This Eggplant Calzone is a fun and easy-to-make weeknight dinner or vegetarian appetizer. Made with crispy breaded eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and fresh pizza dough, you'll love dunking this mouthwatering calzone into zesty marinara sauce.
Calzones are one of my favorite appetizers for a party or for the holidays. They're easy to make, easy to eat, and you can fill them with just about anything you'd like. Plus, almost everybody loves calzones.
I usually try to make one meat-based calzone and one vegetarian calzone whenever I make them for a party. And my eggplant parmesan calzone is always a big hit.
Eggplant parmesan (or eggplant parmigiana) is an Italian dish made of crispy, breaded eggplant smothered in a rich tomato sauce and cheese. It's one of the best calzone fillings ever.
One of my favorite things about calzones is how versatile they are. They can be served not only as an appetizer but also as a main dish or side dish for a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Vegetarian- Who says vegetarian meals have to be boring? Whether you are strictly vegetarian or just like to add meatless meals to your menu every so often, this eggplant calzone is a fun meatless dinner everyone will love.
- Crispy & Cheesy- Cooking the calzone at a high temperature creates a deliciously crispy crust on the outside with melty, gooey cheesy on the inside.
- Easy to Make- Using pre-made pizza dough and marinara sauce means this calzone comes together in no time. Simply bread and bake the eggplant slices, assemble the calzone, and you're on your way to a fun, tasty Italian dinner.
Here are some notes on key ingredients. For a full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Pizza Dough- Fresh pizza dough is one of the most versatile ingredients for quick, easy dinners. I love using homemade pizza dough to make calzones, but store bought dough will work just as well.
- Eggplant- I slice the eggplant into ⅛-inch thin rounds so that it cooks quickly and gets extra crispy. You'll need about 24 slices of eggplant for this recipe so you may need to bake it in batches or double up on your baking sheets.
- Breadcrumbs- You can use plain regular breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, or seasoned breadcrumbs. I found I needed about ½ cup of plain regular breadcrumbs to coat all 24 slices of eggplant.
- Eggs- You'll technically need two eggs. One when breading the eggplant and another to make an egg wash for the top of the calzone. Although, I'll admit... I used the leftover egg from breading the eggplant to brush the top of the calzone. It works!
- Mozzarella Cheese- Melty, gooey, and stretchy. All qualities you want in a cheesy calzone. I recommend using low-moisture mozzarella cheese that you shred yourself from a block.
- Parmesan Cheese- We can't have an eggplant parmesan calzone without parmesan cheese, right? I mixed the freshly grated parmesan cheese with the mozzarella cheese before sprinkling them onto the calzone.
- Basil- I love fresh basil with eggplant parmesan. Adding a little to the calzone filling makes it taste fresh and herby.
- Marinara Sauce- Dipping eggplant parmesan calzone in marinara sauce is a must. Use your favorite high-quality jarred marinara sauce or make your own.
Fresh Tip: Want to have fresh basil on hand whenever you need it? Learn how to grow basil right on your kitchen counter.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this amazingly delicious eggplant calzone recipe.
Step 1: Bread and bake the eggplant. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, kosher salt, and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs to a separate small mixing bowl. Start by dipping a slice of eggplant in the egg mixture, allowing the excess egg to drip off before placing the eggplant slice into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Place the breaded eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.
Step 2: Stretch the dough. Once the eggplant is done, increase the oven temperature to 550°F. On a lightly floured surface, stretch the pizza dough out into a 12 to 14-inch round. Then, transfer the dough to either a parchment-lighted baking sheet or pizza peel (if using a pizza stone).
Step 3: Assemble the calzone. Sprinkle ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese on one-half of the calzone, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top the cheese with ⅓ of the chopped fresh basil, then place 8 slices of breaded eggplant on top of that. Repeat these layers until all of the ingredients have been used up. You should end with a layer of cheese on top of the eggplant. Fold the other half of the dough over the fillings and roll the edge closed to seal. Brush the top of the calzone with egg wash.
Step 4: Bake the calzone. Place the calzone in the preheated oven, either on a baking sheet or directly on a preheated pizza stone. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the dough is golden-brown. Allow the calzone to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tips for the Best Eggplant Calzone
- Let your pizza dough come to room temperature. Room temperature pizza dough is easier to stretch and handle. Place your wrapped pizza dough on the counter for about an hour before using it.
- Use freshly grated cheese. Grating your own mozzarella and parmesan cheese straight from the block not only tastes fresher, but the cheese actually melts better too. Pre-shredded cheese is often coated in anti-caking ingredients, which prevent it from clumping together. But, they also stop the cheese from melting into a smooth, creamy filling.
- Make homemade pizza dough. My 72-Hour Pizza Dough recipe is super simple and gives this calzone a wonderful depth of flavor. Keeping homemade pizza dough on hand in your freezer is one of my favorite meal prepping tips.
- Bake on a pizza stone. If you really want to take your calzone and pizza-making skills to the next level, invest in a high-quality pizza stone. A pizza stone heats evenly and draws moisture away as it cooks, allowing you to achieve a perfectly crispy crust every time.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can customize this eggplant calzone to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Pizza Dough- Both store-bought pizza dough and homemade pizza dough can be used in this recipe. If you're looking for a low-carb alternative, try using a cauliflower crust or a crust made from mozzarella cheese and almond meal.
- Eggplant- If eggplant isn't your jam, try swapping it for zucchini, spinach, broccoli, or roasted red peppers. Don't mind a little meat? Use breaded chicken or pork instead.
