5 Secrets to the Best Runza Recipe, & from a Nebraska gal (me!)
Years of experimenting with this recipe yields this result: 5 secrets to the best runza recipe. Hands-down. No contest! You betcha. And you’re welcome.
Everybody’s Gotta Eat . . .
. . . even when you are in a paradisiacal land of plenty like New Zealand, which is where we were most of the month, by God’s grace and great blessing, during which I made the runzas pictured here. I was tickled that I had already refined and perfected (cough) this, my best runza recipe, before we traveled to New Zealand.
This is–quite simply–the best runza recipe you will find out there (she admitted, with all earnestness and humility she could muster).
My explanation for how I found myself making runzas in our host family’s Tauranga kitchen one lovely afternoon goes as follows:
- We were all going to be home that evening;
- I didn’t have access to a car that day (so no going out adventuring);
- the kids and I had already been to the beach and had our daily ice cream cones (our ambitious goals for the day);
- we were all a tad homesick, and lastly . . .
- I wanted to do something nice for the folks who opened up their home to us for our stay.
All those things added up to one thing: I needed to make runzas.
. . . but what are runzas? And why are they special?
Runzas, I’ll wager most–if not all–Nebraskans are familiar with. After all, the history of the Runza restaurants that are scattered across several states in the Midwest started in 1949, when Sally Everett and her brother, Alex Brening, opened a small Runza restaurant near Pioneers Park, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to sell their hot cabbage-and-hamburger-roll sandwiches.
The two sold the sandwiches there for nearly twenty years, before Sally’s son Donald Everett Sr. bought the franchise and started a Runza Restaurant at another location in Lincoln. The chain has only grown steadily and slowly since then, with dozens of locations now throughout Nebraska, and a few in Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas.
And back to today, and to the best runza recipe, please?
When we are not gallivanting about the globe, that is to say when we are home in Nebraska, we crave runzas regularly. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix for this: we drive twenty miles in three different directions to get to a Runza restaurant and order piping hot runzas and “frings” (a combination of french fries and onion rings) in short order, and fairly often we do this.
But we don’t always want to go out to get these delicious sandwiches/er, meat-filled buns/delectable hand-held . . . what are they, anyway?
But wait . . . you can actually make them . . . ?
Yes indeedy you can! . . . It’s easier to make them then explain what they are, almost. Quite often I make runzas at home. Everybody loves them, and they are so great to sock into freezer bags and pile into the freezer for quick heating later.
Hot. Tasty. Filling. Scrumptious. That’s what these homemade runzas are.
However. The sad, painful fact is this: it’s easy to make runzas at home that will elicit the following disappointing reaction from your family: “Meh.” Furthermore . . . it’s a worthy challenge to make the best runza recipe, the one that elicits cartwheels and swooning glances from your family. That would be this one right here, gentle reader. Even better, the batch that results in these words, the ones you know you desperately want to hear:
“You are the most amazing person on the face of the earth, bar none. And this runza just made my day better.”
I certainly live for these words, myself. 🙂 No kidding.
I’ve made runzas enough times in my many many many (yawn) many many years of daily cooking and baking, to have amassed five crucial secrets to the really great and best runza recipe that you can make at home, rather than the mediocre ones that it’s too easy to come up with.
Mic drop moment
Furthermore . . . I’m gonna share these secrets with you. For. Free. Consider this post your very own personal shortcut, Gentle Reader, to delicious homemade runzas at your house, from the best runza recipe there is. (You’re welcome, I’m sure. 🙂
This best runza recipe is a culmination of many, many runza-making sessions, not only in my own kitchen, but in my mother’s, as well. We’ve tried to break the runza-making code together, Mom and me. So some of these secrets are from her kitchen. I also gained a tip or two from this website, so a hat tip for this blogger, also a Nebraska grandma who shared her insights on runza-making.
Okay, let’s get on to the recipe, and then I’ll share my runza-making related secrets, and then we’ll all have a big party in my honor. (Well, why not? I’ll bring the bubbly. 🙂
The best runza recipe, at last
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and diced
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 head of cabbage, shredded
- 1 can of sauerkraut, with the juice
- salt and pepper (to taste) & cheese (optional)
- 1 cup butter, unsalted
- 2 Tb dry yeast
- 4 cups warm water OR milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 TBs salt
- 4 eggs, well beaten
- 14 cups unbleached flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- First, make the filling: Chop onions and garlic and sauté in a large frying pan with a little butter or olive oil until tender.
- Add ground beef along with generous amounts of salt and pepper and cook through, then drain well, if needed. (This will depend on how fatty the beef is.)
- Put browned ground beef into a large pot (I like to use my Crock pot). Stir in cabbage and kraut and simmer 3-4 hours, stirring often, and seasoning and tasting. (If using a Crock pot, cook on "low" for 5 to 6 hours.)
- Now to make dough: Heat the butter in the milk until almost completely melted. Let cool until room temperature. Stir the yeast into the warm mixture.
- In a large bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and eggs. Beat in eggs, then stir in yeast mixture.
- Add flours quickly one cup at a time, stirring well after each cup. (I use my Bosch mixer for this step.)
- When the dough begins to pull away from the side of the mixing bowl, turn out onto a lightly-floured countertop and incorporate remaining flour by kneading. Knead 100 strokes until the dough is elastic and smooth. (Kneading can be omitted but this will make the dough nicer to handle, and with an improved texture.)
- Let rest in a covered bowl one hour or until doubled in size.
- Cut off golf ball sized pieces. Lightly flour countertop and roll out each piece.
- Fill each circle of dough with approximately 1/2 cup of filling, and optional cheese if desired. Pull edges of dough around the filling and pinch tightly. Place on a sheet of parchment on a sheet pan, or a 9x13" pan. Or any pan that you like, actually.
- Preheat oven to 375 while allowing runzas to rest for 30 minutes. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until approaching golden.
- Swash with melted butter and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden. Serve while hot. Urge caution! The filling will be very hot.
Quick note on the best runza recipe:
The dough recipe is double what you need for the filling, because I figure a double batch is no more trouble than a single batch, and then the leftover I make into cinnamon rolls the next morning, or dinner rolls the next night. This is my preference (clever, eh?).
Basically, it’s lovely to have dough sitting in the ‘fridge waiting for you to use it up. 🙂
If you don’t feel up to such cleverness, however, cut the dough ingredients down by half, to match the amount of filling.
Now on to my runza-making secrets!
Secret #1: the Crock-pot secret
After you brown your hamburger with chopped onions and cabbage, dump it all into a big crock-pot and let it cook (on low) all afternoon. Trust me on this. It makes the filling so oozy-tasty-delectable. You don’t want the cabbage to be crunchy at all, and this long, slow cooking does the trick to render it all sloppy and soft, like you want it.
Secret #2: Over-season the meat mixture
Salt and pepper it just a tad more than you regularly would. Season it, then taste. Taste and season. Over and over again until you think “Hmm. That’s just a little too peppery,” and then you know that it’s perfect. The bread part of the runza will temper that overseasoning. Be more careful with the salt than the pepper.
Secret #3: Behold–how to form a runza that won’t leak
My mom taught me this secret for runza forming. (Thanks, Mom!)
- First, roll out a circle of dough approximately 1/4″ thick. It shouldn’t be so thin that it is breaking up into holes when you handle it.
