Panzerotti can be described as little fried calzones and are found all over Italy. This recipe produces panzerotti in the style typical of those found in Bari, Italy—crispy and golden on the outside and pillowy on the inside, with a traditional marinara-and-mozzarella filling.

a recipe photo of the Panzerotti served on a plate
Photo: Ali Redmond
Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 25 mins

Travel just about anywhere in Italy and you'll find street foods and quick bites born from its rich history and traditions, highlighting the culture's resourcefulness by using local, and often seasonal, ingredients. Each region serves up its own specialties, in addition to interpretations of favorites from all over the country. From the delicious array of cicchetti—similar to Spanish tapas—found in the bacari that line the canals of Venice, to the golden fried offerings of southern Italy, like arancini, these mouthwatering, yet affordable meals are always within reach—no reservations required.

When I think of Italian street food, my mind instantly conjures the calzoni fritti alla Siciliana introduced to me as a child by my zia. I'm not Italian, and she wasn't my "real" aunt, but she was as close to family as possible—coming into my life when I was just a baby and inspiring my love of her home country and, of course, its cuisine.

Each time my family visited her restaurant in the once-sleepy seaside town of Playa del Rey, California, she would seat us at "our table" and immediately bring out a paper-lined basket of piping-hot calzoni fritti that were stuffed with mozzarella cheese, a few peas and sometimes even a thin slice of prosciutto. Eagerly tearing them in half, I would follow the rising steam up toward the crowded ceiling and search for my blue baby bottle that hung among the menagerie of trinkets lending a curious, yet intimate ambiance. My father says he's quite sure the fire department had a different opinion of her collection.

These fried calzones of my childhood are also known as panzerotti in some parts of Italy, especially in the south, and are practically synonymous with the university and port city of Bari—though they do differ slightly. The former are usually smaller and devoid of any type of sauce, while the type you'll find in Bari are often larger—sometimes gargantuan—almost always contain a sauce (typically marinara) and are closer to what you might picture when imagining a traditional calzone, if fried. In a whispered tone, I admit that the Baresi sort have become my favorite. Scusa, zia!

Just like you can find cicchetti at every corner in Venice, you'll find panzerotti aplenty in the south, and nowadays throughout most of Italy for no greater reason than the fact that their crispy exteriors and pillowy soft, cheesy centers are absolutely addicting and loved by locals and tourists alike—no matter the location.

As humble as they may be, their golden, bubbly appearance is tempting, to say the least, and they are a staple at southern Italian holiday feasts. If you want to make them an appetizer—versus some of the truly humongous single takeaway versions that aren't an unusual sight in Puglia—you can opt for a smaller size by dividing the dough into 16 portions, instead of 8, and distributing the fillings equally among them. Either way, you're in for a treat that just might become a tradition for you as much as it is for me and for Italians who need no excuse to make them, any time of year.



  • 2 cups whole milk

  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • 3 ¾ cups 00 flour (11 ounces; see Tip), plus more for rolling

  • 1 ¼ cups semolina flour (7 ounces)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 medium cloves garlic, grated

  • 1 (28 ounce) can no-salt-added crushed Italian tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • ¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves

  • 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped or torn

For Frying

  • 5 cups avocado oil or canola oil


  1. To prepare dough: Place milk in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave on High until warmed to 100°F, 60 to 90 seconds. Sprinkle yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar over the milk; set aside.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare sauce: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly bubbling but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, salt, sugar, Italian seasoning and basil; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced slightly, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large shallow bowl to cool.

  3. Mix 00 flour, semolina flour and salt with your hands on a clean work surface. Make a well in the center. Gently whisk the milk mixture with a fork and add it gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, into the well, slowly incorporating the flour in a circular pattern, until the milk mixture is fully incorporated. (The dough will seem sticky and wet at first.) Knead the dough gently until it reaches a near-smooth consistency, about 8 minutes.

  4. Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over the dough; knead until the oil is just incorporated and the dough looks smooth, about 1 minute. Do not over-knead the dough. Shape the dough into a semi-flattened circle and cut into 8 equal portions (approximately 130 grams or 5 ounces each). Roll the portions gently into balls.

  5. To fry panzerotti: Heat avocado (or canola) oil in a large pot over medium-high heat to 375°F.

  6. While the oil heats, lightly dust the work surface with flour. Roll 1 dough ball into an ⅛-inch-thick round (6 to 7 inches in diameter). Add 3 tablespoons sauce and 1/4 cup mozzarella to the center of the circle. Fold the dough in half and tug the edges gently to give it a slightly elongated shape. Press gently with your fingers to seal, then pound the edges shut with the heel of your hand.

  7. Gently transfer the panzerotto (cooking 1 at a time) to the pan, placing the center of each into the oil first and then the sides, and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. With a spatula, move the panzerotto gently while cooking so it doesn't stick to the pan. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling, filling and frying the remaining panzerotti. Serve hot.


Candy or deep-fry thermometer


00 flour is a very finely ground flour that gives pizza dough and pasta a tender texture. If you can't find it, you can substitute all-purpose flour—your dough might be a little tougher but it will be no less delicious.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

609 Calories
23g Fat
77g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 609
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 7g
Added Sugars 1g 2%
Protein 21g 42%
Total Fat 23g 29%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 21mg 7%
Vitamin A 419IU 8%
Vitamin C 1mg 1%
Vitamin D 31IU 8%
Vitamin E 1mg 4%
Folate 251mcg 63%
Vitamin K 4mcg 3%
Sodium 764mg 33%
Calcium 314mg 24%
Iron 4mg 22%
Magnesium 32mg 8%
Potassium 216mg 5%
Zinc 1mg 9%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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