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I came to bierocks late in life, but this German cousin to a pasty or Chinese bao bun has stolen my heart. Bierocks are possibly the most versatile recipe on this website: You can fill them with any meat, mushrooms, or just vegetables. What follows is a traditional bierocks recipe, with only a few twists. Variations are at the bottom. 

A tray of bierocks, fresh out of the oven
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

It all started on the side of a logging road at 10,000 feet in Colorado. My friend Jim and I had just climbed down a mountain after a successful ptarmigan hunt. I was starving, so I opened the cooler and saw some sort of bready thing wrapped in plastic wrap. What is that? “They’re bierocks,” Jim said.

Huh? “Yeah, they’re a Kansas thing. Cabbage burgers? Runzas?” Never heard of it. 

Jim handed me one. “Cabbage burgers,” eh? Didn’t sound too appetizing. I hesitated, but like I said, I was starving. I took a bite. It was cold, bready, meaty… and surprisingly good!

I decided then and there I needed to make these strangely awesome bready things. Bierocks have a long history in Eastern Europe. It took me a few tries, but I now have a bierocks recipe I really like. Aren’t they pretty?

A row of bierocks on a baking sheet, fresh out of the oven.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Jim’s did not have seeds on top, but I like them. You can really get the flavor, too — it’s a bit like the topping on an “everything” bagel. The bread is fantastic, too. Light, pillowy, but strong enough to contain the filling.

Filling for Bierocks

The filling. I realized you could put anything inside these buns, but I stuck with more or less traditional German-Polish bierocks. Cabbage, onion and meat is a must. Sauerkraut factors in, and I like it a lot. I use my own fennel sauerkraut, but any good ‘kraut would work.

Most bierocks recipes are super simple in terms of seasoning, but I added some Eastern European touches, like mustard, malt vinegar and thyme.

As for the meat, well… really anything goes. Anything. And if you are a vegetarian reading this, chopped mushrooms work every bit as well. I’ve made these bierocks with sharp-tailed grouse, sea ducks, regular ducks, venison and wild pork. The one thing you need to decide is whether you’re going ground or diced.

When I use bird breasts or another really tender cut, I will dice the meat small and add it raw to the filling; don’t worry, it cooks through when you bake the bierocks. Your other option is to add ground meat that you cook with the filling.

Leftover, shredded meat is another excellent option. Make sure you chop it so it’s not stringy. 

Making Bierocks

You are actually making a simple bread for the bierocks themselves, which sets them apart from cousins like Cornish pasties or empanadas. This means you’ll want plenty of time to make this, or any other, bierocks recipe. A weekend is a great time; don’t worry, bierocks store and freeze well. More on that later. 

For the dough, you will need yeast, regular flour and some time to let it rise. I generally make the dough and let it proof while making the filling. If you want, you can sub in other flours, either in part or whole. I really like adding a little rye, barley, emmer or spelt to the party. It make the bierocks seem more Eastern European. 

(If you’re in a hurry, you can use canned biscuit dough. It’s a cheapy option, but it works. Pop the can and then flatten the dough coins, and move on from there.) 

One tip that no other bierocks recipe seems to mention: You need to flatten the outside inch or so of the bread dough much thinner than the center. You actually want the center to be about 1/4 inch thick, so pretty thick. But the rim needs to be very thin.

You put the filling on the center (which become the tops of the bierocks), and then fold up the outside rim to seal it. If you don’t flatten the outer part more than the center, you will have a huge glob of bread at the bottom. Doing it this way keeps the bread relatively even. See?

Bierocks broken open so you can see the filling
Photo by Holly A. Heyser


OK, so this bierocks recipe is traditional Polish/German, but I’ve found that everything tastes good inside. Leftover barbacoa or carnitas, you could cook down a batch of elk stew or pheasant stew until it was sticky and not soupy, you could add Mexican picadillo, use my mushroom pierogi filling, hell, you could even sub in crab or flaked fish for the meat if you wanted. 

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.


This bierocks recipe makes a fair number, and can be doubled easily. In fact, I always double it because they keep for a week or more in the fridge, and freeze well. 

To freeze, let them cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap. But them all in a freezer bag and you’re good. 

