These pizza pockets are made with pillows soft bread dough and finely chopped pepperonis and gooey mozzarella cheese. They are hearty, protein-packed and surprisingly easy to make!
Our family seems to be constantly on the go, and keeping bierocks and pizza pockets in the freezer has been a lifesaver. We can eat something that is both hot and homemade and ready to eat with less than a minute of microwave time. It’s all about survival sometimes, guys!
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WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
These pizza pockets are super easy to make and require minimal hands on time! Since I am using a ‘quick’ dough recipe, they only have to rise for an hour! It’s also one of my simplest dough recipes, perfect for any skill level. Beginners, I see you and I’ve got you covered!
This is a three step cooking process, involving sautéing the sausage and and then making the dough and stuffing the rolls. This recipe generously yields eighteen large rolls or 36 mini rolls!
Don’t feel confident making dough from scratch? This recipe can also be ‘hacked’ by using frozen Rhodes rolls instead of making homemade dough. In a hurry? Brown the sausage the night before to speed up this process. This recipe is so versatile, it is almost exactly like my Venison Bierocks! It can even be made with hame and American cheese for a comforting heat-it-and-eat-it freezer meal. I’ll show these easy variations at the end of the recipe!
- BREAD FLOUR I use bread flour to make the dough lighter and fluffier. You can easily substitute regular flour, just add an extra 2-3 tablespoons if the dough feels too sticky.
- MILK Whole milk helps to add flavor and richness to the dough. You could absolutely substitute skim milk, but I personally have never tried making this recipe with a milk substitute.
- BUTTER I firmly believe that everything is better with real, grass-fed butter. Use margarine if you want, but nothing beats real butter in baking recipes. I said what I said…
- WATER To get maximum yeast activity and the best rising dough, use filtered water. Chlorine and other additives are specially designed to INHIBIT growth. Not ideal for starting an active yeast culture.
- SUGAR Quick doughs need sugar to help quickly activate the yeast and cut down on the rising times.
- SALT Himalayan sea salt, finely ground, is my go-to.
- GROUND VENISON Today I am cooking with ground turkey sausage. It is my favorite flavor of sausage to cook with because it is very lean. This sausage is mixed with Italian seasonings and has a Smokey and rich flavor.
- MOZZARELLA Is a pizza pocket even a pizza pocket without cheese? Nah. I don’t think so! I used to grate my cheese by hand before discovering that I could use a food processor or high speed blender to do the job for me! It’s also totally fine to purchase it pre-shredded from the store.
- ONION Yellow onions, finely chopped, are a really good mild onion for this recipe. They sauté into translucent, tiny pieces that even kids don’t notice.
- PIZZA SAUCE Just enough but not too much is my motto for adding sauce to these pizza pockets. A few tablespoons seems to add the flavor without making the dough soggy. I also serve the pockets with a side of sauce for dipping! My favorite brand right now is Muir Glenn pizza sauce. It has a really mellow flavor that my whole family loves!
Bierocks and pizza pockets can easily turn into a soggy, sloppy mess. My trick for preventing this unappealing texture is by minimizing the amount of moisture remaining in the filling. When I brown my meat for these stuffed pockets, I soak up any extra grease or liquids with a paper towel and allow the mixture to cool almost to room temperature before making the pockets. This allows the filling to stay dryer during the baking process. Result, tastier pizza pockets!
MAKING THE PIZZA POCKETS DOUGH
For all of my dough recipes, I always am careful to measure the ingredients carefully. Flour is scooped, but not packed. Salt is measured, not pinched. Totally not my normal free-spirited cooking style, but it’s important here! My KITCHEN SCALE isn’t fancy (actually, I chose it because it was the cheapest one with good reviews!) but it works great.
Using a large glass measuring bowl, add the milk, water, and cubed butter. Heat it in the microwave until warm, but not boiling. Most of the butter will melt, but there should be some solid butter pieces floating. The temperature needs to be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not so hot that it kills it. About 110° works well.
In a stand mixer, add all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT one cup of the flour. This will be added in as needed. If the dough is already clinging to the dough hook, it has enough flour. If it is wet and sticky, I gradually add the last cup a little at a time. Pour the warm, wet mixture into the dry ingredients and knead at a low speed until well combined. Gradually add any extra flour that is needed (I almost always add the entire last cup) and knead for two minutes more.
