Calzones and Stromboli are both staples of American Italian cuisine. Delicious relatives of the pizza, both incorporate sauce, cheese, and toppings (such as vegetables and cured meats) stuffed into a doughy bread and baked to perfection. 

There are, however, some notable differences that distinguish these dishes. Here, we talk about what defines a calzone vs stromboli, their origins, and cooking techniques, as well as provide our favorite recipes for you to try at home. Let’s go! 

Stromboli on white plate

What is Stromboli?

A Stromboli is essentially a cylindrical, rolled-up pizza that is cut into slices before being served. A thin rectangle of pizza dough is topped with mozzarella cheese and chosen ingredients, such as veggies and cured meat, like salami, ham, or pepperoni. 

A little marinara sauce is usually added as well. The dough is then rolled around the filling and baked into what resembles a long hoagie sandwich-like pizza roll. More tomato sauce is served alongside for dipping. 


Where did Stromboli Originate?

Stromboli originated in South Philadelphia, in a historically Italian neighborhood, in the 1950s. Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, which still exists, lays claim to being the creators of the dish. 

It was named after the romance movie Stromboli starring Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini, also from the 50s. The name Stromboli refers to the volcanic island near Sicily on which the movie took place and thus is usually capitalized.


Stromboli dough and folding techniques

Stromboli is made using either Italian bread dough or pizza dough. The thin dough is sealed by rolling it into a spiral and then folding the dough over the edges to keep the fillings from oozing out when you bake it in the oven.  

While an egg wash can be used before baking Stromboli, giving that golden brown color, it is not typical. This is a major difference between Stromboli and calzone, which always uses an egg wash to seal the dough before baking. 

Sauce and fillings in a Stromboli

Similar to pizza and the calzone, Stromboli is typically filled with mozzarella cheese (sometimes mixed with a low-moisture cheese like ricotta), cured meats (such as pepperoni, ham, or salami), and vegetables that fit your personal preference (mushrooms, onions, olives, and peppers are popular choices). 

A tomato marinara, flavored with oregano, is added inside the roll, a major difference between stromboli and calzone. More sauce can be served with the finished product for dipping.    

How to eat it and typical serving size

A single Stromboli is sliced into multiple, hand-held servings that can be dipped into tomato sauce or drizzled with olive oil. It’s a perfect appetizer or finger food for parties! Depending on the size, a Stromboli usually serves 3-6 people.

How do you make Stromboli?

The basic steps for making stromboli are to thinly roll pizza dough into a rectangular shape, add the toppings and sauce, and then roll it into a cylinder shape before folding over the edges to seal it. 

Bake in the oven on a greased baking sheet and, once it’s cooled a bit, cut it into slices before serving it with a dipping sauce. It’s a great appetizer or finger food for parties. 

One great stromboli recipe 

For an easy and lightened-up recipe, be sure to check out my breakfast stromboli! It uses Pillsbury pizza dough to cut down on prep time (but you can use any dough you’d like!)

Calzone on white plate

What is a calzone?

A calzone (or calzoni) is a baked pizza pocket that uses a circular piece of pizza or bread dough folded in half and sealed into a half-moon shape with a crimping technique. 

It is filled with cheese (usually ricotta, often alongside mozzarella and parmesan), cured meats, herbs, and vegetables of choice. Tomato sauce is not included in the filling but is served alongside for dipping.

Origins of the calzone

Calzones are an Italian street food that originated in Naples in the 1800s and grew in popularity as a handheld version of pizza.  

Calzone dough folding techniques

Pizza or bread dough is rolled into a circle and then topped with filling ingredients. The dough is then folded in half, similar to a taco, and crimped along the edges to seal. Unlike Stromboli, a calzone is brushed with an egg wash to get that classic golden brown color. 

Sauce and fillings in a calzone

Calzones are usually stuffed with ricotta cheese, though parmesan and mozzarella can be added. It’s then loaded up with toppings of your choice, like cured meats (such as pepperoni, ham, or salami) and vegetables (like onions, mushrooms, broccoli, olives, and peppers.)

A major difference between a calzone and Stromboli is that calzones do not typically have sauce inside. It is served with a marinara sauce for dipping. 

How to eat it and typical serving size

While a Stromboli is cut into small slices to serve many people (3-6, depending on the size), a calzone is usually meant to serve one or two people. Because it was created as an Italian street food, it’s meant to be picked up and bitten into like a hand-held pizza pocket. Calzone is served with a marinara sauce for dipping. 

How do you make a calzone?

To make a calzone, roll out pizza or bread dough into a small circle and cover one-half with the cheese and toppings of your choice. Fold the half without toppings over forming a half-moon or taco shape and crimp the edges to seal. 

Brush the dough with an egg wash to help seal and brown to perfection. A calzone is usually baked but can also be deep-fried. Serve with a marinara sauce for dipping. 

One of my favorite calzone recipes

Head over to Delish for our favorite easy and delicious calzone recipe! It uses simple, accessible ingredients, requires just 10 minutes of prep time, and bakes to perfection! 


Summary: What is the difference between calzone vs stromboli?

These Italian-American culinary stars share many ingredients and have the classic taste and texture of pizza, thanks to the delightful combination of dough, cheese, and toppings. But their origins, sealing techniques, fillings, and serving sizes set them apart.

    • Fold and seal technique: A Stromboli is rolled like a burrito, while a calzone is folded into a half-moon shape, like a taco that’s been sealed using an egg wash.
    • Origin: Stromboli originated in south Philadelphia while calzone is an Italian street food originating in Naples, Italy. 
  • Fillings: Toppings are similar, but a Stromboli typically uses mozzarella cheese while a calzone uses ricotta cheese. Only a Stromboli has sauce inside the wrap. 
  • Serving: A single Stromboli is cut into slices for multiple servings, while a calzone is typically a single serving (though large calzones are great to share!)

For more easy and healthful pizza-inspired recipes, give these adorable supreme pizza pockets or this lightened-up Weight Watchers meat lovers’ pizza a try!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Which is healthier, stromboli or calzone?

A: While both employ similar ingredients and are high carb due to the dough, stromboli dough is thinner and servings are generally smaller, making it the healthier option.

Q2: Which has sauce inside calzone or stromboli?

A: A stromboli generally has some sauce inside while a calzone does not. Both are served with marinara sauce for dipping. 

Q3: Is a stromboli just a folded pizza?

A: A stromboli is similar to a rolled-up pizza (like a pizza burrito), while a calzone is like a pizza that’s been folded in half (more like a taco). 

5 from 1 vote

Stromboli vs Calzone: Here's the difference

Healthy breakfast stromboli


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Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
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