- Breadcrumbs- Replace traditional breadcrumbs with oats, pretzels, potato chips, almond meal, nutritional yeast, or parmesan cheese. You can also leave the breadcrumbs out entirely and just roast the eggplant with a little salt and pepper.
- Mozzarella Cheese- Try provolone, burrata, or gouda cheese to imitate the same milky, stretchy qualities of mozzarella. Ricotta cheese could also be used.
- Parmesan Cheese- Asiago and Pecorino Romano cheese both have a tangy, sharp flavor similar to parmesan cheese. You could also get a little fancy and try goat cheese or feta cheese instead.
- Basil- Substitute 3 tablespoons of fresh basil for 1 teaspoon of dried basil. Fresh or dried oregano, rosemary, and marjoram would also make nice herby additions.
- Marinara Sauce- Try pomodoro sauce, arrabbiata sauce, or even vodka sauce to dip your eggplant calzone.
- Gluten-Free- For a gluten-free version of this eggplant parmesan calzone, use your favorite gluten-free pizza dough recipe and gluten-free breadcrumbs.
- Dairy-Free- If you follow a dairy-free diet, mozzarella and parmesan cheese are a no-go. Instead, opt for dairy-free mozzarella cheese and dairy-free parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast. Also, don't forget to check your breadcrumbs to ensure they don't contain milk.
- Vegan- Use the same dairy-free substitutes mentioned above. Additionally, use unsweetened plant-based milk instead of the egg to bread the eggplant. You can also use dairy-free milk or olive oil as an "egg" wash.
- Ground Italian Sausage
- Breaded Chicken
- Additional Vegetables: Spinach, Zucchini, Roasted Red Pepper, Mushrooms
- Fresh Herbs: Rosemary, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme
- Red Pepper Flakes
What to Serve with Eggplant Calzone
While eggplant parmesan calzone is a delicious and satisfying meal all on its own, sometimes having a little something extra on the side is necessary. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to serve with this eggplant parmesan calzone.
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Herbed Potato Salad
- Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Red Lentil Pasta Salad
- Cheesy Broccoli Bites
- Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- French Fries or Sweet Potato Fries
- Steamed, Sautéed, or Roasted Vegetables
- Caesar Salad, Greek Salad, or Garden Salad
- Garlic Bread, Garlic Knots, or Breadsticks
Storage and Reheating
Calzones are an excellent make-ahead meal that can easily be frozen for grab-and-go lunches or for a fast weeknight dinner. In fact, they're so easy to reheat that I often recommend doubling the recipe and storing the extra in the freezer.
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftover eggplant calzone in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer- Allow the calzone to cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. Then, place individually wrapped calzone pieces in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
- Oven- Preheat oven to 400°F and bake calzone on a rimmed baking sheet for 20 minutes. If your calzone is frozen, it may take about 30 minutes to reheat.
- Stovetop- Place the calzone in a skillet over medium-low heat and warm for about 2 minutes per side. If the calzone is a bit dry, add a tablespoon of water to the skillet and cover with a lid. You can also brush the crust with oil or butter before heating.
- Air Fryer- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F and place your calzone pieces inside the basket. Heat for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the calzone is fully warmed through.
- Microwave- While the microwave tends to make the crust a little chewy, it is a convenient way to reheat calzone when you're in a rush. Wrap the calzone pieces in a damp paper towel and place them on a microwave-safe plate. Heat on high in 30-second intervals until warmed through, usually about 2-3 minutes, depending on the size of the calzone.
>> Want to learn more about storing, freezing, and reheating calzone? Check out my complete step-by-step guide on how to reheat calzone.
Frequently Asked Questions
While many eggplant recipes call for salting and draining the eggplant, I've never found this to be necessary. Thinly sliced, breaded, oven-baked eggplant turns out beautifully crispy and not bitter at all without the added step of salting.
Yes! You can make and freeze both baked and unbaked calzones for up to 3 months. To bake uncooked calzones from frozen, preheat your oven to 400°F and bake for 30 minutes.
It depends on the recipe. Some use a thin layer of sauce inside of the calzone, while others serve a marinara dipping sauce on the side. Personally, I prefer to keep my sauce on the side so that the calzone is easier to assemble and bake.
There is technically no difference between a calzone dough and a pizza dough. In fact, I use my own pizza dough recipe to make this eggplant calzone. Basically, a calzone is just a folded pizza.
More Appetizer Recipes
For the Crispy Eggplant
- 1 egg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 small eggplant sliced into about 24 ⅛-inch rounds
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, salt, and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs to a separate small mixing bowl. Start by dipping a slice of eggplant in the egg mixture, allowing the excess egg to drip off before placing the eggplant slice into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Place the breaded eggplant slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.1 egg, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup breadcrumbs, 1 small eggplant
- Once the eggplant is done, increase the oven temperature to 550°F. On a lightly floured surface, stretch the pizza dough out into a 12 to 14-inch round. Then, transfer the dough to either a parchment-lighted baking sheet or pizza peel (if using a pizza stone).1 large pizza dough
- Sprinkle ¼ of the shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese on one-half of the calzone, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top the cheese with ⅓ of the chopped fresh basil, then place 8 slices of breaded eggplant on top of that. Repeat these layers until all of the ingredients have been used up. You should end with a layer of cheese on top of the eggplant. Fold the other half of the dough over the fillings and roll the edge closed to seal. Brush the top of the calzone with egg wash.1 cup low-moisture mozzarella cheese, ½ cup parmesan cheese, 3 tablespoons fresh basil, 1 egg
- Place the calzone in the preheated oven, either on a baking sheet or directly on a preheated pizza stone. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the dough is golden-brown. Allow the calzone to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with marinara sauce for dipping.1 cup marinara sauce
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.