Calzone vs. Empanada: Differences & Which Is Better?

calzone vs empenada
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Although many consider empanadas to be another name for calzone, these two are actually two different things. However, this misconception isn’t unfounded, as they are very similar. Still, despite their similarities, the differences between empanada and calzone are fundamental and definitely worthy of exploring. So, what are the differences between calzone and empanada? 

Empanada and calzone differ in dough, filling, origin, and size. Empanada is Spanish, while calzone is Italian. Calzone is larger than empanada, and its dough is more robust. Empanada’s stuffing is traditionally ground beef, while calzone is stuffed with meat and cheese or vegetables.

Both delicious, meaty and juicy, empanadas and calzones have made quite a fan group throughout the globe. Therefore it would be a shame not to know the differences between these two pastries. While empanada is, in a nutshell, folded pizza, the calzone is not far from that definition, but not quite there either, since it’s made of leavened salted bread dough.

So, in the following paragraphs, I will explain the differences between empanada and calzone, which is better, and which is more popular.

Calzone vs. Empanada: Differences 

Despite their many similarities, calzone and empanada differ in some key aspects that mustn’t be ignored as they make these two pastries unique. Here is the table that can serve you as a cheat sheet.

Differences in FeaturesEmpanada Calzone 
Taste It depends on the filling but in any case stronger-tasting than a calzone.It depends on the filling, but milder and more refined than an empanada.
Filling Traditionally filled with minced beef, chicken, or seafood. Other filling variations include diced vegetables or even fruit.They are traditionally filled with mozzarella or pecorino or parmesan combined with salami or ham, vegetables, and an egg.
Making They are made with pizza dough, filled with stuffing, sealed, and baked. There are variations that use pie dough.Traditionally made with leavened bread dough, filled with stuffing, sealed, and baked in wood fired bread oven.
Nutrition High in carbohydrates and calories. Because of the meat stuffing, they contain protein and fat. High in carbohydrates and calories. Because of the cheese and meat stuffing, they contain protein and fat. 
Popularity Popular worldwide, but mainly in Western Europe and Latin America.Popular worldwide, but mainly in Europe and the USA.
Appearance and SizeSmaller, darker color, thinner and softer than calzone.Larger with a lighter color and smoother surface.
Serving and Side DishesDoesn’t require any sides but is often served with a dipping sauce.It is traditionally served with tomato or marinara sauce.
Origin15th century, Spain18th century, Apulia, Italy

Now, let’s see these differences in detail.


Origin is one of the aspects in which empanadas and calzone differ. Empanadas are significantly older than calzone, with their roots being traced back to the 16th century. 

They originated in Spain, and they were initially stuffed with seafood; and later on, the modern empanada recipe was developed after they were brought to South America. Nowadays, empanadas are a very popular and beloved savory snack worldwide, but especially in Latin America. 

It is believed that they first appeared on the continent in Argentina. 

Calzone is a delicacy much younger than empanada. It originated in Italy in the 18th century, whereby the original recipe isn’t much different than the modern one. Calzones are also well-known and loved worldwide, but most of their fans are from the USA and Europe. 

The calzone was introduced to the USA in 1929 by John Sasso, who worked in the first pizza place in NYC- Lombardi’s. 

Making and Dough 

Both empanada and calzone are based on the same principle; therefore, they are made in a similar manner. They are both filled half-moon shaped, sealed, and baked hot pockets. While empanadas are made with pizza dough, calzones are made with leavened and salted bread dough. 

However, empanadas are often made using pie dough, and calzone could also be made with pizza dough


The original empanada recipe calls for seafood filling, but the current recipe involves ground or minced beef or chicken. Of course, you can still have the vegetable empanada, but the beef and chicken recipes are prevalent. 

In addition to the meaty ingredients, empanadas can also contain diced vegetables, eggs and corn. Empanadas, however, don’t traditionally contain cheese. 

Calzone filling consists of either ham or salami combined with either mozzarella, parmesan, or pecorino and an egg. Calzones also come stuffed with vegetables. 

calzone vs empanada


Taste-wise, empanadas are stronger and more pungent than a calzone. Whichever the filling, minced beef, chicken, or seafood, empanadas are sharper and spicier than calzones. 

Although still very flavorful, the calzone is milder and more refined-tasting than empanada. The calzone stuffing isn’t as strong-tasting as that of the empanada, even when it isn’t the traditional one. 

Both empanada and calzone are baked and soft with a smooth surface. However, being that the calzone’s dough is more robust, the calzone’s surface is firmer. Empanadas are softer and thinner than calzone. 


Calzone vs. Panzerotti: Differences & Which Is Better? 

Appearance and Size

Although both moon-shaped and very similar looking, empanadas and calzones aren’t identical when it comes to their appearance. 

Empanadas have a slightly darker color than calzones, while calzones are lighter-looking. 

Size-wise, empanadas are far smaller than calzones. While calzones require a knife and fork, empanadas can be eaten in two-three bites. 


Depending on their fillings, empanadas and calzones could be more or less greasy, but they are certainly rich in carbohydrates. [1] [2] However, empanadas naturally contain fewer carbs than calzones due to their smaller size. 

Since calzone contains cheese and ham or salami, it contains protein and fat. Depending on the filling, whether minced beef, chicken, or seafood, empanadas also contain protein but less fat. 

Both calzone and empanada can have vegetable stuffing, which means that they could also contain micronutrients and dietary fibers. 

Empanadas can also contain fruit in their stuffing and therefore become a source of sugar. 

In essence, the nutritional value of empanadas and calzones largely depends on the recipe in question; due to their adaptability, there are as many variations as people who make them. 

Generally, empanadas and calzones aren’t considered light food and aren’t the best choice to have daily. 


Being highly adaptable, calzone has become very popular worldwide. It is especially loved in the USA and Europe. Calzone has been domesticated in the USA to the degree that many Americans are surprised by the fact that it is Italian.

Since it is a bit more restrictive than the calzone, empanada doesn’t enjoy the calzone’s popularity, but still, it isn’t to be underestimated. Although most popular in Western Europe and Latin America, there are variations of empanada in the other parts of the world. 

However, the empanadas in different parts of the world have been adapted and named differently, making them different pastries. Still, the principle is the same- folded meaty hot pockets. 

It has been stated that each year three billion pizzas and pizza variations, empanadas and calzone included, are eaten in the USA. 

Serving and Side Dishes

Empanadas can be served as they are or with a dipping sauce. Calzones are traditionally served with marinara or regular tomato sauce on the side. 

Fresh green salads make excellent side dishes for both empanadas and calzones, as well as grilled vegetables, extras of the ingredients already contained in them, or grilled mushrooms.

Olives, olive, and basil pesto go better with calzone, but some like them with empanadas too.

Calzone vs. Empanada: Which Is Better?

This question is more about preference than quality. Both empanada and calzone are delicious, but they provide you with a different experience, so base your decision on what you are in the mood for. 

If you are craving spicy and sharp finger food, go for the empanada. If you’re in the mood for something softer and longer-lasting, choose the calzone. 

What Are Empanadas Called in English? 

The English name for empanadas is “meat pies.” Due to their stuffing and the fact that their dough is sometimes pie dough, they have rightfully deserved their English translation.

The word “empanada” means “enbreaded”- covered with bread. 

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