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Picnic Calzones Recipe

Picnic Calzones

(A recent picnic.)

When I was a little girl, my parents made a huge effort to take us on day trips every weekend. There were six of us, so that weren't fancy day trips. They were usually a drive into our local mountains for a hike or a trip to the beach.

Childhood Day Trip

(That's me, totally rocking my matching sweater and puffy vest. Man, I loved that set.)

A picnic was always packed. It was packed into a large, green & white, plastic cooler. We usually had fried chicken, macaroni salad, fruit, crackers, and cheese. Drinks were usually Crystal Light(TM) and it was always served in a green, Coleman(TM) drink cooler with a spout at the bottom.

Jenny at the beach as a child

(My little sister circa 1980s. See the cooler and drink cooler? Those are items that I have a huge memory bank attached to.)

While I didn't appreciate these outings as much as I should have, I did always love those picnic lunches. The feel of the rough, wood picnic table on my bare legs, my siblings, parents, and I eagerly eating together after a long, hot car trip or hike. Sometimes we started our picnic out cranky, but we would get progessively get happier as our bellies filled.

Olivia having a picnic

(My daughter, enjoying her picnic.)

Now, as an adult I know. I know how much effort it took my mother to get a picnic like that packed. (I also know all too well, the feeling of coming home and having to unload the remains of the picnic and cleaning out the cooler.) What seemed like an easy day trip, must have sometimes felt like massive troop movement across dangerous terrain. But I also know the work involved is worth it. I know that I am creating memories for my daughter. I know because of the happiness I feel when I remember those days.

Sometimes, I pack a replica of my mother's picnic lunch, but more often than not, I will pack a MY family's favorite picnic lunch: Homemade calzones, pesto pasta salad, cherries, and sparkling water. There usually cookies for dessert. And I hope some day my daughter will remember our day trips and picnics. I hope she will remember them as she packs for HER family's picnic. Sometimes she might bring calzones or fried chicken, but I'm suspicious that she will create a new picnic menu for her children too.

Perfect Picnic Calzones


  • Pizza dough. Homemade or store-bought. Not baked though! You need it to be in dough form. To make four, large calzones, you will need the dough that is the equivalent to make one 12" pizza.

  • Turkey pepperoni

  • Mozerella, cut into 1" cubes


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Divide pizza dough into 4 small balls.

  3. Roll each ball of dough into a small circle.

  4. Place 3-4 cubes of cheese onto one side of the circle. Lay 3-4 pieces of pepperoni over the cheese.

  5. Using a pastry brush, brush water around outside edge of circle.

  6. Fold half the dough over the cheese and pepperoni.

  7. Crimp edges with a fork to seal the dough closed.

  8. Use a fork to poke steam vents in the calzone.

  9. Brush calzone with olive oil (the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes is also delicious). Sprinkle with sea salt.

  10. Bake calzones, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 15-18 minutes. You know the calzones are done when you tap on them and they sound hollow.

  11. Serve immediately or allow to cool, and pack them for a picnic.


  • The cooked calzones will keep overnight in the fridge if you want to prepare them the day before your picnic.

  • Depending on the fillings, make sure you keep calzones in a cooler and follow food safety tips.

  • Explore different fillings. We have made ham, cheese, and pineapple calzones. Just cheese is also an option. Think about what you like on your pizza and try it in a calzone.





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