Chicken Pesto Calzones + Stocking the Freezer (WFMW)

Are you familiar with Works for Me Wednesday hosted by We Are THAT Family?  I’ve been lurking in the shadows reading everyone’s great tips for a while, and I have finally (finally!) decided that it’s time for me to join in.  I’ve shared a few tips on my blog in the past, but I’m making it my goal to share a new tip with you each week.

I thought I’d start things off with a tip for stocking your freezer… Sometimes I have late meetings or just don’t have any energy to make dinner. It happens to all of us. I love to be able to pull something out of my freezer and just pop it in the oven for dinner. I’m not talking about a pre-packaged (full of junk) freezer dinner, though… I have learned to make extra when I’m preparing meals at home so that I have leftovers for the freezer.  Today I’m sharing with you my latest freezable food discovery… Calzones!

works for me wednesday at we are that family

To freeze calzones, simply prepare and assemble them according to the recipe (you can try my recipe for chicken pesto calzones below).  Wrap them in plastic wrap (or double wrap, if you’re a bit OCD like I am), then place the wrapped calzones in a freezer bag.  Label each bag with the calzone flavor and date and then pop them in the freezer.  When you’re ready to serve them, just unwrap and let them thaw on a baking sheet before baking according to the recipe directions (you can also unwrap them and let them thaw gradually in the fridge).

Just about any calzone recipe would make a great freezer meal including these easy chicken pesto calzones.  I’ve been on a bit of a pesto kick lately… It’s a great way to use all of the fresh greens and herbs from our garden and CSA.  You can use your favorite pesto or try one of my favorites (Swiss chard pesto or garlic scape pesto). Plus, the flavor of the pesto paired beautifully with the Provolone Stravecchio cheese I received from Sam’s Club. Here’s how they described the cheese…

This cheese has a traditional flavor of Auricchio Stravecchio, which is produced according to an ancient recipe which requires a slow aging period of over a year.

Of course, if you don’t have the Provolone Stravecchio cheese, you could substitute your favorite provolone or mozzarella. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with these calzones.  The recipe makes four calzones, so I baked two for lunch and popped the other two in the freezer for later!

Chicken Pesto Calzones

For the dough (adapted from The Pioneer Woman):

  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

To finish the calzones:

  • 1 cup pesto
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 4 ounces Provolone Stravecchio cheese, shredded
    (or substitute any provolone or mozzarella)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to drizzle on top)
  • Italian seasoning

To prepare the dough, combine the lukewarm water, yeast, and sugar in a mixing bowl.  Whisk until the yeast and sugar are dissolved in the water.  Add the olive oil, salt, and bread flour.  Stir until the mixture is smooth.  Gradually add the whole wheat flour, stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to pull from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead in the rest of the whole wheat flour (or just knead in the bowl, if you prefer) until the dough is smooth.  Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 475°F.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside. Divide the dough into four portions and spread each portion of the dough into a rectangle/oval on a lightly floured surface.

In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded chicken and the pesto. Spoon 1/4 of the chicken pesto mixture onto half of each piece of dough. Top with the provolone cheese.  Fold the dough over the filling and pinch the edges to seal the calzone.

(At this point, you can wrap with plastic wrap and pop the calzones in the freezer).

Transfer each calzone to the baking sheet, brush the top with some olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.  Bake for about 12 – 14 minutes until golden on top and cooked through.  Enjoy!

My Kitchen Addiction Product Review Policy and Disclosure- I received this product (Provolone Stravecchio cheese) at no cost from the manufacturer (or a representative PR firm) for the purpose of testing and reviewing the product. Unless specified otherwise, I do not accept monetary compensation for reviewing or writing about products. I only review products that I have personally tested and used in my kitchen/home, and all opinions expressed are my own.

49 Responses to Chicken Pesto Calzones + Stocking the Freezer (WFMW)

  1. What a great idea! I have pizza dough in the fridge. I should make calzoni (plural of “calzone”) instead of pizza tomorrow! Thank you so much!! These photos are fantastic. What a great filling. YUM!

  2. Thanks for sharing the tip! I’ve been really curious to try freezing prepared meals like this for quick, convenient dinners when I’m busy. I love this tip and I look forward to trying your recipe for Chicken Pesto Calzones!

  3. The last time I made ‘calzones’ I used prepackaged crescent roll dough, jarred tomato sauce, pre-shredded cheese, and pepperonis. I thought I was cool, man.

