This traditional Nebraska recipe screams comfort food! A unique make ahead meal these runzas will have you moving to The Good Life for more!
Runzas, bierocks, krautburger. What do all three of these words have in common?
They’re all words for a traditional ‘sandwich’ you can find only in Nebraska! Below we’ll walk through what a runza is, what all you’ll need to whip up a batch, a quick overview of how to make runzas, some tips on freezing/re-warming, and of course…the recipe!
If you are an out-of-stater you may be questioning your click with this blog post… However, this regional delicacy is something to try at least once! And I guarantee you’ll be wanting more!
What is a Runza?
Traditionally a runza is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling of ground beef, cabbage, onions, and seasonings.
Coming from humble beginnings, the runza made its way to the United States from Germany and Russia in the 1800s with the name of the bierock.
One individual in particular can be noted as the “founder” of the Nebraska runza. Sarah “Sally” Everett. Sally’s maiden family, the Brenings, homesteaded around the Sutton, Nebraska area. With their move to Nebraska, the Brening family also brought their bierock recipe with them.
Sally (Brening) Everett is credited with adapting the family recipe into today’s runza recipe, as well as naming this cuisine! In 1949, Sally and her brother Alex opened up a restaurant to sell her homemade bierocks in Lincoln. Today, this family restaurant chain persists as the famous Runza.
It’s even been stated that runzas are “as Nebraskan as Cornhusker football!”
Check out the link HERE for more info on the history of the Runza!
What You’ll Need to Make Runzas?
There are only TWO things you will need to make these delicious ‘sandwiches’: a yeast dough and the filling.
There are two options for the yeast dough that I see: to use a pre-made yeast dough such as a store bought pizza dough OR make homemade dough.
Personally, I usually opt for the homemade dough. I don’t think you can beat the flavor of homemade dough VS store bought. And, 9 times out of 10 I don’t have pre-made dough handy!
To make the homemade dough you’ll need a few basic pantry items…
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 package yeast
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter (or butter flavored shortening)
- 1 egg
A traditional style of runza usually contains ground beef, shredded cabbage, onions, seasonings, and a little cheese. However, as you’ll find at the runza restaurant or in different homemade recipes, there can be MANY different variations of the runza.
A couple of my family’s favorite types of runza are the traditional, Breakfast Runzas, and BBQ chicken runzas!
Moral of this segment, these babies are super flexible to make your favorite fillings or try something new!
Tips on Freezing/Re-Warming
After baking the runzas, allow them to cool on baking racks until room temperature.
Once they’re cooled you can place them in a single layer in gallon ziplock bags to freeze. Be sure to remove all air from the ziplock bags!
Another option, you can individually wrap each runza in plastic wrap or tin foil before placing in a ziplock bag.
The runzas can remain in the freezer for 1-2 months until used. When the runzas are ready to be eaten, remove from the freezer the night before and unthaw in the fridge overnight.
When ready to re-heat, you can either microwave the runza for 3-5 minutes. Or you can place them on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake until warmed through!
Hungry for More?
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 pkg yeast
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup butter or butter flavored shortening
- 1 egg
- 1-2 lbs ground hamburger
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ head of cabbage, rough chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 6 slices American cheese singles, divided
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Prepare a baking sheet with either parchment paper or grease it with cooking spray.
- Mix wet dough ingredients together and warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Add yeast. Let the mixture rest about 5 minutes until yeast becomes frothy.
- Gradually add dry ingredients to the yeast mixture. Mix/knead until smooth. Add more flour if necessary.
- Let the dough rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes until dough has doubled in size.
- Brown hamburger and drain grease. Add in diced onion and cook until onions are tender. Stir in spices and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sized pot, melt butter. Add chopped cabbage, salt, and pepper. Heat until the cabbage is wilted. Add into the hamburger mixture and stir thoroughly.
- Once dough has doubled. knead a few time to get the air bubbles out. Divide dough into 12 pieces. Roll out into circles about 1/4 inch in thickness.
- On each rolled out piece of dough, place half of a single of cheese in the center of the dough circle. Place about a 1/2 cup of hamburger filling on top of the half single of cheese.
- Fold sides of the dough up, pinching the sides together to seal each runza.
- Bake 12-15 minutes at 400° Fahrenheit or until runzas are golden on the tops and underneath.