What is a Bierock?

And how is it different than a Runza?

Photo: Bierock or Runza.

Maybe you’ve traveled through Kansas or Nebraska and saw it on a small-town restaurant’s menu… Or maybe you’ve just seen the word on the internet and you’re wondering what you’re missing out on. Regardless of how you got here, the question remains the same… What is a bierock? Or, in Nebraska’s case… What is a runza?

What is a Bierock

Surprise! These pockets of deliciousness are the same thing with a different name and shape. The Great Plains of Kansas and Nebraska had many German settlements and those settlers brought this savory tradition with them. 

For the sake of my fingers (and because I am a Kansan through and through) I’ll refer to this sandwich as a ‘bierock’ from now on (sorry Nebraska friends!) Bierocks have a yeast dough breaded pocket with beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions and seasonings for the filling. ‘Americanized’ versions of the bierock can include cheese, but staunch traditionalists bake them without. In Kansas, the bierocks you see are primarily more rounded while our northern neighbors tend to bake them in a rectangle. Other shapes you may see are half-moon, squares or triangles. 

A Great Plains Staple

Bierocks are a staple in our local cuisine in the Great Plains (just like t-ravs in St. Louis and po-boys in New Orleans.) You can find them at school fundraisers, in lunchrooms, small-town diners and there’s even a fast-food chain in Nebraska dedicated to the art of the Runza. One of my favorite memories in high school was going with my mom over to a well-renowned cafe in a neighboring town (hello Wheatland Cafe in Hudson!) to volunteer and help their owner make hundreds of bierocks for a fundraiser for my junior class. Learning from one of the best bierock bakers in the land was an experience and the sales of these bierocks netted us a nice profit to put toward our prom. 

Bierocks are an art form in Kansas and Nebraska but trust us… You’ll love them. We’ve got a traditional bierock recipe here for you, but if you’re looking for a fun twist on a classic, try our bierock casserole!