Panzerotti, or Mini Pizza Calzones, are crazy delicious and easy to make! Pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, mini pepperoni, plus a sprinkle of fresh basil, and then deep fried to create a crunchy, gooey, handheld pizza. Make your own pizza dough, or take a shortcut and use pre-made dough for a super easy appetizer with a big wow factor!
Looking for more show-stopping appetizers? Try our Bacon Wrapped Chicken Bites or our Pepperoni Pizza Dip. Or want another pizza recipe? Try our Deep Dish Pizza Recipe as it is out of this world fantastic.
What is the Meaning of Panzerotti?
Panzerotti is an Italian dish invented in Puglia. It was a simple recipe made by women when they had leftover bread dough. Instead of wasting it, they created a small pizza with tomatoes and cheese wrapped inside the dough.
Calzones and Panzerotti are similar, but calzones are a pizza folded in half and baked. Likewise, Panzerotti is more like a handheld pizza pocket that has been deep-fried. Both are delicious, but fried pizza is extra special!
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What is in a Panzerotti?
I like the shortcut version of this recipe with pre-made pizza dough because I normally make this as an appetizer for entertaining, so I appreciate the ease and simplicity. However, if you have more time to put it together, you can definitely make your pizza dough from scratch. It’s good both ways!
You can also up the game with your own pizza sauce; you can make it easy or make it even better!!
Pre-made Pizza Dough (like Pillsbury) – Using pre-made dough for this cuts the prep time in half! Just open the can, and you’re ready to get started. Homemade pizza dough works, too, though (you’ll want about a pound of dough).
Marinara Sauce – Traditional Panzerotti is made with whole, peeled tomatoes, but I like the flavor and ease of a good marinara sauce. Best of all, you can use it for a dipping sauce when you serve the finished panzerotti, too.
Mozzarella Cheese – If you can, grate your own Mozzarella. The pre-shredded cheese has an anti-caking agent that makes it harder for it to melt, and you’ll want these mini calzones to be nice and melty.
Mini Pepperoni – If you can’t find mini pepperoni (they are my favorite), just cut larger pepperoni into smaller pieces. Likewise, if pepperoni isn’t your favorite, just skip this ingredient.
Fresh Basil – This adds a nice pop of flavor to the mini calzones.
Canola Oil – Use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil for deep frying the panzerotti. You can also use avocado oil. You don’t want to use olive oil because it will smoke at high temperatures.
Freshly Grated Parmesan – Sprinkle this on the outside of the mini calzones after deep frying for even more delicious flavor.
Italian Seasoning – Put a pinch of this on top of the panzerotti after cooking for a delicious Italian herb flavor in every bite.
How to Make Panzerotti
First, heat 4 cups of canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Bring the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a candy thermometer to check the oil and adjust heat accordingly. If the oil is too hot, the dough will cook without melting the cheese inside.
While the oil is heating, unroll the pre-made pizza dough onto a cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll over the dough once or twice to stretch it out into an even rectangle. Cut the dough into 5-inch circles (I used a bowl to mark the circles). You should be able to get 6 circles out of a 13.8oz can of dough.
Spread a tablespoon of marinara sauce onto each round of dough, leaving the edges free of sauce. Sprinkle two tablespoons of grated mozzarella onto half of the circle. Top with mini pepperoni and fresh basil.
Fold the dough in half and firmly press the edges together to form a seal.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully place one panzerotti into the hot oil, cooking until just golden brown (about 1 minute on each side). Cook them one or two at a time. Carefully remove them from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Sprinkle the top of each hot panzerotti with freshly grated parmesan and a pinch of Italian seasoning.
They taste amazing on their own, but you can also dip them in marinara sauce. Eat them while they are still warm and gooey inside. This is my family’s new favorite way to eat pizza!
Recipe Pro Tips!
Is a Panzerotti Baked or Fried?
Panzerotti are a small calzone, as we have mentioned previously, but the difference is that not only are they smaller, but also they are fried. This leads to the question, can I bake a panzerotti? Yes! These are easily baked also but, of course, not quite as good as traditionally made by deep frying.
To bake your panzerotti, brush the tops and sides with garlic butter or olive oil (use powdered garlic as it won’t burn as much as chunks of garlic would) and bake in a 425F oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.
Baked or fried, these will quickly become a family favorite.
- canola or avocado oil for frying
- pizza dough, like Pillsbury, 13.8 oz. can
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce (plus more for dipping)
- 3/4 cup freshly shredded mozzarella (see note)
- 1/3 cup mini pepperoni
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Italian seasoning for topping
- Heat the canola oil (about 4 cups) over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Use a thermometer to keep the temperature at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or check frequently with an instant-read thermometer. If the oil is too hot, the dough will cook before the cheese can melt.
- While the oil is heating, roll out the dough onto a large cutting board. Roll over it once or twice with a rolling pin to stretch it into an even rectangle and flatten the edges. Cut the dough into six 5-inch circles (trace a bowl or lid with a knife to make even cuts).
- Spread a tablespoon of marinara sauce on each round of dough, leaving the edges free of sauce. Sprinkle two tablespoons of grated mozzarella onto half of the round. Top with pepperoni and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Fold the dough in half and press the edges firmly together to create a seal.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently place one panzerotti into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Cook 1 or 2 at a time so they don't overcrowd the pan. When you remove each pizza from the oil, place it on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan and a pinch of Italian seasoning. Serve right away with marinara sauce for dipping.
Note: Pre-shredded Mozzarella is treated with an anti-caking agent that makes it harder to melt.
See the post for more tips and tricks.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 287Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 599mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.