Pizza Puffs Vs. Calzones: What’s The Difference?

Pizza Puffs Vs. Calzones

As someone who’s always chasing that perfect doughy delight, deciding between pizza puffs and calzones can really get you twisting in knots. On the one hand, you’ve got your deep-fried pizza pockets—light, crispy morsels of carb heaven just begging to be dunked in marinara. But then calzones come strutting in with their heartier quotient, promising meaty, cheesy fillings tucked cozily inside pillowy baked dough. How’s a carb freak supposed to choose? Well, fear not fellow bread buffs. I’m diving headfirst into the Pizza Puffs Vs. Calzones debate to separate the puff from the zone. By the time I’m done breaking down the filling deets on these handheld wonders, you’ll be armed with all the intel needed to go forth and snack with confidence. Ready to get this pizza party popped open? Let’s puff and roll!

What is a Pizza Puffs?

Let’s kick things off with those deep-fried delights – pizza puffs. Pizza puffs are like the rockstars of street food, born in the windy city back in 1976.

Now I know what you breadheads are thinking – fried dough?! Sign me up. But these bad boys are more than just another fried appetizer. For starters, a pizza puff flaunts a wafer-thin tortilla-like crust that gets insanely puffy and crispy in the oil. We’re talking flakier than a flaky croissant on a bad hair day.

But where they really shine is on the inside. While the crust gets its crunch on, the center stays light and airy, packed to the brim with all the savory pizza fixings. Cheese, pepperoni, sausage – you name it, it’s in there. The best pizza puffs really pack each bite withdense, melted flavor.

Another thing that makes pizza puffs so iconic is just how easy they are to eat off the street. You can chomp into one of these bad boys with your bare hands, no problem. The fried crust holds up to whatever greasy, saucy mess lies within. And let me tell ya – they hit the spot like nothing else when you’re craving a hands-on eats.

Of course, as much as I love a good local pizza puff, you don’t find ’em everywhere. From my stomping grounds in Chicago, that’s really where you gotta be to get the real deal. But even when I’m on the road, I still got a soft spot for the fried pockets of pepperoni pleasure. They may not be health food, but for this bread nerd, pizza puffs will always have a special place in my heart.

What is a Calzone?

Alright, so pizza puffs got the fried goods on lock – but let’s not sleep on calzones and their fresh-baked charms. Now I know calling them a “pizza turnover” or “pizza sandwich” kinda downplays just how majestic these folded wonders truly are.

Calzones aren’t rookies; they’ve been around since the 18th century in Naples. The name itself, “calzone,” translates to “pant leg” – a nod to its crescent shape. It’s like a pizza that’s folded in half, ready to hit the road.

Let’s start with the architecture – calzone dough is sturdy enough to stand on its own two feet, if you will. We’re talking thick, chewy blankets of bread to enclose the fillings. Texturally, it’s like a plush pizza pillow. And you know what they say – when the crust is a-mazing!

Of course, what really makes calzones sing is the filling. While pizza puffs go heavy on the melty cheeses, calzones tend towards heartier, meater options. You’ll find Italian classics like pepperoni, salami, ham curled up cozily inside that doughy nest. Sometimes ricotta or spinach also join the slumber party.

And obviously, what pizza would be complete without the red sauce? But in a true twist, calzones skip the marinara altogether. Purists will tell you this lets the flavors of cheese, bread and protein really shine in each warm, flavorsome bite.

Plus, calzones aren’t just for eating in those crisp, hot-from-the-oven moments. Nope, this handheld pizza packs it up and travels well – no crunchy calzone catastrophes in your bag thanks to that substantial structure. It’s the perfect portable pizza pig-out when you’re on the go.

So while pizza puffs will always have my fried heart, calzones score major points in the texture and flavors department from this bread nerd. Honestly, how can you lose with pizza two ways? Now someone pass the parmesan – I need to taste test these bad boys ASAP.

Pizza Puffs Vs. Calzones: Key Differences

Okay folks, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the key differences between pizza puffs and calzones so you can make an informed decision next time a hankering hits. So grab a beverage and get comfy – this is about to be one thorough dough showdown!

preparation methods

Let’s start with the preparation methods. As mentioned, pizza puffs get the deep fry treatment while calzones are oven baked. Now you bread buffs out there probably know fried dough just hits different – it’s crispy and decadent in the best way. But there’s a science to the fry as well. See, when dough hits that hot oil, the moisture inside turns to steam and causes the crust to puff up big time. We’re talking layers of flaky crunch. Meanwhile, the filling stays molten and gooey. It’s a juxtaposition of textures that’s utterly addicting.

Baking calzones achieves a different structure and vibe entirely. Without that blast of oil, the dough rises slower and more uniformly all around. This results in heartier, thicker blankets of bread perfect for cradling substantial fillings. The heat also browns and crisps the exterior while keeping the inside nice and steamy. It’s a comfier, homier way to enjoy handheld pizza if you ask me. And as mentioned before, this style holds up better for transport which is ideal for on-the-go noshing.

moisture levels

Another thing to consider is moisture levels. Since they shed some liquid in the fryer, pizza puffs tend to be a bit denser and drier overall. Again, this contrasts well with the damp filling but isn’t as supple or resilient as calzone dough. Baked calzones retain more internal moisture, making each bite soft, succulent and super satisfying to sink your teeth into. The textures play off each other in an altogether different way compared to the puffs. It’s really apple to oranges…or pizza to pizza if you will!