- Then place it into a bowl, which has been nicely smeared with soft butter.
- Dump your filling on top of the dough, and then pull the dough around the filling and pinch and pinch and so forth until it looks like this:
Then, flip it over and it’ll look like this: Pretty, huh?
Secret #4: Add a cup or two of whole wheat flour to the dough.
It makes a prettier runza dough, and makes the dough more nutritious.
Secret #5: Slather melted butter on the runzas during the last ten minutes of baking time.
This simple hack increases the prettiness, too. And that buttery taste on the hot bread: who doesn’t love that? Nobody, that’s who. 🙂 We like pretty, don’t we, you and I? Not to mention pretty and buttery. Yum.
Pretty buttery. Two words that work quite well together.
That’s it, Gentle Reader! If it seems like a complicated recipe, it actually isn’t–and if you don’t have time in one day to make all of it, you can make the filling and dough one day, and then put them all together and bake them the next.
Just a tip. Word to the wise. And whatnot.
What you might need to make this best runza recipe:
- A really good rolling pin, handmade by my own little ole’ Dad, right here in Nebraska.
- This is the type of Bosch mixer I use to make my runza dough, and many other doughs as well.
- I use these reusable parchment sheets daily, for baking and many other uses!
- This is my favorite type of baking pan for runzas, brownies, bars, and cookies.
A few other posts of interest:
- Another New Zealand adventure: going to a Farmer’s Market and finding treasure . . .
- If you don’t have a decent rolling pin with which to roll out your runza dough, shop for one right here in my li’l ole shop, all made by my talented li’l ole geezer dad. <3
- Here’s a recipe for fresh mint milkshakes–a treat I whipped up after returning home from New Zealand. We had spearmint milkshakes in New Zealand that were to die for. Mine is a pretty good copy, if I say so myself! They go well with runzas. And there are more New Zealand photos in this post, if you can’t get enough of them. (I love them.)
Pin it for later!
Now go. Make runzas. Conquer your fears. And eat well. The world is counting on you to make a difference. 🙂
I know you can do it.
By the by . . . have you got an Amazon list? I nearly always do! I live a good hour away from most stores, so ordering from Amazon has been a convenient (sometimes too convenient) blessing for me. If you click through from my links to Amazon, they’ll give me a tiny commission on anything you purchase (though it won’t cost you another cent). Thank you in advance, or TYIA.
More from my site
- What’s going on in my garden in March; and why I’m happy to be home
- From Chinese Gooseberry to Kiwifruit: how it all happened
I’ll have to add this to my bucket list! Never had one before but it sounds great! The cheese goes in the filling right?
Have you ever had a pasty?
Jillian – I’m now a Nebraskan, neighbor of Amy and lifelong runza-eater, but I’ve lived in several parts of the US and in two countries in Europe. (Runza is actually a trademarked product name, and Amy would get sued if she tried to sell her delicacies by that name to the public.) Runzas, pasties and pirogs are all part of our food heritage from Central & Eastern Europe. Different sizes, shapes and fillings, but basically the same thought – a really yummy dough stuffed with some kind of filling and baked. It’s getting the dough just right that is the tricky part. My German-Russian mother just called them cabbage rolls. In Sweden, a nearly identical thing is called a pirog.
Just recently, one of my Nebraska friends originally from Seattle introduced me to what she calls “sausage rolls,” which look exactly like runzas when they come out of the oven, but the filling is very much Italian – spicy sausage, vaguely tomato sauce and lots of herbs and cheese. And just as tasty as runzas.
Gosh, neighbor Gene, why wasn’t I invited? 😉
Doesn’t adding the sauerkraut to the cabbage mixture make the filling kind of sour?
No, Carol, not at all. If anything, it makes them more savory. The sauerkraut is salty, and I find that if I only use cabbage, they tend to be more bland.
That’s exactly what I do. The Sauerkraut really is the secret ingredient. You go girl. In Kansas we called them Bierock’s. Yummy!
Absolutely–and plenty of salt and pepper. Simple, but true! Thanks!
Warm up your Sauer Kraut with a little apple juice in a separate pan and then add to the mixture if you’re afraid of the Kraut being too sour. I did this once with a totally different recipe and got compliments. It’ll give it a rich depth. I learned it from a fellow Midwesterner.
Thanks, Adam! That’s a great tip!
I am also in Kansas, from Nebraska, and specifically searched for the Runza recipe.
Question: based on the ingredients, it doesn’t seem as if their is enough moisture to simmer. Considering the beef is drained, does the cabbage and sauerkraut release enough moisture to be in a crockpot for 5-6 hours?
Surprisingly enough, YES! Cabbage especially releases a lot of juice. Keep your eye on it, though, just in case. You can always add a little water if it starts to look dry. But I’ve never found that to be the case.
When making a Runza, doesn’t adding the sauerkraut to the cabbage mixture make the filling kind of sour?
Carol, oddly, no! I think it just gives them more flavor. Some folks prefer only cabbage, but I think those runzas are decidedly more bland.
Sorry Jillian, I left that part out: yes, you’d put the cheese on the dough circle before the filling. As Gene pointed out in the comments, you can alter the fillings to accommodate your tastes/ moods: we’ve made runzas before with sliced green peppers, mushrooms and Swiss cheese, Italian seasonings, etc. Basically any meat/veg combination you really like can be folded into a good dough and baked. This could be a very tasty series: “What I baked into dough for tonight’s supper.” Thanks for the idea, Jillian!
Yes the cheese goes inside the Runza. Enjoy!
I’ve had them before but they were called Beer Buns, I think it was a little N different dough that was used but the filling was the same.
That’s a new one: Beer Buns. I’ve heard them called “Bunzas” and even the Runza chain once called them “Oven-Stuffed Sandwiches.”
A question, oh wise one of all things yeast, chickens, and gardening: I was surprised to read about keeping the dough in the fridge for the next day. I’m guessing this is after the dough rises, correct? Do you ‘punch’ the dough, cover, and place in the fridge? When you work the dough the next day, do you bring it to room temp, do whatever shape you want, let rise, etc?
Joyce, allow me to reveal the Secret of Dough Refrigeration. Nearly any yeast dough can be refrigerated at any time—even frozen!–you just have to allow it a few hours to warm up again, afterwards, before you work with it. Unrefrigerated dough will stretch and accept shaping much easier than cold dough. I would cover it (a lid or plastic wrap) and put it into the ‘fridge whenever I needed to—after the raise/punch, or before it. It’ll keep for several days, even a week or two. If you freeze dough, then it would need a good overnight thawing before you can work with it. I think I’d probably let refrigerated dough sit out at room temp for 3 or 4 hours before trying to work with it, frozen dough 8 hours. I’m guessing here: I’ll pay more attention next time I do this to see how long it takes! 🙂 Good luck! OH, and to answer your other question: yes, I’d let the refrig’d dough warm up, then shape it, then let it rise. Then bake. Then . . . . pull out the butter and eat, baby. 🙂
I do miss Runza! I always have to eat there when back in Nebraska. Last fall I found a great recipe and made them at home, freezing most of them. They turned out delicious! But I didn’t write down the recipe and may not be able to find it again. So, I will try your recipe! It sounds a bit healthier anyways. And, I love the tip of filling it in a bowl–genius! The only downside to making Runzas is that my husband is not a fan of them . . . But, I have no problem making them and freezing them and eating them when he is at work, or sharing them with friends.
