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Easy State Fair Runzas / Bierocks

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You are soooo going to love these Easier State Fair Runza Rolls (a.k.a. Bierocks), that you’ll want to Pin this, save it, or print it now before you get surfing and forget! Yea. They’re that kind of good. 😉

Though the first actual establishment to sell these was “Runza” in Lincoln, Nebraska, back in 1949; these simple, stuffed rolls called “runzas”, (also known as “bierocks”), were brought over by German immigrants who settled in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. And these immigrants and their descendants have been making these for more than 150 years here!

The first time that I had one of these pillowy-soft, heavenly meat and cabbage-stuffed rolls, was at the Illinois State Fair back in 1982 in Springfield! Humble, but OH so delicious! So good that I could still taste them, have never forgotten them, and decided to finally try my hand at making them myself!



It usually takes a bit of convincing when making anything with cabbage, as it isn’t one of my hubby’s favorites. So this time, I just didn’t even tell him, avoided an unnecessary battle, and just made it anyways. I remembered that you really couldn’t even taste the cabbage anyway, and it was more of just a healthy filler. So, what he didn’t know wasn’t going to kill him. (Although he’d argue that to his
“deathbed” if he had known in advance!)





But, VERY happy to tell you that he loved them just as much as I do, and didn’t even notice that there was actually a substantial amount of cabbage in there. Win-win-win!! 

And guess what? They’re EASY to make, (using a little bit of a cheater ingredient!), they’re economical, and taste every bit as good as the ones that you get at your own local fairs and remember enjoying in your Grandma’s kitchen!

Normally made with a lower grade of fattier ground beef that’s cooked and undrained, I use lean hamburger that doesn’t need to be drained, and replace the grease with butter. Because…I mean. It’s butter. And buttah makes everything bettah! Right? Yep!!

And the cheater ingredient? Frozen bread dough. Yep.

I always use Rhodes brand, and it works like a CHAMP. You can use whatever you like, or go whole hog wild and crazy, and make your own bread dough. But these came out so stinkin’ good, that I doubt that making that from scratch too would make any substantial difference. Rhodes is a very good company, and I’ve relied on their products for many years. Just do whatever makes you happy!



So spray, wrap, and thaw the bread dough overnight in the fridge, and you’re good to go the next day!

DO NOT flour your board when working out the rounds, though. Or you’ll be chasing those suckers all over the place and get nowhere. You need the dough to stick to the board a little to hold it in place so that you can smooth and stretch it out. Then it’s a breeze and goes very quickly!



Top your 4 1/2 – 5 inch dough rounds (making one roll at a time) with large pinches of shredded cheese, about 1 1/2 tablespoons per round.

Then scoop out a mound of the meat mixture, about a 1/3 of a cup’s worth. And place that on top of the cheese. Keep it all in the middle, and start pulling up the sides a bit at a time, pulling up and over the mound and overlapping with each bit of dough. Just like you would do if making Chinese dumplings, (or a Taco Bell crunch wrap if that makes sense).

Pinch it a bit to seal, then place it sealed side down onto a sprayed baking sheet.



Continue with the rest, baste them with meted butter as you make them, and then just bake until golden browned!




When they come out of the oven, baste them with more melted butter, and then let them rest for a few minutes. They’ll be like molten lava inside!



Aren’t they pretty?

And just look at that yummy cheese oozing out!!!!



Once they cool for just a few minutes, use a steak knife, or any small-serrated knife handy, and slice them in half.



Place them onto a platter or plate, cut sides up, and serve!




We enjoyed ours with some spicy brown mustard for dipping, a few batches of my Copycat 5 Guys Fries with ketchup for dunking, and a quickie cucumber and onion salad with my homemade Italian Salad Dressing!

It sounds silly, describing a “Runza” to someone who’s never had one, but you really do have to taste one of these buggers to fully understand how delicious this silly-easy and simple combination of flavors can be! And they’re highly addictive! You’ve been warned!