The fillings also vary in standard varieties and proportions. Pizza puffs overflow with melty cheese and copious toppings. It’s a molten, saucy celebration in every bite. Calzones on the other hand shoot for more nuanced, balanced flavor profiles by omitting the sauce altogether. This lets meats, cheeses and herbs really sing without competing for your attention. Calzone fillings also lean more generous, ensuring you don’t need several to feel satisfied.

Size & servings

Puffs tend to be petite – think 2-3 average sized bites. This makes them perfect for noshing alongside other fair/ballpark eats. Calzones however are full-on handheld sizes that could almost pass as a mini meal on their own. One calzone is commonly enough to satisfy most appetites.


Finally, we come to the all-important taste test portion of the evening. Given their fried nature, pizza puffs deliver robust, intensified flavors that burst bright on the tongue – especially the signature cheese pulls. A good batch will have you craving more with each incredibly salty, savor bite. Calzones opt for a gentler path, letting ingredients like herbs and cured meats shine through distinctly in a harmonious savory symphony. It’s complex versus bombastic if you will.


Okay friends, I tried my darndest to cover all the basics in the Pizza Puffs Vs. Calzones battle. But no primer would be complete without answering your most burning pocket pizza quandaries! So without further ado, here are some FAQs for this fried vs baked face off:

Can calzones also be deep fried like pizza puffs?

You betcha! While baking is more traditional, calzones absolutely can be fried for a crunchier experience. Just be wary of over-filling so they don’t burst. A thin dusting of flour beforehand also helps them puff up nicely without issues.

What’s the best dip for pizza puffs and calzones?

Oh man, so many tasty options! You really can’t go wrong with plain ol’ marinara for a classic combo. But garlic knots are also delicious dunked in ranch, blue cheese or appetizing!

Are there any healthy versions?

While neither are health foods per se, calzones utilizing whole wheat dough, lean meats and lots of veggies can absolutely be the lighter option. And baked not fried is one step closer! Smaller portions also go a long way.

Can I make my own at home?

Heck yes! Homemade is so satisfying and you control the ingredients. Just search recipes for “pizza pockets” or “handheld calzones” online. A good food processor makes quick work of the dough too.

What are some unique or gourmet variations?

Sky’s the limit with creative toppings! Try buffalo chicken puffs, breakfast calzones with eggs & bacon, or sweet ones using cinnamon sugar or Nutella instead of sauce. The possibilities are endless!

Which one reheats better?

I’d say calzones have the upper hand here since their thicker dough is less prone to drying out in the microwave or toaster oven. Pizza puffs can get a little limp if you’re not careful reheating. Both still hit different than fresh though!

Any tips for eating them nicely?

Fold calzones in half and eat like a sandwich to avoid spills. Pizza puffs are handheld friendly but use a napkin! Also, beware the molten cheese pull – it will scorch!

Can I freeze extras for later?

Yes, both hold up well for short term freezing. Par-bake or partially cook calzones first so the dough doesn’t get soggy. Thaw pizza puffs overnight in the fridge for their peak textures.

What’s in the works for new flavors?

I’ve heard buzz about everything bagel calzones and Hawaiian BBQ pizza puffs making waves. Also desperate to try a savory breakfast calzone with potatoes, bacon and eggs…drool The innovation never ends!

How can I spice up my regular orders?

Ask for calzone fillings on the side for easy customizing. Or get adventurous topping combos for pizza puffs like pesto chicken or Philly steak. The possibilities are endless, friends!


At this point I’m sure your head is spinning worse than a calzone carousel trying to pick between these two tantalizing treats! But fear not fellow foodies – I’ve got one last nugget that may help you find closure in this puff vs zone debate. And that’s considering the venue where you’ll enjoy these delights most.

Let’s be real – nothing quite beats a piping hot pizza puff fresh from the fryer at all the best food fests and ballgames. The salty crunch kisses something primal in us carnies and are the perfect impulse purchase to nosh between sights and sounds. Pair one with a cold beer and you’ve got a match made in snack heaven.

But if you’re looking for more of a sit down dining experience, that’s when calzones really come into their own. Imagine slowly savoring a savory, steamy zone straight from the ovens of your local slice shop. Each warm, unfolding bite allows flavors to bloom with focused intent. It’s the type of sharing meal that begs for additional rounds of conversation over bottles of Chianti back at the booth.

Ultimately, both options understand the assignment of handheld pizza portability. But the scene best sets the one to seize. Casual fairgrounds? Puffs for sure. Night out with friends? Calzones all day. So when the mood strikes, consider your vibe and venue to discover new layers of joy in each.

On that note pizza prognosticators, I think I’ve exhausted every avenue in the great puff zone showdown. But as any good bread head knows, the adventure is always in the eating. So get out there and experiment – have your puff and eat your zone too! This pizza partisan can’t wait to hear which becomes your new fave. Ciao for now dough lovers!

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