My mom is the brilliant one, Nathana. 🙂
Try ham and cheese or a Italian sausage tomato mix. You could even make it into a pizza roll, if there is anything he likes
mmmmm! Hungry now!
Amy! This is sooooo funny, as in odd, but amusing. I wanted to thank you for your Nine Grain Bread recipe. I used your Nine Grain Mix in my daily wheat bread recipe, baking two loaves of bread, a tiny “roll” loaf (baked in ramekins–too cute!), and 15 “cabbage burgers”. In the past, my family has enjoyed this mea. With the addition of your Nine Grain Mix (you haven’t TRADEMARKED that, have you? ;)), my family insists all future cabbage burgers be made with that particular grain mix. So thank you very much for the Nine Grain Mix recipe and this post. Time to make dinner!
Wow, do you know that I totally forgot that I wrote about my Nine Grain Mix? It is so versatile, isn’t it? I add it to oatmeal, too, to provide more of a nutritional punch, and it would be good in the runza dough, too. Thanks for making my day! 🙂
When you freeze Runzs do you let them rise after filling, before you freeze? Or do you Freeze them as soon as you fill them? Then let them thaw and rise before baking?
I flash-freeze them–I stick them right into the freezer on cookie sheets, then once they are frozen solid, I transfer them into double-freezer bags—as soon as they are filled. Letting them rise first would just result in their falling once you stick them into the freezer.
I first bake and then freeze. I individually wrap so I can pop one into the microwave and have a quick lunch whenever. They come out as good as they were on day one and I am very picky about my food.
Good for you, Steve! Thanks so much for your comment. I think that’s a great idea. I’ve frozen them in both states and found them to be quite good reheated, either way!
#8 for dough says to add shortening to water to soften. I do not see shortening on the list of ingredients. Assuming I am to use butter in place of shortening, what is the amount?
I just returned from NE (nary a Runza in Ohio) and can hardly wait to try this recipe! You wouldn’t happen to have a recipe for a proper Czech kolache, eh?
Dear Barbara! The butter is the shortening (my mom calls nearly every type of fat “shortening” and I follow her lead, natch’!) and I think there is 1 cup of unsalted butter listed.
A recipe for a proper Czech kolache! That’s an awesome idea. I’ll get right on it. I do know some old Czech folks who make them, so I’m going to get the recipe and play around with it. I’ll post it if it turns out FABULOUS. Where in Ohio do you live? My kids just moved back from Ohio (Akron) to Nebraska. Good luck with the recipe!!
I am impressed with your recipe. It is similar to my own. However….I mix 2 Tbsp. of AuJus gravy mix into cabbage groundbeef mix. Just a little more beefy flavor. Another trick I have used in the past is to use string cheese with the filling. It seems to hold a little better. And I mix a little mayo with grated Swiss cheese for Swiss mushroom Runza. Mmmm good.
Wow, Linda, those sound like terrific additions! Thank you for sharing with me!
My family lived at 815 F Street in Lincoln. The German Russian community surrounded us. They were very protective of their recipes. But my mothers best friend shared many recipes and technics. Many around us preferred to use sauerkraut that they made from cabbage in their perfect pristine gardens. Those gardens were amazing. My grandfather in Bosworth Mo had a similar kraut recipe. Thats what gave that special flavor to the kraut runza. The other seret is lots of salty butter and served hot. We moved to central il and when my daughter was little we had a great baby sitter and our daughter would stay with her over night. One day we,went to pick our daughter up and I walked into the house and smelled a familiar smell. I asked what she was making and she said Kraut Runzas. Turns out she grew up close to where I lived. Kraut Runzas are special to my family. Comfort food.
I love it how stories–in particular, stories about food–can create such strong memories and relationships. I love your story so much–what are the odds that you’d hire a babysitter who made the same type of Runzas that you grew up eating? My kiddos used to be in choirs in Lincoln that met at a church in the German Russian part of town. While the older kiddos were in choir, I used to take the younger kids on walks around that beautiful neighborhood. There’s a museum down there with bricks on the walk in front of it with names engraved of many of those immigrants. My daughter Amalia–just a little girl at the time–was delighted to find a couple of “Amalia”s on the walk. Thank you so much for sharing your story with me–and I concur with the lots of salty butter and served hot!!
Oh Miss Amy… You have been such wonderful blessing to me 🙂 – My Fiancé is from Lincoln Nebraska and has spoken on Runzas – A LOT. He has missed them and every week while watching the Huskers play, he gives a little sigh and wants a hot gooey Runza mess. I have been wanting to cook some for him, but have been terrified of not holding my own against the pros he won’t shut up about. A disappointing Runza would be worse than not having one at all (or at least that’s how I’ve read into it) …. I did 2 practice rounds without him knowing, just to see and WOW! The sad thing is I’ve never had one, so I have nothing to compare it to, but DANG they are good. So I made him some and now he really won’t shut up about them 🙂 THANK YOU SO MUCH !! (from both of us)
Rhian, your comment is a real blessing to me! Thank you so much. I have made plenty of disappointing runzas in my life, ergo why I wrote that post when I discovered how to make really terrific ones!! Good on you for working so hard to make something to please your husband. You are certainly a sweet wife. Keep in touch, okay?
My dough is rising as I type… what is the best way to reheat the leftover runzas after baking?
Laura, the easiest way would be to cover them (I usually use waxed paper) and microwave for a minute or two. BUT you can also cover them (this time with foil) and heat gently in the oven (300 degrees, maybe?) for 15 minutes or until steaming hot. I hope they turn out well!
Is there liquid in the crock pot after cooking? Do you drain the meat mixture prior to filling the dough? Thanks, this recipe sounds great. I’m from Hastings, Nebraska, but live in Ohio now, and I do miss the Runza.
It depends on how long you let it cook, and how much moisture there is in the cabbage. In my experience, there is always some cabbage/meat juices in the crockpot, because of the slow cooking and the fact that you keep the lid on the crock-pot. I didn’t drain the meat mixture, though, I just used a slotted spoon when handling the filling, and that drained it pretty easily and naturally. Good luck!
I just recently had to make a ‘hot’ meal for my daughter’s basketball team (parents take turns feeding girls on away games and girls were tired of sandwiches). My daughter asked me to make Runza for them. When I cook I usually cook for an army, and following recipes is for some reason I am more of a ‘dump and hope’ kinda cook. I managed to make Runza for girls (although my dump & hope Runza were a hit, I altered and used more of a pizza dough recipe). Long story short, because everyone loved the Runza I made, I have been asked to make up Runza’s for the concession stand at the school for a home game, due to requests for them and no one had the time or desire to make them, so here I am. A question that I have due to the fact that for concession stand Runza basically needs to be ready to serve. How well would the Runza’s hold up if I was to make them, bake them, and wrap them and then freeze them? Also how long would they last in freezer, just in case they are a hit and I need to make ahead.
