Is there a difference between calzone dough and pizza dough?

Calzones and pizza are both beloved Italian baked dishes that are made from dough. While they share some similarities, there are some key differences between calzone dough and pizza dough. Understanding these differences can help you make the best dough for whichever dish you want to create.

The Main Differences

Here are the main differences between calzone dough and pizza dough:

  • Hydration level – Calzone dough is generally higher in hydration (water content) than pizza dough.
  • Kneading – Calzone dough requires a shorter kneading time than pizza dough.
  • Resting time – Calzone dough benefits from a longer proofing/resting time than pizza dough.
  • Rolling – Calzone dough needs to be stretchier to enclose fillings so may use some oil when rolling out. Pizza dough is stretched thinner.
  • Cooking method – Calzones are baked alone or with a few on a sheet. Pizzas cook best directly on a very hot surface like a pizza stone.

Below we’ll explore the reasons behind these differences in more detail.

Hydration Level

Hydration refers to the amount of water used in the dough recipe compared to the amount of flour. The more water, the higher the hydration. Calzone dough is typically made with a hydration level of around 60-70%. Pizza dough is usually in the 50-65% hydration range.

The higher hydration level helps give calzone dough a soft, pliable texture that can stretch and wrap around fillings without cracking or breaking. Too stiff of a dough would split when you form and fill the calzones. Some bakers may enhance the stretchiness further by including a small amount of oil in the calzone dough.

Pizza dough doesn’t need to stretch and fold quite as much, so a moderately hydrated dough makes it easier to shape and transfer the unbaked pizzas. Too high of a hydration would make the dough sticky and difficult to handle when topping and moving the pizzas.

Kneading Time

Kneading helps develop gluten strands in the dough for structure and chewiness. Calzone dough requires less kneading time than pizza dough, generally around 5-10 minutes compared to 8-15 minutes for pizza dough.

Over-kneading the calzone dough can make it too elastic and start to shrink back as you fill and form it. Shorter kneading keeps the dough a little softer and more relaxed.

Pizza dough benefits from thorough kneading to form a strong gluten network. This gives the crust a pleasing chewy texture and allows the thin dough to hold shape during stretching and baking without tearing.

Resting Time

After kneading, the dough needs time to rest, relax, and rise. This is called the proofing or fermentation stage. Calzone dough does best with a relatively long proof of 1-2 hours.

The extended proofing allows more flavor development in the dough from yeast fermentation. It also allows the formed gluten strands to relax a bit, yielding a softer and more pliable texture.

Pizza dough may only proof for 30-45 minutes before shaping and baking. Less proofing helps maintain the structure kneaded into the dough for good dough strength and chew.

Rolling and Stretching

To form calzones, the rested dough is divided into pieces that are then rolled or stretched out into rounds. Some recipes may have you oil the work surface, rolling pin, and even the dough to help minimize sticking and make stretching the dough easier.

Pizza dough also gets stretched out but relies solely on the gluten development from kneading for elasticity. No oil is added when stretching pizza dough as it needs to grip the work surface and be moved around.

Calzone dough is only stretched to about 1⁄4 inch thickness to make room for ample fillings inside. Pizza dough gets stretched much thinner, usually to around 1⁄8 inch or thinner.

Cooking Method

Traditionally, calzones are baked alone or with just a few on a sheet pan. Pizzas are designed to bake directly on extremely hot surfaces like a pizza stone or steel to mimic a commercial pizza oven.

Baking calzones at lower temperatures helps ensure the filling gets heated through without burning the top and bottom crust. The thicker dough and enclosed fillings act as insulation.

With no toppings to slow heat transfer, pizza dough can bake directly on a blistering hot surface upwards of 500°F. The quick intense heat gives the most authentic crispy, charred pizza crust.

Sample Recipes

To see the differences between calzone dough and pizza dough in action, here are sample recipes for each:

Calzone Dough

Yield: Enough for 4 calzones

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil.
  2. Add the water and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth.
  3. Lightly grease the inside of a large bowl with oil. Place the dough inside and turn to coat it with oil. Cover and let rise for 1-2 hours.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 6 inch round about 1⁄4 inch thick.
  5. Add desired fillings and seal each calzone closed. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 425°F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Pizza Dough

Yield: Enough for two 12-inch pizzas

  • 3 1⁄2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil.
  2. Add the water and mix until combined. Knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover. Let rise for 45-60 minutes.
  4. Divide into two equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to stretch each into a 12 inch round.
  5. Top as desired. Bake on a pizza stone or steel at 500°F for 10-12 minutes.

