Stromboli vs Calzone

There is a lot of confusion about where the line is between stromboli vs calzone. This is because a stromboli and a calzone often have the same or similar ingredients, and they are often cooked in a similar way. But there is a simple way to tell them apart, their shape.

Generally a stromboli is long and rectangular or cylindrical.

Calzones are half-moon shaped, often puffed up, basically a pizza folded over and sealed up.

Here’s a quick way to remember the differences between stromboli vs calzone:

A stromboli is a pizza tube, and a calzone is a pizza folded in half.

How about the sauce? For both, it’s usually served on the side, but can be inside, or there might be no sauce.

So is that it? The only difference is the shape? Well not quite, there are a lot more differences between strombolis and calzones. That’s just the main easy one. Read on to find out more about strombolis vs calzones. I’m sure you’ll learn something new!

Stromboli vs Calzone Preparation

Let’s have a little look at the preparation of a stromboli vs a calzone. First the calzone because it’s pretty straight forward.


A calzone is almost always pizza dough flattened into a circular shape with cheese and meat or vegetables put on one side. Then the circular dough is folded over to make a half moon shape and sealed up. It’s then baked.

Calzone from Pizzeria Valdiano


The stromboli has lots of variations though. I’ve chosen to highlight three of the most common ways to make stromboli, but there are definitely more.

Variation 1: Toppings spread on dough (like a jelly roll or a Little Debbie Swiss Roll) and rolled up and then baked.

Stromboli rolled up
Stromboli all rolled up – Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Variation 2: Toppings spread on dough and wrapped up (like a loaf of bread or a little pizza present) and baked.

Stromboli from Pizzeria Valdiano

Variation 3: Toppings put into an Italian loaf of bread and baked till cheese melts with sauce on top (basically a pizza sub).

Stromboli French bread
A stromboli made in hollowed out french bread

Stromboli vs Calzone Ingredients

Strombolis and calzones often have the same ingredients.

They are both generally made with mozzarella cheese. Although various other cheese can be used in instead of or in addition to mozzarella. Some common ones include parmesan, pecorino, provolone, or ricotta cheese.

Calzone dripping with cheese
That same calzone as earlier from Pizzeria Valdiano.

In the USA they are both typically served with marinara sauce on the side for dipping. Although the sauce can also be inside, depending on who is making it.

They both are prepared inside dough and then baked.

So are any of the ingredients different?

Well, there can be some differences depending on who is cooking it.

The dough

Strombolis are made with pizza dough or French bread dough.

Calzones are almost always made with pizza dough or a slight variation of pizza dough.

The toppings

Strombolis are generally made with Italian deli meats like salami, bresaola, ham, and capocollo. Although some places add in pizza toppings to their strombolis.

Calzones in the USA are more likely to contain pizza toppings than deli meats, but there are plenty of restaurants that serve Italian deli meats in their calzones.

Calzones in Italy traditionally contain deli meats like salami and ham rather than American style pizza toppings. The traditional Italian calzone might also include other toppings not typically found in the USA such as egg yolk, capers, or chicory hearts.

Living in the USA, I’ve never encountered a calzone with egg inside. Although sometimes calzones are sealed with an egg mixture.

Fun fact: In Italy you won’t find strombolis and the calzones are generally more like street food. Like a mobile meal or snack.

Stromboli vs Calzone History

Both the stromboli and the calzone are relatively recent culinary inventions. But I was surprised that the calzone was invented long before the stromboli.

The calzone was invented in Naples during the 18th century. This is also where and when modern pizza originated. The calzone was invented as a type of portable pizza for the Italian on the go!

The stromboli was invented in the 1950’s in the USA. That’s right, the stromboli isn’t actually from Italy! The originator of the stromboli is hotly contested and could have been invented by Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Mike Aquino of Mike’s Burger Royal, or Pizza Pete’s.

Stromboli vs Calzone Name Origins

So how did the stromboli and calzone get their names?

Stromboli name origins

The stromboli was most likely named after the movie Stromboli, Land of God which came out in 1950. The movie takes its name from the place where it was set, the Italian volcanic island of Stromboli which is located between Italy and Sicily.

So, what does the movie Stromboli have to do with the food stromboli? Well, nothing. It’s just an Italian movie that came out around the time that stromboli the food was invented. There isn’t really a connection between the two besides they made their debut at about the same time.

Calzone name origins

The calzone gets its name from the Italian word calzone which means trouser leg. Or from the plural calzoni which means trousers. Or possible the root word calza, which means stockings.

So how did a portable pizza come to be called trouser leg? Well there isn’t a definitive answer, but here are some theories:

Theory 1: Calzones kind of look like puffy pant legs. (Man those Italians must have had puffy pants in the 18th century.)

Theory 2: Calzones were made to be portable and could fit in a trouser pocket. (Plausible, but why not call them pockets then?)

Theory 3: Calzone came from the word calza meaning stocking and calzones were filled with deliciousness just like stockings were filled with goodies or coal on Epiphany Eve. (I think this one is a pretty unlikely, but it’s a funny theory so I thought I would throw it in.)

I personally think calzones should be called portable pizzas. But I guess whatever portable pizza is in Italian it’s apparently less catchy than pant leg. And I prefer pizza tube to stromboli, but again I think that’s just a personal preference.

Final Thoughts on Stromboli vs Calzone

Well, that’s it for stromboli vs calzone. So, which one is more delicious? I guess that all depends on who is making it! They are made of mostly the same ingredients after all.

Just remember, a stromboli is like a pizza tube and a calzone is like a folded pizza. And if you like pizza, you’ll probably enjoy either one!


Other pages you might enjoy:

Chow Mein vs Lo Mein – If you are dying to learn more about food, try our chow mein vs lo mein article. Just like stromboli vs calzone, there is a simple answer but the nuisances are really interesting.

Sushi vs Sashimi – Another interesting article that will help you understand the difference between these two Japanese dishes.

Populism vs Progressivism – Definitely more of a serious topic, but very relevant in today’s political situation.

Tuxedo vs Suit – Here’s how to tell the differences between the two.