These Cheesy Meat Buns are a family-favorite make-ahead meal. The meat rolls are basically a cheeseburger with the filling tucked inside of a bun…which means they are super easy to eat for kids—and they store and reheat beautifully.

meat rolls

Cheesy Meat Buns

This recipe is from a family member and it’s taken me a handful of tries to get it right—which to me means they are easy to make, moist enough when baked, and approved by the kids. And wow, they are so darn delicious!

The bread is super soft and the meat and cheese are moist, which makes them easy for toddlers to chew. When my youngest was a toddler, she wasn’t a huge fan of the texture of meat. So I was shocked to watch her eat a half of one of these in one sitting—the texture gave her no trouble at all!

This is a great Freezer Meal or an easy weeknight meal to share with your family.

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Ingredients You Need

Ingredients for cheesy meat buns on countertop.

To make this recipe you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • Instant yeast: This works quickly and helps the dough to rise. You’ll want to look for little bubbles or for the mixture to look foamy when you add it to the water.
  • Sugar (or honey): Either of these helps to activate the yeast.
  • Whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour: A mixture of the two help the dough both have some whole grain and also still be tender and fluffy.
  • Egg: Adding egg to the batter ensures that it’s soft and tender. (If there’s an egg allergy, you can omit it. Just be sure to knead the dough well.)
  • Olive oil: Olive oil in the dough also helps add moisture and tenderness. I use extra-virgin olive oil in my cooking.
  • Ground beef: I cook the beef with spices before adding it into the dough to ensure that it’s properly cooked. You can use any percentage fat of meat you like. If you see a lot of fat or liquid in the pan once the meat is cooked, you can drain it off.
  • Oregano, onion powder, and salt for added flavor.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese: This goes inside the bun with the seasoned meat for flavor and comfort.

Step-by-Step Instructions

These meat buns do have a few steps, but the process is straight forward. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe.

how to make cheesy meat buns in grid of four images.
  1. Make the dough and let it rise for at least an hour. You want it to be doubled in size.
  2. Brown the meat.
  3. Cut the dough into portions. Flatten each into a disc and top with a little meat and cheese.
  4. Fold the dough over the filling, then over again to completely close the bun.
  5. Place crease side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake!

TIP: These reheat really well, so they’re great to make ahead and warm up for a quick meal.

baked cheesy meat buns on parchment paper.

How to Make Meat Buns Ahead

I make this recipe whenever we have a night coming up on our calendar that’s busy and when I know I won’t have time to make dinner in the moment. I store these in the fridge and then simply warm them in the oven or microwave. You can also freeze them, once fully cooled, in a zip top freezer bag, and warm them quickly.

They are just as good reheated as when freshly cooked, which is a must with make-ahead dinners!

meat rolls

Tips for Serving Meat Buns to Kids

My 5 year old simply picks up a bun and eats it like a roll. I do my best to make sure that the inside isn’t too hot though! For my younger toddler, I cut the roll into small pieces to ensure that she doesn’t try to put too much into her mouth at once (which she often tries to do).

The little one typically eats half of a roll; the older one eats 1…or 2! I’ve even been known to pack one for lunch in a thermos.

Is there a way to make these without homemade dough?

Okay, here’s the truth. They are best when you make the dough from scratch and it gets kneaded well. That, plus the egg, ensures that the baked bread is super soft, which is key when serving these to toddlers who are still learning to chew complicated textures.

BUT, you can definitely make these with purchased (or homemade) pizza dough to take a shortcut. The bread will be slightly less tender, but they are still pretty delicious.

TIP: To make these egg-free, you can use egg-free pizza dough or omit the egg  from the recipe and add 1-2 tablespoons additional water.

Meat Buns with Ground Beef, Turkey, or Chicken

We usually make these meat buns with ground beef since it’s what my husband likes best (and this is his family recipe after all!), but you could totally do the same method using cooked ground turkey or chicken. Or even sausage! If there seems to be a lot of fat in the pan once you brown the meat, drain it off before adding it to the dough.

Best Tips for Success

  • Poke the top of each bun with a fork to allow steam to escape and minimize the amount of cheese that leaks out.
  • Add some finely chopped baby spinach, kale, or steamed broccoli florets to add a veggie into the mix.
  • Try not to overfill the buns to ensure that they hold together.
  • Cook the ground beef up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge if desired.
  • To make these egg-free, use pizza dough instead of the homemade dough.