Bless your heart, Kim! What a lot of work that would be, and I’m pretty sure they will be a hit. You asked a great question. If I were doing it, I would slightly underbake the runzas, wrap them well and freeze them. Then pull them out and put them on cookie sheets or jelly roll pans, and bake them. Probably brushing melted butter on them would be a good idea, too. Of course brushing melted butter on nearly anything, imho, usually isn’t a bad idea. 😉 And if you had them well wrapped in freezer bags, I would guess that they would last for a couple months at least. Good luck. I’d love to hear back from you about how all this goes!
I am considering making lots of runs for family from out-of-state. I have made, baked and frozen runzas for myself, but this will be the first experience for many and I want to have them made and ready to pop in the oven. Would it be best to undertake, freeze, then thaw and finish baking them OR freeze them without any baking and bake them from frozen in a 375 degree oven?
Either way would work, I’m sure, but if it were me, I’d probably freeze them without baking and bake them as you said, brushing butter on them during that last few minutes. I think they would probably taste fresher that way.
Love this dough! So much better than the recipe we grew up with. Thanks for putting this recipe out.
Oh, no problem, I love it too!
I love making Runza….I aquire the recipe from a young lady that lived next door. Her recipe calls for a sponge dough that is out of this world. Before baking I brush milk on the tops and in the oven they go. I have used this recipe for 40 plus years. They freeze great and always go fast.
Would you possibly share the recipe for that sponge dough? With me, I mean? (pretty please?)
My recipe for sponge dough. 1 pkg. Dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 c. warm water plus 1 T. sugar. Mix 1 T. Crisco shortening, 1/2 t. salt into 3/4 c.warm milk. After yeast has done it’s thing which should be right about now mix it with the milk liquid you just made. Add 2 c. flour to yeast. Beat well. Turn out on a floured board and knead until elastic. One hint I use is do it all in a food processer…saves time but don’t over process. Place dough in greased bowl and cover with damp cloth. Let rise in warm place until double.
Ironically, I made runzas, one year after you posted this, almost to the day and as I was perusing Pinterest, I found your recipe. I use a different recipe for the dough. Basically a sweeter bread dough (no eggs or milk) that starts with a slurry. The filling is ground beef, onion, cabbage, Worcestershire sauce, Seasoned salt, pepper and oregano. As for freezing; I bake and flash freeze and vacuum-seal for longer storage. And Yes! Butter on top after baking. You must! 🙂 I appreciate your mom’s secret to filling them. I make a long cylinder of the dough, cut in thirds and then into fifths. I lay the slice on it’s cut side and then roll. It seems to work better that way and doesn’t fight the rolling pin as much. Spoon on the filling and pinch to seal. Let the first pan rise while preparing the second (I do 6 to a pan.) Then bake at 375 for 20 mins. The original recipe is here: http://acceptingecho.blogspot.com/2012/06/homemade-runza-recipe-and-pictures.html?m=1
thank you thank you thank you, kay!!
Two words. Egg bath. Whip up an egg and brush it over each runza before baking. It gives them the perfect finish without having to add the wheat flour.
Thank you, Amy! What a great tip!
The recipe calls for a small can of sauerkraut. Does that mean the 8 oz. small can or the 15 oz. regular size can?
I use the 15 oz size. Good question, thank you!!
Can I assemble the runzas the night before and just refrigerate until ready to bake?
Amy, absolutely! Just come try it at my house, for a test, if you like! 😉
I really do not care for sauerkraut….if I skip that ingredient maybe add more cabbage, will it adversely effect the finished product?? Or can’t you taste the sauerkraut once cooked?
Go ahead and leave out the sauerkraut, Lori. Just add more cabbage (quite a bit more, as it will cook down) and a couple pinches more salt and pepper. Probably you won’t even notice the difference! Good luck and let me know how they turn out!
This recipe is one of the best things that has happened to me
AFter being raised in England until the age of 16 I never heard of a Runza…but upon moving to the US in the state of Nebraska Lincoln to be exactI was introduced to them when I passed A Runza resteraunt and stopped in to see what it was…..OMG!!! I was hooked….I would go there almost every day for lunch…..I joined the Military and left Nebraska so the only time i could get runzas was when i was home on leave…..THANKS for this recipe they taste JUST like they did back in 78-79 DELICIOUS
Good, Chas, that was what I was going for!!
I’m 72-year-old German Russian born and raised in The German Bottoms. My gramma lived directly across the street (7th and C street) she had 10 children so no matter where they lived they would always come home to mommas for the holidays. My gramma was the best runza maker in the world, along with everything else German goodies. She taught me and everyone else how to make runza,I now live in Hopkins Village, Belize I’ve been baking cinnamon rolls and selling them on the street 2 dozen at a time for 7 years. I usually don’t have to go more than a few blocks and their gone. Now you’ve helped me to start making runzas as well.
Wonderful, Ron! I’d love to see a picture of you selling those Runzas, to publish on my blog! Would you be able to send me one?
A friend emailed us your post on runzas. I can’t wait to try this recipe, so sauerkraut is on my shopping list for tomorrow. We live in southwest Kansas and the Mennonite community here makes thes for community suppers but they are called bierocks. My Mother made them and called them cabbage rolls. They were served with yellow mustard as a dipping sauce.
I live near where your children lived, in Canton, Ohio. I can say for sure I had never heard of a Runza until this morning, in a feature about an upcoming food festival in St. Louis. I am very impressed that this thread of comments began in March, 2016 and continues today. Shows me this is truly a very good recipe! I cannot wait to make this this weekend. It is just starting to cool off here in Ohio and these cute little concoctions scream fall to me. Did you ever make those Czech kolache? I have great respect for ethnic food (being from Hungarian decent) and love trying new things. Thank you for answering every question above and making me stretch my cooking wings just a little further (like say, Nebraska?)
Rose Ann, thank you for your nice comments. I do believe this is a great recipe. And I’ve been working on runza recipes for DECADES, honestly. I’m happy that Runzas have made it to Ohio! I’ve never come up with a recipe for kolaches that I really liked. Do you make them? I’d love to keep experimenting with my recipe, if you have any insights??
I was introduced to Runzas over 30 yrs. ago, in Nebraska and I now live in California. I found a recipe and tried making them. You were right, they can be very blah if not made right. No flavor at all. I was so disappointed. I just found your recipe today and you can be sure I will try it. I’m not a sauerkraut lover either, but I want the flavor. Maybe I will try just a small can. Thank you so much for posting your recipe. I can’t rate your recipe right now, but I will return.
Carol, honestly, you can use cabbage OR sauerkraut, or both, it doesn’t seem to make that much difference. Just make sure to season the meat mixture well, otherwise it will be very bland and a huge disappointment.
So many comments I don’t know what to add..but growing up in the midwest this was a family staple recipe for us. So nice to be able to find this recipe and get the same results as when I was a kid. 🙂
Thank you for sharing -and all the tips are wonderful!
Chef Heather, you are welcome! My pleasure!
I absolutely LOVE the way you narrate this
Well, thank you very much, Holly!!
Hey, Amy. I’m really stoked about your recipe. I like the sauerkraut addition and the notion of slow cooking the meat mixture in a crockpot (or on the stove top, at low heat, as I do with my pizza sauce). My question is: how much does the whole wheat flour add to the dough? I do almost all of my baking with unbleached white.
Thanks for the recipe and Go Big Red! (especially the women’s volley-ballers).
Dan, Yes, those lady Husker volleyballers are something else, aren’t they??
