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What is a Calzone?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A calzone is an Italian dish which originates from Naples, although calzones have become quite popular all over Italy and in many other parts of the word. Essentially, a calzone is like a stuffed pizza or turnover, made with an outer crust of pizza dough and an inner filling that typically includes an assortment of cheeses, meats, and vegetables. The pillowy savory pastries can be found packed in lunch boxes, being eaten from the hands at a street corner, and served at many Italian restaurants.

The process to make a calzone starts with with pizza dough, which traditionally is made with yeast, water, flour, salt, and olive oil. The yeast is proofed in warm water before the other ingredients are added and mixed until the dough is slightly sticky. The cook kneads the dough on a floured board before placing it in a warm place covered with a moist towel to rise. When the dough has doubled in size, it is punched down and allowed to rise again before being formed into the desired round shape, which can be used for calzones or for pizza.

The filling is scooped onto one half of the dough round, which is folded over and crimped to make a tight seal. The calzone can vary widely in size from a single serving to a monster calzone meant to be split among several people. Typically, the calzone will be baked, but smaller calzones are sometimes deep-fried. The calzone is served hot, and cautious diners usually open it up to vent for a few minutes before trying to eat it. Traditional calzones are served with a side of sauce, but some restaurants bake the sauce inside to make it a self contained package.

Fillings for calzones vary depending on taste and region. In general, a calzone is hearty fare, and meant to be a substantial meal. Most fillings start with a mixture of cheeses including Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella, with various parts of Italy adding regional specialties such as Romano. Next, chopped cooked meats are added, along with vegetables like onions, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, and others. An entirely vegetarian calzone may be made with a rich vegetable mixture or the addition of tofu. Spices and herbs added typically include oregano, pepper, nutmeg, basil, marjoram, fennel, parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary. If the calzone is being cooked with a sauce, it will be mixed with the filling before the filling is scooped onto the dough.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By matthewc23 — On May 28, 2012

For whatever reason, whenever I think of calzones I always think of the episode of Seinfeld where George and Mr. Steinbrenner eat calzones for lunch every day. Eventually, Kramer starts going to the restaurant and asks for the cook to put his clothes in the oven to warm them up. It is one of the better episodes.

Overall, though, I am not really a big fan of calzones. I would much rather just each a pizza. Any time I have eaten a calzone, it just ends up falling apart on me and I end up having to get a fork and eating the toppings off the plate. If I do decide to eat one, I usually just prefer the cheese calzone, since it's easier to keep in one piece.

By titans62 — On May 28, 2012

@stl156- I know what you mean. A bad calzone is just as bad if not worse than a poorly made pizza. It is just like eating cardboard.

As far as healthy fillings go, the article mentions spinach which I really enjoy in calzones whether I'm trying to eat healthy or not. Besides that, you can always go with mushrooms, chicken, tomatoes or just any other vegetable. One of the downsides is that just due to the way they are made, most calzones you order won't be all that healthy. I prefer making mine at home. You can find lots of recipes online, and it's not really that hard, especially if you buy premixed dough. That way, too, you can add in ingredients that most restaurants don't carry.

By stl156 — On May 27, 2012

@jcraig - Wow, I thought every pizza place sold some type of calzone. Just like every type of food, though, some places make good calzones and some don't. I remember the first one I ever had came from a place that specialized in calzones, but I didn't like it at all. The dough was dry and floury and sort of hard. That's not to mention that there was hardly anything inside of it.

I didn't try another calzone for a couple of years until one of my friends ordered one at a different place. His was what a calzone was supposed to be. The crust was fluffy and golden, and the inside was packed with filling. I eventually tried one from that place and decided I liked them if they were made right.

I have the same problem with calzones as I do with pizza which is that it isn't very healthy. If anyone has good suggestions for healthy calzone fillings, I would be interested to hear about them.

By jcraig — On May 27, 2012

I had never tried a calzone until a couple of years ago. For whatever reason, they just aren't sold a lot around where I live. It wasn't until I moved to a bigger city that there were several Italian restaurants that specialized in making calzones that I tried one.

I actually think that I might like calzones better than pizza now. They are basically the same thing, but it seems like calzones can have much more variety than a pizza. Since they don't need as much sauce and oil as a pizza, I think they might actually be healthier, too.

I think Italian sausage calzones are my favorite, but I always like trying new things and usually try to add something different to my calzone every time.

By jmpalabama — On Jan 18, 2009

93% of the population eats calzones with a knife and fork, if made correctly- filled with toppings, cheese, and a little sauce on top.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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