So pick up the ingredients today and make a few batches this weekend! They’re easy and fun to make, and OH man!! SO, so very good!!! Hope you all enjoy!!


Other dishes that you might enjoy with these:

Old-Fashioned Mustard Potato Salad
Creamy Deli-Style Macaroni Salad
Sweet Creamy Southern Cole Slaw
Adult 4-Cheese Mac ‘n Cheese with Rigatoni


Easy State Fair Runzas / Bierocks
Yield: 14 - 16 Runza Rolls

Easy State Fair Runzas / Bierocks


For Filling:

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 a large onion, chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 Tbl. butter, cut up
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar, can also use regular vinegar
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. regular black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. regular table salt
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 small head cabbage finely shredded and chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. dark brown sugar

Rest of Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 Tbl. per roll) of shredded mozzarella and provolone blend cheese, optional, (*or other cheeses see note)
  • 2 (1 lb. each) loaves frozen bread dough, thawed overnight
  • 1 stick butter, melted


  • *The night before, spray frozen bread dough loaves with butter-flavored cooking spray (I use Crisco's), and wrap each tightly with plastic wrap. Place into fridge to thaw overnight.
  • In large frying pan, sauté ground beef and onion until done, breaking up into small pieces as you go. *Drain any excess grease if necessary. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute longer. (*I didn't need to drain because the grease was so minimal that it wasn't necessary. And a little just adds flavor!)
  • Add butter, hot chicken broth mixed with the beef bouillon base, worcestershire, vinegar, both peppers, salt, and onion powder. Add shredded cabbage. Toss well to mix. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is very tender, (15 - 20 minutes). During the last 5 minutes, add dark brown sugar. Remove from heat and set aside. (*This can be made ahead of time and held for 1 - 2 days.)
  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray 2 baking sheets with butter flavored no-stick spray (I really like Crisco's the best), and set aside.
  • Cut first loaf into 8 slices, remove one slice and keep the rest wrapped so they don't dry out. Place one dough disk onto wooden cutting board, and press out, starting from the center and working your way to the edge (just like making a pizza), into a 4 1/2 - 5 inch round circle.
  • Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of shredded cheese in the center, then top with a mound ( about a 1/3 cup) of the meat mixture. Bring up the sides, a bit at a time, pulling up and over the top, overlapping with each bit. (Just like you were making a Chinese dumpling or "crunchwrap".) Pinch a little to seal, and place seam side down onto your prepared baking sheet. Brush with melted butter. Continue with rest of loaf.
  • When all first 8 are made and basted, pop the sheet into the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden. Remove from oven, then remove rolls from sheet and place onto a cooling rack. Baste with more melted butter.
  • Make a second batch with the second loaf and rest of ingredients. (*You can make these the next day if you'd like.) *If making the second day, you don't have to warm the meat mixture.
  • Let cool just a little, then slice in half with a serrated knife and serve with spicy brown mustard and ketchup for dipping if desired. These are fantastic just as is, though!
  • Notes

    *Other cheeses that work well are American, co-jack, pepper-jack, swiss, sharp white cheddar, blue, havarti, or even a nice strong horseradish cheese!


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    Monday 14th of August 2023

    Totally had to roll these out. Pressing out with hands did not work: unfloured surface meant the dough stuck and tore, floured meant they wouldn’t hold still and wouldn’t stretch. Lightly floured surface and rolled with a small pastry roller was perfect.


    Wednesday 17th of August 2022

    Can you freeze these? Before or after baking? I've had these once, and absolutely loved them. I can't wait to try your recipe!


    Monday 10th of February 2020

    I’ve been eating and making these for 30 years. I use my Momma’s recipe which calls for shredded roast beef instead of ground beef! No cheese, but we use onions and garlic and a bay leaf (removed from filling before stuffing)!


    Sunday 22nd of October 2023

    @Kimberly, I know this is an old post, but will you share your Momma's recipe for the Runzas / Bierocks??TIA.

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