Bierocks (Runzas)

bierocks on white plate

The Spruce / Leah Maroney

  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Rising: 60 mins
  • Yield: 12 rolls (12 servings)

Soft and pillowy with a golden-brown top, these rolls are loaded with ground beef, cabbage, and onions. Bierocks—pronounced bee-rock and also known as runzas—are a German/Eastern European roll that made its way to the American Midwest. They're similar to the Russian pirozhki, another popular European meat-stuffed pastry. They vary in shape, but the most popular ones are usually round or rectangular. They’re often topped with an egg wash, followed by a sprinkling of poppy or sesame seeds. Those from the Midwest will recognize this delicious yeast-bread roll from the Runza chain of restaurants in Nebraska and Kansas.

You’ll love these pastries if you enjoy other meat-stuffed dough like pierogi, dumplings, or calzones. They’re a perfect easy-to-pack school lunch or afternoon snack for kids, but you can also make them large enough to serve for a full meal.

We’ve included a homemade dough recipe below, but you can buy a store-bought pizza dough or even use canned biscuits. 

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • For the Filling:
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 3 cups cabbage (shredded)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon malt vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • For the Topping:
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1 tablespoon seeds

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for bierock
  2. Scald the milk in a measuring cup using the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove. Make sure it does not boil. It just needs to hot.

    Add the sugar and butter to the hot milk and stir. Once the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted, allow it to cool to just warm. 

    Sprinkle the top with the yeast and allow it to soften, about 1 minute.

    melted butter in milk with yeast
  3. Add the yeast mixture, salt, and the egg to the bowl of your stand mixer with the hook attachment and gradually add the flour until it forms a soft dough. 

    Continue to knead with the dough hook attachment for about 5 minutes or until the dough is elastic and smooth. 

    bierock dough in a stand mixer
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and add it to a different, clean greased bowl and cover with saran wrap or a clean towel. Allow it to rise for 1 hour. While it is rising, prepare the filling and preheat the oven to 400 F. 

    bierock dough rising in a bowl

Prepare the Filling and Assemble the Rolls

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    bierock filling ingredients
  2. Saute the ground beef in a large skillet on medium-high heat until it is completely cooked through and browned. 

    ground beef browned in a pan
  3. Add the onions and cabbage and sauté until they are softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. 

    Add the remaining ingredients to the ground beef mixture and stir to evenly distribute the spices. Remove it from the heat and allow to cool while you roll out the dough. 

    bierock filling cooked in a pan
  4. Once the dough has risen to double you can assemble the bierock. Also line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

    bierock dough risen in a large bowl
  5. Divide the dough into 12 to 14 balls. Roll or pinch them into round balls. Set on a piece of parchment paper. 

    balls of dough rolled out onto a parchment paper
  6. Working with one ball of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the ball into a round, about 1/3 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. 

    dough rolled into small circle
  7. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the filling to the center of the dough round.

    filling spooned onto round of dough
  8. Place the round in the palm of your hand and gradually pinch the dough up and over the filling. Make sure to seal completely. You can twist the edges of the dough to seal. 

    bierock assembled
  9. Place the dough, seam side down on your parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough balls. 

    unbaked bierock placed on parchment lined baking sheet
  10. Gather the topping ingredients. 

    toppings for bierock
  11. Brush the egg wash over the top of each roll and sprinkle with your seed of choice. 

    bierock topped with egg wash and seeds
  12. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

    baked bierock on a parchment lined baking sheet
  13. Allow them to cool slightly and then serve with your favorite condiments. A good, grainy mustard is the perfect choice. 

    cooked bierock, cut open

Recipe Variations

There are so many variations for these little rolls. There’s sweet and savory varieties to suit every taste!

  • Cheese: Add a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to the meat mixture
  • Bacon Cheeseburger: Add 6 slices of chopped cooked bacon to the mixture along with a 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.
  • Swiss and Mushroom: Saute a cup of sliced mushrooms, then add it to the meat mixture and add half a slice of Swiss cheese to the top of the filling before you close it all up.
  • Cinnamon Raisin Apple: Chop 4 apples and toss with a 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Throw in a handful of raisins and mix. Fill the dough with the sweet mixture.