Runzas (Bierocks)

Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks)

When my baby Sis posted she was making her Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) I became inspired. She (and her family) fell in love with them during her years in the Cornhusker State and my Sis knows her Runza. If you’ve never had a Runza, you’re in for a treat. It’s a beautiful, light fluffy bun wrapped around a filling of ground beef, cabbage, and onion. They’re good old-fashioned cooking with the emphasis on good!

Runzas (Bierocks)

An old picture but still shows the Runza bun the best!


Originally “peasant” food, the Runza (Bierock) was brought to settlements in the Midwest by immigrants that came from originally from Germany, by way of Russia where they had settled into the lower Volga region. They brought their Bierock with them. And eventually, the Runza restaurant was opened in 1949, franchised and the name Runza was copy writed. The rest is history.

About Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks):

While the exact history of the Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) may never be known and is still under debate, I read that the early Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) were made out of various kinds leftover meat, minced and saved up until there was enough filling and combined with either cabbage or sour kraut. Today, most Runzas are made with ground beef and cabbage, but just like the history, everything else seems to be up for debate.

Should Runzas have spices other than salt and pepper? Should the dough be sweet or plain? Should the filling be cabbage or sauerkraut? Should there be cheese, and if so, what kind? Does the cheese go in before or after baking? How thin/thick should the dough be? Should they be small or large? Should the shape be a half-moon, a bun, a square or a rectangle? Should the Runza be allowed to rise before baking? Should the tops be brushed with butter or oil or nothing, and if so, before or after baking? And on & on it goes…

When I finally hit on the exact combination of filling and dough for my Runza that my son and I both loved (he and his friends say they taste like White Castle Burgers, which may or may not be a compliment) it was my sister that told me about the cheese. She’s of the opinion that no Runza is complete if it’s not opened up before eating so a piece of American cheese (like the singles) is jammed in to melt in the hot Runza. Some Volgan grandmother must be rolling in her grave (but I have to admit it’s good!)

Runzas (Bierocks)

Freshly Baked Runza – you can’t imagine how good they smell!

Making The Filling For Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks):

My sister uses salt and pepper only and hotly denied any other spices should be used. Don’t tell my sis, but I think they’re a bit bland (but are saved by that cheese!) Some insist on white pepper as a “secret ingredient” so I figured, why not and used a little of both peppers along with the salt, shunning all other spices. It still didn’t do it for me.

Then I saw a mention of allspice in one of my old cookbooks, so in went 1/4 teaspoon of allspice. It also seems very obvious from the photo of the Runza on (right below) that the commercial version contains allspice and/or clove – the color is a dead give away and may very well be the “elusive” taste that many bloggers say can’t be duplicated.

The third batch, I added a bit of clove along with the allspice – about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, I tasted as I went along. Perfection! I chose not to use Sauerkraut but maybe next time!

When you make the filling, be sure to cool it, drain it well and make sure your filling is very well seasoned with the pepper. Add what you think you need, then maybe even add a little more. Cabbage loves pepper! Then add the other spices as you wish to taste.

Runzas (Bierocks)

A Runza with Cheese from the chain. Note the coloring, a dead give away it contains spices.

Making The Bread For Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks):

First of all, it’s perfectly acceptable to use a store brought bread dough or frozen rolls; frozen rolls are probably the easiest and you can use a method where you put a hole in the dough, stuff it and then seal it. I weighed my homemade Runza dough and it came out at 2.6 pounds and it made a dozen Runzas for me, so you might need more than a pound of bread dough.

That being said, the homemade dough for your Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) tastes like a dream. The bread is very distinctive, light and fluffy, with a slightly sweet taste, kind of like a Hawaiin Roll. Now that slightly sweet roll is just perfect with the filling that had the allspice and clove, but took a bit of getting used to with my Runzas that were made without. (At least until that cheese was added.)

I’ve tried making my  Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) with varying amounts of sugar. Two tablespoons will take forever to rise and bakes up a little dry and crusty, not a perfectly soft roll. More than a half a cup was just too much. With a half a cup, the dough not only tastes amazing but rises quickly so making Runzas isn’t an all-day project. Even if you haven’t made much bread, this is the recipe to try! You’ll look like a hero – plus, any imperfections are charming, amirite? They just scream out “homemade!”

The dough is so easy it can be made by mixer or by hand.

Making The Filling For Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks):

No one seems to make their Runzas (Bierocks) the same size or shape. The closest I could figure to a standard size is a dozen Runzas (Bierocks) to a dough recipe, so that’s how I made mine. My sis says my Brother-in-law likes his larger, she likes her’s smaller. I thought a dozen with this dough worked out perfectly for the amount of filling.

