My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Ambitious in the kitchen: Fleischbrook (AKA Kraut burgers)
Fresh from the oven--Fleischbrook

Fresh from the oven–Fleischbrook

Food, food, glorious food. I think most people can agree that certain foods can evoke memories in ways that no other image, smell, photo or story ever could. For me, so many childhood memories are evoked with the simple deliciousness of fleischbrook. Due to a quick google search, I learned that these simple meat and cabbage-filled bread rolls are also called kraut burgers, Bierocks or Runzas.

Ground beef, italian sausage, onion, cabbage + bread dough= delicious

There is a three part process to the Fleischbrook. 1. Make the bread, 2. Make the filling, and 3. Prep and bake. Since there is so much involved, it’s nice to have help. Wait, clarification: It’s nice to have adult help. Kids are awesome, and they’ll love helping you roll out the dough, but every time I’ve made these I’ve found that it’s helpful to have a fully engaged partner.

Here's a photo of one session with my wonderful mother-in-law (I've also enjoyed making them with my brother and my dad, and years ago with my grandma)

Here’s a photo of one session with my wonderful mother-in-law (I’ve also enjoyed making them with my brother and my dad, and years ago with my grandma)

Here’s my bread recipe, à la Betty Crocker.* You start with 3 and 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, 1 Tablespoon of salt, 2 Tablespoons of shortening, and 2 packages of active dry yeast in a large bowl (I just put it straight into my Kitchen Aid mixer bowl). Add warm water (120-130 degrees) and beat for 1 mintue on medium speed. Stir in about 3 cups of flour, one cup at a time, until the dough is easy to handle. Knead on a floured surface for about 10 minutes. When dough is smooth and springy, place it in a large oiled bowl (oiled with about aTablespoon of olive oil). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 40 to 60 minutes (or when doubled). Dough is ready if indentation remains when you stick two fingers in it. Now, for the second rising. The key to using this bread for fleischbrook is to allowing for the first rise, and then dividing your dough into small bun-sized dough-balls for the second rise. This makes the dough much easier to work with. I have used whole wheat pastry flour at times, but I find that using solely white flour is the most nostalgic for me–HA! After you divide your dough into golf ball-sized dough balls, place on a greased baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. You’ll want to leave plenty of room for these puppies to rise, so it will probably necessitate two baking sheets. Let rise another 35 to 50 minutes, or until double. Now, those dough balls will make for perfect bread-wraps for your filling!

Here’s my filling recipe, à la my dad. You will need a dutch oven (or huge skillet) and a small pot for boiling the cabbage in batches. As far as filling ingredients go, you can play around with this but I used approximately 1 lb of ground beef, 1 lb of mild Italian sausage, one large onion (diced), one medium head of green cabbage (chopped into postage stamp-sized pieces) and salt and pepper to taste (my dad insists on lots of pepper and his diet demands no salt). While you brown the meats and sauté the onion in your dutch oven/skillet, boil a few inches of water in your other pot. After the water boils, throw in the cabbage, and retrieve with a slotted spoon once they are softened. Place the cabbage bits into the skillet along with the meats and onion. Sauté together, testing for spices, and remove from heat. This mixture should be moist but not saucy. If it’s a bit saucy, keep cooking to evaporate any remaining liquid.

The mixture is heavy on meat, but you can even make a cabbage-only version

The mixture is heavy on meat, but you can make a cabbage-only version (of course, my dad sautes the cabbage in bacon fat, so I don’t know if I’d call it a “vegetarian” version)

Now comes the rolling, filling, folding and baking. Like most dough, you’ll want extra flour for the rolling process. You can also melt some butter to brush on top just before you pop ’em into the oven at 350 degrees. Since everything is already cooked, we’re less concerned with interior temp than the outer dough shell, so check for a golden crust. My prep method, in photos.

Rolling the dough

Rolling the dough–you’ll see imprecise is just fine, you’ll want the diameter around 8″ or so


Add about 1/2 cup of filling

I go for triangles--flop over one side, then another.

I go for triangles–flop over one side, then another.

Stretch the third side to completely cover the remainder--pinching corners to secure.

Stretch the third side to completely cover the remainder–pinching corners to secure.

Throw them on a parchment/sipat lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, flipping half-way through

Throw them on a parchment/silpat lined cookie sheet with the folded side-down and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, flipping half-way through

*If you want to skip the bread making adventure, buy yourself some frozen Rhodes dinner rolls (not the heat-and-serve kind, but the let-’em-rise kind) and start from there.

This recipe made me about 30 average size meaty-filled bready delights. These little fleischbrook keep amazingly well in the freezer. You can slip them into a freezer bag, then reheat from frozen at 350 for 8-10 minutes. I will apologize profusely for misnaming these, but I never studied German. My grandmother was German-Russian, and any google search did not reveal this exact spelling. I think “fleisch” means meat, and I see that another term for what I’m trying to make here is “bierock” so I wonder if I am actually trying to say: FLEISCHBIEROCK, and my family always pronounced it “fleisch”-BROOK (as in “brook”–a place where one finds trout). Hmm. In any case, if you decide to try it, enjoy!

What are your favorite food traditions? Do you have all-consuming family-food preparation days? 


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Food and smells can definitely evoke memories. I never heard of fleischbrook before.

Comment by memyselfandkids

Well, like I said, perhaps I’m saying it/spelling it all wrong, so maybe you’re actually the first person to EVER hear of it (outside of my family). Which means, of course, you should get on it. Quit your day job. Open a fleischbrook store. You might just be ahead of the trend.

Comment by jaymers

Ahh, I don’t think so though I certainly would not mind trying one.

Comment by memyselfandkids

Reading this article made me decide to bake some fleischbrok this weekend. Your recipe is much like my mothers (she’s from Germany). One variation that I do sometimes is to add a little sauerkraut along with the cooked cabbage and substutute bratwurst for the Italian sausge. Thank you for a very nice article/recipe.

Comment by Steve

Wow, Steve, that sounds delicious! Bratwurst and sauerkraut will have to be tried the next time I do the fleischbrok baking. I’m so glad this little post offered you a little inspiration. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Comment by jaymers

My great grandma used to make Fleischbrook, also not sure of the spelling, but definitely pronounced that way. All the great grandparents spoke German (Kunstmann’s and Krueger’s from Sheboygan, Wisconsin), but there is rumor of some Russian somewhere in the bloodline.
This looks exactly like I remember. As for filling, I don’t remember the cabbage or Kraut, but it’s been 30 years. I believe this was peasant food. As I remember it, the filling was beef heart and tongue ground up with onions.
The variations above sound awesome. Maybe a new Christmas tradition.

Comment by

Well, I’ll be! I grew up in Sheboygan, my great-grandparents were German Russian and their name was Holzwart. Small world? If you are ever in Sheboygan, I believe City Bakery sells Fleischbrook, and maybe a few other places. Here in Colorado, there is a version called a “Runza” and there is a semi-famous place in Brighton, Colorado that makes Krautburgers. They are sooo yummy, but they do something somewhat unconventional and they add cheese. (Crazy, I know!)
I think that we’ll be making them after Christmas as a big extended family. Some families bake cookies, we’re going to bake these! HA!

Comment by jaymers

My grandmother made them with meat filling only and kraut filling .I’ve had them with both items under the same dough as well. My people were fro the Volga area near Sarotov.

Comment by Barbara J. Carlson

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