This semi-homemade weeknight meal is a crowd-pleaser. Even the pickiest eaters will love this easy calzone recipe.
When my son was little, he was a really picky eater. I had a hard time coming up with meals that he would actually eat. I'd cook a beautiful meal and ask him to try it, then he'd turn up his nose. Inevitably, I'd end up making him something else so he wouldn't go hungry. That's when I started to search for more kid-friendly foods that we could all enjoy. He already liked pizza, so maybe a grown-up version might go over well too. And, that's when I landed on calzones.
What is a calzone?
A calzone is like a personal-sized pizza, just folded over and stuffed with different yummy cheeses. You can personalize each one and stuff them with whatever you have on hand. Say it with me, LEFTOVERS. Leftover meatballs? Perfect! Leftover steak? Sure thing!
They cook quickly and are served with a side of your favorite marinara sauce. I'm not really a "sauce inside the calzone" kind of girl, but you could layer your sauce inside if you'd like. Just make a quick sauce or crack open your favorite jar.
Easy Calzone Recipe
You may already have a lot of the ingredients to make your own calzones. Flour and olive oil are always in my pantry. And, I usually have mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan cheese on hand.
I also stock up on our favorite marinara whenever it's on sale (read my post about couponing for beginners if you want to learn how to save a ton by shopping sale cycles). Or, you could whip up your own easy pizza sauce. I've got a recipe for that below too.
I like to purchase store-bought dough to save time. But, if you'd like to make your own dough, I'd encourage you to. You just might not be able to make this on a weeknight unless you really plan ahead then.
This recipe is going to use store-bought dough from Publix. You can usually find this in the bakery section of your local supermarket.
How to make calzones at home
A few tips when making calzones at home:
Be sure to take your dough out of the refrigerator for at least an hour or more before you make your calzones. It will make it easier to work with and it will rise a bit. If you forget, don't worry. I've forgotten to take my store-bought dough out of the fridge in the past and my calzones still turned out fine.
Flour your work surface well when rolling out your dough. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin or tearing.
One pound of dough (about what you'd need to make one large pizza) can make up to 6-8 small calzones. My kids like giant calzones, so I usually make 3-4 calzones with one ball of dough.
Don't overstuff your calzones. You'll need to fold them over without your filling flooding out or tearing your dough. I simply fold the dough over and seal the sides by twisting up to create a crust barrier. Alternatively, you could use a calzone mold, but I don't think that's super necessary.
These are easy to make ahead and freeze. Let them cool completely after baking, wrap them individually in plastic wrap before placing them into a freezer bag.
A quick and easy weeknight meal of calzone
- 1 Store bought pizza dough Dough for one pizza = 3-4 calzones
- 4 tbsp All-purpose four For rolling our your dough
- 2-3 tbsp Olive oil For coating calzones, or use egg wash
- 16 oz. Ricotta Cheese
- 2 cups Mozzarella cheese
- 2-3 tbsp Cornmeal For dusting your baking sheet
- Pepperoni, Meatballs, Chicken, Veggies - ANY filling you'd like Use enough to fill, but not over-stuff your calzone.
- 2 cups Sauce for dipping Use jarred sauce or make your own
Take your dough out of the fridge and let it sit out for 1+ hours to rise.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Flour your workspace and set dough out to portion it into individual servings.
Divide dough into 3-4 (or more, depending on how big you’d like to make them)
Roll out each dough into a circle or oval (use a rolling pin) and flour as needed
Set them aside
Prepare the filling by mixing ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, salt, pepper. I
Lay each portion of dough on a cookie sheet pan (lightly dust with cornmeal if you have some, or just use some extra flour).
Place ½ cup (or more, depending on how many you’re making) of filling on half of the dough, leaving enough room to fold the dough over on itself to create a pocket. Leave a little room around the edge to seal it.
Layer on your protein (think meatballs, pepperoni, chicken) and/or veggies (onions, spinach, tomatoes, etc.)
Fold the dough over and press the edges together by pressing them firmly or rolling each edge up on itself.
Brush the tops of the calzones with olive oil or egg wash so it browns.
Cut a few slits into the top of each calzone so steam can space while it bakes.
Place them in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (check on them around 8 minutes as you may need to rotate the pan)
Once they're golden and bubbling, take them out of theoven and let them cool about 5 minutes so the cheese can "set up".
Easy Pizza Sauce or Calzone Sauce Recipe
Making your own sauce is super easy too. I prefer this over a jar of sauce, but sometimes I just don't have the time or energy to make it on a busy weeknight.
Ingredients for the sauce (I also use this sauce for homemade pizza):
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried basil
After you open the San Marzano tomatoes, try to remove as many seeds as you can. Then puree them in a food processor or blender.
Pour them in a bowl and add in all of your wonderful spices. Adjust the spices according to your taste. Simmer this on the stove for 5 or 10 minutes or just microwave a serving at a time.