Calzone vs. Panzerotti: Differences & Which Is Better? 

panzerotti vs calzone

Both delicious and very similar, calzone and panzerotti aren’t the same thing. Although the differences between them are very subtle, they are still big enough to separate these two delicacies. So, what are the differences between calzone and panzerotti? 

The most significant differences between calzones and panzerotti are the size, the cooking, and the dough. Panzerotti is smaller and fried. Calzones are bigger and baked. Both originated in Italy around the 18th century. Calzones were born in Naples, panzerotti originated in Apulia.

Panzerotti is a type of pizza, while calzone is somewhere between pastry and pizza, but they both have many fans around the globe. Many regard them as the same thing, while, in fact, they are different. In the following text, I will explain the differences between calzone and panzerotti and which is more popular. 

What Is Panzerotti?

Panzerotti is made of pizza dough, and it essentially is a folded pizza. The name means “belly” or “tummy,” describing this pizza topping-filled delicacy perfectly. Unlike calzone, panzerotti is fried rather than baked and is traditionally stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes, or/and mortadella. 

What Is Calzone?

Calzone is an Italian pastry made of leavened bread dough. The name itself means “stocking” or “trouser,” which is just what calzone. It is a folded and baked hot pocket containing pizza filling, originally including mozzarella, pecorino, and parmesan with ham, salami, and an egg. 

Calzone Vs. Panzerotti: Differences 

Both delicious hot pockets, and often misconstrued as the same thing, calzone, and panzerotti, are, in fact, different pastries. The differences between them are subtle, but they do exist, which is why these two delicacies deserve to be celebrated for what makes each of them unique. Being highly customizable, calzone and panzerotti have gained in popularity around the world.

Differences in FeaturesPanzerotti Calzone 
Taste Crunchier than a calzone.It depends on the filling, but softer than panzerotti.
Filling It is traditionally filled with mozzarella and tomatoes (sauce, fresh or dried) or with mortadella.It is traditionally filled with mozzarella, pecorino, or parmesan combined with salami or ham, or vegetables, and an egg.
Making Traditionally made with pizza dough, filled with stuffing, sealed, and fried. 
There are baked variations.
Traditionally made with leavened bread dough, filled with stuffing, sealed, and baked. There are fried variations.
Popularity Famous worldwide, but mainly in Europe and the USA.
A bit more popular than a calzone due to being made to have on the go. 
Popular worldwide, but mainly in Europe and the USA.
Served in many diners and restaurants.
Appearance and sizeSmaller, darker color and with a rougher surface.Larger with a lighter color and smoother surface.
Serving and side dishesTraditionally served with no sides. 
It is traditionally served with tomato or marinara sauce.
Origin18th century – Naples, Italy18th century- Apulia, Italy

Now, let’s see the differences between panzerotti and calzone in more detail.

Taste

Taste-wise, the most significant difference between calzone and panzerotti derives from the different cooking manners. While calzone is traditionally baked, panzerotti is fried. This naturally impacts the taste, giving panzerotti a bit sharper flavor. 

Calzone, on the other hand, is milder-tasting than panzerotti but still very flavorful, nevertheless.

However, the taste differences between calzone and panzerotti are primarily dependent on the filling as the main taste-giving factor. Therefore, if you compare calzone and panzerotti containing the same filling, they would taste nearly the same, with the panzerotti being crunchier. 

Filling 

The filling of calzone and panzerotti is entirely up to whoever makes them. There are as many filling variations as there are people eating them. That’s the reason they are so popular. 

However, the traditional filling for calzone is mozzarella, parmesan, or pecorino cheese, combined with vegetables, salami, or ham, and an egg. 

The traditional stuffing for panzerotti is mozzarella and tomato, whether fresh, dried or tomato sauce. The most common variation contains mortadella as well. 

While panzerotti contains tomato or a tomato variation inside the hot pocket, the calzone is traditionally served with tomato sauce separately, but it often includes tomato sauce inside, too. 

panzerotti vs calzone

Making and Dough

In addition to the filling, the other difference between calzone and panzerotti is the making. While calzone is traditionally baked, panzerotti is fried. However, the frying of the panzerotti isn’t deep frying but just a short sizzling in oil. 

Because the panzerotti dough is lighter, it doesn’t need much to thoroughly cook since it is classic pizza dough. On the other hand, Calzone can be made with pizza dough, but it is traditionally made with leavened salty bread dough. 

That means that if you fry calzone, it would get harder than panzerotti. Still, there are exceptions in this regard, too, as you can find fried calzones and baked panzerotti. 

panzerotti vs calzone

Nutrition 

The nutritional values of the calzone and panzerotti are highly dependent on the filling they contain. However, they are both rich in carbohydrates and calories. 

Often, they contain cheese as one of the main ingredients, so it is safe to say that they have protein, and no matter the meat they contain, it always results in fats. 

Again, the amount of protein and fats they contain depends on the amount of cheese and meat you add, as there isn’t a standard measure for this. In fact, the greasier and the cheesier, the better. 