Reheat your bierocks in a toaster oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or use a microwave. Or do what we did on the mountain and eat them cold. 

A final note: Bierocks tend to look like these pictures. Their sister pastry, runzas, which are more of a Nebraska thing, are square or rectangular. They taste about the same, though.

I hope you make these, and I’d love to hear about how you make them your own in the comments section!

Other Meat Pies to Try

I have a wide selection of other fantastic meat pies you might want to try. Some are bready, others use pie crust, some use other doughs. Keep in mind the filling meat can really be whatever you have lying around.

  • Venison pasties. Cornish meat pies filled with ground or diced beef or venison, carrots and rutabagas in a bready crust.
  • Finnish lihapiirakka. Another bready dough. These have rice, meat and lots of onions.
  • Fried empanadas. This one’s a pie dough made for frying. You can fill them with anything.
  • Mexican masa empanadas. This is a corn masa dough, a little more fragile than a wheat dough, but lighter and crispier.
  • Venison mincemeat pies. This winter treat is well worth the effort – a little package of sweet, tart, savory, fatty, and crunchy.
  • British game pie. A game pie is a classic hand pie made with a hot water crust and whatever wild game you have handy.
  • Plantain empanadas. This gluten-free dough mixes masa flour with mashed plantains. Delicious, and it browns nicely.
A tray of bierocks, fresh out of the oven
4.82 from 38 votes

Bierocks or Runzas

You can use any meat for your bierocks, and you can either grind the meat or dice it. I prefer to use both shredded cabbage and sauerkraut here, but you can use one or the other if you like. My seasonings reflect the Eastern European tradition of these buns, but you can play with it if you'd like. Once made, bierocks will keep in the fridge for a week, and are good cold. 
Course: lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Polish
Servings: 8 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes



  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet of yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup room temperature butter
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting


  • 1 pound tender meat, diced small (see above)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup chopped sauerkraut
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • ¼ cup beer (lager or pilsner)


  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, for brushing the bierocks
  • 2 tablespoons seeds (poppy, caraway, sesame, etc)


  • Bloom the yeast in the warm water for 10 minutes, then mix all the remaining dough incredient together in a bowl. Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes, then cover and let rest 1 hour.
  • Make the filling. Heat the butter in a large pan and cook the cabbage, sauerkraut and onions over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Stir in the thyme, mustard, vinegar and beer and simmer until the liquid is all gone. Turn off the heat, and, when this is cool, mix well with the uncooked meat. Set in the fridge.
  • After the first hour has elapsed, punch down the dough, knead a few more times, then roll into a ball, cover and let sit another hour.
  • When the dough has about 30 minutes to go, take the filling out of the fridge. It is important that it goes into the bierock at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet well.
  • Cut the dough into eight pieces. Set the pieces you are not working on under plastic wrap or a damp towel. Divide the filling into eight parts, too.
  • Roll a piece of dough into a ball, then flatten it to about 1/3 of an inch thick. Roll the outer inch of the dough thinner, to about ¼ inch thick or even thinner if you can – this makes what will become the bottom of the pastry match better with the top. Add some filling and bring the dough up all around it to seal. Set the dough seam side down on a floured surface and gently shape it into a flattened ball with your hands. Set on the greased baking sheet and repeat with the other pieces of dough.
  • When all your bierocks are made and on the sheet, paint them all with egg and sprinkle with the seeds, plus a little more salt.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, and cool a bit before serving. These are excellent at room temperature, too.


Calories: 452kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 589mg | Potassium: 347mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 461IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

4.82 from 38 votes (7 ratings without comment)

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  1. Excellent! I made a double batch and included some wild mushrooms. I also used some of my “Hank’s fennel kraut” I made a couple months ago. I love the fennel kraut, so part of me didn’t want to use it for this. 🙂
    I also used red cabbage because that’s what the grocer had, so it made the filling dark. The bierocks taste amazing! The mushrooms added about 1/2 lb to the filling, but I still had 1 1/2 lb of filling left over, which I vacuum sealed and froze. The first 12 in the oven (1 large sheet pan) I baked for 25 minutes, and about 1/2 split open around the edges. The last 4 I only did 20 minutes and they are beautiful! They’ll all taste great. Looking forward to bringing these instead of sandwiches for WI firearm deer season.
    I ended up with too much dough on the bottoms, even though I rolled the edges thinner, so I’ll have to work on not pulling as much dough under with the next batch.

