What’s the Difference Between an Empanada & a Calzone

Empanadas vs calzones

Empanadas and calzones may look very similar in appearance and while they are both very delicious, they have very different distinct flavors.

These two are completely different foods that have different origins and are traditionally made from very different ingredients.

Basically an empanada has Spanish and Latin American origins and flavors. It is a pastry dough stuffed with meat and vegetables while a calzone is an Italian treat made of pizza dough and stuffed with cheese and other toppings making it an oven-baked folded pizza.

A few months ago, my daughters wanted me to make empanadas for them after enjoying them at a friend’s birthday party.

At first, I was confused, I thought that empanada was another name for calzones. With some research, I learnt that there are some key differences that help to differentiate a calzone and an empanada.

They differ in:

  1. Origin
  2. Size
  3. Filling
  4. Ingredients and texture of the dough
  5. And the way it’s cooked

Here are the differences between Empanadas and Calzones explained:

1- Size of Empanada vs Calzone

The shape of both empanadas and calzones are similar. They are both half-moon shaped circles but the size of a traditional empanada is smaller than a calzone.

2- Filling of a Empanada Vs Calzone

Now empanada are usually filled with shredded or ground beef, chicken, or sea food. They can also be filled with diced vegetables like corn, carrots or potatoes, even fruit.

Calzones are traditionally stuffed with salami, ham or vegetables, mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan or pecorino cheese, as well as an egg. It is served with marinara or tomato sauce.

3- Dough Ingredients and Texture of a Empanada Vs Calzone

Empanada dough is more tender, flaky and less chewy than a calzone dough. Calzone dough is a sturdy, bread-like dough identical to pizza dough.

The most common empanada dough is made with flour, salt, egg, cold water, and butter. The dough is rolled thinly into small round circles and topped with filling. The circles are then folded into half-moon shapes and deep-fried or baked until golden brown depending on your preference.

However some empanadas dough differ and are made from the agricultural ingredients that are readily available in the region.

For example Venezuela and Colombia, empanadas are made with cornflour instead of wheat flour. In Venezuela, they also fill them with cheese and in the Caribbean yuca (cassava) or plantain (a starchy food) grown in abundance are mashed to create the dough.

Calzone’s dough is basically pizza dough and contains flour, sugar, water, yeast, salt, and oil. With yeast bringing the main difference in texture to the calzone’s dough.

4- How Empanada vs Calzones are cooked

Empanadas can be baked or deep fried, but Calzones are traditionally oven baked just like a pizza.

5- Origin

The word empanada is derived from the Spanish word “empanar” which means “to wrap”. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, Llibre del Coch by Robert de Nola, first mentions empanadas filled with seafood in the recipes for Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food making empanadas hundreds of years old.

While the name calzone comes from Italy translating to “trouser legs”. The origin of how the calzone got its name is unclear but it has been speculated that trouser’s legs were used as stocking at Christmas and stuffed with food as presents and a calzone is also stuffed with delicious fillings. The origin of Calzones can be traced back to the 18th century.

Food Origin

Empanadas are believed to have originated in Galicia, Spain while Calzones are thought to have originated in Naples, Italy.

Today many countries have different versions of empanadas from South America, Philippines, and Central America while Calzones are popular around the world particularly in Italy and The United States.

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