Calzones with a twist: a shaping tip for the top

The holidays are over. Which means it’s time to dial down the sugar, and turn to things savory – like pizza. And calzones: calzones with a twist.

Maybe you’ve made calzones before. A calzone is simply pizza dough wrapped all the way around its filling, rather than simply cradling the pepperoni et. al. on top. Think giant, savory turnover.

I showed you how to make a classic spinach-ricotta calzone a couple of years ago, shaped and baked as a half-moon.

But since then, I’ve hit on a shaping method I much prefer: one that’s simple, yet produces a striking calzone. Instead of something that looks like a round pizza folded in half – i.e., kinda boring – you get a handsome braid, its melted cheese oozing fetchingly from a peekaboo slatted crust.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

A calzone packed with panache – as well as pepperoni.

Let’s make calzones with a twist, shall we?

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Start with your favorite pizza dough. I’m using our Now or Later Pizza recipe, which yields dough with deep flavor, and (to me) the perfect balance of crunch and chew.

How much dough do you need, exactly? Totally up to you. A recipe using 3 cups of flour will make two medium (12″-long) calzone, or one large (16″). Make that your benchmark when assessing your favorite crust recipe.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Gently deflate your risen dough, and divide it in half.

Working with one half at a time, roll/pat it into a rectangle whose shorter side is about two-thirds to three-fourths the length of its longer side. For instance, 8″ x 12″. Or 12″ x 16″. Do this either right on a lightly greased baking sheet, or on a piece of parchment.

Next, the filling.

Attention, anyone looking for a food-shopping bargain: here’s one of my favorite tips. Check out any cooler case close by the deli section at your supermarket and look for a pile of packaged “ends.” Ham ends, turkey ends, cold cut ends… and best of all, cheese ends.

I regularly get cheese ends at my local Market Basket supermarket for $1.99/pound. I’m not sure what I’m getting; could be any combination of American, Swiss, provolone, or whatever the deli is slicing.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

I run the cheese through the food processor, and either use immediately, or freeze.

Voilà! Grated cheese for all of my pizzas, casseroles, lasagna, mac and cheese, etc.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Layer your toppings (fillings) down the center third of the dough, lengthwise. I usually put the cheese down first, in order to showcase the more colorful toppings, which end up peeking through the top crust.

I’m not a huge fan of tomato sauce, which I think makes my crust soggy. I’d rather use oven-roasted tomatoes. For my vegetarian calzone, I’ll add sautéed red and green bell peppers, and “baby bella” mushrooms.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

For the classic, I’ll stick with pepperoni.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Now for the fun part. Cut 1″ to 1 1/2″ notches out of each corner of the dough.

Then cut 1″ strips down each side, using a pizza wheel, bench knife, scissors, or the tool of your choice.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Fold the two ends over the filling. Then fold the strips over the filling, alternating sides as you move down the dough and pinching the strips to the sides of the calzone.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

You can bake the calzone immediately, if you like; this will give you the calzone equivalent of thin-crust pizza.

For a lighter calzone, cover it and let it rise for about 45 minutes. While the calzone is rising, preheat the oven to 425°F.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Just before baking, brush the calzone with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, if desired; this will yield a golden brown, slightly shiny crust.

Bake the calzone on a middle rack for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s golden brown.

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

Remove the calzone from the oven, and let it cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

I always bake calzone on parchment. See why? Easy cleanup!

How to Shape a Calzone via @kingarthurflour

See? Follow the lines of the braid to cut neat little slices.

You can use this same shaping technique with other dough and fillings, like our Braided Lemon Bread. In fact, this “mock braid” is usually used with breakfast breads; for video of the technique using raspberry-cream cheese filling, see how to make a filled braid.

But there’s no harm in thinking outside the pizzeria box every now and then, right?

Note: This shaping technique is meant to be applied to any calzone (or pizza) recipe, so there’s no specific recipe to link to here. Instead, I encourage you to experiment with your own favorites.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Set up fully, then freeze immediately. Thaw in the fridge before baking. You probably won’t need to let them rise much more on the counter, but use your judgment and make the minor time adjustments as needed. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  1. Monica

    Oh boy! I’m definitely making these on Friday night for dinner with the grandkids. I have used this mock braiding technique to make a large “Reubenwich” from an old Fleischmann’s recipe, and a roasted red pepper and artichoke braid. It’s such an easy technique, but it makes the baker look like a rock star! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Carolyn

    Decisions! Decisions! I had the recipe for Pizza Rolls out for near future use but I like calzones too.
    Delis here in NC don’t sell ‘ends’. I used to buy turkey for cat treats when I lived in Mass.

  3. waikikirie

    Have used this technique for sweet dessert but never thought to use it for savory. DUH! That’s why I love reading this blog. Thanks!

  4. Julie

    We make a breakfast version with barely cooked scrambled eggs, crumbled sausage or bacon, cheese, and whatever veggie we have on hand. Yum!

  5. Kalisa

    “…you get a handsome braid, its melted cheese oozing fetchingly from a peekaboo slatted crust.”

    Oh my, I thought this was a G rated blog! 😉

    What a great presentation for calzones! The faux-braided, filled bread is always an crowd-pleaser at luncheons, but I’d never thought beyond lemon curd. It’s always pleasing to see how non-bakers are delighted with the tricks I have up my sleeves!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kalisa, you just made me laugh out loud at your comment! Glad you found this intriguing. Bryanna@KAF

  6. Cake Delivery in Hyderabad

    Calzones seems to be easy but is difficult while preparing. Your recipe is so quick and simple to make. I will try it and add it to my website.

    Thanks for sharing..

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s worth the time and effort, we promise! You’ll see once you give this recipe a try for yourself. Thanks for sharing and happy baking! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Debbie, do whatever you’d like with the extra dough. Bake it up into little rolls for dipping in marinara sauce, brush it with butter and cinnamon-sugar for a sweet little treat…feed it to the chickens..whatever best suits your tastes! Bryanna@KAF

  7. Craig H

    My family really loves Calzones but very few pizza places in SE Texas make them. I made this recipe yesterday and it was like being in N.Y. The crust was light and it was much easier than I thought. I like the “twist”. For my cheese, I mixed 1 cup Ricotta, 1 cup Mozzarella, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp nutmeg and split the mix between two 12″ twists, added sautéed mushrooms & onions and Italian sausage to one Calzone and pepperoni to the other. Thanks for the great recipe.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      I think this would work great with a whole wheat crust, just be sure to allow plenty of rest time for the dough to relax, making shaping easier. ~ MJ

  8. Janenott

    I bought almond flour and misplaced recipe that was in King Arthur Literature. Could you please help me locate a bread recipe for this flour. Thanks

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I think you will have to give us a call. Is this a yeast bread or a quick bread? We can be reached by calling 1-855-371-BAKE(2253). Elisabeth@KAF

  9. Deb H Stockton, Missouri

    Just made this fabulous calzone for dinner. Used the sourdough pizza crust recipe, split the dough in half, saving half in the fridge for later in the week. Made bechamel with parmesan and a little garlic powder for a mock Alfredo sauce, then topped with grilled chicken breast chunks, sauteed Portobello mushrooms, sauteed red pepper s, and caramelized onions. Sprinkled with parmesan just before baking. Baked on my baking stone at 450 (on parchment) for about 27 minutes. It was wonderful!

  10. Midmodtom

    Always bake on parchment … so the cook can eat the frico that gets baked on to it! Looks like Stromboli but who cares what you call it when it tastes that good!


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