  2. I remember these from when I was a kid (mid 60s now). There was a Carry-out burger place in Wichita, KS. on my paper route that had Bierocks on their menu. I still remember how good-tasting those things were. Thank you for the recipe. I WILL be making some before too long.
    PS: The picture of the one that was cut in half, made my stomach start chewing on my back-bone. LOL

  3. I’m fortunate enough to live in Nebraska and can pick up a Runza at the drive-thru any time I feel the urge. Highly suggest the #1 combo, Cheese Runza with Frings (combo of fries & onion rings). This recipe has me pumped to try this with game this fall, starting with teal and/or prairie chicken in September.

  4. My mom called these kraut kuga. I love your version. I never thought to use game–can hardly wait to try it.

  5. Being a sourdough junkie, and the last remaining caretaker of my family’s sourdough (dated back to 1905 that I could verify) I thought I’d try it here. It’s a melted ice cream consistancy type of sourdough barm, Just replce the water and yeast and add enough to make the dough right. Overnight in the fridge lets the enzymes fully develop, probably very close to how they made this in the “old” country before store-bought yeast.

  6. Made these tonight with my first Sharptail Grouse I brought home last winter. Loved the recipe; A bit hesitant after reading and hearing stories about sharpies gaminess so I marinated them overnight in Italian dressing and meat flavorful without gamey taste. I would halve the vinegar and sauerkraut amount just because it overpowered the taste of the bun a tad (admittedly I am a bread fanatic). I used everything bagel seasoning and added perfect amount of salt and seeds.

  7. For those that freeze these. Should I freeze them before or after baking? I would prefer to reheat/cook them in the oven not the microwave. Is the 25 minutes still sufficient if they are frozen?

  8. Would like to try this with ground bear. Would you recommend cooking the bear meat with the filling before stuffing or with it reach a proper temp for the bear?

    1. I have been making this recipe for a few months now and still love it! It makes for a great work lunch and I have experimented with different fillings – potato beef curry, “pizza” fillings, “taco” fillings, the options go on. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. I make a few batches of these each year. We freeze for future meals. The filling can be varied but I usually stick pretty close to the recipe. I have also dressed it up and served with brown gravy, it made it more like a northern MN Pastie. Great for camping, deer camp and even dinner parties.

  10. O M G!….I love meat packets and these Bierocks are awesome!….the sandwich/entree size is perfect ….my husband and I go garaging saleing on Saturdays and now we can make something different to eat in the car!…football games …YES!…I made Sally’s Baking Addictions’ Beer Cheddar Dip and I will so be dipping my Bierocks in that gooey cheese, too!

    thank you!!

  11. These were fantastic! My family is German so I used to eat bierocks as a kid and this is the first time since my childhood that I have eaten them. They were just as I remembered.

  12. We made our own filling but this dough recipe, even without the seeds is the best. Forever grateful.

  13. Hank,
    Any recommendations for adding some whole wheat, rye flour to the dough? Making some again soon with home fermented sauerkraut.

  14. I’m not a fan of ground beef and in searching for Bierock recipes using ground pork or other meat I found yours. We have a couple of 2nd growth cabbages from the garden plus homemade sauerkraut, so I’m going to try this really soon!

  15. I am about to begin the dough process for the 5th time since finding this recipe about a month ago!! My family, especially my husband, adores these Bierocks. Thank you so much for sharing such a delicious creation.

  16. I was looking for a good recipe to use up our ground venison because we always seem to have so much left over each year and this was it! I, sadly, couldn’t try them because I have celiac disease, but my fiancé loved them!! Highly recommend.

    1. To Lauren Bakke, I used to bake a lot using my own gluten free dough (about 3 different flours). Try to find a recipe for gf piroshok. It won’t be the same but it can be good. I wish you the best.

  17. Best recipe for Bierocks ever. My children and grandchildren loved them. They have such good flavor compared to just the cabbage ones.