tablespoons oregano, or Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, fresh , finely grated
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • ground black pepper, fresh, to taste
  • crusty bread, for dipping


  • Pour the olive oil into a small shallow pan. Set over medium-low heat.
  • Add the minced garlic. Leave the oil and garlic over the heat just until it has warmed, (you are not cooking it, just warming) then pour the oil onto a deep plate or wide, shallow bowl.
  • Immediately sprinkle with oregano, parmesan, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper.
  • Serve with hot crusty bread! Prepare to abandon your dinner.


Pretty much every ingredient amount is alterable, so have it your way!


Serving: 1slice | Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 67mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 92IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Calories: 288
Keyword: Balsamic, bread, dip, olive oil
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

Other appetizers you will love!

Parmesan Crusted Goat Cheese with Basil Oil << Here’s another good way to consume 1/2 cup of olive oil…plus cheese!

Parmesan Crusted Goat Cheese with Basil Oil from


Goat Cheese, Pesto, and Sun-Dried Tomato Terrine:

Goat Cheese, Pesto, and Sun-Dried Tomato Terrine from


Sriracha Garlic Bread:

Sriracha Garlic Bread from The Food Charlatan


Steak and Chimichurri Toasts: << these look kind of terrifying but they are SO GOOD.

Steak and Chimichurri Toasts from The Food Charlatan

Ricotta with Thyme, Olive Oil, and Grilled Bread from Alexandra’s Kitchen
Copycat Carrabba’s Herb Dip from Sugar Dish Me
Grilled Bread with Rosemary Dipping Oil from Tastes Lovely

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    1. “This was dinner” haha Sis you are so right, this always happens!! Not even going to apologize :-) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and leaving a review, it means a lot!

    1. I’m so happy you loved it Beverly! It’s really hard to go wrong with oil and vinegar and bread! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment 🤩

  1. Great recipe! I left out the cheese and it was still fantastic. I can’t wait to make it with cheese next time. Thank you!

  2. My blogging coach told me to leave out all the personal stuff I’ve been including with my recipes and stick solely to content specific to the recipe. 

    Then I read your stuff and I say balderdash!!! The stories are what makes people love you to the point of 10 million monthly views on Pinterest plus great recipes if course! 😉

    When will I ever learn to trust my gut?

    Never stop being Karen! 🥰

    1. Betty, you are SO sweet, thank you for your kind words! It’s true, so many bloggers over the years have moved away from personal stories and have done very well for their business. But I could never let it go :) You do you, I say! Never stop being Betty!!

  3. Love your recipes! I live in Sacramento also and lived in Lompoc for several years while in the military. And yes! Santa Maria Tri tip is THE best ever. I’ve grilled my first Tri tip yesterday and it was the best. I’ve always done it on my rotisserie (which was good) but not as good as the one on the grill.
    I saw your oil and Balsamic vinegar for dipping and suggest you add a bit of red pepper flakes and eliminate the parmesan. I’ve had this at Piatti’s and it is again one you devour for your meal and take home most of the entree’. Thanks for your blog ….love your stories too.

    1. Hi Roberta! small world! I bet you were so spoiled with tri tip and pinquito beans when you lived in Lompoc :)
      And I love the idea of red pepper flakes in the bread dip! Great idea. And thank you for reading along with the blog, I love having you here!

      1. 5 stars
        I had a random craving for this dip. It’s been so long since I’ve had some in a restaurant. I am amazed! I’m so glad I found this recipe!
        I only had red wine vinegar but it still worked so well.

        1. ooh love this with the red wine vinegar Sara, that sounds delicious! Happy we found each other 💕 thanks for taking the time to comment! so helpful.

  4. You probably won’t see this question, but is there a different item I could use instead of Parmesan? Or can I take it out completely?

    1. Hi Karen! I did see this question! :) You can totally leave the parmesan out! you could replace it with any other very hard cheese you like. But honestly leaving it out is just fine. Enjoy!

  5. Hmmmm. 20 years ago, we ate bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar in Venice.  Not so sure America can claim credit.  

    1. Interesting Mia! I’ve never been, that’s just what I found on the internet research I did. And no one I know personally who’s been to Italy (I asked around) had bread and olive oil there. But If you say they served it I’m sure they did!

    1. Hey Jim! I suppose you could make it ahead of time, but olive oil solidifies in the fridge so you will have to heat it up again. But I bet the flavors would intensify even more! Yum.

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