Calzones are such a treat when hot out of the oven, especially when prepared from scratch. My calzone recipe comes complete with a homemade calzone dough that is light and puffy in texture and deliciously golden, filled with a savory and cheesy mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, plus sautéed mushrooms and garlicky spinach!
Calzones, The Delicious Alternative to Pizza
These past few months I've really enjoyed preparing more savory baked goods in my own little kitchen, cozy and delicious treats such as homemade pizza, focaccia, and now calzones.
I've been a fan of calzones for as long as I can remember, often choosing it off of a menu at local Italian eateries as a tasty alternative to traditional pizza or a pasta dish.
The thing that’s always tickled me about calzones is that they're like pizza in a pretty little “pocket”, filled with all sorts of savory surprises tucked into a tender, golden crust baked up wonderfully hot and pillowy.
While it never really occurred to me to prepare calzones at home (don't ask me why), recently I got a hankering for the experience of doing just that, longing to come up with my very own calzone recipe that I can whip up for us on the weekends when we typically crave pizza.
And while pretty much any ingredients one would top a pizza with can be used to create a scrumptious filling for a homemade calzone, my recipe here sticks to traditional marinara sauce and a creamy mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheeses combined with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and onions, plus garlicky spinach.
Not only is my calzone recipe fun and easy to prepare at home, it's filled with gourmet flavor that just can't be beat. And, it makes the kitchen smell like a cozy Italian eatery!
How to Make a Calzone
What I really appreciate about making calzones at home is how forgiving they can be if you have a good dough to work with and a yummy filling prepared.
The first time I played around with filling and crimping my calzones, I ended up making a misshaped version which I was sure would bake up a bit cockamamie, but it actually looked surprisingly good. Nice surprise! 😉
One could certainly use a good quality store-bought pizza dough to prepare this calzone recipe, and save a bit of time and effort; but if you can, I encourage you to try this homemade calzone dough because the results are so pillowy and soft, and quite delicious.
The fun thing about making calzones is that you can be creative with your filling! You can add pepperoni or sausage if you'd like, or keep things vegetarian as I have here with my filling.
Both ricotta and mozzarella add different creamy textures and flavor, and I love the combo here along with the sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach and garlic. I also use my own homemade marinara sauce (store-bought is fine too), and serve some extra on the side for dunking!
Here's a glance at my calzone recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get things started, I prepare my calzone dough, and set it aside in a warm area to proof, and double in size.
- While the dough doubles, I saute my filling ingredients and allow them to cool before combining them with the cheeses, then set my filling aside.
- Once the calzone dough is doubled, I portion out 4 equal pieces and roll those into a ball shape, and allow them to proof once more, about 30 minutes.
- During this time, I preheat my oven and prepare my baking sheet with a sprinkle of cornmeal. Then, once the dough balls have proofed, I form the calzones and place onto a prepared baking sheet.
- Before baking the calzones, I brush them all with a touch of egg wash, and then bake for roughly 18 minutes until puffy, golden and baked through.
- Once out of the oven, I finish the calzones with a light brushing of fragrant, garlic-infused olive oil over top of each and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for garnish, and serve while hot with extra marinara on the side.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: 4 calzones
Nutrition Info: 679 calories (per calzone)
Prep Time: 30 minutes (does not include proof time for dough)
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Calzone Dough Ingredients:
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons warm water (110°)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 ¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- Sprinkle of cornmeal, for baking sheet
- 1 egg, whisked for egg wash
- 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
- Grated parmesan, as garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 ounces sliced, shiitake mushrooms (or your choice of mushroom)
- 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 ½ cups grated, whole milk mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup marinara sauce, plus extra on the side for dipping
- To prepare the calzone dough: in a bowl, combine the lukewarm water with the honey, and stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over top, and using a fork, gently mix the yeast into the honey water just until it begins to dissolve; set aside to allow the yeast to become foamy, about 8-10 minutes.
- In the meantime, in another larger bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and Italian seasoning; once the yeast is active and foamy, pour the mixture into the flour, along with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and using a wooden spoon, mix together until a shaggy dough forms.