While the dough is kneading, bring a cup of water to a boil in the microwave or oven and leave the door shut. This will create a proofing box with extra humidity for a fluffier dough. Quickly put the dough in, covered with a tea towel, and close the door. Let it rise for thirty minutes.
MAKING THE FILLING
Drizzle olive oil or bacon grease in a cast iron skillet and sauté the onion and sausage until it cooked. Season generously with salt and pepper. Venison is a lean meat, so adding the olive oil or bacon grease helps it to brown without sticking to the skillet. Remove it from the pan and place it in a mixing bowl to let it rest and cool. Add the chopped pepperonis, shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan and mix it well.
FORMING THE PIZZA POCKETS
Now for the fun part! The dough should have risen well past the top of the mixing bowl and have a fluffy texture. For a normal sized pizza pockets, pinch off about two inches of dough. Form it into a ball, then flatten it out into a circle. Using an inch and a half dough scoop, place a mound of the filling onto the flattened dough. Bring the edges of the dough to the center and pinch to press them shut. This is the bottom of the pizza pocket.
Place the pizza pocket on a PARCHMENT lined baking sheet, pinched side down. Once the sheet is filled, leaving spaces between, allow it to rise for 15-30 minutes covered with a tea towel. Watch this reel to see a video about the process. It’s actually my bierock recipe, but the steps are the same.
Bake the pizza pockets at 400° for about 10-15 minutes, depending on size. The image below shows different levels of done-ness. The tops should look plenty brown, but not too dark. The pocket on the left is well done, but still not overdone. The pocket on the right is as light as I would go. Anything lighter and the pizza pocket could be doughy and undercooked (which is NEVER a pleasant surprise to bite into).
PIZZA POCKET VARIATIONS
Mix it up! Instead of using sausage and pepperoni, try experimenting with different fillings! Venison and cabbage make a delicious bierock. Finely chopped ham and American cheese can be used for a tasty hot-pocket knockoff. Swiss, sautéed green peppers, and slivered peppered steak are a flavor-packed option, too!
This sweet dough as a secret… it can be used for cinnamon rolls! Sometimes I make half a batch of bierocks and half a batch of cinnamon rolls for the next morning! Add a generous amount of brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Roll as normal and bake in a pie pan for about eighteen minutes at 400°. Drizzle with a cream cheese icing.
If you make this recipe, please leave a comment below! This provides helpful feedback to both me and other readers. For more delicious recipes from scratch and homesteading tips, follow me on instagram @NinnescahHomestead
Homemade Pizza Pockets
- stand mixer
- baking sheet
- Parchment paper
Pizza Pocket Dough
- 2 Cups whole milk
- 1 Cup water
- ½ Cup butter
- 6 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 8 Cups bread flour
- 9 Teaspoons yeast
Pizza Pocket Filling
- 1 Pound Italian sausage
- 1 Medium yellow onion
- 8 Ounces pepperonis, chopped
- ½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ Cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 Tablespoons pizza sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
Pizza Pocket Dough
- In a glass mixing bowl, combine milk, water and butter. Warm it in the microwave for about a minute and a half, the butter does not need to melt completely. The ideal temperature is about 110° to melt the sugar and butter while not being so hot that it kills the yeast.
- In a stand mixer bowl, combine 7 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast for about fifteen seconds with a dough hook. Gradually add the warm liquids to the dry ingredients. Knead on a slow speed for about thirty seconds, then gradually add the remaining cup of flour if needed, a little bit at a time until the dough clings to the dough hook. Knead two minutes more.
- After the dough has kneaded, place it in a greased bowl to rise in a warm area for thirty minutes, until doubled in size.
Pizza Pocket Filling
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Chop the yellow onion and sauté it in the pan. Once it is nearly translucent, add the meat. Brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces. Once the sausage is fully cooked, transfer it to a mixing bowl and allow it to cool while the dough is rising.
- Once the sausage has cooled, add the mozzarella, Parmesan, pizza sauce. Mix well to combine.
Making the Pizza Pockets
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pinch off a two-inch piece of dough and form it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a thin circle and place a spoonful of filling in the middle. Bring the edges to the middle and pinch them closed to form a tight seal.
- Place the pizza pocket pinched-side down on the parchment paper. Once the bierocks are formed, cover them loosely with a tea towel and let them rise another 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the tops are evenly light brown. Pizza pockets can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to four months. To reheat a frozen pizza pocket, microwave it for about one minute wrapped in a paper towel.