Panzerotti (mini calzone pizza with tuna, olives & red pepper)

Cook Eat WorldEuropeanItalianPanzerotti (mini calzone pizza with tuna, olives & red pepper)

By Lee Jackson ↣ Published on: January 14, 2022

Italian Panzerotti are little pockets of pizza dough, stuffed with tasty treats. In my recipe, we use tuna, olives and red pepper for a delicious bite-size burst of flavour. These savoury turnovers are the perfect addition to any party table, or even just a party for one!

A plate with two mini calzone pizza (Panzerotti) stuffed with tuna & red peppers sit on a plate with some tomato dipping sauce.

Panzerotti are a wonderful little dish to serve for gatherings, parties, game day or just for yourself in front of the TV. They’re miniature versions of the Neapolitan calzone, a large folded pizza. Panzerotti are a small, deep fried version which are eaten all-across Italy, but especially loved in the central and southern regions. Living in Italy has many advantages, one suce pleasure is at our favourite bar in Naples. They’ll bring a round of panzerotti for patrons at random intervals of the evening – perfect to nibble with a beer or spritz, and who doesn’t love FREE!

What's in a name?

Across Italy, Panzerotti (panzerotto – singular) also go by the name Panzarotti, Calzone Fritti, Pizze Fritti, Frittelle, Frittelli and Fritte.

What are Panzerotti?

Panzerotti are small discs of panzerotti dough (pizza dough), which are stuffed with a filling and then folded (typically into semi-circles or half-moons – “mezzelune”) and typically deep fried. They look a little like a mini Cornish pasty or savoury turnover.

Traditionally, panzerotti are stuffed with tomato and mozzarella cheese but many varieties exist filled with ingredients like mortadella, escarole, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, sausage, onions, anchovies and in this case, tuna.

My recipe for panzerotti is an umami festival of seafood and vegetables. Tuna, peppers, egg, capers and more… cheese ‘free’ and flavour ‘full’. The most perfect panzerotti bites!

Panzerotti dough circle with the filling on top, small folded panzerotti surround the non folded version

Why they work!

Panzerotti are everything you want in a bite sized treat. A taste and textural sensation! Wonderful fried pizza dough (if you haven’t experienced this, you really should), filled with a hot, tasty interior. A pop of flavour with every bite. They’re small, so the perfect party food or game day snack. They’re pizza without the mess a one or two bite wonder… and then another… repeat to fade.

Stuff you'll need

For my version of Panzerotti Bites, you’ll need a few key ingredients to create fresh, flavour-packed filling. Each brings a vibrant pop of flavour.

 

  • Tuna - best quality canned or jarred tuna in olive oil
  • Red bell pepper - Roasted and the skin peeled (you can also used jarred roasted peppers)
  • Olives - I like a mixture of black & green
  • Eggs - hard boiled for texture and flavour
  • Capers - Salty bursts of sourness
  • Herbs - I use fresh mint and parsley for this recipe - but try basil, oregano, marjoram or thyme too
Panzerotti folded and ready to cook on a plate

Step by Step

Making Panzerotti is easy, here are the key steps to getting the job done. Ready to get your crimping game on?

  1. Step 1 - Making Panzerotti dough – I’ll show you how to make the best pizza dough, but often, when I don’t have the time/energy to wait, I’ll short-cut everything by using pre-bought pizza dough which is perfectly fine, OK!
  2. Step 2 - Roasting the pepper - I roast mine on the BBQ, but a hot oven or grill is fine. You can also shortcut this stage by buying jarred red peppers.
  3. Step 3 - Making the filling - Then all you need to do is combine all the other fresh ingredients to make the filling. Simple.
  4. Step 4 - Stuffing the panzerotti - Once the dough has proved for an hour (or once you’ve taken the pre-made dough out of the packet), you can cut into small pieces and then roll out into small discs. Then pop on a little stuffing, fold in half and seal. I like to do a rolling (crimping) seal like a Cornish Pasty for deep frying security. The panzerotti will puff up in the hot oil and a badly sealed dough will erupt!
  5. Step 5 - Fry! for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Step 6 - Serve!
A ball of Panzerotti Pizza dough
A red bell pepper roasting on a grill for Panzerotti pizza
The filling for panzerotti of egg, tuna, capers, olives and red pepper
Folding the Panzerotti dough using a rolling seal technique like a pasty.
Panzerotti deep frying in oil
Panzerotti sits on a plate with the filling on show of olives, tuna, egg and red pepper alongside a small dish of tomato sauce