The commercial Runza are rectangular, but Runzas are much easier to make in a square shape, and a square is easier than a bun or a half-moon. I settled on a square, about 5 x 5 after trying them larger. The larger ones rose a bit better, the smaller were denser, and I used about the same amount of filling in each.

Now most people, it seems, just like to grab a bit of dough, roll it in a ball, spread it out and stuff it. I tried that and it was messy and there were always a couple of leakers no matter how well I thought I had it sealed. Some of the sizes were larger or smaller and some had more or less filling and they were just *gasp* ugly, lol! At least mine was. I just found it easiest to roll the dough off, mark it out and add a scoop of filling to each square assembly-line style. Then I just sealed them up tightly.

I let the Runza rise right on the baking tray, covered with a towel for about 20 while my oven preheated, although that time can vary depending on how warm your kitchen is. They don’t have to “double” in size because they’ll have some oven “spring” (rise a bit after the Runzas (Bierocks) are in the oven.) When you take your Runzas (Bierocks) out and while they are still piping hot, brush the tops with butter. Just open up a stick of butter and run it across the tops of the buns and it will melt right onto them. Note added: When I baked these in the winter, I found I had to add a little oil to the top before leaving them to rise or they dried out in the low humidity and didn’t rise properly. Ii just sprayed them lightly.

Trouble Shooting: Other than a filling that is too wet or a seam that isn’t sealed, there are two main issues, a dough that’s too dry or one that’s too wet. Luckily, neither affects taste, and I’m sure they were delicious. Do wait too let your Runzas (Bierocks) cool a bit so you don’t squish that soft bun like I did on some of mine!

A Few Final Notes on Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks):

Normally, I end my posts with some money-saving hints. But it’s sooo long already! Shop well for ground beef and buy at a low. Chuck it in the freezer so you have it when you want it. Use the yeast in the jar and you’ll pay less than for the packets. Keep it in your freezer. The plain Runza ran about $3.17 for the filling and $1.03 for the dough. Now that’s a bargain!

Runzas (Bierocks) reheat in the microwave perfectly, about 2 minutes, loosely wrapped in a paper napkin or paper towel. If you’d rather reheat in the oven, wrap in foil and heat for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree F. oven. Many people double the recipe and freeze half, simply because if they’re making 12, why not make 24 and get the mess over with and have them on hand for quick lunches, dinners or snacks.

In my mind, this recipe cries out for tinkering, additions, and variations. Heresy? Maybe! I can think of a zillion fillings that would be absolutely delicious – keeping in mind that a saucy or gravy-like filling wouldn’t work for these. How about ground beef, bacon, and cheese? Ham and cheese, of course, immediately comes to mind. Maybe mushrooms cooked in a little butter and wine, flavored with tarragon or marjoram and paired with Gruyere or Swiss?  I’m imagining a chicken, artichoke basil Runza, served with a little Alfredo sauce. Substituting sausage for some of the ground beef would add a little zing. A barbecue/cheese Runza sounds wonderful.

Runzas (Bierocks)

Runzas (Bierocks)

Bierocks or Runza

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Runza Dough:

This dough mixes up a little differently from a standard dough. First you mix the ingredients into a kind of slurry, then add the remaining flour.

  • 4 1/2 cups of flour, divided into 1 3/4 cups and 2 3/4 cups
  • 2 packages of yeast or four and 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of shortening or butter
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large mixing bowl, place the 1 3/4 cup of flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Whisk together and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and shortening to 120 degrees. (Note: between 110 to 120 is the standard temperature to heat liquid when adding it to a flour mixture that already contains the yeast, but make certain the temperature is not over 120.) Pour over the flour/yeast/sugar/salt mixture and stir to combine. Add eggs. Mix by hand or by mixer. Beat for about three minutes or so.

Stir in remaining flour, turn out and knead for a short time, three or four minutes, adding in a little extra flour if it’s too tacky. Your dough should be smooth and elastic when done, but still quite soft, and slightly tacky to the touch…this dough does not require the amount of kneading a regular loaf of white bread does. It’s actually more like a sweet dough (like one would use for cinnamon rolls.)

If your dough is not soft – has too much flour or is overly kneaded, your Runza won’t rise properly and will be lumpy, so err on the side of too little flour over too much. If your dough is dry, knead in a little more water, but it is always easier to add more flour than water.

Place in an oiled pan, then turn the dough over (so all is coated with oil) cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for about an hour until doubled in size. Meanwhile, make your filling (below) and allow to cool, and then proceed to Fill and Bake.

Runza Filling:
  • 1 pound ground beef ( for more authentic flavor, do not use a lean ground beef)
  • 2 small or one large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 small head of cabbage or 1/2 a large, chopped fairly finely. Coleslaw mix is a bit too fine, but large chunks of cabbage tend to be unattractive.
  • salt and pepper – season generously after the filling is cooked, to taste; these should be quite peppery, I used about 1/2 teaspoon total of white and black pepper and a teaspoon of salt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon clove (optional but highly recommended)

In a good-sized pan, cook hamburger and onion until hamburger is cooked through and onion is fairly translucent. Add in chopped cabbage and cook until tender and wilted. Excess moisture can cause soggy bottoms in a Runza, so make sure your filling isn’t too wet.

Place the filling in a colander and allow to drain for about 15 minutes as it cools. Return to pan and add salt, peppers, clove, and allspice to taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Note: Some people don’t strain before adding the spices and just portion out their filling using a slotted spoon. The issue with this method is the spices drain out, too.

Proceed to Fill and Bake, below.

Fill and Bake:

Gently punch down and divide the dough into two portions, covering one part with a towel or plastic wrap. Lightly flour your counter and rolling pin and roll dough into a rectangle about 10″ by 15″.

If dough is properly made, very little flour should be necessary. If it sticks, work a bit more flour as you roll by dusting under the dough and on the rolling pin. If the dough doesn’t roll out smoothly, cover and let it sit there for about 15 minutes to see if a rest helps it “relax.” If that doesn’t work, it may be possible it is too dry. Lightly sprinkle the faintest amount of water on it as you roll out and see if that helps.

Using a pizza cutter, trim the edges and divide into six 5″ by 5″ squares.

Using a slotted spoon or filling is already drained in a colander, a scoop, and transfer about a half of a cup of the filling to each square. Unless you’re interested in figuring out the exact weight of cabbage and onion, there will always be some variance in the amount of filling. Divide the filling roughly in half, and it’s easier to eyeball exactly how much filling to put in, a little more or a little less in each Runza to use up all the filling or make it stretch.

Pull up two adjacent corners toward the middle and seal the seams, repeat with the next corner and so on, as shown below. Make certain seams are sealed well – if the dough has become too dry to easily stick easily, run a slightly wet finger next to the edges and proceed. Edges that are not properly sealed will leak.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the Runza on a lightly oiled baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a clean tea towel. If working at a time of year with low humidity, lightly spray the tops of each Runza with oil so they won’t dry. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Let rise about 20 minutes or so. and perhaps a bit longer in cooler weather (the tops should be smooth.) Note added: Pick up each runza very gently before baking and turn over, making certain all seams are still sealed, then replace on baking sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and place on a wire rack.

While still warm, brush tops with butter. This is most easily done by opening the end of a stick of butter and running the end over the tops of the rolls.

Filling Technique:

The filling technique is pretty straightforward and much easier than it seems it would be.  Warning:  It can be a little messy, but things will turn out just fine in the end!


Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

Potato Masher Ground Beef

A Potato Masher makes short work of ground beef, turkey, chicken or sausage.


Are you a Runza fan? Do you have a traditional filling your family used, secret spices and believe the Runza shouldn’t be tinkered with? Or are you up for cheese and other “new-fangled” combinations?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Runza and any suggestions!


Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks) are down-home food at it's best! Passed on by generations of Nebraska immigrants from the lower Volga. Make with store-bought or a fantastic, easy, homemade dough. #Runza #Bierock #NebraskanRunza

88 thoughts on “Nebraska Runzas (Bierocks)

  1. Will Frater

    I have heard of runza and bierock, but don’t think I have ever partaken of them. Where I come from, in Wisconsin, we have similar hand pies. Pasties are probably the most popular kind, which are usually filled with cubed or ground meat, potatoes, rutabagas, and onions. History says they were started by Cornish people (from Cornwall England) who came to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and bordering Northern Wisconsin and mined iron. The wives cooked the pasties early in the morning and gave them to the husbands to take to work in the mines to eat for lunch. Supposedly, they kept their pies warm under their clothes until then, like under their armpits.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Will, I am sorry to answer so late – I didn’t see your comment! But I love pasties, and even have a recipe here. I first had one in Mineral Point, WI. There are so many filled bread/pastry foods I think there could be a whole site just devoted to them!!

      I hadn’t heard about the armpit…could you imagine the funk, lol!

      Take care –


    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Robert, looks like you got cut off on your comment, but thanks for stopping by and I hope you like these Runza/Bierocks!!


  2. Chloe Crabtree

    Oh my goodness, I came across this on Pinterest and am thrilled! I was introduced to Bierocks in Wichita, Kansas back in the mid 1970’s when I was at Wichita State University. I have never seen a recipe for them since them and now I can’t wait to try my hand at them. Yours look very similar to the ones I used to get from a small restaurant in Wichita! Thank you!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Chloe, I’;m glad you found me then!

      One thing about having a food site that just does it for me is when somebody tells me a little bit of a story of how/why a recipe is nostalgic for them. I hope these live up to your expectations and thanks for stopping by!


  3. Cheree Bailey

    This recipe is so wonderful! I found it in my bookmarks on my desktop tonight and it literally brought tears to my eyes! I lost my mom in 2017, but when I told her about this recipe it was similar to her great grandmother’s! When she came to visit me that summer, we had an assembly line of Bierocks being made with this dough, ground beef, cabbage, onions and of course…clove & allspice! We made 60 in one morning and were enjoying them for lunch that afternoon! Cooking with mom bring me my most precious memories of laughter & sharing our love of being in the kitchen together! <3

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Cheree, it was so nice to hear your comment and I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your Mother. And I’m so glad you have the memories of making these with her. 🙂

      Honestly, experiences like yours are what keeps me going as a blogger when there are so many sites out there these days! I’m a firm believer that a recipe isn’t just a recipe! Food, more than anything else, has history and memories and traditions that binds families and generations together! Thanks for sharing your story!


  4. Ryda

    Ate something like this in Muchen, Germany. Especially remember the sweet bums. They did not use ground hamburger but chopped beef (different texture) and carrots besides cabbage and onions. Believe they used Nutmeg as well.

    I have used this recipe with 1/3 chopped corned beef with the chopped beef after Saint Patrick’s with very good results. Who doesn’t have extra corned beef from time to time? Well maybe not very often… Have you tried this with rung out Sauerkraut?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      My gosh your corned beef version sounds fabulous! And yes, sometimes if I have sauerkraut I’ve been known to sneak it in. 🙂 It seems we rarely have sauerkraut anymore except when making Reuben sandwiches from our leftover corned beef. I grew up with it but my kids never embraced it!


  5. Janet Wilson

    Made these today….love love love the dough…..They looked sealed, but they opened…do you bake seam side down?
    Great keeper as my husband said! High praises
    Janet Wilson

    • FrugalHausfrau

      hi Janet, sorry to be late in commenting. I’m glad you guys liked them, and yes I do cook them seam side down. But before they go in the oven I usually pick each one up and if needed, just go back over the seams with a few pinches, just to be sure.

      Hope that helps and glad hubby liked them, too!! 🙂


  6. fiendish67

    Yours are the most authentic yet. Two things, I have been looking for these for years, I grew up eating them made by my grandmother who was from Garden County, Nebraska. Her father was a second generation man whose parents came to Nebraska from, like you wrote above, about your people, the Czech/German border in the late 1800s and homesteaded on the North Platte river. When I finally remembered what these were, I saw that every recipe was missing something. But you included allspice. I know, that that had to be what my Grandmother put into them. I also think she put caraway, or celery seed, and quit a bit of black pepper. Hers were more of an oval shape though. Thanks for your web site!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! I love reading old recipes and how they travel (all cultures) and I have seen many recipes that once they have gotten to the US end up with special herbs and/or spices left out. Sounds like your Grandma didn’t do this, but I think it happens a lot. My guess: Either sometimes the spices weren’t available and HAD to be left out, and other times, Maybe sometimes the full recipe wasn’t written down and someone had to recreate and didn’t know about them or even sometimes that newer Americanized generations maybe didn’t appreciate some of the stronger (or odder) ethnic flavors! Long story short! This is so much better with those “elusive” spices!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I forgot to mention, my Stepmom grew up in Hastings but didn’t know about Runzas! It was my sister who lived in Nebraska that clued me in. 🙂

  7. Susan Holsan

    Hi! I got my first taste of Runzas, and the recipe for them, at a Chautauqua fair in Hastings, NE in the late 1970s. They came from a Czech booth rather than a German booth. Their recipe was very similar, but the spice they used was oregano. When I make mine I add shredded cheddar before baking them and this makes a good filling even better or at least so in my opinion 😊. I usually have to make a triple batch if I want any left over to freeze! I am of Germany ancestry and my husband if Czech, so my family LOVES their Runzas!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Susan. And Yes! I have had other people tell me about these Chautauqua fairs!! You must be a Runza expert by now…. 🙂 My grandpa was German, my Stepmom Czech but in this case, i had to make my own “heritage” recipe!

  8. Deborah

    Hi, very late to this conversation (by 4 years!) Anyhow, thought I would add my 2 cents worth to this conversation. I lived in Lincoln, NE from about age 5 – 10. The public schools served Runza’s once a week for lunch. On Runza day, everyone ate Runza’s! Nobody brought lunch to school that day. I remember when the first Runza place opened up in Lincoln. You could get them with cheese or without. If you choose cheese, it was baked inside the roll. The schools and Runza Restaurant served them in 1/2 moon shapes. I remember them having a slight cinnamon and allspice taste. I’ve lived in NH since I was 10 and now I am in my early 60’s. Only was back twice, and both times we had to find a Runza place. All this talk about Runza’s has made me hungry.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Deborah, you’re never too late! This post seems to have taken on a life of its own and I love hearing about your experience! This is the first I’ve ever heard of Runzas served for hot lunch…how cool is that! I’m sure that was a labor of love for your lunch ladies. I feel sorry for kids today and know we didn’t appreciate our cooks as much as we should have! Oh those cinnamon rolls…but I know how much we would have loved Runzas!! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  9. Michelle

    These are delicious! And so many good tips were given… I have never made dough before and it turned out wonderfully, thank you!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Michelle, I’m so excited for you on your first time making dough! Yea!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 And I’m glad you liked them and all my tips helped! And thanks for stopping back and letting me know how they turned out – it made my day!

  10. cas

    I made these yesterday. We call them bierock. I used ground turkey, cabbage and onions. Mom learned how to make them at camp when we were young and passed it down to me. I make mine out of an oatmeal bread dough. I love them and always make a few extra to put in the freezer.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Cas! I wonder, was that a Chautauqua camp by any chance? I love your version – it sound healthier with the turkey and oatmeal bread has always been a fave! I’m glad you stopped by because I would have never thought to use the oatmeal bread and now i’m craving it! These are badly in need of new photos and I keep thinking I need to make them soon, but now I can see I’ll have to make two batches!! I better check and see how much room there is in my freezer (or just ask my son to stop by, he’d take care of a dozen or so, lol!) Thanks for stopping by!


  11. Finally got around to making these today using shredded leftover sauerbraten and red cabbage. The recipe was very straightforward and turned out well even with my poor shaping technique. I made 14 large (125 gm) runzas and have eaten 2 already. Very tasty.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I love your round buns – beautiful! Funny but I had the worse time trying to get my round buns not to leak, part of the reason I went with a square and it sounds like it was just the opposite for you! I’ll probably grab your by the gram number for my post, though!

      • Great recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it and thanks to your sister. I used both the cloves and allspice. Not enough pepper though. 🙂

        The squares were neater but I kept having to pinch and re-pinch the seams closed. After I had assembled ALL the runzas (it took me a LOT longer than 20 minute) I went back to check the underside and … several of the seams had come open. Thankfully, the filling was very dry so I didn’t have any leakage.

        PS: They were very filling. Each one weighed about 125 gms after being baked. Delicious too. I decided to use the sauerbraten so I could clear out the freezer. And then put 2 pksg of 4 runzas each back into the freezer. 🙂

        • FrugalHausfrau

          I have to say the sauerbraten is rather inspired! Good to know about the time. Sometimes I get zen when I cook and don’t realize how much time passes, even though I try to pay attention!

          • I set the timer for 20 min once I had shaped the first one cause I had some vague idea of under-proofing. With the cold filling, it didn’t proof much on the counter but there was a nice amount of oven spring so the runzas ended up JUST touching.

  12. Pingback: Bierocks/Runzas … First Attempt | Cooking is Fun … Really!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I love the recipe, but no, your photo is so fantastic. When I remade these, I didn’t let them brown enough….but now I haven’t made them for a long time. Well it’s a good winter project, isn’t it!! 🙂

  13. I first had Bierocks in Yakima, WA at the Yakima Valley Fair. I used to go to the fair just to have a Bierock. They stopped having them. Thanks for the recipe. I am not a fan of American cheese but I do love Feta cheese, I will have to try that.

  14. Teri

    These have always been a childhood memory until today! Growing up we had a close family friend who made these every Christmas as we celebrated together. If memory serves correctly she made them using a flaky pie crust rather than a bread dough. I do remember eating more than my fair share!
    Thank you for sharing this recipe and inspiration!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I’m always happy when I hear I’ve brought back some childhood memories! I’m glad to hear it and have a great holiday!


      • Amber

        I learned how to make these years ago and we put hamburger, carrots, onion and cabbage in the filling, plus the german seasoning maggi. They are the best.

  15. Gerald Knauss

    Made these last weekend, turned out great! My wife made a similar recipe like 30+ years ago and I’ve been longing to make a recipe similar to that. The changes I made to the recipe were: 1.) used naturally fermented sauerkraut from the refrigeration section (not in a jar in the aisles) – squeezed it out of course, 2.) added some basil as a seasoning. The dough turned out fantastic, very elastic and so easy to work with. Made 12 small balls, rolled each one out, put in 1/3 cup+ of filling into each, pinched shut, then turned over seam side down to raise for 20 minutes as instructed (lightly sprayed with Pam before covering with a dish cloth). After baking brushed with butter. They were so good I ate all 12 of them during the weekend! Oink! 😉

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I’m glad you liked it and it brought back such good memories for you!! I wish I had one (or a dozen) right now!! 🙂

  16. B (Shultz) Hernandez

    My grandmother grew up in a German Mennonite dairy farming family. She always made these with a biscuit-type dough (soft and not sweet), ground beef, onion, shredded carrot and cabbage, salt and pepper.

    These have always been a favorite food of mine!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      That sounds wonderful, too! I just love these and love hearing about all the variations and the good memories everyone seems to have of them! 🙂

  17. Susan Holsan

    Have been making runzas for about 40 years now. About the only difference in mine is the spices. I use oregano instead of the allspice and cloves. But I will have to try it sometime with those spices! I got my recipe at a Chautauqua Fair in Hastings, Nebraska in the mid 1970s at a Czech booth and the oregano was in that recipe. When my 2 boys were home I made triple batches that were gone in about two days! We love our runzas!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oregano,huh? I can see how good that would be in Runzas! It is so interesting, I haven’t heard that word Chautauqua since I was a kid in the 60’s. My dad used to go to Chautauqua and I never really knew what it was. So I had to google it. My son is the same way…I love cooking for him, it’s a joy and he eats anything (and EVERYTHING!!) and really appreciates my home cooking now that he’s out on his own!

  18. Jules

    Howdy! The runzas of my Texas childhood were made with Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix, and frozen dinner roll dough is very close in texture, though a little harder to work. I live in Ohio now and locals have adapted the traditional New Year’s braised pork and sauerkraut into an appetizer, “sauerkraut balls” which is meat and minced drained kraut rolled meatball size and cooked, many restaurants serve them and they are a must for parties. So I just made runzas with minced fresh pork and drained chopped kraut, seasoned with just enough ketchup and BBq sauce (maybe scant 1/4 cup total) to give the filling a tint other than GRAY, and plenty of allspice and black pepper. They taste great! I’ts pork for me from now on! People here don’t know what a runza is but I’m guessing they will eagerly sample a ‘sauerkraut ball in a bun’.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh wow, what a fun combo, and you can bet I’m going to be googling those pork sauerkraut balls! My Dad (87 now) was just telling me on my last visit how much he wanted sauerkraut!

      Your combo sounds wonderful!! It’s like a mix of tradtional, midwest and texas all combined! I can only imagine the taste!

      Thanks for stopping by and adding to what seems to be a growing collection of variations! I love it!! 🙂


  19. David Fowler

    Greetings, I’ve been searching the web on making bierocks and came across you. I just want to thank you for the excellent job you did in your research and ultimate recipe for making these. As a novice baker, I will use a brioche bread recipie and also as a Texas pit master, different meat. Again, thank you for the time you invested on this subject and I hope for you’re continued success. Sincerely, David Fowler

    • Hi David, and thanks for stopping by! I love that you’re using a different meat, and as a Pit Master, I’m expecting something wonderful and smoked! A Brioche would be an excellent choice, although you couldn’t go wrong with making the bread in this post. Just sayin’, lol!! I’d love to hear how yours turn out, David. They sound like they’re going to be a masterpiece!

      Maybe you’d like to post them on my FB?


  20. I made these today, only variation I added a few scoops of left over mashed potatoes which held the meat mixture together. Great recipe, easy and delicious!😋

  21. sherry

    I love making these, they are so good.
    On a cold night they just seem to make u warm up on the inside.
    When I want to make them in a hurry I have used pizza dough, yah know the ones in those 58 cent pakages., all u do is add hot water. It works great.
    Sometimes i add swiss cheese, mushrooms. And I always use sour krout. Yummy starting to get hungry.
    If using pizza dough make sure u use egg to wipe on top so they brown.

  22. Jani

    AWESOME! I had never heard of these nor made them before! These are amazing! I do the American cheese after taking out of oven! They freeze really well and easy to heat. Just take out and put in plastic or press and seal and heat for 2 minutes power 50… they are just as soft and yummy as the day you made them! My family loves these and so easy to have as a reheat dinner!! Just make fries and vege or fruit and it’s great!! Love this recipe and will always use it!! LOVE this recipe!

    • Hi Jani, they are great, aren’t they! I’m so glad you gave these a try and liked them so well! I actually wish I had one right now!! Thanks so much for stopping by and giving me such a great comment!


  23. Jerry McGuire

    My grandparents (family name Keil) came over to upstate New York from the Black Sea area of Russia around 1904. My grandmother made runzas and taught my mother, and I’ve developed my own recipe from the ones she made. Two things that may be of interest: first, as far as I know, both my grandmother and mother always made these without meat (I doubt my grandmother could afford much meat in Russia). They used a mixture of sauerkraut and mashed, boiled potatoes, pretty heavily dosed with black pepper and some caraway seed–though that may have come with the sauerkraut. Second, these were always called runzas. The name certainly didn’t originate with a Nebraska chain. I’d guess that the term “runza” is a regional variant related to other foods either in Germany, where the family originated, or Russia, where they’d settled before coming here.
    J. McGuire

    • Thanks so much for the story and the info!! Always called Runzas! Wow!

      And I have heard of these being made w/o meat, too. I personally think I’d love the sauerkraut/potato mixture. How wonderful that you have such memories/experiences of the Runza and cooking with your Mother and Grandmother.

    • Kelli Casey

      Thank you so much for this post. In a very fustrating and sad day I found this. My grandmother made Bierrocks. We cheat and use frozen bread dough. No one I have ever askd heard of these and yes my great grandparents came down the Volga f I’m Prussia.

      • I hope it brought back some fond memories for you and cheered you up a little bit to see the recipe. I hope it’s spot on, lol! You should try the dough. It has a lot of yeast and that sugar really speeds up the rising and it’s very easy to work with, even if you’re not a big baker. I know a lot of people use the frozen dough or rolls, too, though.

        I love these and am hoping to make them with my grandchildren this Christmas Holiday! We might have a go at some different fillings and hope to make some memories, too.

  24. Ali

    Okay, so I did a little tinkering, I used hamburger, yellow onion sautéed in garlic butter, and Greek spice, (lots), tapatio, Worcester shire sauce,and then mixed in the shredded cabbage and steamed it awhile , then when slightly cooled added Feta cheese, very yummy , however I may try the clove and allspice and maybe some sautéed mushrooms I prefer feta over the other types, there is Also another cheese called mitzithra that is very good but dryer than feta, I also cheated and used frozen rolls, but I think your dough would actually be better ao will try it on next batch, thanks for the initial recipe.

    • Hi Ali – I love all the additions and Mitzithra is a wonderful cheese! I love spaghetti tossed in butter and Mitzithra! Both of those cheeses pack a ton of flavor. As is, the recipe is really down-home and I think we expect our food to be more flavor packed these days! 🙂 Either that or pull out the Sriracha, lol!

  25. Rita

    I remember these from my childhood, I would make them for my family and we all love them. When my son started dating a vegetarian I had to get creative. I used chopped mushroom instead of beef. The vegetation loved them, and they did have a good flavor. I prefer the beef version. Growing up we called them “Cabbage Rolls”

  26. Samantha

    Have you ever frozen the second pan to bake later? If so, what directions would you recommend for baking after freezing?

    • I have not – but I have baked them and then frozen them. If freezing before baking, I would assume that you’d want to put them in the fridge to thaw, which would probably be early the evening before, loosely covered, then as soon as they’ve thawed, put them on the counter to come to room temperature and to rise. That I’ve done with items like cinnamon rolls, for instance.

  27. I made yhem today also with ground elk and ground elk sausage and cabbage onion and clives anf basil they came out delicious melted butter on top and grated cheese and pepper on top and let thrm finish cooking. Yum yum


    In the oven right now. I used a box of country white bread mix. Made everything like it says except I cut my dough about 4×6 for a rectangle shape. I pinched the corners together on the ends then pulled it up like a taco and sealed the the longgame top area. They look great only I messed up and buttered them before oven. They smell amazing……ok have to take then out now.

  29. Dayna

    We call these krautbrach’s. When I lived in Ft. Collins CO a Runza restaurant opened back in the 90’s. We use hot roll mix for our dough. Delicious dish! We cut them open and add butter to each one.

  30. Jess

    What a delicious recipe! I added shredded carrots and a packet of dry ranch dressing mix to mine and they were a total hit!

    Before baking I brushed mine with a egg/water mix and it added a great color.

    After baking, I covered with a tea towel for 5 minutes and it truly made all the difference!

  31. Mark

    So almost a year late to this, but have a couple of observations.

    The addition of potatoes is a superb way to stretch the recipe — I have two kids who could clean out a fully-stocked refrigerator in a day, and we always have their friends over here as well. You gotta precook the spuds because they won’t fully cook inside the bierock; adding them to the ground beef when browning it, either cubed or hashed, works very well and sticks the filling together due to the starch in the potatoes releasing during the process. Makes the filling a WHOLE lot easier to work with, too.

    These guys freeze and reheat very well. Make a boatload of them at once and freeze for later use, and you save yourself the mess the next time you want some. Either microwave for a super-soft dough or preheat the oven to 300 and shove ’em in for a crisper result. If you use the conventional oven, another butter or egg wash will help the pastry stay together without burning.

    Around here (north central Kansas) breakfast bierocks are very popular. Add dry-finished scrambled eggs, substitute bacon and/or sausage, grate a hard sharp Cheddar into the finished filling before stuffing and baking them and you have a breakfast sandwich without peer.

    • Mark, thanks, and so glad you took the time for all these hints and helps! And I know just what you mean about the boys – my son can outeat anyone I know, an astonishing amount (and he’s skinny!) and I can really see how much easier it would be to fill with a little starchy potato holding it all together.

      I tried rolling and/or smooshing little balls of dough and filling them in my hand and folding up, but this method of cutting with a pizza cutter worked great – but I had to keep smooshing the filling back together or it would escape!!

      Breakfast Bierocks sound fantastic! Next time, I promise!!

  32. Shirley

    When I lived in Colorado they made and sold these at the Westminister Mall. They made them with cabbage, potatoes , and hamburger meat. The smells were wonderful and the taste was unbelievable good.

    • Hi Shirley, I think that I saw a diner’s drive in and dives episode about that place – or maybe a place nearby. I lived in Colorado for 23 years and still miss it, but never made it to the Westminster mall much – had I only known then…haha! Have a great day and thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  33. Barbara

    My family loves bierock made with no meat… Just cabbage, onion and lots of allspice. I fry the cabbage and onion in a little vegetable shortening. They are delicious! I make same with meat also… I cook the meat then add it to the cooked cabbage and onion.

    • By the way, my sister very specifically says to bake w/o cheese and then open them up and jam 1/2 slice of AMERICAN cheese in them! So, there you go, there’s that American cheese thing again! 🙂

      It’s an afternoon’s work of a project. Lots of yeast in that dough, though so it rises quickly, and some people just buy a frozen loaf or frozen rolls. They don’t have that sweet taste that this dough has, though.

  34. This reminds me of piroshki. Kramarczuk’s over Nordeast serves pirogies with meat or spinach, which are boiled. It’s great served with a little sour cream and sauerkraut.

    • Funny you mentioned this because these are related to piroshki – I LOVE Kramarczuks and last year a crowd of us went there for my birthday dinner. I feel sometimes I’m dragging my family or friends to strange places! 🙂

      Did you hear that Nye’s Polonaise is going to be closing?

      • Yes. A developer wants to put in condos and an historical preservation group is trying to save the 2 original buildings! So Minneapolis! Kramarczuks is an institution. 🙂

        • Hmm, interesting. I’m not sure that the buildings represent much on their own, it was the family that made this such a great place. Any condos that obscure the view of Our Lady of Lourdes even more would sure be a shame.

          When my brother and nephew visited awhile back, we went there for dinner and I’m going to have to make a pilgrimage over to Nordeast before it’s too late! 🙂

            • Oh, I see. Thanks! I don’t get out that way often, but Surdyck has a great wine sale twice a year and I used drive over and stop somewhere to eat and pick up a few bottles.

              I stopped when the kids got into their teenage years, but now that they’re gone…:) 🙂

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