Calzones are delicious and satisfying Italian turnovers that have gained popularity worldwide. These savory treats are often filled with a variety of ingredients, including meats, vegetables, and, of course, cheese.
While the specific choice of cheese can vary depending on personal preferences and regional traditions, there are a few classic cheeses commonly used in calzones.
Let’s explore the world of calzone cheeses below! Note that the first three cheeses listed are the ones that are traditionally used in calzones. The other cheeses can be used as alternatives or matched with ingredients that pair well with the cheese.
Mozzarella is the most popular cheese used to make a calzone. Its mild, creamy flavor and fantastic melting properties are the primary reasons for its popularity.
Traditional calzones often feature fresh mozzarella, which has a soft and delicate texture. This cheese adds a luscious, gooey element to the filling, ensuring that each bite is satisfyingly cheesy. This recipe from Emeril is an example of a calzone that uses the fresh variety.
If you don’t have access to fresh mozzarella or want a more budget-friendly option, shredded bagged mozzarella will work just fine.
Another somewhat common cheese found in calzones is ricotta. While curds are used to make cheeses like mozzarella, this Italian cheese is made from the whey leftover from cheese production.
It has a slightly grainy texture and a subtle sweetness. It is often described as mild and slightly nutty with a creamy texture.
Ricotta is an excellent choice for calzones as it pairs well with various ingredients and complements the flavors of vegetables and meats. Its creamy consistency adds moisture and richness to the filling to help create a desirable contrast of textures.
King Arthur’s Spinach-Ricotta Calzone is an example of how ricotta can be used in a calzone for a tasty meal.
Parmesan, or Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard cheese with a sharp, nutty flavor. Although not typically used as the main cheese in a calzone, it is often added to enhance the overall taste. Grated Parmesan sprinkled on top of the calzone before baking creates a golden, crispy crust and adds a burst of savory flavor.
Provolone is a semi-hard Italian cheese with a buttery and slightly tangy taste. Its typical mild flavor makes it a versatile choice that works well mixed with other cheeses. However, aged varieties of this cheese tend to have a nutty and bold flavors.
Its smooth, elastic texture makes it perfect for melting inside calzones. Provolone adds a rich, savory note to the filling, and its ability to stretch when melted ensures a gooey and satisfying bite.
Fontina is a semi-soft cheese that likely originated from the Val d’Aosta in Italy. It has a mild, nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of ingredients including other cheeses like Parmesan. It works particularly well with vegetable ingredients in calzones such as spinach, mushrooms, or red peppers.
Fontina melts beautifully and provides a creamy, smooth texture that won’t disappoint inside a calzone. Its subtle taste allows the other flavors in the calzone to shine while providing a comforting, cheesy base.
Gorgonzola is a a bolder and more pungent cheese compared to any other cheese featured here. This blue cheese adds a distinctive earthy flavor with a creamy, crumbly texture.
The sharp and slightly salty taste of Gorgonzola complements the richness of other ingredients. You may wish to use this cheese in small quantities inside a calzone given the full flavor of this cheese.
Cheddar doesn’t work with all fillings of a calzone but if you are careful about what you pair it with you can create something tasty. One of our favorites is to mix cheddar, broccoli, and ham for the filling. This is something you might consider making when you have a lot of extra ham from holidays.
Ultimately, the choice of cheese in a calzone depends on personal preference and the flavor you wish to achieve. The previously mentioned cheeses are just a few examples commonly used, but the beauty of calzones lies in their versatility. Feel free to experiment and create your own unique combination of cheeses and fillings.