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What is Panzarotti?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Panzarotti are pockets of dough which are stuffed with ingredients like cheese, tomato sauce, vegetables, and cured meats before being sealed and fried. You could consider panzarotti a form of deep-fried ravioli, or a softer, fried version of the calzone, another popular Italian food. In addition to being served in Italy, this deep fried treat can also be found along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, especially in New Jersey, where a large and proud Italian population serves an assortment of traditional Italian dishes.

In Italy, this dish is better known as panzerotti, with an “E,” while in the United States, it is spelled with an A; Americans also treat the word “panzarotti” as singular, referring to one panzarotti and many panzarottis, despite the fact that the word is actually plural in Italian. However you spell it or pluralize it, this dish tends to be a hit with people who try it.

Panzarotti originate in southern Italy, especially in the area around Naples. They began to be popularized in Northern Italy around the 1940s, at which point they also made the leap to North American Italian communities, some of whom have close ties with the home country. The foundation of the dish is a soft dough similar to pasta dough, which is rolled out before being stuffed and then pinched shut.

As the panzarotti are deep fried, they puff up with hot air and steam, thanks to the juicy ingredients inside. Biting into a panzarotti fresh out of the fryer is not advised, because the hot melted cheese can be like napalm in the mouth. Instead, most people tear their panzarotti open before eating them, allowing the steam to escape so that it will not burn them.

Any number of variations on panzarotti can be made, from vegan versions stuffed with ingredients like spinach and tofu to meat panzarotti stuffed with cured meats like prosciutto. Most panzarotti also include a healthy heaping of cheese like mozarella or ricotta. The dish can be eaten with a knife and fork on a plate, or treated as finger food; people who eat panzarotti out of their hands may want to wrap theirs in wax paper to prevent burns and keep their hands clean.

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 John57 — On Jun 01, 2011

I just don't think you can go wrong with pizza and pasta, and love to try new ways to eat it. Pizza is one of my very favorite foods and I tried some panzarotti pizza served at a restaurant in Boston.

I didn't know quite what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised. Anytime you have meat, melted cheese, spices and pasta you have a good combination!

The nice thing about filled pasta, is that even if you are a vegetarian, there are so many ways to fill your pasta without meat that are just as tasty.

By julies — On May 31, 2011

I have never made panzarotti, but am sure you could find panzarotti recipes on how to make the dough by doing an online search. I have eaten fried ravioli before and it was a wonderful surprise. If the panzarotti is as good as the ravioli was, it would be worth it.

What you choose for a filling can make a difference also. I like to go with a traditional meat and cheese filling, but have also tried one with just vegetables and cheese and it was very good too. The fried pasta just adds an element of texture and crunch that I really enjoy for something a little different.

By anon26497 — On Feb 14, 2009

how do you make the dough to a panzarotti?

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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