    And then I saw these. Dear heavens, those look so tasty! Thanks for sharing! <3

  4. Boy does this look good. I have made calzones before. They are a great thing to have in the freezer. I have sent my son with them for lunch, always a hit. This sounds so good though – anything with pesto is a favorite around here. Thanks for the yummy looking photos too.

  5. I don’t make calzones often and when I do, it’s using homemade bread dough, I’ll definitely try your recipe soon. I love the photos! Thank you for sharing.

  6. I love this recipe, but don’t love pizza dough. I think it would be amazing in fillo dough which is also freezable in its pre-cooked state. Thanks!

  7. I forget about calzones! My family loves them. I really need to make them more often. The pesto chicken is a great idea – different from our basic pizza type calzones. And, I have lots of basil to make fresh pesto! Thanks for the idea!

  8. I am new to your site and am L-O-V-I-N-G all of your recipes! I have come across several recipes that call for shredded cooked chicken. I am always on the hunt for the best method to cook my chicken in order to shred it. Will you please share your technique? Your shredded chicken always looks so perfectly…shredded!!! ;) Thanks!

    • Tracy – Thanks so much for your comment! I often just put a whole chicken (small) or split chicken breasts in my crockpot with a little bit of liquid and aromatics (onions, garlic, etc) until the chicken is cooked. Then, you can use two forks to pull apart and shred the chicken.

  9. I made the Calzones tonight, and they turned out excellent. However I did cheat a bit. I used canned chicken, pre-made pizza dough and store-bought pesto. My wife and son loved it….which is a good thing since we now have some in the freezer.

  10. I have store bought dough in 1 lb portions (5 lbs total). Is one enough for the stuffing portion or do I need to decrease the stuffing or increase the dough?

  11. Hi Just wondering. Can you pop them into the oven right from the freezer? do you still rub olive oil on top even though it’s frozen? Thanks so much

  12. ahh I forgot to ask in my last post….I wrapped them in tinfoil instead of saran wrap. that should be ok right? Wondering if I can put those right into the oven from the freezer, or should I make sure I transfer them to something else.

    • Hi, Mary – Yes, wrapping them in tinfoil is perfectly fine! However, I have never tried baking them directly from the freezer. I personally like to let the dough thaw out so that it rises a bit prior to baking. Also, I would remove them from the tin foil and place them on a tray and drizzle with olive oil prior to baking, regardless of whether or not you thaw them out. That way they dough will get golden and you will have a nice crust. Hope that helps!

  13. Hi. thanks so much for replying. I made a batch and 1/2 of batch is going to a friends house who is having a baby any day now. I want to make sure i give her good directions on what to do. I will do that and wait for it to thaw out.

  14. It came out reallllllly good. The dough was amazing. I had a collard green pesto that I used. I just wish I had more filling in mine, I didn’t measure exactly and some got more filling than others. I think I probably could of made more filling to disperse between the 4 calzones.

    When I took them out of the freezer and let them sit for a few hours to unfreeze – they didnt’ rise anymore at all. The looked a little wettish looking coming out of the freezer, but I just didn’t touch them too much – wondering if that might also be from the filling inside or something to do with the freezer not sure.

    Anyways, they came out FABULOUS!!!!!

  15. For anyone interested I’ve seen on pinterest that you can shred cooked chicken breast in a kitchen aid mixer.

  16. These sound very tasty! I was wondering if you had any ideas for some veggies to add in to bulk it up? I usually serve my calzones with a big Caesar salad, but like a little more substance in the calzones than just meat and cheese. I thought maybe sun dried tomatoes, but a little of that would go a long way.

    • Hi, Tabitha – Yup, adding veggies would be a great addition! I have made them with grilled/sauteed peppers and onions. I think mushrooms would be a great addition, as well. And, you could also add some wilted spinach. Whatever veggies you add, I’d cook them first to make sure they don’t add excess liquid inside the calzone as it bakes.

  17. I’m due in August, and July is my meal-planning-month, so I’ve been on the hunt for an assortment of {different} recipes that can be frozen for future use. These calzones definitely just made my list! When frozen, what would the cooking instructions be?

    • Hi, Kristen – You just leave them out until they come to room temperature, and then bake as directed in the recipe. Congrats on the baby on the way! :)