This Pesto Chicken Calzone recipe is essentially a folded pizza filled with chicken, oozy cheese, onion, mushroom and basil pesto. Fun, portable and super tasty, calzones are an easy family friendly dinner.

Slices of calzone on a grey baking tray surrounded by parsley and onion.

It wasn’t so long ago that I considered Friday night = Pizza night and this Pesto Chicken Calzone was a recipe I created when I started craving something different.

I’ve broadened my horizons these days and Friday night now = straight up comfort food and a glass of wine night. These chicken calzones, featuring my easy homemade pizza dough and simple fillings totally fit the bill.

What is calzone?

A calzone is, put simply, a folded pizza. It’s made using the same type of pizza dough and is filled with ingredients you would generally find on top of pizza. The sauce is normally served on the side.

This version is a little different. Filled with basil pesto and chicken, it’s incredibly rich and flavourful and no need for a side sauce.

Stromboli vs Calzone

The main difference between calzone and stromboli is that calzone is like a pizza folded and sealed while a Stromboli is rolled up and sealed.

A Stromboli has a swirl effect when cut open, while calzone is like a pizza pocket with fillings inside a pocket of pizza dough.

A calzone being torn apart showing the cheese stretching in between

A ball of pizza dough on a grey surface dusted with flour

How to make calzone

Calzone is made by simply layering up filling on one half of a disk of rolled out pizza dough. The other side of dough is then folded over the top, sealed where it joins, and brushed with beaten egg before being baked.

  • Pizza dough: you can make your own – super easy – using my Homemade Pizza Dough or I know pre-made dough is available in some places.
  • Pesto: You can make your basil pesto from scratch to, using my Basil Pesto recipe or again, you can buy the best you can afford already made.
  • Chicken: You can cook up some boneless chicken thigh or breast yourself or use meat from a rotisserie chicken.

A collage of images showing the layering up of ingredients on a pizza dough base

  • Once you have your dough ready, cut it in two and roll each one out into a circle until each one is about 4-5mm thick.
  • Spread some pesto over each one leaving a 2cm gap at the edge all the way round.
  • Top one half with the onions, mushrooms, chicken and cheese. Check how salty your pesto is before adding some seasoning.

A folded calzone being brushed with beaten egg

  • Now fold the side of dough with no filling on it over the top of the fillings so that you have a half moon shape, and then seal the edges to fully encase it (see more below).
  • Brush it with egg, then bake it in a hot oven for around 15-18 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

How to fold a calzone

Sealing the edges of your calzone is very important so your fillings don’t escape.

  • Press down on the corner of dough at one end of the fold with your thumb, then use your other hand to roll the edge in front of it towards the filled calzone.
  • Press down on that roll with your thumb again, then roll the next little piece in front of it. Keep going all the way around until the join is sealed and nothing can escape.

If you find it easier, you can use the tines of a fork to press the two edges together.

How to eat calzone

Once you’ve taken your calzone out of the oven, let it cool for 5-7 minutes. The cheese inside will be like molten lava so allowing it to cool slightly will stop you burning your tongue. As the filling is encased, it will retain it’s heat well.

The cooling time will also help the crust to firm up a little making it easy to grab with your hands and just bite in.

Substitutions

  • Meat: Go a little more traditional using meats like ham, prosciutto or even pepperoni
  • Sauce: Swap the basil pesto for tomato pesto, tomato salsa, marinara sauce or even a simple tomato paste. You can even serve the sauce on the side, as is traditional.
  • Fillings: Use your favourite pizza fillings

Pesto chicken calzone slices on a grey baking tray surrounded by parsley and onion

If you’re looking for a simple family friendly dinner that’s comforting and tasty, then this Pesto Chicken Calzone is right up your street. 

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Slices of calzone on a grey baking tray surrounded by parsley and onion.

Pesto Chicken Calzone

5 from 7 votes
This Pesto Chicken Calzone recipe is essentially a folded pizza filled with chicken, oozy mozzarella, onion, mushroom and basil pesto. Fun, portable and super tasty, calzones are an easy family friendly dinner.

Ingredients

CALZONE DOUGH (Makes 2)

  • 260 g (2 cups / 9oz) bread flour (notes)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon yeast (notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

FILLINGS

  • 2/3  cup  mozzarella, grated
  • 2/3  cup  cheddar, grated
  • 1/4  small onion, finely sliced
  • button mushrooms, finely sliced
  • cup  shredded chicken
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup  basil pesto (notes)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Instructions
 

FOR THE CALZONE DOUGH

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached, combine the dough ingredients in this order - flour, yeast, sugar - give a quick stir - then salt, olive oil, warm water.
  • Mix on low-medium speed for 7-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. See notes for kneading by hand.
  • Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside, flipping until it's lightly oiled all over. Cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place until it has doubled in size - see notes.
  • After it has risen, remove the plastic wrap and gently turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 2 pieces, shape each into a ball and cover with a dry tea towel. Allow them to sit for another 15 minutes to prove.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CALZONE

  • Preheat oven to 230C / 450F / 210C fan forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll and gently stretch each ball of dough out into a circle roughly 10 inches in diameter and 5mm thick. Transfer to the baking tray.
  • Spread the pesto in a circle over the dough, leaving a 1 inch gap around the edge.
  • Now layer the remaining fillings - mushrooms, onion, chicken, cheese - on one half. Check how salty your pesto is before adding a little seasoning.
  • Fold the empty side over the fillings to make a half moon shape parcel. Use the thumb of one hand to press down on one of the corners where the join and fold meet. Now use your other hand to fold the portion of dough next to it, towards the centre. Now press down on that fold and repeat over and over until it's folded all the way round.
  • Brush the top lightly with the beaten egg. Then cut 2 small slits in the top the allow steam to escape.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until deep golden.
  • Remove from the oven, and allow it to sit for 7-8 minutes before cutting as the cheese will be extremely hot

Notes

  • YEAST: If you have 7g / 1/4oz packets of yeast, use just 1/2 of one envelope
  • KNEADING BY HAND: You can knead the dough by hand but it is a little sticky. Please resist the urge to add flour. It will eventually firm up and stop sticking to your hands and bench top. It should take around 10 minutes to get smooth and elastic.
  • RISING TIME: Normally half an hour will be enough for the dough to double in size (especially if you place it under a warm light or lamp) but it may take up to an hour or longer in winter. Just make sure it doubles in size.
  • SLOW RISE: For a more intense flavour to the pizza dough, leave it to rise overnight in the fridge.
  • FREEZING DOUGH: You can freeze calzone dough after the first rise. After turning it out onto a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball and place in a zip lock bag. Place it straight in the freezer for up to 2 months.
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Slices of pesto chicken calzone on a grey baking tray next to a bowl of pesto

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