- Turn the shaggy dough out onto a work surface, and knead for about 5-6 minutes, until smooth and elastic; then, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large, clean bowl, add the kneaded calzone dough into it, and turn it to coat in the oil. Wrap with plastic wrap and allow the dough to double for 1 hour, in a draft-free and warm area.
- While the dough proofs, gather up and prep your filling ingredients to have organized and ready to make your filling.
- To prepare your calzone filling, place a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil; once hot, add in the diced onion and saute for about 5-7 minutes, or until beginning to soften.
- Add in the sliced mushrooms and the baby spinach, plus some salt and pepper, and saute together with the onion for about 7-8 minutes until the mushrooms and spinach are cooked and there is no longer any water/liquid left in the pan. Add the garlic and stir that in just until aromatic.
- Spoon this mixture out onto a large plate and allow it to cool to room temp (use the fridge to expedite the process if needed); then, add the mixture into a bowl along with the ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and mix to combine well (check to see is additional salt and pepper are needed); set aside.
- Once the calzone dough has doubled, punch it down and portion it out into 4 equal portions of dough (roughly 6 ½ ounces). Form the dough into 4 round balls, place them onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough balls to proof, once again, this time for 30 minutes.
- While the dough proofs, preheat your oven to 450° degrees, and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and a generous sprinkle of cornmeal (helps the calzones to not stick).
- Once proofed, roll each dough ball into a circle that's roughly 8 inches; then, spoon a small amount of marinara sauce (about 2 tablespoons) onto the center of the dough, and add about ½ cup of the filling over the marinara, pressing gently to flatten it a bit. Fold the dough over top of the filling to create a semi-circle shape, pressing to seal and crimping the edges with your fingers (you can use a teeny amount of water along the edge to help seal the calzone).
- Place the filled calzones onto the parchment lined and cornmeal dusted baking sheet, brush each with a touch of egg wash, and cut three, small slits into the tops of each calzone with a paring knife or kitchen scissors to allow steam to escape; place into the oven (middle rack) to bake for about 18 minutes, or until golden-brown and the baked through.
- While the calzones bake, combine the 1 clove of pressed garlic with remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil; once the calzones are baked, brush each liberally with this delicious and aromatic garlic oil and sprinkle with a touch of grated parmesan as a garnish; allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve the calzones while nice and hot, with a generous amount of extra marinara sauce on the side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Calzone Recipe:
- Store-bought dough as a short-cut: If you're pressed for time, or would simply like a short-cut in preparing the calzone, feel free to use a good quality store-bough pizza dough, and use according to instructions. Simply roll into equal portions, fill and bake.
- Homemade marinara for extra flavor: If you're looking for a super savory and delicious marinara sauce to use as part of your filling and to have on the side, try out my homemade marinara sauce recipe! It's a very quick and easy sauce to make, and very flavorful.
- A combo of cheeses, or your favorite: Both ricotta and mozzarella lend a hand in this calzone filling, the ricotta adding creaminess and the mozzarella adding that classic stretchy, cheesy goodness. You could use just one of these if you prefer, or change things up and substitute an Italian cheese blend for the mozzarella. Just opt for whole-milk cheeses, if possible, as these melt the best and have the richest flavor.
- Add some meats for more savory flavor: My husband loves to add chopped pepperoni to his calzone filling, or even a bit of spicy sausage. Just add a small sprinkle directly into your filling mixture so that it blends well.
- Don't overfill the calzone: While the temptation may be to add lots of filling into the center before sealing, it's better to stick with about ½ cup worth to help prevent the calzone from coming apart and the filling oozing out. Some oozing is fine, of course, but overfilling too much will make things too moist inside and may burst the calzone.
- Cornmeal to keep the calzone from sticking: Sprinkling a couple of tablespoons worth of cornmeal onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet helps the calzones to not stick to the sheet as much, and it offers a small buffer to the bottom of the crust.
- Make slits on the top of the calzone for steam: After egg washing and before placing the calzones into the oven to bake, make about 3 small slits with a paring knife on the tops of each calzone. This allows the steam to escape so that the seams don't burst and the filling oozes out too much.
- Make a cheese-stuffed crust: You can create a cheese-stuffed edge by sprinkling on a teaspoon or two of extra cheese over the seam before crimping and sealing; that way, you're crimping the edge with some cheese inside of it, which can be a nice “twist”! 🙂