Okay, truth is, taste-wise the whole wheat flour doesn’t do a lot, especially since I don’t add that much in the first place. So if you want to leave it out, please do! But it does make a very pretty dough, in my humblest opinion, to have the flecks of bran from the whole wheat flour. It’s totally up to you, though! When I made that recipe in the blog post, I was in New Zealand, so my choices were limited. Here at home, I’d use some of the white wheat flour that I use for our bread. It is a whiter (obs) wheat and grinds up finer, and it doesn’t add any heaviness.
The past few summers I have driven my parents to a family reunion in Miller, Nebraska. I love to grab a Runza when were are near one of the restaurants. I told my cousin how much I loved them and she made a batch while we were there. I’ve been craving them so found your recipe and made them last night. I’m not a sauerkraut fan but thought it would likely need that flavor boost so I bought a bottle in the refrigerator section of our grocery store. It’s not near as strong as the others I’ve purchased for my husband as he loves sauerkraut. I simmered it on the stove in my Dutch oven and then made gravy from the drippings. I had extra company and my husband nor any of them have had or heard of them let alone tasted them. The closet thing they have tasted was Russian hamburgers. They don’t have near the flavor. Everyone loved them and we are looking forward to the leftovers. Thanks for sharing your brilliant recipe.
Way to go, Becky! I had a wonderful mom figure in my life, when I was a little girl, who occasionally made runzas and served them with gravy. I thought they were very delicious, and quite indulgent! In that case, they were eaten with a fork!!
I grew up in Nebraska and have ended up on an island in Panama. I used to rave about Runzas and nobody knew what I was talking about, save a couple other NE expats smattered about here, til now!!! Made a batch from another recipe and they were so bland it was embarrassing, but now, I am saved! Thanks so much for this…the bowl for filling is brilliant as dough in the tropics is a challenge to say the least with no a/c….I soup them up with some dijon, worchestershire, herbs de provence and just a dash of cayenne….lotsa cheese and well, my Texas honey can’t get enough of them….thanks for bringing the taste of home to this little house far, far away. Merry Christmas!
Julie, we soup ours up sometimes, too–my hubby likes adding green peppers and provolone cheese to them sometimes. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe and that it brought a little joy to you. 🙂 *blessings*
My family loved these! Thank you for sharing your tips and techniques – your mom’s bowl trick is genius. I’ll certainly be making these again!
Kate, I’m so glad! Yeah, my mom is one smart cookie!
My daughter gave me a pressure cooker for my birthday. I have never used it, but thinking about starting to use it. Do you have any idea how long I would cook Runzas in it?
Carol, I am guessing you mean the runza filling, right? Because baking the runzas themselves would have to be done in the oven, not a pressure cooker. But I’ll guess that you could shave quite a lot of time off the slow-cooker method, by cooking the filling in the pressure cooker. Say, if you experiment with this, would you mind sharing with me what your findings are? Thank you!
So, I am not from Nebraska but my husband is and has taken me for a Runza when we visited. Yum! I’ve been afraid to try making them for fear of it being a disappointment. But I plan to try this recipe. One of our friends, also from Nebraska, is having a baby soon and this seems like a great food to take over as it can be eaten with one hand “on the go”! I’d like to prepare and freeze ahead of time. I have read the other comments about underbaking and then freezing, but I hate to make her bake them herself. Could they be baked completely, butter and all, and then frozen? And if so, what is the best way to reheat? Thaw in fridge then oven, I presume? Also, any suggestions on cheese type? I’d probably do some with and some without as I’m unsure how she prefers them. Thanks!
Hi Charysse! Great questions! Yes, they certainly can be made ahead, and then frozen in freezer bags. To reheat, you can simply heat them up in the microwave–easiest thing–but also wrapped in foil in the oven. If you don’t wrap them up while you reheat, they will dry out possibly–necessitating more butter application–*sigh*—And as for cheese type: go with whatever you like! I tend to like stronger cheese tastes, so I like sharp cheddar, but a nice melty gouda would be good, or whatever you like best!
Born in NE, but left at an early age. Mom used to make these, but I cannot remember…and want to make some…what do you serve with runzas?
Hmm Kathy, that’s a good question. I think something green . . .a green leafy salad or some fresh crunchy crudites would not go amiss!
Great recipe. Looking forward to making some. In the dough recipe you say 2 Scants of yeast. Is that just a different way of saying 2 pouches? Just wondering? Thanks
Bill, it’s “2 Scant Tbs of yeast” or slightly less than 2 Tablespoons.
Thanks for the recipe! Word of caution , never teach your daughters to be independent! Both our lovelies graduated from Concordia (Seward ,NE) and after promising us they would not seriously date in College they both got married to delightful men. So five years ago we had three weddings (in NINE months) . Being very family oriented we were racking up a lot of frequent flyer miles. Our son is an officer in the Navy so with him relocating frequently and one daughter in MN and the other very close to Lincoln NE – we sold our home in SanDiego CA and built one in Lincoln as Grand Babies definitely beat the beach! I’ve wanted to make this as we have frequent visits with our daughters and native Runza lovers (husbands). One question, being Dutch I’m a cheese snob (my daughter loving tells me) how many oz of cheese would you suggest? Thank you!
Also, when do add the cheese? Sorry, forgot to ask .
Shereen, I tuck the cheese in when I’m putting in the filling.
What?? Shereen, we’re neighbors? I come to Lincoln quite frequently! About the cheese: gosh, I’ve never measured how many oz I use. I can say that it is up to your individual preference (see how nicely I skirt the details!). If you like them really cheesy, then by all means put in more cheese than you think, because the cheese does seem to melt into the filling and disappear. And I’ve used different types of cheese, too, depending on what I have available. A sharper-tasting cheese is going to not be overpowered by the sauerkraut. Word to the wise runza maker!! Good luck and I’d love to hear back from you!—oh, I put the cheese into the runzas when I’m putting the filling in, before baking.
Yes we are! I love ❤️ being able to get fresh farm eggs for making pasta! We had a home built next to the North Bank Preserve. I’ve been told Lancaster county has spent a TON of money to try to save the Salt water tiger beetle . Besides Eagles ,turkeys , pheasants and deer there are (at last count ) 287 tiger beetles in the salt marsh next to us. It’s great to know no one will be ever able to build in back of us. We joined the twin lakes farmers collective so I’ll bet I’ll run into you at the Haymarket farmers market! I’ll look for you 🙂
Sounds good, Shereen! I’ll look for you, too! <3
You ask for shortening in the recipe but it’s nowhere on the list!!! How much shortening or lard please!!
Crystal, sorry for the confusion! That should have read “add butter” instead of shortening. I’ve amended the recipe so it’s clearer now.
I was born in and went through college in NE, and now live in NY near my family. I told my sister I was making these for a beach day our families are having this weekend, and she wouldn’t stop texting her excitement in all caps. Thanks so much for posting this!
You are welcome! Good luck!!
Amy, your runza recipe sounds fantastic! There was a drive-in in Colo Spgs, CO that sold them right along with their hamburgers, fries, etc. Unfortunately, it was eventually sold & no more hot, delicious runzas served with mustard! Tourists were surprised that they found runzas in CO!
Debra, that’s funny! I wonder if a Nebraska transplant ran that place?
