7 Tips for Cooking Pizzeria-Worthy Calzones

Achieve glossy crust, maximum flavor, and, yes, cheese pulls.

At first glance, calzones seem similar to their more famous relative, pizza. After all, a calzone begins with pizza dough shaped into a flat, pliable circle, only diverging when toppings are added to just half. The untopped dough half is then folded over the half sporting cheese, vegetables, and often meat, creating a half-moon, crimped along the rim.

A calzone differs from pizza not only in shape but in spirit. There's just something fun about toppings stuffed into a pocket. Plus, calzones are less messy, stay warmer longer, and involve dipping into sauce. Again…fun. But the different shape does call for different cooking methods. Here are the rules for making excellent calzones in your home kitchen.

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Mind your dough.

Dough doesn't make or break a calzone like it does pizza. Still, you'll want to get as much flavor from it as you can. To achieve the greatest freshness and flavor, we recommend that you make your own. Leaving your covered dough in the fridge for a night or two will allow for a longer fermentation and more complexity.

Remove dough from the fridge at least an hour before shaping your calzone. This will let it rise to room temperature, making for easier shaping and the right temperature for baking.

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When molding your calzone, shoot for a thin dough—no thicker than two stacked quarters. This minimizes the final weightiness of the calzone, keeping the dough in balance with its stuffing.

02 of 07

More is more.

When making pizza, less on top is more. When making calzones, you can abandon restraint and go nuts. We like to fill a half-circle of dough with a 2-inch-high mound of toppings, leaving a ½ half-inch of circumference empty for sealing and crimping the dough once you've folded the other half over top. For toppings like sausage, chicken, ground beef, spinach, garlic, or onions, sauté them in a skillet on medium heat before adding them to your calzone. Toppings like pepperoni or broccoli can go in raw.

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Embrace salt and seasoning.

If you're using more toppings than you would pizza, you'll also need more seasoning. This begins with salt. It's rare that you taste an overly salty bread, and too little salt can kill a calzone. So salt away. Add a few turnings of salt to your toppings, cheese, and dough. Take cues from your toppings when adding additional seasonings. Reach into your herb garden for sage, rosemary, or whatever you think would go well with, say, the chicken and artichoke in your calzone. Also, don't hesitate to rain chopped garlic: This addition can benefit just about any savory calzone.

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Don't skimp on cheese.

Most calzones use a combination of ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese. To avoid a soupy situation, go easier on the ricotta and scatter the mozzarella with a freer hand. Blanket the other toppings. Cheese pulls should be the norm.

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Brush with egg wash.

Brushing a light coat of beaten egg over your calzone just before baking will result in a slightly crispier exterior and give your calzones a nice lacquer and sheen.

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Bake at high heat.

Pizzerias typically use very hot ovens. Many home recipes call for 350 F, but 425 F can give you a nice brown exterior. At this temperature, calzones will finish in just 15 minutes.

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07 of 07

Keep tomato sauce on the side.

This last point might spark controversy, especially among devotees to the saucy Neapolitan-style calzone. Leaving tomato sauce on the side, however, gives you a wider margin of error. Sauce creates a moister environment within the calzone, one more prone to leaks or a watery final product. Keeping sauce out curbs this risk. It also gives you more room in the dough for melted cheese and cooked meat and vegetable fillings—the gooey, soulful core to a deeply satisfying homemade calzone.

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