Enjoy this Cheesy Meatball Stromboli Recipe made with store-bought pizza dough, two kinds of cheese, frozen meatballs and jarred pizza sauce for a delicious and hearty fresh-baked Italian-American experience.
Stromboli and calzones are both first cousins to America’s all-time favorite food – the pizza pie. Stromboli is usually layered with meats and cheese then rolled up in a spiral and baked. The calzone is formed into a crescent shaped pocket and stuffed with all your favorite pizza inspired ingredients. The more traditional stromboli is filled with Italian cold cuts like salami and capocollo, but in this version we used Homemade Italian Meatballs from our freezer.
I have many fond food memories from growing up in a baking family, and from the different places I’ve lived and traveled to in my life. This recipe was inspired by my favorite Italian restaurant in the Denver Colorado area of Englewood. The Fratelli family closed the restaurant a long time ago, and I haven’t lived there in forever anyway. But I still remember the white table cloths, the glass front cooler loaded with cannoli and cheesecake, and the hustle and bustle of the staff trying to serve the hoards of people waiting to be seated. Everything on the menu was wonderful but my favorite was the terrific calzone filled with big, fat meatballs, peppers and plenty of cheese. Always served with warm marinara for dipping, I could have eaten one everyday. Back then I was on my own and didn’t have money to waste. It was a special treat to eat out, and Fratelli’s was where I wanted to spend my hard earned cash when I could.
With plenty of extra meatballs in the freezer, it was time to make my favorite calzone in stromboli form!
Our local grocery store sells pizza dough in the prepared food section. It’s delicious and easy to work with, and a real time saver in the kitchen. If you can’t find prepared pizza dough, you can substitute frozen store-bought bread dough or make your own using our homemade pizza dough recipe found HERE. The dough can be made up to two days in advance and/or frozen for later use. I love having ready-made homemade recipes in the freezer. Want to make your own pizza sauce? We have you covered there too – check out this Pizza Sauce recipe and freeze extra to have on hand for family pizza night!
It may seem weird to add a typically Mexican ingredient like canned green chilis to this Italian recipe, but it really works! The little bite of tangy peppers are just the thing to add a pop of flavor. You’re welcome to use fresh bell peppers but I would sauté or roast them first before adding to the meatball mixture. The whole stromboli bakes up pretty quick and the peppers would not have time to cook through.
This Cheesy Meatball Stromboli Recipe is easily adapted to your favorite fillings.
It can be made into two different turnovers, or even calzone styled pockets. Change it up by adding a few pepperoni, or switch the provolone cheese out with another good melting cheese. When adapting to new ingredients make sure they are all pre-cooked and never use raw meat. More cheese and/or sauce would be fine, but it may end up a little more gooey, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Gooey is good. I like gooey … I need more gooey in my life!
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- 1 pound cooked meatballs, homemade or store-bought
- 1 1/2 pounds homemade or store-bought pizza dough
- 16 ounce jar of pizza sauce, divided
- 1 4 ounce can diced green chili pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces thinly sliced or shredded aged provolone cheese
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- chopped parsley for garnish
- Thaw and/or cook prepared meatballs according to package or recipe directions. Chop the meatballs into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss the chopped meatballs in 2/3 cup of the pizza sauce. Set aside or refrigerate until needed. If making ahead and refrigerating, warm the meatballs slightly before adding to the dough so the cold won’t affect the internal baking.
- Thaw or rise pizza dough according to package directions.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Roll the dough into a 12 by 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured counter with the long side parallel to the countertop edge. The short sides will be on your left and right. Layer the provolone cheese evenly over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch border along the top and sides. Distribute the chopped meatballs over the provolone, sprinkle evenly with the green peppers and crushed red pepper flakes, then top with the shredded mozzarella.
- Brush the top and side borders of the dough with the lightly beaten egg. Reserve remaining egg to brush on finished stromboli before baking. Fold the bottom third of the stromboli in toward the middle, like a business letter. Carefully fold the top third of the stromboli down to cover the first fold, creating a log. Pinch the seams firmly to seal. Transfer the stromboli to the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Pinch the ends firmly together to seal and tuck underneath.
- Allow the stromboli to rise in a warm location for 1 hour. I put mine in my microwave with the underneath task light on, as the oven stays warm and free from drafts.
- Brush the top of the stromboli with the remaining beaten egg. Using a very sharp large knife, make 6 evenly spaced 1/2-inch-deep slashes, 2-inches long, on top of the stromboli. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake until the crust is golden brown and the center registers 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 35 to 40 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking and tent the stromboli with foil if browning too quickly.
- Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10-minutes. Cut into 2-inch thick slices and serve with remaining pizza sauce and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
If using pizza dough in the tube, you can use two cans laying them side-by-side, and pinching the seam together before rolling out into one large stromboli. Or make two different stromboli with different fillings. You can also make half the recipe and roll out the dough into a smaller rectangle. Or, cut the dough into rounds and make individual calzone pockets for a fun treat. For these changes you will need to reduce the baking time accordingly.
Prep time includes 60 minutes for stromboli to rise before baking
Kitchen Essentials: We use an instant read thermometer to make sure the stromboli is hot all the way through – click on the photo for more information:
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If you’re in the mood for more Italian sandwich ideas, you may want to start with this Italian Sub Recipe from the Food Network Kitchen. So many layers of flavor, it must be absolutely terrific. I’m also drooling over these Pressed Italian Picnic Sandwiches from Seasons and Suppers, so perfect for a picnic at the lake! Anna from Two Sister’s Recipes comes from a wonderful Italian family and posted this drool-worthy Italian Muffuletta Sandwich recipe. Wow! And finally, if you have leftover meatballs in your freezer too, please try our Easy Meatball Sub Sandwich Recipe. You won’t be sorry!
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