About Vegan Italian Panzerotti

Panzerotti Pugliesi (Apulian Panzerotti) are deep-fried, savoury turnovers, filled with tomato and mozzarella or other ingredients.

They fully reflect the essence of comfort food. They make you feel cuddled and satisfied.

In our vegan Italian panzerotti, we substituted the cow mozzarella of the original recipe with plant-based mozzarella.

Panzerotti are street food. Strolling around Apulian towns and cities, you will surely find plenty of shops that sell them.

When Apulians prepare them at home, they often accompany them with Apulian or Bari-style focaccia (we’ll publish the recipe next weekend, stay tuned!) and cold beer, generally Peroni (of which there is a production plant in Bari).

Vegan Italian Panzerotti ingredients: flour, tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella, olive oil, yeast, salt, oregano.

Origins of Italian Panzerotti

Panzerotti were firstly made in Puglia (Apulia) region. They used small crescents from the leftovers of the bread dough and then added pieces of cheese and tomato. For this reason, they are part of the Italian cucina povera (cheap/poor class cuisine). It’s now a typical food in South-Central Italy.

The word panzerototto (singlular of panzerotti) came from the word panza that is an informal variant of pancia (which stands for belly). The name panzerotto sounds playful and funny, and it clearly reflects its swollen shape.

Different Interprations of the Name

Its name varies according to the area.

The panzerotto has more than one name even in Apulia. In fact, in the Salento area and, in general, outside the province of Bari, they call it calzone. In the Lucania area (Basilicata region) it’s calzoncello.

In Naples, where it is a common food, they refer to it simply as pizza fritta (fried pizza). On the other hand, they use the word panzerotto for their large potato croquette.

Panzerotti vs Calzone vs Stromboli

What’s the difference between these 3 foods? For the sake of clarity, let’s start with what most Italians associate with panzerotto and calzone:

  • Panzerotto: a medium size dough pouch, generally filled with tomato and mozzarella, deep-fried. Originally from Apulia.
  • Calzone: a large size folded pizza, different filling possibilities, cooked in a wood oven. Originally from Naples.

And what about stromboli? It is a rolled pizza stuffed with cheese and other ingredients. Even if it is related to the first two, chances are that almost no one in Italy has even a vague idea of what it is. This is because stromboli was not invented in Italy, but in the US by Italian-Americans. The name stromboli almost certainly derives from the island off the North coast of Sicily, containing Mount Stromboli, one of the two most active volcanoes in Italy.

Northern American Diffusion and Spelling

Panzerotti are also common in the United States and Canada – Italian immigrants imported them during the diaspora (1880-1920). In Northern America, they often call them panzerotti or panzarotti as a singular noun (plural panzerotties/panzarotties or panzerottis/panzarottis).

In Italian, panzerotto is singular and panzerotti is plural.

In the foreground, a hand holds half panzerotto showing the tomato and mozzarella filling. A plate full of vegan Italian panzerotti and some tomatoes in the background.

5 Panzerotti Filling Ideas (Vegan)

Even if tomato and mozzarella is the unquestionable original filling, there are now other common ways to stuff them as well as creative ones. Here are our suggested fillings that you can try.

  1. Turnip Greens, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Plant-Based Mozzarella
  2. Spinach and Plant-Based Ricotta
  3. Mushrooms in Oil and Plant-Based Mozzarella
  4. Asparagus Cream and Plant-Based Mozzarella
  5. Sliced Plant-Based Meat and Plant-Based Mozzarella
In the foreground, a hand holds half panzerotto showing the tomato and mozzarella filling. A plate full of panzerotti and some tomatoes in the background.

Baked Panzerotti

Anticipating that the authentic recipe wants the panzerotti to be deep-fried, the panzerotti al forno (baked panzerotti) is definitely another possibility. This is a good choice if you prefer a lighter version.

Check out the notes section at the bottom of the recipe for the procedure.

Vegan Italian Panzerotti

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings 6 panzerotti
The deep-fried calzone from Apulia.


  • pot
  • bowl
  • pastry board
  • spoon
  • fork
  • sieve/skimmer
  • cloth
  • absorbent paper
  • food thermometer (optional)
  • toothpick (optional)



  • 250 g baking flour (8.8 oz)
  • 130 ml lukewarm water (4.4 fl oz)
  • 10 g fresh yeast (or 2 g/0.07 oz of dry brewer's yeast) (0.35 oz)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs salt


  • 120 g tomato sauce (4.2 oz)
  • 200 g plant-based mozzarella (shredded) (7 oz)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • dried oregano


  • frying oil


  • Dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water, together with sugar and salt.
  • On the pastry-board, place the flour and gradually add the liquid part while mixing.
    Add the oil and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough. If needed, add a little more water.
    Let the dough rise for 2 hours in a warm place, covered with the cloth.
  • Now divide the dough into 6 equal parts and let them rise again for 20-30 minutes, still covered.
  • In the meantime, let's prepare the filling. In the bowl, mix tomato sauce and mozzarella. Add oregano, salt and black pepper to taste.
  • On the pastry-board, roll out each piece of dough, creating some disks (approx. diameter: 10 cm/3.9 in).
  • Place 1 generous Tbsp of filling in the centre of each disk. Dampen the edges with some water, then close them forming crescents. Seal the edges with the fork.
  • Heat abundant frying oil in the pot (keep in mind that the panzerotti have to be fully immersed).
    Do the toothpick test: immerse the toothpick in the oil, when you see bubbles around it, the oil is ready. If you have a food thermometer, the right temperature is 170° C/338° F.
    Deep-fry one or more panzerotti (depending on the size of your pot) until they are golden brown and crispy.
  • Drain the panzerotti on absorbent paper. Serve warm and enjoy!


Alternative Cooking: Baked
Instead of deep-frying, you can cook them in a 200° C/390° F preheated oven for 20 minutes (until golden brown). We recommend brushing them with some extra virgin olive oil before baking.
We advise against freezing.
Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Italian, Vegan
Keyword: fried, mozzarella, street food, tomato

Get in Touch!

If you try this recipe, don’t forget to tag @myitalianvegan on socials. We would love to see the result!

If you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the section below. We love hearing from you!

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