Weeknight BBQ Chicken Calzones

In the tiny town of Mukilteo, Washington, there is a restaurant called Riley’s which used to serve what 2Chiliconsiders the gold standard when it comes to calzones. One of his cousins lives in Mukilteo and introduced him/us to the Riley’s calzone, and ever since then, no other calzone has managed to stack up.

Mukilteo is a bit of a drive for us (about 30 miles or so), so we’re rarely in the area to just drop in for dinner. Last summer, we happened to be out meandering, so  we stopped in for calzones only to find out that Riley’s had been sold and the calzones were different. Poor 2Chili was sad.DSC_1140

My boy about town has specific requirements for his calzones, and they go as follows:

  • Flaky crust
  • Appropriate sauce-to-crust ratio: enough sauce to be flavorful, not too much to make it soggy
  • Appropriate fillings include chicken, onion, bell pepper, BBQ sauce, and cheese. And nothing else.

For this week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday, I thought I’d try to provide him one of his beloved calzones. This was a risky decision, as the bar is high and very few calzones can clear it, but, I am thick-headed and up for a challenge.

It was raining all kinds of farm animals over the weekend which gave me lots of time to play in the kitchen. Being all about weekend pre-planning for weeknight efficiency, I found a recipe for calzone dough and made it up on Saturday, punched it down into a ball, wrapped it in plastic wrap and then froze it in a Ziploc bag. Yesterday morning, I just popped it into a bowl covered it with a clean dishtowel and let it thaw in the fridge all day. It was ready-to-go in time for dinner, and while 2Chili was off running on the treadmill, I commenced preparing calzones.

For 2Chili, I planned for chicken leftovers from his Monday dinner, so this worked out well. For me, I sautéed some mushrooms with the peppers and onions, and then wilted 2 cups of spinach to have a veggie version. Dinner was ready start-to-finish in about 50 mostly passive minutes. This was perfect timing to coincide with a hungry (and by this time, clean) runner looking for carbs.

If you make this recipe with multiple different filling varieties, you might want to label which is which somehow, perhaps with a toothpick. We almost had a disaster when I was taking pictures and received this question from the other room:

“Did you put spinach in mine?”

He got the wrong one after I insisted it was the right one. Whoopsie.

Lastly, before we get to the actual recipe, I highly recommend the dough  make-ahead-freeze technique. I have done this a lot in the past for pizza, and it just speeds up your dinner prep so much as you aren’t waiting on dough.


Weeknight BBQ Chicken Calzones

Downloadable Word Document Recipe

Original Recipe Inspiration: Calzone

Time Required:

  • 90 minutes to make the dough in bread machine
  • 15 minutes to prep fillings (while oven heats up)
  • 35-45 minutes to cook

Skill Level: PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Makes: 8 calzones ( I made ours really big and wish I had made them smaller – there is more than enough dough for 8.)

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry buttermilk powder
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Ingredients for the Filling (use these or anything you prefer instead):

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped 
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup BBQ sauce, or to taste



At least a day before you wish to make the calzones:

  • Place all ingredients for the dough in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer and start the “dough” cycle
  • Once dough is is done, punch it down into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and put in a 1 Gallon Ziploc bag, then place in the freezer

The morning of the day you wish to make the calzones:

  • Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray (or mist with olive oil)
  • Place frozen dough into the bowl and cover with a clean dishcloth
  • Place in the refrigerator and let thaw all day

The evening of the day you wish to make the calzones:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangular shape (about 1/3” thick)
  • Cut into 8 equal rectangles and place on a sprayed cookie sheet


  • While oven is preheating, sauté onions, peppers, and mushrooms until they are cooked but still firm, about 5-7 minutes
  • Spread a thin amount of BBQ sauce onto the dough rectangles just as you would pizza sauce, leaving at least ¾” border around the edge
  • Spread your fillings equally across one half of all the dough rectangles, being careful to mix them all up and not have a concentration of any one ingredient in one spot
  • Sprinkle a blend of mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top of each of the calzones
  • Fold the other half on top of the half with the filling, and use a fork to pinch down the dough along the edges to seal eat
  • Cut a few slits on the top of the calzone to let air escape
  • Optional: Brush with a little melted butter if you wish
  • Bake at 350 F for 35-45 minutes, until the tops of the dough are golden brown


For the BBQ chicken variety exactly as listed. Yours will vary based on toppings.

(Click to enlarge).


The Verdict:

This is perhaps my favorite TKT yet, and 2Chili agrees. Once we sorted out the spinach debacle, he wordlessly cleaned his plate, a sure sign of approval. Since I could make different fillings for both of us, that was an extra bonus. I was surprised he gave it a 5 stars, knowing the bar was high from his preference for the Riley’s calzone, but when I asked him to rate it, he simply said, “the highest.” That is a winner! It’s nice to have a winner. I think next week I’ll push my luck and make soup… (Not really.)

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