what's the difference between a calzone and stromboli, what is a calzone, what is a stromboli
Pizza is delicious but inconvenient. I know that this might sound odd to you: after all, pizza is a finger food that’s broken up into perfectly sized portions. It’s also easy to share or even to store for leftovers later.

Despite these facts, I still prefer calzones and strombolis to pizza, especially when I’m only cooking or ordering for myself. Both of these pizza turnovers are easy to eat by hand. They’re usually perfectly sized for one person and come with just the right mix of cheese, sauce, and meat on the inside.

But what’s the difference between these two foods? Is there one? In order to understand how calzones and strombolis differ, let’s go over what each product is and learn a little bit about how they’re made.

What Is A Calzone?

rolled pizza, rolled pizza recipe

Calzones are basically pizzas that are folded in half. They’re made out of a circle of pizza dough that’s stuffed with ingredients before being folded over to form a crescent shape. Calzones always have cheese, but they’ll often have meat, sauce, and other ingredients inside of them as well. In other words, just like with a pizza, you can get anything you want inside of a calzone.

Calzones are often baked. They’re sometimes fried as well, giving them a unique bit of crunch. After they’re cooked, they’re sometimes topped with olive oil, cheese, marinara sauce, or other condiments. Calzones vary in size quite a bit, but they’re often small enough to be enjoyed by a single person. Sometimes, however, they’re large enough that you have to slice them and eat them like a non-folded pizza.

What Is A Stromboli?

Like calzones, stromboli is made with both pizza dough and pizza toppings. Instead of being folded once, however, strombolis are rolled up into a cylinder. The exact procedure here varies: some strombolis are covered in flat ingredients and rolled into a spiral, while others have a pile of ingredients in the middle and are folded in thirds, In any case, calzones are crescent-shaped, while stromboli usually comes out looking like a burrito.

rolled pizza dough, rolled pizza breadStromboli almost always has cheese on the inside. It can also have meat, sauce, and other ingredients as well. The dough that’s used for stromboli tends to be somewhat stiffer than pizza dough, but this changes based on where you are and who’s making the stromboli.

While stromboli can have sauce inside of it (and it often does), many establishments serve stromboli with no sauce in the roll itself. Instead, they provide sauce that you can dip the stromboli in (or pour on the stromboli).

Calzones have been around since the 18th century, but stromboli is a more recent food. They began springing up in the US during the 1950’s. There’s some debate on where the dish actually originated, but it’s widely accepted that it’s an American invention. Calzones, by contrast, are definitely Italian in origin.

What Are The Differences Between A Calzone and a Stromboli?

As you can see, there’s not a lot of differences between calzones and strombolis. The big ones are shape, dough, and ingredients, although the last two aren’t always constant. In other words, the only way to know for sure if something is a calzone or a stromboli is to look at how it’s folded.

italian rolled pizza, pizza folded in halfWhen it comes to shape, calzones are crescent-shaped (they’re made from circular dough that’s folded over) and stromboli tends to be tubular (it’s made from square dough that’s folded more than once or rolled). This is the best way to tell the difference.

As far as the dough is concerned, stromboli often (but not always) is made from stiffer dough. This gives it a slightly different texture than calzones, which use a soft, chewy dough. Again, though, this varies by region and chef.

Finally, the fillings inside of a stromboli and a calzone will vary a little. Calzones and stromboli almost always have some sort of cheese inside them. Calzones will have sausage and other hearty meats, while stromboli tends to have thinner deli-style meat to accommodate the way the pizza is rolled. This can vary, of course, depending on where you are and what you order. Just like with flat pizzas, you can customize what’s inside of your calzone or stromboli to your liking.

Strombolis are often made without sauce, which is then served on the side. Confusingly, though, calzones are sometimes served this way too. You shouldn’t use this to figure out which is which.

The way I think of it is that calzones are a stuffed pizza, while stromboli is a baked pizza sandwich. This isn’t quite accurate, of course, but it’s close enough to keep me from being confused.

Calzone vs Stromboli: What’s The Best Rolled Pizza?

what is a pizza folded in half called, pizza sandwichStromboli and calzones are pretty similar. There’s no real right choice between these two dishes. In fact, since the biggest difference is the shape, the only real way to choose is based on which dish you find more convenient to eat and how much you like eating pizza crust.

If you’re a crust guy who likes cylindrical foods, strombolis are the better choice.

They’ve got more dough per unit due to the way they’re folded over themselves multiple times. Calzones, on the other hand, are crescent-shaped pouches that are often a bit more generous with the toppings. If you think they’re more fun and easy to eat, choose calzones over stromboli.

Personally, I go back and forth. Calzones are a decadent experience that’s loaded with lots of flavors and fillings, while stromboli is more like a delicious pizza sandwich that’s cooked just for me. I’ll order both depending on where I am, who I’m with, and what mood I’m in.

When I’m cooking for myself, however, I’ll usually go with stromboli. The reason is simple: I tend to fill my pizza turnovers with flat ingredients (like pepperoni and salami). As a result, it’s easier to roll them up than it is to form a pouch.


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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