Cooking with my kids is so much more fun when we’re not in a rush. That’s one of the many reasons I love these quieter weeks at home when the kids have no school and Andrew and I have some time off of work. The slower days are ideal to do some projects with the kids that take a little more time, like making our own tasty calzones.

Calzones are basically stuffed pizzas. The name comes from the Italian word for “stocking” or “trouser”.  Most kids who find pizza irresistible also love calzones, especially those they have made with their own hands. When we embark on a cooking project like this, I often let each child invite a friend over to cook with us, and then we can all enjoy the meal or snack together when we’re done.

I have found over the years that upfront preparation and planning can help reduce the mess and improve the results. Here are a few ingredients for successful cooking sessions with kids:

• To prepare for the calzone-athon, I like to clear off the counters and/or a big table and get all the ingredients out before we begin.
• I find everyone gets into the spirit if we each put on aprons. (And of course we all scrub our hands before we start working with food.)
• You might find it easiest to give each child a section of counter, a cutting board or baking sheet on which to work.
• Try to let go of any preconceived notions of what the final products should look like and let the kids just have fun making their food the way they like it.
• While the calzones are baking, each child can help clean up the kitchen and set the table for the meal.

For this recipe, you can make your own pizza dough or buy one from a supermarket or Italian deli, but you’ll need an actual ball of dough rather than a prepared pizza crust.

Have you ever made pizza or calzones with your kids? Tell us how it worked out!

Recipe: Calzones

  • Prep Time: 30 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 15 min(s)
  • Total Time: 45 min(s)
  • Servings: Pizza dough for 1 large pizza or 2 small pizzas (about 1 ¼ lbs. total), divided into 4 pieces and rolled into balls (to make your own pizza dough, see note below.)

A delicious calzone recipe to make with or without your own homemade pizza dough.


    • ½ - ¾ cup red pasta sauce or tomato sauce
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or fresh chopped mozzarella cheese
    • ½ cup precooked chicken sausage, sliced (optional)
    • ½ cup pepperoni (optional)
    • ½ cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
    • ½ cup baby spinach leaves (optional)
    • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic (optional)


    • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
    • Flatten each ball of dough. Over a lightly floured surface, stretch and form it into a disk that is 7 - 8 inches in diameter and about ¼-inch thick.
    • On half of the disk spread a spoonful of sauce (try to stop about 3/4-inch before the edge of the dough to make it easier to seal) and a handful of cheese. Top the cheese with some of the above fillings, if desired.
    • Fold the empty half of the dough over the filling to make a half-moon shape. Pinch the edges to seal.
    • Bake calzones for 10 - 12 minutes or until the calzones are golden brown.
    • To make your own pizza dough in a bread machine, combine 2 cups bread flour, 3 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. olive oil, 2/3 cup water, and 1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast in the bread machine.  Follow your machine's directions for making dough.

      Find a lovely pizza dough recipe that doesn’t require a bread machine over at The Fresh Loaf, but you’ll only need half the recipe for these calzones.

      If you don’t want to make or buy your own pizza dough, try these Italian Sausage Calzones from Mango & Tomato.

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7 Responses to “Creating Calzones Is Hands-On Fun”

  1. Cookie_mom

    I’ve made pizza with our children for the past 5 yrs. Once we got the bug take out was out for a long time. The recipe I use is really easy and I found I could double it…there’s 10 of us multiply that by 2 a pieces that’s a lot of pizzas right? I love this idea of how to use pizza dough. Thanks so much.

  2. Libby

    Homemade pizza and calzones are my son’s absolute favorites! He is unable to eat store/pizzeria bought due to multiple food allergies, so we make them regularly, and would make them every night if my son had his way!

  3. Jeannene B

    I’d love to find a recipe for good whole wheat (or other whole grain) pizza dough that doesn’t taste like cardboard. Ideally one that goes in the bread machine. I’ve been trying different ones from online, but haven’t found a really good one yet. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love them!

  4. Dawn

    Suggestion for Mini-Pizzas:

    Use English Muffin halves for the pizza dough and let everyone add their own toppings.

    This is very easy and fun for kids (and grownups).