Panzerotti Recipe – Deep Fried Classic Italian

May 24, 2020 (Last Updated: June 20, 2020) - As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Today we are making a classic Italian Panzerotti Recipe. And if you are asking what a Panzerotti is, you are in for a treat. This is a hand-held, snack-sized, deep-fried, Italian turnover that is stuffed with traditional pizza ingredients. Some might be tempted to call it a homemade pizza pocket, but it is much more than that. Our from-scratch dough and simple filling will make this Panzerotti recipe a hit in your house!

Two fried Italian Panzerotti on a white plate with a fork to the side.

Panzerotti Recipe Summary

The summary is that this tastes great! But how do we get there? It will be very similar to the process of making a pizza or a calzone up until cook time. We make a pizza dough into small balls, as these are individual servings. 

Once our dough has risen, we stretch out our pizza dough like little mini pizzas, as panzerotti are much smaller than either a normal pizza or calzone. Then, we lay some pepperoni down onto the dough and place our filling on it, making sure not to overstuff these tasty treats. 

Much like a turnover, we fold our little pizzas in half and crimp the edges. This is much like we did with our Apple Hand Pie recipe. The idea is to seal our Panzerotti and prepare it for cooking.

For the cooking, we deep fry these in about of inch of cooking oil, such as vegetable oil. These should only take about 3 or 4 minutes to cook and you know they are done when both sides are golden brown. Once you have hit that color, remove and allow to drain on a paper-towel-lined plate for a few minutes and then eat!

Origins

This dish comes from the southern region of Apulia in Italy and was a tasty way to use leftover dough. It made its way to America like many foods did, through immigration, and has propagated all over North America. Many may know this as a pizza pocket, although comparing the panzerotti to pizza pockets is not really fair, as what you might pick up in a grocery store frozen section isn’t fried like we will make today. Rarely, outside of the east coast do you find a traditional fried Panzerotti like we are making today. This is a pretty detailed look into the American history of the Panzerotti, if interested. 

Making the Panzerotti Dough

I approach my Panzerotti dough much like I approach my pizza dough, but maybe on a smaller scale. Much like our Classic Chicago Style pizza, we are going to let our dough rise for a while, but we are going to portion them out into 6 small dough balls and allow them to rise individually.

I take out a baking sheet, lightly cover each portioned ball with a little oil, and place each on the sheet. I then gently cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel and put it in the oven with an oven light on. Because it is still cold outside (and we don’t keep our heat very high in the Winter), I also heat up a bowl of water and placed it in the oven, both for temp and humidity purposes. This can assist in rising. A good hour and a half in a warm location result in great little pizza balls that are risen and ready to be stretched.

Stretching The Pizza Dough

These are little, itty, bitty pizza balls that have been risen and the end game is to get them to be flattened and stretched out just like a normal pizza, but smaller. I accomplished this by using a flowered surface and gently pressing the dough and intermittently stretching it. 

Basically, I do all the things I would do with a normal risen pizza except throwing it up in the air. I am a bit gentle with these little disks, as I look at the small air bubbles in our pizza dough as a positive thing and help with a better end product.

I think there is a case to be made just for using a rolling pin out with these, but if you do that, I also think you could cut an hour and a half out of the rising time and just roll it out. Part of the reason you would allow this to rise is to let little air pockets form in your pizza dough. Roughly applying a rolling pin to it will remove these air bubbles.

The benefit of using a roller is that you are going to cut 1.5 hours off of the cooking time. The downfall is that you are going to miss out on 1.5 hours of letting your dough rest, gain flavor from the yeast, and the benefit that the air pockets the yeast might give your dough. 

I recommend following the recipe, but if you are strapped for time, you can save some time by just rolling the dough out. I have not done this with this recipe, but I imagine it would work fine. 

Making the Panzerotti Filling

The filling is super easy. I just use a simple crushed tomato and mix in oregano, salt, pepper, and grated cheese. I chose to mix the cheese right in with the tomato, as it makes it easier to add the filling to the dough. One obstacle I ran into while making this recipe is that using dry cheese just made it a bit harder to fit everything into the panzerotti filling. 

By mixing the cheese right into the sauce, it compacts everything. The cheese wants to stick with the sauce a makes it more like one scoopable unit rather than a clumsy layer that is difficult to workaround.

Other Fillings

Hey, I made something super simple, but you have a lot of options in your recipe. You could use your favorite tomato, pizza, or spaghetti sauce for your filling. While mine is thrown together in just minutes, if you have a jar of sauce in your fridge or leftover spaghetti sauce, it would likely work just fine. As long as the sauce is not too runny and tastes good, you should not have a problem. 

On top of the sauce, consider the toppings you are using. I use just pepperoni, but you could nix that and make this vegetarian Panzerotti. Really, almost anything that could go on a pizza would be appropriate for something like this. 

The only obstacle you might run into is fitting everything into the pockets, so I would suggest keeping the toppings minimal. If you put 5 different toppings in these little treats, you might have a tough time closing them and making them difficult to work with. Ultimately, you don’t need a whole lot of filling to make Panzerotti super tasty. 

Crimping the Turnovers

Now you have your dough rolled out, your filling made, and your pizza ingredients ready. To get these ready for frying, use just a tad of water to moisten the edges of the circle. I use a small brush just to moisten the edges. We don’t want too much water, as that can make a mess and end up being counter-productive. Just enough to help the dough stick to itself.

