Why the Sauce Stays Outside a Calzone?

Calzone, a folded pizza-like creation by Italy, has won the hearts of food lovers around the world. 

But there’s a question that often arises: “why does traditional Italian calzone have sauce inside?” If you’re searching for the answer, today’s short read is for you. 

The answer you find here might surprise you. So, let’s begin with reading.

The Basics of Calzone

First, let’s get to know the calzone a bit better. Calzone, pronounced as “kal-TSOH-neh,” is essentially a folded Neapolitan pizza. It hails from Naples, Italy, just like its round pizza cousin.

Neapolitan pizza, and it’s a perfect example of the ingenuity of Italian cuisine. Traditionally, calzone dough is the same as pizza dough, and it’s stuffed with various ingredients like ricotta and mozzarella cheese, cured meats, vegetables, and sometimes even eggs. But, as an on-the-go mean variation of Neapolitan pizza, it shares an outlook with a Neapolitan pizza: baked, golden San Marzano sauce, basil leaves and some cheese. It looks like a half, pillowy Neapolitan pizza.

The Sauce Dilemma

Now, here’s where the sauce debate comes into play. Authentic Neapolitan Italian calzone doesn’t have sauce inside it. 

Yes, you read that correctly! 

The sauce is kept on the outside. 

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that calzone is dry or lacking in flavor.

Before the calzone is baked to golden perfection, a thin layer of thick pizza sauce is applied to the top, along with some ricotta cheese, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves. 

This sauce provides a burst of tomato flavor and a touch of red and golden perfection to the calzone. Resultantly, the pizza you get comes with cheesy and meaty creaminess but less moisture–calzone isn’t soggy. It’s a bit like having your pizza sauce on the side but with the convenience of not having to dip each bite.

Why Is Sauce on the Outside of a Calzone, not Inside?

The decision to keep the sauce outside of the calzone is a matter of both tradition and practicality. Calzone, as a variation of authentic Neapolitan pizza, is all about simplicity and using the best ingredients. 

Inside-out calzones ensure that the fillings shine through, with the dough and cheese playing harmonious supporting roles.

Additionally, cooking the calzone with the sauce on the outside helps prevent the inside from becoming overly moist. This balance of textures and flavors is what makes the dish truly delightful.

What is it Like Enjoying a Traditional Calzone?

When you order a traditional Italian calzone, you can expect a wonderfully crispy and slightly chewy outer crust. As you bite into it, you’ll discover a world of flavors within–thanks to rich but simple fillings. The outer layer of sauce adds that signature Italian tomato richness, while the inside is a medley of ingredients that can be customized to your liking.

Popular calzone fillings include mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers, among others. The possibilities are endless, and you can create your perfect calzone to suit your taste.


So, does traditional Italian calzone have sauce inside? The answer is no, but it’s not lacking in sauce; it’s just applied on the outside as a thin layer before baking. This unique approach is what distinguishes calzone from other folded dough creations and adds to its charm, but keeps it closer to its ancestor, the Neapolitan pizza..

When you savor a traditional Italian calzone, you’re not just enjoying a delicious meal, you’re also savoring a piece of Italian culinary history.

Buon appetito!

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Cashmere Muhammad
Cashmere Muhammad

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