Wild Thistle Kitchen: Mini Pesto and Cheese Calzones

These mini pesto and cheese calzones are such a fun holiday appetizer. Of course, they would be good any time of year. They can stand on their own or as part of a holiday appetizer board or buffet (and you know how much I love those).

Entertaining at home is the name of the game this year. And while our gatherings might be smaller, they will not and should not be any less special.

This post is sponsored by Filippo Berio, a brand I have been lucky enough to partner with previously and one I have been using for decades in my home kitchen. The brand’s olive oils, pestos, vinegars and glazes are a constant in my pantry and I’m thrilled to be bringing you this recipe using Filippo Berio’s delicious line of pestos. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Wild Thistle Kitchen cooking!

Okay, these calzones. I mean, I kind of have an uncontrollable love for all mini food things. These mini calzones are no exception: fun to make, fun to photograph and REALLY fun to eat. They could not be easier, either. I will link to my basic pizza dough, but please feel free to use a good quality store-bought pizza dough to make things even easier. Then it is just a matter of rolling, cutting, filling and folding … a quick egg wash and off to the oven they go!

They bake up so shiny and golden and just beg to be eaten. Our kids really loved these and I will be making them again and again, I’m sure, as a fun switch-up to our usual Pizza Friday routine.

Is there a difference between pizza dough and calzone dough?

Nope! No difference at all. HERE is my basic pizza dough recipe, which is what I used. But, like I said above, feel free to use store-bought dough or grab some from your local pizzeria if they sell it.

Do calzones have ricotta?

Mine do, because I like that extra bit of creaminess it offers and it is a traditional ingredient in most calzone recipes. I made homemade using my friend Ari’s recipe, but, again, use store-bought or leave it out if you aren’t a ricotta fan. I should tell you, if you think you don’t like ricotta, try homemade. It is so good and SO much better than store-bought. HERE is a link to the recipe I have used many times.

Pick your favorite pesto or use a variety, like I did. If I have to pick a favorite, it would be the tomato and ricotta pesto. It is so good! Such a rich tomato flavor and a wonderful creamy texture.

As for filling options, I used shredded mozzarella and a little dab of ricotta, but feel free to use your favorite cheese and add in some pepperoni or sautéed veggies if you like. Just be careful not to overstuff them and also be mindful of how much moisture is in the ingredients. Nobody wants a soggy calzone.

Like I wrote above, for many of us, myself and my family included, the holidays look very different this year. Even if we aren’t able to have the large family gatherings, I urge you to still make those special recipes you wait for all year. Put out delicious savory nibbles like these calzones — even if you are just enjoying them on the couch in your sweats! The spirit of the season is still here and I think we could all benefit from truly embracing it this year.

I wish you all a happy holiday season full of love and lots of good food.

xo — Anita



Mini Pesto and Cheese Calzones

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 18 mini calzones



1 pound of pizza dough, store-bought or my basic pizza dough

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup fresh ricotta, store-bought or homemade ricotta

Filippo Berio pesto — choose your favorite flavor(s)!

1 egg

Flour for rolling dough

Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Wild Thistle Kitchen.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough to about ¼-inch thickness and cut rounds using a large biscuit cutter or an overturned jar or bowl that measures about 4 inches across the rim.

Place these rounds onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and put about 1 teaspoon of pesto in the center, followed by about 1 teaspoon of ricotta, followed by a sprinkle of cheese. Repeat until all are filled.

Next, beat the egg with a tablespoon of water and brush just 1 edge of the dough with egg wash. Fold each disk of dough to create the calzone/half-moon shape, pressing down to seal the edges tightly. Repeat until all calzones are formed.

Then, using the tines of a fork, press around the edges to really seal them tightly. Use flour if the fork gets too sticky. Once all the edges are crimped, brush the tops of the calzones with egg wash and bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Serve with a dusting of parmigiano, a sprinkle of fresh herbs, plenty of extra pesto and enjoy!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *