Bierocks/Runzas - Nebraska Comfort Food #BBB


Welcome to Fall and October!  I decided to have the Babes try out a Nebraska specialty this month known as runzas or bierocks.  They are common in regions with strong Eastern European and German heritage, and similar to Pirozhkis, and reminiscent of Cornish pasties.  Basically a yeast dough, pocket sandwich or bun, filled with a savory filling, usually meat, onion, and cabbage based.  There are whole Runza restaurants in Nebraska with flavors like Original (meat, onion, cabbage), Cheese, Swiss Mushroom, Cheeseburger, BBQ Bacon, BLT, Spicy Jack, Vegetarian, etc.  So it really can be built to taste.  I left the choice of dough and filling open to whatever our bakers desired to try out.  I have even seen an Italian flavored Runza out there though I suspect that it is closer to a Stromboli than a runza at the point!

When seasoning the filling, err on the side of over-seasoning.  Once it is wrapped in the dough, all the flavors are muted and you don't want to end up with something bland.  I even added Mongolian fire oil to my filling and could not taste it at all after baking!  Interestingly, my family was just okay with these, I guess they prefer a stew with bread rather than a neat little package!

Have you ever had a runza?  What is/would be your favorite filling?  Bake along with us this month and try it out!  No blog is necessary to participate, a picture will do. Just send a picture or your post of your finished flatbread to me by the 30th of this month at eleyana (AT) aol (DOT) com.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Nebraska Runza/Bierocks
makes 12 

Runza dough:
(Serves 12)
4½ cups all-purpose flour (feel free to use part wholemeal or add flax meal for speckles, I used 70g fresh ground sprouted spelt and the rest all purpose)
2 tbsp sugar 
2 pkg. (¼ oz) yeast (One pkg worth works fine (2¼ tsp))
1 tsp salt 
¾ cup milk 
½ cup water 
½ cup butter 
2 eggs, beaten

Start by placing half the flour, and the sugar, yeast, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Gently heat the milk, water, and butter to 115º F.
Pour warmed wet ingredients into flour mixture. Stir slightly before adding beaten eggs.
Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour. 


Filling ingredients:
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 pounds ground beef
4 cups shredded cabbage (about ½ a head of cabbage)
(optional) - 1 small can sauerkraut, with the juice (I used ~1 cup Bubbie's kraut, which is jarred and not cooked and tastes fantastic)
salt and pepper to taste (be liberal here, the bread tempers the seasoning) I added some Worcestershire too
(optional) cheese of your choice

Chop onions and garlic and sauté in a large frying pan with a little butter or olive oil until tender.  Add ground beef along with generous amounts of salt and pepper.  Cook until beef is cooked through and drain well.
Put browned ground beef into a large pot or crockpot. Stir in cabbage and kraut.  Simmer 3-4 hours, stirring often, and seasoning and tasting.  If using a crockpot, cook on "low" for 5 to 6 hours

Punch dough down, and divide into 12 equal portions. 

Working with one piece of dough, roll out a circle of dough approximately ¼″ thick.  It shouldn’t be so thin that it is breaking up into holes when you handle it.  To help with the shaping, place the round into a bowl. Dump the filling (~½ cup) on top of the dough, and then pull the dough around the filling and pinch sides together to seal.  Flip the runza out, seam side down.

Place onto a greased or parchment lined baking sheet (edges can touch).  I made a half batch of six.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.  

Optionally, brush tops with melted butter during the last 10 minutes of baking for color and flavor!

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes




  1. You are completely right about over seasoning. I loved these and they will be on regular rotation in our house. I even split one open and add pickles!

    1. Ooo, pickles! Inspired! Like a deluxe burger in a pocket, I imagine.

  2. This was a really fun project, Kelly! And your Bierocks/Runzas look delicious.

    What a great idea of Karen's to split them open to add pickles! In fact, that might be the way to go for picky eaters like me. We could make a very dry filling for the Bierocks, then split them open to add cabbage, sauerkraut, caramelized onions, etc. etc.

    1. Well the only pocket style bread item I ate growing up was the deep fried pizza pocket at the little convenience store down the road from our high school at lunch time. I confess I still hold a preference for the Italian flavor profile in that case. (Loved that little hole in the wall, owner offered me a job out of the blue one day because I was a positive, bubbly personality. Good memory.) Even if these weren't the next big thing for my kids and hubby, they were fun to make at least!

  3. Finally Kelly. We loved these, whatever you call them, whatever you fill them with.
    And glory be yours look pretty much like mine. Makes me feel like we did them right! I have dough in the fridge for tomorrow! Thank you.

  4. These are fun! Brings back memories of another life and time.... Perfect winter food.

  5. Kelly, thank you for introducing me to these rolls. They were delicious even if I didn't get the shaping part down.


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