Actually, the drive-in was started in 1955 by a local family native to Colorado…go figure! Sure miss those runzas!
Great info, Debra. Thanks!
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My parents grew up in Nebraska but moved to the east coast when they started having children. Because both of my grandmothers still lived in NE as my sisters and I were growing, My parents would make a road trip at least once a year, usually summer vacation, to NE to visit them. We always ate Runzas, so these brought back precious memories of the 70’s. Another wonderful memory was that my (100% Czech) grandmother on my dad’s side always made homemade kolaches for us. Filling flavors were apricot, apple, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, and poppy seed. Although my grandmother did not have a bread recipe written down for us before she passed, my parents were able to develop a recipe that is extremely close to grandma’s. If you still have not found a satisfactory Kolache recipe, or wouldn’t mind to have another, I would humbly like to offer my family’s recipe, just as soon as I can find it.
I also wanted to share that I help find/alter recipes for Asian dishes that my friend’s Asian sorority uses to feed the homeless in a nearby homeless shelter (once a month for lunch). Funny thing is that I am not Asian. The diners know I find the recipes and the ladies cook them, and I have been told the food we provide is by far the best they get to eat each month. As I have been helping to share the Asian culture thru the food for over 2 years now, I am going to use this recipe to share one of my favorite foods of my culture.
Will be back in touch with the Kolache recipe.
Mike, I would dearly LOVE your family’s kolache recipe. The Asian recipes that you use to feed the homeless–good for you, by the way–I’d be most interested in them, too! Thank you and I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon!
G.I. Resident. UNL Alum. Creighton Alum. Student of Roger Welsch. ( Deep History of Volga Germans and the Russian Bottoms). Ate first Runza in 1973 at the old “Shack” Next to what is now “Standing Bear Park” (Old Humane Center park) on Van Dorn. Introduced atleast 30 people to “Runza’s” ( ie. Non- Nebraskans). Shipped frozen product to DC and Chicago in the 90’s. Along with Driesbach’s Steaks. It is uncanny how the Runza’s are soo well received–even as “comfort food”by foreign Ingenues.
I have made several different versions–but usually only have trouble with uneven oven heating. A good oven is required for big batches. As a busy, lazy single father, I’m just happy to have 2 Runza stores in GI.
I’ll try your recipes when I get the kids home for Thanksgiving. Thanks!
It’s nice to meetcha! Student of Roger Welsch. Jealous! When you make the runzas, I’d love to hear how they turn out, and how your kiddos like them. Thanks so much for your comment. I love to make acquaintance with fellow Nebraskans.
I can’t wait to try your 5 secrets. I totally related to your “meh” remarks, because my great grandma, grandma and mom have been making these for years, and I’ve never felt like mine were up to par–at least not always…
I live in France with my husband and kids, and this summer we drove through Nebraska. Naturally we had to stop for a Runza–and since that day in August, I’ve been promising myself to figure out how to make them that good every time! Thanks so much!
You are welcome! Does your family live in Nebraska, then, Lisa?
how big are golf balls in new zealand. sure seems like a small amount of dough. hard to roll out thin enough to then wrap.
Liz, if that size doesn’t work for you, just make them a little bigger! I prefer smaller runzas, but you may like them bigger?
I just made the Runzas. Omg they were delicious; no need to go back to Nebraska. Lol!
Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.
I’m SO glad you liked them! And glad that they turned out so well for you!
Hi, just found your recipe. My daughters and I are having a “cooking/meal prep” day this Saturday and I said I was doing homemade runzas. They are super excited, the younger one is at UNL and loves her some Runza!
I’m going to cheat and try your recipe with frozen bread dough, (sorry! 🙁 but too many things to cook and not enough time!) I’m using your tips for filling and topping them with butter. btw, it’s always fun to hear from Nebraska cooks! 🙂
Joni, well, it’s so nice to hear from you! And I’m not offended a bit about your using the frozen bread dough. There are lots of good frozen dough products out there and it’s an easy shortcut! Thanks for your comment!
The Runzas turned out really good, they were kind of small, I think next time we will try the homemade dough recipe and see if that makes them a little bigger. I’m saving your recipe !
I hope I hear back from you, Joni!!
Is it really 15 cups of flour?!? That’s quite a lot of flour…
It’s a BIG batch.
Occasionally too busy or tired to make dough (although I prefer the dough) I make this filling (thank you for the recipe) and stir in a package of pre-grated cheddar cheese. A big spoonful in a soft roll or even soft hamburger bun is a tasty sandwich. I lived in Lincoln NE for several years just a few blocks from the Runza restaurant at 33rd and Hwy 2 and my husband at the time graduated high school with Don Everett way back when. Lord only knows how many of those Runzas I have eaten at home, football parties or social gatherings. Thanks for the recipe!!!
That is a GREAT tip, Di! Thank you! The runza taste without quite so much work. Brilliant!!
Am I correct in interpreting your notes to mean that:
The filling is enough for 20 Runzas.
The dough recipe as given is enough to make 40 Runzas?
Yes, Mary, approximately that is true. It depends on how much dough and filling you use. But that is usually how it works out for me. I don’t mind because the dough is so good to have on hand for dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, etc. If you don’t want this extra dough to deal with, feel free to cut the dough recipe in half!
I halved the dough recipe and weighed it before rolling out. Before assembling, I weighed the dough, divided total weight by 20, and weighed each portion to be about 83 grams. I used 2 Tbsp. grated sharp cheddar plus 1/3 cup of the filling for each Runza. (Note that in the filling I used 2 cups of sauerkraut, but no fresh cabbage, and added about 1-1/2 cups of diced mushrooms. It was the batch we’ve ever had!)
Thank you heaps, I have been making Runzas for than 4 decades and never mastered them being formed and all alike you secret tip 3 taught me this morning.
I just took 9 perfectly formed runzas from the oven.
I have to say being somewhat an expert on runzas, we both started the same year in Lincoln, and I lived within 4 blocks of the new Runza Inn on 56th most of my formative year’s cheese in runzas never.
Larry, so happy that it was helpful!
Just a lil nugget I have learned making these at home……. use white pepper! Yep, you’ll love the added flavor. Still use the standard black pepper but white pepper really sets it off!
What do you know? Thanks, Michael. White pepper is not even something that I keep on hand regularly–I don’t know why? But I bought some (and a new grinder to grind it with!) and my life is better for it! 😉 Thank you for your comment!
Amy, just finished making your Runzas. I grew up in Lincoln on Lake street. I have been making Runzas for many years but like to try new recipes. Mainly because I can never remember which one I use last time. Yours are very good. We are eating them as I am typing this. I made 1/2 recipe for the dough and it was spot on. Thanks for sharing this.
Yay, Mary, so glad you like the recipe! It’s one that I worked hard on over many years! Runzas are something that you’ve just gotta get right!!
Omg, just made these! Absolutely to die for. Followed ur recipe all except the bread part, used frozen bread dough, still came out fabulous. I love dipping mine in Boetzje mustard and hellmann’s mayonnaise mixed together of course.
Ooh, that sounds tasty. Tell me more about this Boetzje mustard, please?