As you can see, the main differences are higher hydration, less kneading, longer proofing, and gentler baking for the calzones versus the pizzas.

When to Use Each Dough

Because of the differences outlined above, calzone dough works best when you want to bake a filled dough packet. The softer, more relaxed dough makes the calzones easier to form around the fillings without tearing.

Pizza dough is ideal when baking thin crust pizzas that need to crisp up quickly under high heat while still having some chew. The extra kneading gives the structure to stretch the dough very thin without issues.

However, while they aren’t interchangeable, in a pinch the doughs can be adapted if needed. For example, you can use pizza dough to make calzones, just let it proof a little longer after shaping. Or calzone dough can be pressed into a pizza, you’ll just need to bake it at a lower temp since it’s thicker.

Understanding the purpose behind each dough formula helps you adjust and still achieve good results.


Pizza dough and calzone dough contain mostly the same ingredients, just in different proportions.


All-purpose flour is common in both doughs. Some bakers may use bread flour in pizza dough for extra gluten strength and chewiness since it gets stretched so thin.


Water hydrates the dough and activates the gluten. Calzone dough uses more water compared to the flour amount.


Instant yeast provides leavening. Active dry yeast can also be used with proofing done in the water first.


A tablespoon or two of olive oil can add flavor and create a softer dough texture.


A teaspoon or two of salt balances the flavors and tightens the gluten strands.


Some recipes may also include a small amount of sugar to feed the yeast. This helps with rise in drier, dense doughs.

So while the ingredients lists look the same, it’s the proportions that differ based on the desired dough characteristics.

Tips for Making Great Dough

Whether making calzone dough or pizza dough, here are some useful tips:

  • Use an instant read thermometer to ensure your initial water temp falls between 105-115°F. This optimizes yeast activity.
  • Mix and knead the dough well to fully incorporate ingredients and develop the gluten network.
  • Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook for hands-free kneading if desired.
  • Add a teaspoon of vital wheat gluten to give any dough extra stretch and structure.
  • Resist adding too much extra flour when kneading, which can dry dough out.
  • Always proof dough in a lightly oiled, covered bowl to prevent sticking and skin forming.
  • Punch down risen dough gently before shaping to retain air pockets.
  • Shape dough gently and don’t overwork when stretching to avoid toughening the texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use the same dough recipe for both calzones and pizza?

Generally it’s best to follow a recipe formulated specifically for calzones or pizza for ideal results. However, you can press pizza dough into service for calzones in a pinch if you allow for a longer second proof after shaping to relax the gluten. Or calzone dough can be stretched out thin for pizza, though it may bake up a bit softer and chewier than typical pizza crust.

Which requires more skill, calzones or pizza?

Pizza dough requires greater skill to properly knead and stretch paper-thin without tearing. Filling and sealing calzones can also take some practice. Overall both foods have a learning curve to master.

Should I use all-purpose or bread flour?

Most calzone and pizza doughs use all-purpose flour. Bread flour can be used in pizza dough for extra chewiness since it develops more gluten. The softer wheat in all-purpose is preferable for more tender calzone dough.

How do I keep the dough from sticking when I roll or stretch it?

Use a bench scraper to lift and turn dough as you work it. Lightly flour the work surface, but don’t overdo it. For calzones, rub a bit of oil on the dough ball before rolling if it feels sticky. You can also oil the rolling pin. Minimal dusting of flour helps prevent sticking with pizza dough.

What thickness should I roll out the dough?

Calzone dough should roll out to around 1⁄4 inch thick. Stretch pizza dough as thin as possible, usually about 1⁄8 inch or thinner.

Is it better to proof dough at room temperature or in the fridge?

For most standard dough recipes, room temp between 65-75°F works well. Fridge proofing with certain dough types like sourdough can develop more complex flavors but will take much longer.


Calzone dough and pizza dough share some key ingredients but differ in their proportions and handling to serve their unique purposes. Calzone dough uses higher hydration, less kneading, and longer proofing time to create a soft, pliable dough that can wrap around fillings without cracking. Pizza dough requires thorough kneading and shorter proofing to end up with an elastic, easy to stretch crust that bakes up crisp in a hot oven or on a pizza stone. While not interchangeable, in a pinch calzone dough can be pressed into pizza duty and vice versa with a few tweaks. Mastering both doughs provides you with versatility to make amazing calzones, top-notch pizzas, and more.

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