Fried Calzone, called Italian Panzerotti (or Panzarotti), are turnover pizza dough folded in half moon shapes with the filling inside. While the Calzone is large and baked, a Panzerotto is a deep-fried hand pie. You can add any filling to this pizza pockets: the classics are tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaf, or ham, ricotta, and Parmesan, and sometimes also mushrooms and bacon. Panzerotto (singular) is smaller than regular calzone and can be eaten by hand, perfect for a street food party.
The name Panzerotto comes from the Italian name panza, which indicates a large belly.
It is not because you will get a big belly if you eat too many of these (which is probably true), but it refers to the swelling of the dough due to the filling.
Compared to the much larger Calzone, Panzerotto is smaller in size and deep fried.
It is a traditional dish originating after World War 2 in Naples. As most wooden ovens were destroyed during the war, Neapolitans fried their pizza instead of baking it.
After the second world war, food was scarce. Many houses were destroyed, and wooden ovens to cook traditional pizza were limited.
Pizza Fritta Montanara and Panzerotti started as cucina povera street foods and were very successful in all of Southern Italy.
While pizza fritta is originally from Neaple, the Panzerotti recipe is originally from a small area of apulia on the Adriatic sea.
Another recipe made with fried pizza dough are Crispelle: an Italian appetizer served at Christmas. Small fried pizza dough filled with anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes or ricotta.
The Panzerotti dough is the same as regular pizza base. You can make it from scratch or use store-bought pizza dough.
To make the pizza dough, you will need:
- 3 cups flour (450 gr)
- 1 cup lukewarm water (250 ml)
- 1.5 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 Package of yeast (½ tbsp)
Tip: The best flour to use is All purpose in USA, Plain in UK, Type 0 in Italy, Type 55 in France.
Filling of panzerotti
I am filling these panzerotti with ricotta cheese and ham.
You can also fill them with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and a basil leaf.
For more filling ideas, you can check the article: 10 Vegetarian Pizza toppings full of veggies
I always use vegetable oil for deep frying as it has a higher burning temperature.
How to activate the yeast
- Mix the yeast with ¼ cup of water.
- Make sure the water is lukewarm.
- Add ½ teaspoon of sugar
- Let it rest until it becomes foamy
Mixing the pizza dough
Once the yeast is activated, you can start making the dough:
- Strain the flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl, ensuring they are completely mixed.
Make a ‘well’ in the center of the flour mix Combine all the wet ingredients: water and the frothy yeast mixture. Slowly pour them into the ‘well’ of the flour and mix them with the wet ingredients using your fingers. Once they are thoroughly mixed, you can either continue mixing the flour with your hands or put it into an electric mixer with a dough hook. Mix it until the dough becomes a smooth ball Shape it into a smooth ball and place it in an oiled large bowl with a wet towel to rest. Let it rise for 1.5 hours. Let the dough rest overnight (or at least 8 hours) in the fridge covered with cling film before making your pizza
Hint: the pizza dough should rest overnight; if not, the pizza will keep rising in your stomach, making you bloated and thirsty!
Preparing the small balls
- The next day, bring the dough to room temperature and divide the dough into balls. They should be around 2 oz - 60 gr
- Place them on a lightly floured surface, cover them with a kitchen cloth and let them rest for 30 minutes
How to make the panzerotto
- Roll flat the dough balls in the shape of a small pizza
- Add in the center of each circle ½ tablespoon of ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon of Parmesan
- ½ slice of ham
- Fold the dough into half-moon shape, making sure all the air is removed
- Tighten the edges
- Fry in hot oil, turning it on both sides until golden brown
- Lay the fry panzerotti on a paper towel to absorb the oil
- Hint: the secret to a perfect panzerotti is to remove all the air before frying it
Hint: the secret to a perfect panzerotti is to remove all the air before frying it.
How to serve it
Both fried pizza and Panzerotto should be served warm.
They can be prepared in advance and warmed up in the oven before serving.
They are perfect for buffet parties as they can be eaten by hand.
I recommend using a deep fryer, especially if you are entertaining.
The basket makes the frying process so much easier and you can fry large quantities for big parties.
I use this deep fryer that is easy to use and clean.
You can change the filling of the Panzerotti with your favorite ingredients.
- The pizza dough should rest overnight
- They can be eaten immediately (which we usually do) or warmed up before serving
- The secret to a perfect panzerotti is ensuring all the air is taken out before frying it.
Fried Calzone started as street food after the second world war. Many houses were destroyed, and wooden ovens to cook traditional pizza were limited. Some women started lighting up fires on the streets with large pans of frying oil and fried pizza dough to earn extra money.
Calzone is a large pizza folded in half with the filling inside and baked in a wooden oven like a regular pizza. Panzerotti is also a turnover but smaller in size, and it is deep-fried instead of baked
More of my favorite fried recipes
If you are craving fried food, you may want to check out these other recipes:
For more pizza recipes, check out the category: Pizza
If you are making the Fried Calzone Panzerotto, leave your comment below I would like to hear from you. You can find more delicious ideas if you FOLLOW ME on Facebook, YouTube, or sign up to my newsletter.
📋Fried Calzone Panzerotto
For the topping:
Making the dough
- To activate the yeast, mix it with water. The water should be lukewarm or at room temperature. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar, and let it rest until it becomes foamy.1 cup lukewarm water, 1 package yeast, 0.5 teaspoon caster sugar
- In the meantime, strain the flour along with the sugar and the salt into a bowl, ensuring they are completely mixed. Make a ‘well’ in the centre of the flour mix.3 cup Caputo flour 00, 1.5 teaspoon salt
- Slowly pour the yeast and water mixture in the ‘well’ of the flour and mix it with the wet ingredients gradually, using your fingers.
- Once they are thoroughly mixed continue mixing the flour with your hands until the dough becomes a ball that comes away easily from the side of the bowl.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a flat surface. Shape it into a smooth ball and place it into an oiled bowl covered with a wet towel to rest. Let it rise for 1.5 hours.
- For the best result, let the dough rest in the fridge overnight, well-floured and wrapped in a plastic bag, otherwise it will crawl all over the fridge.
- The next day, bring the dough to room temperature and divide the dough into balls. They should be around 2 oz - 60 gr. let it rest for 30 minutes
Frying the panzerotto/calzone
- Roll flat the dough balls in the shape of a small pizza
- Add 1//2 tablespoon of ricotta, 1 teaspoon of parmesan and ½ slice of ham1 cup ricotta, ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, 3 slices cooked ham
- Fold the dough making sure all the air is removed and tight the edges
- Fry in the oil, turning it on both sides
- Lay on a paper towel to absorb the oil and serve still warm
- Serve the panzerotti while still warm
- the pizza dough should rest overnight
- They can be eaten immediately (which we did) or warmed up before serving
- The secret for a perfect calzone is to make sure all the air is taken out before frying it.