Hi Amy! Just a quick note to say thank you so much for this great recipe. My mother-in-law lives in Colorado and around her they refer to these as Kraut burgers. I’m always amazed at the different names for the same food. I humbly submit a little tip of making sure the Runza is totally cool before wrapping up to freeze. They can get soggy otherwise. Ask me how I know LOL. Also I found that mine turned out better letting my feeling cool down a little before putting into the dough. Seems like they didn’t rip so easy. Thank you again Amy we sure enjoy this recipe.
Wonderful tips! Thanks so much Ronda!
Am almost tempted to challenge you to a Runza Competition, except mine are never as pretty as yours. Had to make too many of ’em too fast to worry about looks. The only comment/tip I will make: PLEASE don’t shred the cabbage, cut into nice 1/2″ ribbons or so. Ya wanna taste it. And please don’t overcook it; start filling the runzas when the cabbage is about half done.
Funny how each person likes it different: our daughter insists on carrots. Yes, carrots. Youngest son likes mushrooms. Husband eats them dripping, no, gushing, with mustard. One son likes them with, believe it or not, cooked rice (leftover chicken and rice even – that was from a leaner time when I had a lot of chicken and rice and only about 1/2 pound hamburger). And one son prefers heavy onion/cabbage ratio to meat. However, they eat what they get, and there are never ANY runzas left.
Wow! I don’t know if I want to go up against you, Marsha. Sounds like you are the RUNZA QUEEN!! I like to add sliced green peppers to ours occasionally, or mild jalapeno peppers and Mont Jack cheese. YUM. I’m really feeling hungry now . . . ! Thanks for your excellent comment and suggestions.
I made these tonight in Panama..my 5th effort…..and I agree it is letting the filling cook and cook to sloopy yummo……….added Bragg’s aminos instead of a bunch of salt…a touch of worchestershire and a tinge of mustard to the filling mix and simmered for 4 hours….halved your dough and cheesed the babys up and they were owey gooey yum and way better than that chain and yeah..I grew up in Nebraskie….and am so happy to have a bunch for the freezer and the best recipe for these in the world. Thanks babe!!! xxx
Julie, thank YOU. I looove your suggestions. Mack and I are going to spend an afternoon soon making a pile of runzas for the freezer. He is a GROWING BOY, don’tcha know, and is perennially STARVING, MOM!! I love your additions (Aminos instead of salt: brilliant and tasty, I’ll bet!). My hubby loves slivered green peppers as an addition, too. (Where in NE did you grow up?)
As a bride lived next to the part of Lincoln you are mentioning. Learned to eat Runzas at the second floor tea ship near 10th and O. Got my recipe from the cookbook put out by University Dames in the “60s. Added saurkraut when I moved to Kansas and we learned to call them Beirocks.
You have a delicious history with the Runza, Phyllis, as do I. Isn’t it fun to have these recipes that become such a part of our lives?
Enjoyed reading, lived in Ne. all my life, have lots of critters too. I saw you were looking for a Kolache recipe. There is a group called “Nebraska Bohemians” formed only a few years ago. There people will post all kinds of family Czech recipes. If you like to bake it is a fun one to get connected with. Right now everyone is into dumplings and kraut. Love Runza, eat there quite a bit. Live in Seward. Garth Brooks came to Lincoln for a concert and posted something about the Runza. I told him try the cheese one, and eating there won’t disappoint. Was surprised he answered back and thanked me, said they were great. I am going to try your recipe soon.
nadine, thanks for the tip! I’m going to find that group and see if they will let me–a non Bohemian–in. It sounds like fun!
Thank you, Bill!
A bakery in a nearby town sells cabbage, beef runzas, and although I’m not much of a chef, I thought I’d give it a shot making them. Yours in the only recipe I’ve tried, because they always turn out fantastic! I don’t add the sauerkraut (I forgot why, maybe because the ones I buy locally didn’t seem to have that taste) and love them just like that. My husband says it’s the best thing I make 😀 Thank you for this fantastic recipe!!
*OH* “My husband says it’s the best thing I make.” That just made my day. Your hubby has wonderful taste not only in wives, but in recipes! Thanks so much, Emily!
Hi, Amy. Although I’ve made runzas before (using your Nine Grain Mix, I might add!), I am so wanting to try this recipe with sauerkraut. The fermenting bug bit me and I now make our sauerkraut. I’m thinking, in the appropriate amount, homemake sauerkraut could be used in this recipe. Do you have any experience with that? Thanks and Happy New Year! (Only 23 days into it, so it’s still a new year, right?) God bless.
Hi there! I think homemade sauerkraut would work just fine! As with the canned stuff, be careful to squeeze out most of the juice or you’ll end up with a juicy mess! Good luck to you! Please let me know how they turn out and Happy New year to you, too!
Thank you, Amy for this reply. I will let you know when I make these with homemade sauerkraut. Have a blessed day.
I’d love to hear back from you on this!
I was just sitting here in self-quarantine and decided to make Runzas. Too lazy to dig out my recipe I hit the internet and found this. Wonderful. I lived in NE many years (many towns). Our kids went to UNL and yes we bleed Husker red! I’ve never added the sauerkraut..a wonderful yummy addition I might add. I also put in 2 Tblsp dry brown gravy mix to the meat mixture. Mmmmmm. Now….here is a great recipe for kolaches!!My sister got it from her Czech girlfriend.
2 pkg dry yeast (rapid rise ok)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup warm (not hot) water
2 cup scalded and slightly cooled milk
1 cup instant potatoes
3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
Mix well, cover and let rest 1/2 hour (don’t skip this)
3 beaten eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
9 tblsp melted butter
Next add :
4 cups of flour
Gently knead on floured surface until smooth. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise until double. Grease cookie sheets. Place 1/3 of dough on lightly floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into circles with glass or biscuit cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise. Repeat with remaining dough.
When raised take index and middle finger and gently make an indentation in the center of each roll. Fill with your favorite filling: cherry, apricot, prune, poppy seed, lemon etc Cover pan with cloth and let rise 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 9-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven lightly brush with melted butter. cool on rack. Makes 5-6 dozen.
The secret to these yummy rolls are the potatoes and the rising times. My grandkids like me to drizzle thin powdered sugar frosting on them. YUM!!
Karen, thank you! Would you mind if I shared this recipe on my blog? I’m going to make some kolaches today and share them with my folks, who are practicing Social Distancing.
I’m in the middle of making it and have a couple questions!
I have the dough rising now, but there were about 4 cups of flower that I couldn’t knead into it. I had to use an extra cup of wheat flour to make up for some white, and I’m in Colorado which is really dry. Would those factors effect the recipe that much, or did I do something wrong. The filling is fantastic, I wish I had doubled that!
I do have extra dough for later. Besides cinnamon rolls or dinner rolls, what are some other fun recipes to make with it?
Hi Taunya! I may be too late to help you with this, but I hope not!
*You are correct that if the air is dry where you live, you won’t need as much flour. Don’t worry about the recipe so much; just go by feel. When the dough is nice to work (elastic and smooth, and not too sticky) you’ve probably got it right!
* Glad you like that filling! Me too!
* Here is another idea for the leftover Dough: roll it out thin and use it for pizza crust, or calzones! It freezes well too, if you want to freeze it for another day! Have fun!
Thank you, Karen! We grandmas need to stick together. Thanks for sharing your great ideas!! I love the pigs in a blanket idea!