Fold the filling-laden dough in half to cover the ingredients and use your thumb to press down along the edges. Once the entire filling is pressed, I go back through and use my thumb to make a second fold along the sides to fully close the panzerotti. Somewhere below, you should see some process shots and there should be one that shows how I fold these together. Then, take your folded and crimped panzerotti and set aside until ready to fry.

Cooking the Panzerotti

Part of what defines this classic Italian dish is that it is deep-fried. To deep fry this, add about an inch of oil to a heavy dish, such as a cast-iron or deep frying dish, and bring the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I use a temp gun to get my temperature, but you can use a frying thermometer. 

When frying, make sure you are following all deep fat frying safety standards. For as good as these are, you should NOT be harming yourself by making these treats. Stay safe, yo!

Once you have your oil to the right temp, place one or two at a time in the oil. I cook two at a time but use your best judgment. These do not take long to cook. They take about 3-4 minutes total and I use tongs to flip them every 45 seconds. When both sides are a nice golden brown, remove them and let rest on a paper-towel-lined plate while you finish the rest.

Panzerotti vs  Panzerotto

Occasionally you will see this referred to in a few different ways and the reason is simple. Panzerotti is the plural version of this tasty treat, while Panzerotto is singular. I probably get this wrong occasionally, but I know I refer to them as delicious. 

Cooking Tips and Tricks

Ponzerotti dough and filling process pictures 1-3. Full details of the picture listed below.
  1. Dough rolled out before splitting into six equal balls that we will rise individually.
  2. Splitting the dough and separating it on the cutting board. I use a scale to get things accurate
  3. This is a single panzerotti that has been stretched. We have added a layer of pepperoni and added the simple filling right on top.
Panzerotti process shots cooking 1-3. Full details and description listed below.
  1. This is crimping the panzerotti dough around the filling. I have already used my thumb to press down and seal, but am crossing back through with a second crimp.
  2. A full plate of uncooked panzerotti just waiting to go into my cast iron for frying.
  3. This is two panzerotti cooking in my cast iron at 350 Fahrenheit.

Panzerotti Tips

  • Allow your dough to rise for the best results, but you can always roll these out immediately in a pinch
  • Don’t overstuff your panzerotti
  • Keep your oil temperature at 350 Farenheight when cooking. 
  • Follow all deep-frying safety guidelines
  • Cook two at a time, but use your best judgment. If one fits in your pan, cook one.

Products Used In This Recipe

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Print

Classic Italian Panzerotti

Two fried Italian Panzerotti on a white plate with a fork to the side.

These classic Italian treats are delicious. Panzerotti are not quite a pizza and not quite a calzone, but many of the same flavors in a fried turnover. 

  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 1.5 hours
  • Cook Time: .5 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Italian
Scale

Ingredients

For Dough:

  • 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar + 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 pack of yeast (3.5 g)
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying and coating 

For Filling:

  • 4 1/2  ounce per thing of mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomato
  • 1 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 42 small pepperoni 

Instructions

  1. Add sugar and warm water in bowl
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top
  3. Allow to sit for 5 minutes
  4. While yeast is sitting, mix flour, remaining sugar, salt
  5. Add the water/yeast/sugar mixture and 2 Tbsp oil
  6. Mix until well combined and then knead on a floured surface for a good 5 minutes until dough looks consistent.
  7. Cut into 6 equal pieces. Should be about 2 ounces
  8. Form each into round balls
  9. Put on a lightly oiled baking pan and loosely cover in a warm spot (I use my oven with light on and a dish of hot water)
  10. Let rise for 1.5 hours
  11. While the dough is rising, mix filling tomatoes, cheese, salt, pepper, and oregano.
  12. After 1.5 hours, stretch out each ball into 6-inch disks
  13. Place 7 small pepperoni out and add 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling on top.
  14. Lightly brush edges of dough with water and fold the dough over to create a semi-circle
  15. Using your thumb, crimp dough down evenly creating a sealed pocket. Go back through and perform a second crimping.
  16. Set aside and repeat with each of the doughs.
  17. Fill heavy frying pan (such as a cast iron) with 1 inch of oil and heat to 350 Farhenheit.
  18. Add 2 panzerotti at a time and use tongs to flip every 45 seconds until crust on both sides is a golden brown. This should take about 3 minutes total.
  19. Once golden brown, rest on a paper-towel-lined plate and repeat until all panzerotti are cooked.
  20. Serve! Add extra tomato sauce to the side for dipping. 

Notes

  • Calories are estimated and it is particularly difficult to estimate the amount of oil from frying absorbed into panzerotti. 
  • Allow your dough to rise for the best results, but you can always roll these out immediately in a pinch
  • Don’t overstuff your panzerotti
  • Keep your oil temperature at 350 Farenheight when cooking. 
  • Follow all deep-frying safety guidelines
  • Cook two at a time, but use your best judgment. If one fits in your pan, cook one.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 Panzerotti
  • Calories: 466 calories
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Sodium: 538 mg
  • Fat: 36 g
  • Saturated Fat: 10 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 20 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 27 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 11 g
  • Cholesterol: 33 mg

Keywords: Panzerotti

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