Pro Tips to make your life easier

  • Buy pre-made pizza dough – let a machine do the grunt work and save yourself the time. No shame or judgement here!
  • When frying, panzerotti can often be hard to turn over in the oil as they become very buoyant and have a stubborn 'one way up' position. Use a long-handled spoon to splash oil over the top surface as they cook to ensure even browning.
Panzerotti sits on a plate

Serving and storing suggestions

  • You can eat panzerotti hot or cold, hot is GREAT, but beware – the steam created inside the panzerotti during cooking makes the inside the temperature of the sun! You won’t be able to help yourself, but you’ve been warned.
  • Traditionally, panzerotti are served with a little tomato sauce to dip – I approve of this addition wholeheartedly! I simply use a little cold tomato polpa or passata, straight from the jar or can and it’s perfect.
  • You can eat them at room temperature too, but if you want to eat them hot later – just warm through in the oven for 5 minutes. Hope you enjoy these Italian hot pockets as much as I do!
  • Keep cooked panzerotti in the fridge for 3-4 days and eat cold or gently warmed in the oven.

Freezing panzerotti (uncooked)

  • Panzerotti are a good contender for freezing. To get the best stick-free results, lay the uncooked panzerotti on a paper-lined baking tray in a single layer (without touching) and freeze. Once solid, tip them into a bag and pop back into the freezer. They shouldn’t stick. To cook from frozen, follow the same methods as unfrozen and add 1-2 minutes on the cooking time.

Baking Panzerotti

  • If you’re worried about deep frying, you can of course bake the panzerotti. Arrange them on a paper lined baking sheet. Brush or spray with a little oil and then a little beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC/400ºF for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Panzerotti sits on a plate with the filling on show of olives, tuna, egg and red pepper alongside a small dish of tomato sauce

Ready to get cooking?

If you’re a pizza lover, you MUST experience these little folded treasures. Bite sized pizza is a revelation! And don’t just stop at my delicious seafood stuffing… anything YOU love on a regular pizza can be stuffed into a panzerotti, so versatile, so brilliant and so delicious!

Any Questions? (FAQ)

Have any questions about panzerotti? Let me know in the comments.

What is the difference between a calzone and a panzerotti?

Panzerotti are deep fried whereas calzone are baked. The sizes are different too. Panzerotti are small, bite sized parcels wheras calzone are larger.

What do Italians call Fried Pizza?

Pizza Fritta or Pizza Fritte. These are generally small discs (like a mini pizza) and either served plain as just fried dough or topped with tomato sauce, cheese, mortadella and more.

Panzerotti are also fried, but are stuffed, folded and sealed to create a kind of pasty.

What is panzerotti dough made of?

Flour, water, yeast, salt and a little olive oil. Typically pizza flour (’00) is used for the most authentic texture.

Folding the Panzerotti dough using a rolling seal technique like a pasty.