I want you to know that for the past few years this has become my go-to recipe every 6 months or so when I get a hankering for a runza. It is fantastic, and so is the writing along with it!
Today I am going a little crazy and making the filling but I’m making pretzel dough for the bread (technically pretzel bao dough – it’s a fantastic Serious Eats recipe, I won’t link it because I don’t want to spam, but it’s worth checking out). We’ll see how it turns out!
I’m totally going to check out that bread dough recipe. I’m always up for a new challenge! Thanks for the kind words. I love this recipe too!
I “think” I read through most of the comments to try and find my answer. I am making this right now for an international feast gathering tomorrow. (I went to school in Crete, NE – Runza’s are my FAV!) I wondered..can I stuff, refrigerate, then bake the next day? Do I just need to bring them out while the oven is warming up?
I appreciate your help! Thank you!
JEssica, that should work just fine! They don’t even really need to “warm up” from their stint in the refrig. Good luck and take care!
Leftover dough? That’s just silly (not that I have anything against cinnamon rolls 🙂 Double the meat and plan your day! Runzas freeze beautifully. I bake them first so they are quick out of the freezer, warmed in the oven, and all the time you put in on one day pays itself back for several rushed suppers.
One hint-my mom made customized filling by adding everyone’s favorite seasoning or condiment to a portion of the filling right before stuffing, because certain members of my family LOVE mustard and other can’t get through a day without extra cheese. She then put each persons initial on the outside of the bun using the condiment.
Thank you for the hint about the crock pot. I can easily see how that would expedite and simplify the process, along with deepening the flavors. Intend to try that next time–which after reading this recipe with all the comment–is likely to be tomorrow.
haha! Great addition to the long comment stream, Cynthia. I love your Mom’s idea, and that would be sure to drive me cray-cray but it would be so appreciated by all my kiddos . . . let’s see . . Bryan (not a kiddo, but still) would appreciate slivered green pepper slices added, Mack would like the cheeseburger additions–pickles, cheese, mustard and ketchup!–Amalia would probably want more garlic, etc.
Thanks for your tips. When I rolled out the dough it jumped back a little not wanting me to roll out more. After baking and eating I felt the dough was a bit thick. I can’t remember if that’s the way it’s supposed to be or rid I do something wrong with kneading/proving?
Donna, great question! Sometimes if you let the dough rest for a few minutes before you roll it out, it won’t jump back like that. You want to roll it out as thinly as possible (without creating holes!) so you don’t have that thick doughy effect. It takes a bit of practice to get it to that sweet spot!
Thank you for your secrets! This is my second time making Runza’s so I can’t wait to see the results. I live in Olive Branch MS and my husband is from Idaho. On one cross-country trips, and we make many, I was hungry. What are the Runza places I thought. What a revelation. This is THE ultimate comfort food.
Amy, oh, I’m so glad that you stopped and tried them! Aren’t they good? They are such a favorite here, too. I never get tired of them. But it’s really nice to be able to make them at home, too. You’re right, they are a fantastic comfort food!
Hey there, I incorporated a runza dough recipe that I found with a family Berok filling…. basically the same. So my runza dough recipe called for mixing it all with a wooden spoon. Mind you I usually make 3-4 batches at a time and the that is A LOT of mixing and arm fatigue, haha. Has anyone done the mixing in a KitchenAid type mixer? I don’t have one, but would consider it if the dough comes out just as perfect as hand mixing with a wooden, albeit tired, spoon. Thanks!
Is it okay to use red cabbage instead of green? I hope to try this recipe soon.
Holly, you could certainly try it, but your runza filling will probably turn purplish-pink, which might be offputting to some. It will taste basically the same, though. If you do it, would you let me know how it turns out? I’d love to know!
I grew up in NE Colorado and we ate Krautburgers all the time. Just cabbage, no kraut. Grandma always said the recipe was a German’s from Russia food, (she grew up in McCook, NE). They were served in school and the hospital cafeteria. I have a recipe for 256 portions if anyone is getting ready to feed a large reunion.
Scott. . . 256 portions! Now that’s an oddly specific number! Welcome to the conversation.
I lived in Nebraska briefly as a young child. My mother owned a small cafe and the cook made the most amazing krautburgers. I was maybe 4 years old, and I vividly remember loving them. Now an adult, I live in Connecticut, and decided to try to replicate the recipe. My runzas, as I’ve learned they are called, were enjoyed by my family but not quite the delicious burger that I remember. I can’t wait to try your recipe in hopes of bringing my childhood memories to life! Thank you for sharing your secrets! I’d love to try them with cheese… what type of cheese do you recommend?
Hi Gina! I love your story. I hope you try to recipe and please come back and let me know if it’s as good as the recipe you remembered as a little girl. As far as cheese–I’ve tried all sorts of cheese, and have never been disappointed. I guess my favorite would probably be White Sharp Cheddar. The cheese does kind of melt in to the filling as it bakes, so it’s important to use a little more than you think you need.
Was first introduced to Runzas when I attended Hastings College in Hastings, NE. They are a favorite and whenever in Nebraska we always make a stop at a Runza Hut. In between visits I make them at hone. Anxious to apply your idea of the canned kraut. And, you’re right in that they needs plenty of salt and pepper. Have a batch of filling in process right now. Thank you for your post and excellent recipe. Bon Appetit!
Chef, I hope you enjoyed the recipe! I’d love to hear back about your experience, and if you decided any tweaks were necessary?
First there was St. Patrick’s Day, then the glorious Reuben sandwiches day, and we STILL had leftover corned beef. I thought, “Runza Variation!” In the dough I used 2 cups of rye flour rather than whole wheat. For the filling, I left out the ground beef, allowed the filling to cool, mixed in cubes of corned beef, and used Swiss cheese when assembling the runzas. They were very good!
oh my goodness, that sounds so good! In fact our Runza restaurant here in town will make a “reuben” runza around St. Patty’s day, and it is very good. I’ll bet your version was even better, though!! Sounds perfect! I’m going to try your variation the next time I have some leftover corned beef! Yum.
I make a yeast dough:
2C water, 2 pkgs yeast, 1.5 tsp salt, .5 white sugar, 1 egg, .5 C butter, 6.5 C flour
that doesn’t require kneading, sits in frig for 4 hours, is rolled out, filled and baked. Do you think I could make a day ahead, not bake – but refrigerate till the following evening to bake?
Yes Mavis, in fact I’ve done that very thing before!
Help! I’m so confused. I see that in the ingredients, you put 1 cup of butter but in the direction (I have read multiply times) I don’t see when you’re suppose to add the butter. I read all the comments and same, do not see when to add the 1 c. Of butter. At first I thought the cup of butter is to swash the dough before baking but my dough is so dry and I wasn’t even able to add all the flour your recipe asked for. Assuming I was suppose to add when I do the eggs and yeast? It doesn’t say if the butter is suppose to be at room temp or melted?
Emily, oh my goodness, I’m so sorry! I updated this recipe awhile back and forgot a step. I’m amended it so it reads correctly now. MElt the butter in a saucepan (or the microwave) with the milk or water. Let cool until just warm. Then stir in the yeast and proceed. Again, I’m sorry for the confusion! I’m so glad you reached out! Good luck with the recipe and I’d love to hear how your runzas turn out!