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meat buns

Cheesy Stuffed Meat Buns

These meat buns have all of the components of a cheeseburger, but are much easier for little kids to eat! Plus: They store well in the fridge and freezer so can be made ahead of time.
4.85 from 26 votes
Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 28 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 43 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 359kcal
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (or honey)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • cups shredded cheddar cheese
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Instructions

  • Stir the yeast and sugar into 1 cup warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes or until puffy.
  • Add the flours, salt, egg, and water-yeast mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium-low for 10 minutes. Remove dough hook. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1-2 hours or until about doubled in size. It should look puffy.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the beef and stir to break. Sprinkle with a little salt, add the spices cook for 8-10 minutes or until fully cooked through. Remove from heat.
  • Divide the dough into 8 even sections. (I use a paring knife to cut it in half, then in half again and again, etc to make a pinwheel shape with 8 even triangles.)
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, coating with flour as needed if sticky, flatten into a disc that's about 6 inches wide. (It doesn't need to be precise!)
  • Place 2 heaping tablespoons each cooked meat and cheese into the center and fold in the dough to enclose the fillings. The seams should press and hold together with slightly pressure and a little gentle pressing.
  • Place roll onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat to make all 8. Set aside and cover with a towel while the oven preheats.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake the buns for 20-22 minutes or until firm to the touch. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

Notes

  • To store: Let cool fully and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat for about 30-45 seconds in the microwave or about 6 minutes in a 375 F oven. Freeze fully cooled meat buns in a zip top freezer bag for up to 3 months. Reheat in a 375 F oven for 8-10 minutes or until warmed through.
  • Egg-Free: Omit the egg and add 1-2 tablespoons additional water.
  • Dairy-Free: Use dairy-free shredded cheese.
  • Shortcut Dough: Use pizza dough in place of homemade dough.
  • Poke the top of each bun with a fork to allow steam to escape and minimize the amount of cheese that leaks out.
  • Add some finely chopped baby spinach, kale, or steamed broccoli florets to add a veggie into the mix.
  • Try not to overfill the buns to ensure that they hold together.
  • Cook the ground beef up to 3 days ahead and store in an airtight container in the fridge if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bun, Calories: 359kcal, Carbohydrates: 37g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 307mg, Potassium: 229mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 248IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 176mg, Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

This recipe was first published April 2018.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great! Kid approved! My 2 year old is in his especially picky stage, but he loved his little bun.

    I used my own pizza dough recipe and didn’t let it rise for any amount of time but it still worked great. Instead of being little pillows they were little pockets. A bit less bready but still delicious. I used mozzarella instead of cheddar – I had pizza on the brain. I realized my mistake later but the buns are still great! I added some shredded raw spinach as I filled them. I will make this again and try cheddar next time with broccoli as my veg.

    We dipped ours in some warmed up pizza sauce.

  2. I just made these and like them but found the dough bland. I’ve just noticed there’s no salt in the ingredients but in the method you mention salt…This is likely the culprit! How much salt for next time?

  3. 5 stars
    My husband and I LOVED the bread from the homemade dough in this recipe and it made some tasty cheesy buns! However, our 2.5 year old did not even want to taste them even though she normally loves bread and happily eats hamburger meat + cheese. Any suggestions?

  4. I don’t have a stand mixer or dough hook – what can I do instead? I have a hand mixer and a food processor.

  5. 5 stars
    Made these today and they are lovely but I’m having real trouble getting my son (3) to eat any kind of meat. Any suggestions on what recipe to try next?

  6. 5 stars
    This was a fast and easy recipe! I used store bought pizza dough to save time and filled mine with ground beef, corn, and cheese. My 1yr old loved them. I love how versatile this recipe can be with fillings. Definitely adding to the rotation.

  7. 5 stars
    Dough turned out perfect. Came out hard on top out of oven, but brushed with melted butter and it turned out soft. Made cheeseburger filling. Can’t wait to try other fillings.

  8. 5 stars
    This was super simple and my 2 y/o approved. I used Trader Joe’s pizza dough and subbed turkey meat because that’s what we had and it came out beautiful. A nice basic recipe that you can adjust to your preferences and what you have in your pantry. Will definitely use recipe again and try different fillings.

    1. You could make it the day before and store it in a bowl covered in plastic wrap or a big container. You’d just want to take it out and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour so it’s soft enough to work with

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