Saturday, April 7, 2012

Favorite Runza Recipe

I was introduced to Runzas several years ago while visiting my sister in Nebraska. Thy are best described as a bun stuffed with a ground meat and cabbage mixture. They are also known as bierocks, fleischkuche or Kraut Pirok. German? I think so. In short, they are very, very tasty and it is a shame there are no Runza restaurants anywhere near my current vicinity.

While pregnant and very far from a Runza joint, I found myself in dire need of one for dinner so I looked around for a recipe. Inspired by this recipe on | Pam's Bierocks -- I made my first pan of Runzas. They were so good and my German husband loved them so much, I have made them many times since.

I have a bad habit of revising recipes based on the ingredients I have on hand and/or in an attempt to reduce the guilt--uh, fat and calories, actually. So here's how I make our Runza's, but first a disclaimer...

 Around here I usually substitute ground beef with ground turkey due to the fact that it is cost effective and healthier. I have learned to cook and season it in such a way that you don't miss the red meat. It's not a conviction, it just works for us and my husband likes it and so far all our guests do too... 


Bread Dough:

2 cups warm water
2 (.25 oz.) packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I usually make 2-3 of those cups whole wheat flour)

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Mix in butter, egg, salt and 1/2 of the flour. Beat until smooth; add remaining flour until dough pulls together. Place in oiled bowl. Let rise for 1 hour.

Meat & Cabbage Filling:

1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
6 cups shredded cabbage
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
steak seasoning (optional--I like the extra pop of flavor it adds)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional--traditionally made without)   

Brown meat in large skillet. Add onion, cabbage, and seasonings. Simmer until cabbage is soft. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

Punch down dough and divide into 12 pieces. Spread each piece of dough on a clean un-floured surface and roll out into rectangles. Sprinkle a small handful of cheese down the center, followed by a small scoop (approximately 1/4 cup) of meat/cabbage mixture. Fold dough over and seal edges. Place on prepared cookie sheet and let rise for 1 hour. 

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve.

Dough, Cheese, Meat Mixture
This is how I fold the dough to make nice rectangular buns.

Best served to cute (albeit sad due to the ouchie molars cutting through) little boys who just watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie and now think straw hats are the latest and greatest in fashion statements.  

 (Pardon the photo quality--it was late at night and the lighting in my kitchen is neither abundant or attractive...)


  1. My fiance is from Nebraska and the first thing he wanted me to try was a Runza. Growing up with lots of German style foods, I thought it was fantastic! Thanks for the awesome recipe. Can't wait to try it.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. :D

  2. Yum! I actually live a few blocks from Runza here in Kearney, but I like that I can make my own to save money. This recipe comes very close to the actual Runza recipe, but I prefer the creaminess of the Swiss Mushroom Runza. So I add about 1/2-3/4 of a 10 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup plus a slice of Swiss cheese! Oh so good!

  3. I just made these and loved them - but I have a question. We can't eat an entire batch. Any recommendations for reheating? Thanks!

  4. Funny you should ask that because I was just thinking I'd like to figure out how to these into freezer meals. We have just always popped our leftovers in the microwave and they still taste good. Another thought would be to heat them (providing you have already baked them) slowly in the oven. I may update this later if I am successful at making them into freezer meals. :)

  5. These were sooooo good! I used your suggestion about the steak seasoning and also added some Greek seasoning as well. I also used only 1 cup of wheat flour, and I threw in some carrot shreds into the filling. MMMMMMMM!!!! We are freezing what we couldn't eat and plan to re-heat them in the microwave. I wrapped each one in plastic wrap to help them stay moist.

  6. I live in Nebraska and have never seen them with turkey. The have hamburger in them although the turkey would be better for you and I may try that next time I make some. I will also make a couple at least with the turkey and also want to try the swiss mushroom one. I always add cheese. I love the way you wrap them and will do that the next time also. Thank you.

  7. Used ground lean chuck roast instead of turkey, sliced fresh mushrooms and 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes. Turned out so good that my freezer now has great Runzas for hungry kids instead of pre-packaged frozen ' BITES ' that they want . Thanks.


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