I’m always on the hunt for make-ahead toddler dinner options that the rest of the family enjoys too and these Cheesy Meat Buns are a big favorite with my people! These meat rolls are basically a cheese burger with the filling tucked into the bun…which means they are super easy to eat and they store and reheat beautifully.
Cheesy Meat Buns
This recipe is from my mother-in-law and it’s taken me a handful of tries to get it right—and to pass the standards of my husband who grew up eating them. The bread is super soft and the meat and cheese are moist, which makes them easy for toddlers to chew. My youngest has never been a fan of the texture of meat and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen her eat beef. I was shocked to watch her eat a half of one of these in one sitting—the texture gave her no trouble at all!
How to Make Meat Buns Step-by-Step
These meat buns do have a few steps, but the process is straight forward. Here’s a look!
- Make the dough and let it rise for at least an hour. You want it to be doubled in size.
- Brown the meat.
- Cut the dough into 8 portions. Flatten each into a disc and top with a little meat and cheese.
- Fold the dough over the filling, then over again to completely close the bun.
- Place crease side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
How to Make Meat Buns Ahead for Future Dinners
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!
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. This is also a way to make these without the egg called for in the dough.
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.Print
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.
- 1 package instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 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 salt and 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!
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.
Shortcut Dough: Use pizza dough in place of homemade dough.