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6 ways to hack store-bought pizza dough for amazingly easy dinners

Pizza dough is way more versatile than you might think.

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Chris Rochelle

Looking for a ridiculously easy dinner? These simple store-bought pizza dough recipe hacks will make you look like a genius (and a hero) in the kitchen.

You can absolutely make your own pizza dough to use in these dishes, but you know those little balls of fresh pizza dough you can pick up in the refrigerator case at nearly every supermarket these days? Well, they're obviously a great shortcut to homemade pizza, but they can also be hacked and turned into many other marvelous easy weeknight dinners, party-ready appetizers and simple snacks.

This is a good thing, because while everybody loves pizza, after your hundredth large pepperoni with extra cheese it can get a little boring. To shake things up, former Chowhound photographer Chris Rochelle reached out to our Chowhound community to discover the mind-blowing things that are possible with a pound of store-bought pizza dough (we got ours from a Whole Foods in San Francisco) and a little imagination. After you've seen these six savory manipulations, check out part two: Turning store-bought pizza dough into sweet treats.

If you'd still prefer to make everything from scratch, we also have a homemade pizza dough recipe for you to try out.

Monkey dough (pizza dough monkey bread)

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Chris Rochelle

Monkey bread may bring to mind sweet, sticky, cinnamon-sugar dusted dough balls, but it can also go savory -- and can be made with zero stress if you use store-bought pizza dough. Simply cut the dough ball into smaller pieces and let them proof (that gives you time to unwind from work, declutter the house, or help the kids with homework). Then, arrange them in an oven-safe bowl with the savory additions of your choice -- cheese, certainly, but the rest is up to you. We went simple with jalapeno slices, but you could add other veggies, meat and even sauce (though it'll make for messier eating). Bake until brown and bubbling and serve with marinara sauce for dipping. This will definitely be the MVP at any tailgating party, but will also win over picky kids at dinner time. Get our pizza dough monkey bread recipe.

Dough-zones (pizza dough calzones)

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Chris Rochelle

Calzones are like the original (and actually respectable) Hot Pockets and they couldn't be easier when you use a ball of store-bought pizza dough. Simply portion it up, roll it out and layer on cheese and toppings (we used ham and sliced jalapeños with mozzarella, but you can go with whatever you like: pineapple and pepperoni with cheddar; leftover roasted veggies and pesto with goat cheese; grainy mustard and thinly sliced apples with smoked gouda for fall; even dairy-free sun-dried tomatoes, olives and oil-packed tuna). Fold the dough packets over and seal the edges, then bake for about 15 minutes. Add a green salad and give yourself a pat on the back for pulling off such an absurdly easy and delicious dinner. Get our pizza dough calzone recipe.

Read more: Amazing three-ingredient recipes anyone can pull off

Garlic pizza dough knots

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Chris Rochelle

Need an easy appetizer that looks totally impressive? Store-bought pizza dough to the rescue (again)! Roll it out, cut it into strips, then tie each piece into a knot. Bake them for 20 minutes, then brush them with melted butter generously mixed with garlic and parsley as soon as they come out of the oven. Marinara sauce on the side is a must for dipping. Get our garlic pizza dough knot recipe.

Dough-gnocchi (pizza dough gnocchi)

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Chris Rochelle

This three-ingredient dinner might just be our favorite unconventional use for pizza dough: pinch off little pieces, roll them into tapered gnocchi and cook them like you would pasta, then sauce them as you like. We went with classic marinara and parmesan, but there's really no wrong move here, whether you go green with a pesto sauce or get rich with something creamy like alfredo -- or just toss them with oil, herbs and roasted veggies (like some burst cherry tomatoes, sweet corn kernels and spicy basil for summertime). Get our pizza dough gnocchi recipe.

Dough dogs (pizza dough pigs in a blanket)

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Chris Rochelle

Pigs in a blanket get a nice twist with store-bought pizza dough wraps. Needless to say, go with high-quality kosher dogs here, and don't dip them in ketchup… unless you really want to. You can also try this trick with fully cooked sausage or pepperoni sticks (in which case, you know what to serve on the side for dipping). Get our pizza dough pigs in a blanket recipe.

Strom-dough-li (pizza dough stromboli)

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Chris Rochelle

Looking at this, you might be wondering: What is the difference between stromboli and calzones? Mostly, it's the shape of the dough packet (stromboli being more of a long log). Both are equally easy to make with store-bought pizza dough and just as with calzones, you can play around with the fillings here however you want. Get our pizza dough stromboli recipe.

See also: Turning store-bought pizza dough into sweet treats! (And for even more ideas, read the amazing Chowhound discussion.)

The original version of this story was written by John Birdsall and Chris Rochelle in 2014. It has been updated by Jen Wheeler with additional links and text.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.