They will also contain dietary fiber and a micronutrient or two if you stuff them with vegetables.

Since it is traditionally fried, panzerotti is greasier than calzone, but given that this isn’t always so, I can safely say that fried calzone is just as greasy. 

Panzerotti and calzone more or less share their nutritional composition, but it is very hard to accurately describe their nutritional value as they are highly variable. 

Popularity 

Calzone and panzerotti are globally known, though they aren’t equally popular in every part of the world. They are the most famous in Europe and the US. 

Given that panzerotti is smaller and indeed made to be eaten on the go, they have a bit more fans than a calzone, though a vast number of people love them both. 

Since the stuffing is highly adaptable, it can be adjusted to any local cuisine, quickly becoming a trademark delicacy of the bakery/restaurant that makes them. 

Statistically speaking, classic pizza and pizza variations are more prevalent in the USA than in Italy. While Americans consume roughly 3 billion pizzas and pizza variations a year, Italians have about half of that. 

Americans also have their version of a calzone. They make it with pizza dough instead of leavened bread dough and traditionally top it with a garlic sauce. 

The American versions of the calzone and panzerotti are typically greasier and heavier than Italian or European. 

Calzone and panzerotti are so famous in the USA that many think that that’s where they originated. 

More than 50 years ago, Pauline Tarantini made the first panzerotti in the USA, or to be more precise, in South Jersey. 

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

Appearance and Size

Calzone is larger than panzerotti, but still, they have similar shapes. They are both half-moon-shaped with sealed wavy edges. 

Since its fried panzerotti has a darker color and a rougher texture than a calzone.

American calzone and panzerotti are generally larger than their Italian or European counterparts. For example, an American calzone could easily feed two or three people.

Serving and Side Dishes

Being the smaller of the two and made to have on the run, panzerotti is usually served wrapped with a paper wrap if you have it on the go. 

If served for dining, it usually comes cut in half, whereby both halves can, but they don’t have to be separately wrapped. 

Calzone is usually served at a restaurant or a diner setting, whole and with marinara or regular tomato sauce on the side in a separate sauce dish, or sometimes poured over the calzone. 

Panzerotti can also be served with a side of marinara or regular tomato sauce, but that isn’t the custom since it already contains sauce

Panzerotti and calzone aren’t meant to be elegant but to serve the simple man; therefore, there aren’t many rules on how to serve them, except freshly made. 

In essence, the way calzone and panzerotti are served depends on the restaurant selling them, the ambiance of the place itself, and its purpose. 

As for side dishes, although calzone and panzerotti don’t really require any, there is still a wide variety of sides to combine them with. They go great with a fresh lettuce salad, any sauce you like, grilled vegetables, grilled cheese, or any of the stuffing ingredients. 

They have also been known to mash perfectly with olives, or olive and basil pesto, and grilled mushrooms. 

Origin

Calzone and panzerotti are both of full Italian origin. They both emerged around the same time, the 18th century. Calzone originated in Apulia, while panzerotti originated in Naples. 

This may come as a surprise to many people, as both calzone and panzerotti are very popular in the USA and have been domesticated in the USA culinary culture. 

Calzone Vs. Panzerotti: Which Is Better? 

They are both delicious. Which one you choose depends more on your lifestyle than on their taste, as they can be what you want them to be.

If you are looking for a quick breakfast on your way to work or a tasty meal while taking a stroll in the park, then panzerotti should be your choice. 

On the other hand, if you plan to use a plate, a knife, and a fork for your meal, go for a calzone. It all comes down to what kind of meal you want or need at a given moment. Whichever you choose based on your needs, it will be the right decision. 

Is Calzone Better Than Pizza?

If we are comparing pizza to a calzone, they certainly have less in common than pizza and panzerotti. However, to declare pizza or calzone as better would be entirely inaccurate. 

I would describe calzone as drier than pizza but still very juicy. Essentially, the most significant difference between them is the dough since calzone is traditionally made with leavened bread dough. 

Therefore, it again boils down to what you prefer, as they both come in as many variations as there are people, and you will undoubtedly find the one that is perfect for you. 

If you want a more elegant experience, I’d say go with pizza, but if you enjoy the simpler yet delicious things, go with the calzone. 

What Is the Difference Between Pizza, Panzerotti, and Stromboli? 

The three are made with pizza dough, so they have that in common. The fillings or pizza toppings depend on where they are made and who made them. However, the biggest difference between these three is their shape and manner of cooking. 

While pizza is baked, panzerotti and Stromboli are fried. Also, the pizza is circularly-shaped and is topped, while the other two are stuffed. 

Panzerotti is flipped and sealed and has a half-moon shape with ridges on the edge where it is sealed. Stromboli is rolled like a burrito and then sealed.

Pizza and panzerotti are all full Italian delicacies. The first documented pizza originated in 997 AD, and panzerotti originated in the 18th century. Stromboli is of mixed descent, so to speak. 

Stromboli originated in Philadelphia and was created by an American-Italian restaurant owner- Nazzareno Romano, who was famous for making rolled pizzas. 

panzerotti

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!