Panzerotti (mini calzone pizza with tuna, olives & red pepper)

Rate this recipe

5 from 1 vote
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Recipe by Lee
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Bread proving1 hour
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 6
Calories (per serving) | 387

Ingredients

For the panzerotti dough

For the filling

  • 200 g tuna fillet (7oz) (good quality, canned or jarred)
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • ½ cup olives (green or black or both, pitted and roughly chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper Roasted, peeled and chopped)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp parsley (chopped)
  • 2 eggs (hard boiled, peeled and crumbled)

Other

Instructions

To make the filling

  • On a BBQ or under a hot broiler or grill, roast the red pepper until it's charred on all sides. Remove and place into a plastic bag for 2-3 minutes.
    Peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds and discard.
    Chop the pepper into small pieces and add to a large bowl.
  • Drain then flake the tuna fillets into the bowl along with all the other filling ingredients. Stir well, cover and refrigerate until needed.

To make the panzerotti dough

  • Combine the yeast, flour and olive oil and begin to add the water, stirring with your hand. Once halfway through, add the salt and then the remaining water.
    Bring the dough into a whole ball then place on the work surface. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  • Using a large plastic container, drizzle about 2tbsp oil inside and spread around to coat all the sides and base with oil. Pop the dough ball into the centre then cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Leave the dough somewhere warm (not hot) for 1 hour. After an hour the dough should have doubled in size.
    Gently tip the dough onto a floured work surface and cut it in half. Cut each half into 4 pieces, then cut each of those pieces into 3 pieces. Repeat with all the dough and you should end up with 24 dough balls.

Making the panzerotti

  • Using a rolling pin, roll a ball into a disc around 3"/9cm
  • Take a heaped teaspoon of the filling and place it in the centre. Use a little water on your finger to wet the edge of half of the dough, then lift up the dough and fold in half to form a semi-circle.
  • From the end, press firmly and create little twists inwards to press and seal the edges, you'll end up with a little rope effect (see pics above) - like a cornish pasty.
  • Repeat using all the dough - you should have enough filling to complete all 24. However, if you run out of filling (and you have it), add a little tomato, ham and mozzarella as a sneaky second filling!

Frying the panzerotti

  • Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan until hot, around 350-375ºF/175-190ºC)
    Carefully add around 4 panzerotti into the oil. They will puff up and become difficult to turn, so using a large spoon, carefully splash the surface of the panzerotti as they cook. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels as you repeat the process for all the panzerotti.

Serving

  • Serve hot with a small bowl of tomato polpa/pasatta as a dipping sauce for each mini pizza pocket.

Notes

Store bought pizza dough
  • Using pre-made pizza dough is perfectly acceptable for panzerotti. Not everyone has the time or skills to make a dough and that’s fine. Buy around 400g of dough for this recipe.
Baking Panzerotti.
  • If deep frying isn’t appealing to you then you can bake them too. Arrange them on a paper lined baking sheet. Brush or spray with a little oil and then a little beaten egg and bake in a preheated oven at 200ºC/400ºF for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
Freezing panzerotti (uncooked)
  • Panzerotti are a good contender for freezing. To get the best stick-free results, lay the uncooked panzerotti on a paper-lined baking tray in a single layer (without touching) and freeze. Once solid, tip them into a bag and pop back into the freezer. They shouldn’t stick. To cook from frozen, follow the same methods as unfrozen and add 1-2 minutes on the cooking time.
Storing leftovers
  • In the unlikely event of leftovers, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate for 4-5 days. Eat cold or warmed in the even for 5 minutes.
Experimenting with fillings
  • My seafood stuffing is a inspired by some I ate in Naples, but traditionally panzerotti are stuffed with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. But there are no hard and fast rules! Whatever YOU enjoy on top of a regular pizza can most likely be stuffed into a panzerotto, so just go for it!

Nutrition

Calories: 387kcal (19%) | Carbohydrates: 57g (19%) | Protein: 10g (20%) | Fat: 13g (20%) | Saturated Fat: 2g (13%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg (18%) | Sodium: 674mg (29%) | Potassium: 329mg (9%) | Fiber: 4g (17%) | Sugar: 3g (3%) | Vitamin A: 1017IU (20%) | Vitamin C: 31mg (38%) | Calcium: 36mg (4%) | Iron: 4mg (22%)
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