This easy Bierock Recipe features handheld pocket sandwiches filled with seasoned beef, tender cabbage, and melty cheddar cheese.
This recipe uses store-bought dough as a shortcut for the pillowy wrap around the flavorful homemade filling, inspired by the traditional German sandwich.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Flavorful Filling - The homemade beef and veggie stuffing is made extra decadent with melted cheddar cheese for the perfect savory-meets-creamy flavor.
- Great for On-the-Go - With the filling contained in pastry pockets, these handheld cheesy bierocks are perfect for easy snacking at home or on the go.
- Simple Shortcut Dough - This recipe uses convenient refrigerated dough that bakes into a flaky wraparound bread for the tasty filling
What Are Bierocks?
Bierocks are a traditional German recipe made of soft bread dough wrapped around a savory filling of seasoned meat and cabbage. They are believed to have arrived in the United States with German immigrants back in the 1800s.
Over time, Bierocks became a staple in Midwestern states with large German-American communities, including Kansas, the Dakotas, and West Texas. The sandwich remains a beloved comfort food in these regions to this day.
The popularity of Bierocks got a major boost in 1949 when the first Runza restaurant opened in Nebraska, serving their take on the sandwich.
Runza's signature item caught on quickly, transforming into a cherished regional fast-food chain that has since expanded across several states.
Looking for the full recipe? See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements and instructions.
Ground Beef - Lean ground beef works best so you don't have too much grease to drain. You can also do a mix of ground beef and ground pork.
Shredded Cabbage - Green cabbage is traditionally used in German Bierocks though any kind of cabbage will work. You can also use a pre-shredded coleslaw mix or 2 cups of sauerkraut (drained and squeezed dry).
Cheddar Cheese - Sharp cheddar adds a great cheeseburger flavor that my family loves. Gruyère is another popular choice. I recommend using freshly shredded cheese as pre-shredded does not melt as smoothly.
Spices - This Bierocks recipe uses just a few simple spices, but they really elevate the dish! I recommend Lawry's seasoned salt but you can use your favorite brand.
Dinner Roll Dough - I use Rhodes rolls. The rolls will need to thaw for 1-3 hours, depending on the temperature of your house. Frozen bread dough can also be used, and divided into 2-3 ounce portions. You can even use your favorite homemade dough recipe!
How to Make Homemade Bierocks
1) Prepare the Filling
- Cook the ground meat and chopped onions in a large skillet over medium heat. Use a meat chopper or a wooden spoon to break the meat into crumbles.
- Once the meat is browned, drain the excess grease.
- Add the shredded cabbage, garlic, and spices. It will look like you have way too much cabbage. Don't worry! The cabbage cooks down and incorporates nicely into the filling.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender.
- Taste the mixture and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. (Some would say you can't add too much black pepper to a bierock!)
- Remove from the burner and let the mixture cool for at least 15 minutes. If you try to fill the dough while the filling is hot it will tear holes in the dough.
- If your thawed dough is in the refrigerator, place it on the counter while the meat mixture cools. Cold dough does not stretch as well so letting it warm up a little will make it easier to work with.
2) Make Dough Circles
- When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, place one dough ball on top of another and press them together.
- For smaller pocket sandwiches you can use one ball of dough per bierock.
- Pull and stretch the dough, or use a rolling pin, to work it into about a 6-inch circle that is ¼-inch thick.
- If you don't feel like going through the work of filling these individual pockets, try my easy Bierocks Casserole!
3) Fill the Dough
- Lay the dough circle on a flat surface.
- Place 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese in the center of the dough.
- Top the cheese with about ⅓ cup of filling.
- I like to use a large scoop for easy measuring.
- Pull the edges up and around the filling, and pinch the seams together to seal the dough.
- Place the filled bierocks seam side down on a large parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Let them rise at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
(Note: In the photos, it shows the cheese on top of the meat, but I have since decided that I like it better putting the cheese first. That way the cheese is on top when you turn the bun over onto the baking sheet, and it melts down over the beef.)
- Place the cookie sheet in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and brush the tops of each sandwich with melted butter.
- Return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
What Should I Serve With Bierocks
- At Runza, you can choose between crinkle-cut fries, onion rings, or a side salad.
- Mustard is a popular condiment to accompany Runzas, though ketchup is acceptable as well. Some even like to add horseradish!
- If you are going a more traditional route, they are great with German potato salad, peas and carrots, or Kroketten. Don't forget your German beer!
Storage and Reheating
Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Simply place them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap.
They also freeze beautifully when wrapped individually in plastic wrap or freezer bags. Make a double batch then pull some out to thaw overnight in the refrigerator when you need an easy meal.
To reheat, bake at 350°F (177°C) for 10 to 12 minutes or reheat in the microwave until the center is warmed through.
Bierocks and Runzas both refer to the same handheld sandwich concept - a hearty domed yeast bread pocket filled with a warm, savory blend of beef, cabbage, and onions.
"Bierock" is more commonly used in parts of Kansas and the Dakotas for these round handhelds, while Nebraskans favor the term "runza" for the typically rectangular shape made famous by Runza restaurants.
While both are stuffed dough dishes, bierocks use a yeast-leavened bread wrapper baked around cooked meat and veggie fillings whereas pierogis use unleavened dumpling dough wrappers which are boiled and sauteed around simpler fillings like cheese, potatoes, or fruit.
The original German recipe does not contain cheese. My family loves the added flavor, but you can leave it out if you want something more authentic.
More Sandwich Recipes
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Bierocks Recipe with CheeseRecipe by:
- 24 frozen rolls (dough) thawed
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¾ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (about a ½ pound)
- 2 cloves garlic minced (or ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ cups shredded cheese
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Thaw bread dough at room temperature for 1-3 hours. (The amount of time needed will depend on the temperature of your house.)
- Place ground beef and onion in a large skillet and cook over medium heat. Stir frequently and break up the beef into crumbles.1 pound ground beef, ¾ cup finely chopped onion
- When most of the beef is cooked (a small amount of pink is okay), drain the excess beef grease.
- Add the cabbage, minced garlic, and seasonings to the pan. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.2 cups shredded cabbage, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Lay one circle of dough onto a flat surface. (Lightly flour the surface, if needed.) Place another dough ball on top of it and press them together flat. Use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch the dough into a circle that is ¼-thick.24 frozen rolls (dough)
- Place 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese in the center of the dough. Add about ⅓ cup of the shredded beef mixture on top of the cheese.1 ½ cups shredded cheese
- Pull the dough around the filling, pinching the seams to seal the dough. Make sure they are sealed completely.
- Place each filled dough ball pinched-side-down onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Let the dough rise at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter, then bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.2 tablespoons melted butter
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Transfer leftovers to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
- Bierocks freeze great for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- Reheat in a 350°F (177°C) oven for 10-15 minutes.
This recipe was originally published on June 19, 2021. It was updated on January 16, 2024, with new images and additional recipe tips. The original recipe used bread dough and was shaped in a rectangle, like traditional Runza sandwiches. Here's one of the original images.