Calzone

Calzone

The calzone was invented in 18th Century Naples as a neatly contained, on-the-go variation of pizza. Its name speaks to its portability, translating roughly to “trousers” or “pants legs.” It is made from a piece of pizza dough that has been folded into a half moon shape, like a large empanada, around a variety of fillings.

What Is in a Calzone?

The simplest calzone filling is a mixture of cheeses—ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan—though pizzaiolos and home cooks can and do riff endlessly on the calzone’s versatile format. When choosing a ricotta for the filling, make sure it is whole milk ricotta and try to choose a brand that is more flavorful. BelGioioso, Calabro, and Bellwether Farms are all good options.

What Is the Difference Between Calzone and Stromboli?

Americans sometimes confuse calzoni with stromboli, an Italian-American invention of pizza dough rolled into a cylinder around various fillings and then baked. Panzerotti, on the other hand, is a deep-fried Italian variant of the calzone.

Use Homemade or Store-Bought Dough

This recipe uses a homemade pizza dough, which has a beautifully complex flavor and is easy to work with thanks to not one but two overnight rises. While that may sound like a long time, it is almost completely hands-off. Don’t worry though! You can substitute store bought pizza dough or use your own favorite dough recipe instead.

Fillings to Try In a Calzone

We provide a few ideas for variations below the recipe, but there is endless room for experimentation. Try different types of Italian salami or cooked sausage, sauteed peppers and onions, mushrooms, or wilted greens. However, one thing should remain constant: tomato sauce never goes on the inside of a calzone. Serve it on the side for dipping.

“I found the homemade dough easier to work with than the store-bought dough. Both are tasty but the homemade dough has a more complex flavor. The cheese filling has the perfect mix of creamy ricotta and stretchy mozzarella.” —Spruce Eats Test Kitchen

A golden brown calzone cut in half with tomato sauce on the side A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Pizza Dough

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (105 to 112 F)

  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 3 cups (360 grams) bread flour

  • 3 cups (340 grams) 00 flour or all-purpose flour (360 grams), plus more for dusting

  • 2 teaspoons fine salt

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the Calzoni

  • 12 ounces low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 3 cups) 

  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 16 thin slices soppressata or Italian dry salami

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 cup marinara sauce

Steps to Make It

Note: You can use store-bought pizza dough for this recipe. Purchase 2 pounds fresh prepared pizza dough and divide it into 4 (8-ounce) portions. Skip to the “Make the Calzones” portion of the recipe.

Make the Pizza Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    calzone dough ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  2. Stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until yeast has started to foam, about 5 minutes.

    warm water, yeast and sugar in bowl for calzone dough

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  3. Beat together bread flour, 00 or all-purpose flour, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.

    dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  4. Add yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until dough forms a single mass and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 1 minute.

    calzone dough blended in stand mixer with dough hook

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  5. Coat a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and transfer dough to the oiled bowl; turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough has doubled in volume, about 24 hours.

    calzone dough rising in oiled bowled

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  6. Transfer the dough from the bowl to a lightly-floured countertop and divide it evenly into 4 portions (about 9 3/4 oz. each).

    risen calzone dough divided into 4 portions with bench scraper

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  7. Working with one dough portion at a time, place the dough on a clean work surface and cup the sides with the palms of your hands, spinning the dough with your hands to form a taut ball. Repeat this process with the remaining 3 dough portions.

    hands rolling a portion of calzone dough into a ball

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough balls, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

    About 1 hour before preparing the calzones, remove the dough balls from the refrigerator to allow them to come to room temperature.

    balls of calzone dough resting on parchment lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Make the Calzoni

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Turn a large rimmed baking sheet upside down and place it on the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 500 F with the baking sheet inside.

    calzone filling ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  2. Stir together the mozzarella cheese, ricotta, 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined.

    cheeses combined in a bowl with spatula

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  3. Transfer 1 dough ball to a heavily floured work surface. Hold the dough edges with your fingers or hold underneath the dough round with your knuckles and gently rotate to allow gravity to stretch the dough. Alternatively, place the dough onto a floured surface and roll or gently stretch into a 9-inch circle.

    calzone dough being stretched by hand on a floured work surface into a circle

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  4. Transfer the dough round to a large piece of parchment paper. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 dough balls.

    Dollop 1/2 cup of the cheese mixture in a line in the middle of each dough circle, leaving a 1-inch border at edge.

    one flattened calzone dough on parchment lined baking sheet with cheese in center in a log shape

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  5. Tear 4 slices of the soppressata into pieces and place on top of cheese mixture. Dollop about 1/4 cup more cheese mixture on top of the soppressata.

    meat and additional cheese added to calzone dough

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  6. Whisk together the egg and water in a small bowl until blended. With your fingers, lightly coat the dough edges with egg wash mixture.

    applying egg wash to outer rim of filled calzone dough round with egg wash in bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  7. Gently lift one side of the dough and drape it over the cheese mixture to meet the opposite side. Press to seal the edges and crimp as desired. Repeat the process with the remaining 3 dough circles.

    folding half of calzone dough over the filling

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  8. Brush the top and sides of the calzoni evenly with the remaining egg wash.

    brushing egg wash with a pastry brush on two filled and folded calzones before baking

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

  9. Working with 2 calzoni at a time, use a pizza peel or a cookie sheet to slide the parchment-bottomed calzoni onto the preheated baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

    Remove from the oven and immediately top each calzone with about 2 teaspoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Repeat with the remaining calzoni and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Slice each calzone into pieces or halves and serve immediately with marinara sauce for dipping.

    browned and baked calzones dusted with cheese

    The Spruce Eats / Photographer: Fred Hardy, Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer, Prop Stylist: Hannah Greenwood

Recipe Tip

The pizza dough itself sounds lengthy, but is pretty hands-off. Letting the dough rest for the full 24 hours at first, and then the full 24 hours after forming, helps it achieve a more complex flavor. You can also use store bought dough!

Recipe Variations

  • Provolone and Eggplant: Replace half the mozzarella with shredded Provolone in the cheese mixture. Swap soppressata for 1 cup of seared eggplant slices: Sprinkle 1 lb. eggplant slices (about 1/4-inch-thick) with 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt. Arrange in an even layer on paper towels and let sit for 20 minutes, then pat dry. Working in batches, sear eggplant slices in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet until browned and tender, about 4 minutes. Pat with paper towels to remove excess oil. 
  • Broccoli Rabe: Omit basil from the cheese mixture. Instead of soppressata, use 1 cup blanched, squeezed-dry, chopped broccoli rabe.
  • Buffalo or BBQ: Sub Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese for half of the mozzarella and omit basil from the cheese mixture. Instead of soppressata, use 1 cup pulled chicken or pork tossed with BBQ or Buffalo sauce.
  • Onion and Artichoke: Omit basil from the cheese mixture. Instead of soppressata, use 1 cup roughly chopped drained oil-packed artichoke hearts and 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion. (If you’re an anchovy lover, layer on a few fillets as well!)

How to Store or Freeze

  • These are best served immediately out of the oven.
  • After rising, freeze the dough balls separately and thaw when ready to make a calzone. You can also freeze the raw filled calzoni. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Then transfer to freezer safe bags for up to 2 months. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 F and bake for slightly longer, then increase the heat at the end to get a nice golden color. You could even freeze par-baked and fully baked calzoni and finish the cooking when desired, or reheat the already baked calzoni until hot.

Make Ahead

If you are using homemade dough, this recipe is mostly made ahead of time, but you can also prep the cheese filling up to 2 days in advance. Keep tightly covered in the refrigerator.

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