• As of March 1, 2009, This Food Thing will be hosted at a new address -- please make note: http://thisfoodthing.com

Original Runza Recipe

According to WikiPedia, a runza (also called a bierock) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle. In Nebraska, the runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape. The bierocks of Kansas, on the other hand, are generally baked in the shape of a bun.

According to my palate, I define a runza as ‘yummy goodness’ – a very technical term, you know ;)

Runza is a traditional food of the interior mid-western states; a local tradition with many different recipes, depending on the cook. Though Nebraska and Kansas are known for runza, the recipe has spread quite a bit. Runza restaurants have popped up all over Nebraska, one in Kansas, and a few in Colorado now, too.

I grew up watching my mother make these, and then waiting by the oven for them to finish baking — the smell moving through the house slowly … a tantalizing tease . Needless to say, runzas never lasted long in my house. Even now, with just the two of us, they don’t last too long.

Although I enjoy the original recipe for Runza, and do make it on occasion, I also enjoy making variations on it. I like to substitute half of the hamburger with hot Italian sausage (see recipe here) , add garlic, sometimes green peppers. Or at other times, adding cumin and ground dried chili, with jalapeno’s. There are many different ways to make Runza, though, traditionally, the recipe is as below – ‘Original Runza Recipe’.


Original Runza Recipe

2 pound ground beef
1 large onion , chopped
1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
2 batches of bread dough

Saute onion in a bit of oil until just translucent. Add hamburger and saute until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper. Drain away the grease, and return to the pan. Cover the mixture with the shredded cabbage and cook until the cabbage is done.  Stir occasionally.  This could take about 45 minutes or so.

Using an egg-dough recipe, roll small balls of dough thin to make a 5×5 square. Put about 1/2 cup of cabbage mixture in center of square and seal closed. Place seal side down on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased sheet).

Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 or until lightly golden brown.

Runza Recipe – Variation on the Original Recipe

1 pound ground beef
1 Pound hot italian sausage
1 large onion , chopped
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 medium Green Pepper, chopped
1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
2 batches of bread dough*

Saute garlic, onion and green pepper in a bit of oil. Add ground beef and sausage and saute until brown. Drain the oil away. Place the mixture back in the pan and cover with the shredded cabbage (it will be heaping). Cook over medium heat, mixing together the meat mixture and cabbage, and cook until the cabbage is tender and sweet.

Set aside and let cool.

Roll small balls of dough thin to make a 5×5 square. Put about 1/2 cup of cabbage mixture in center of square and seal closed. Place seal side down on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased sheet).

Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 or until lightly golden brown.



Runzas freeze very well. Allow them to cool completely, uncovered. Once these are cool, wrap in aluminum foil. I usually then put 4 wrapped runzas to a gallon ziplock bag and freeze.

I’ve kept these 4-6 weeks with no problem wrapped as above. If, however, you wish to keep these longer, allow to cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap well, wrap in aluminum foil, and place in either a ziplock back or an airtight container. You can then keep these for up to 3 months.


If you have not frozen these, heat the oven to 400F and heat for 10-12 minutes.

If you have frozen these, heat oven to 400F, put frozen, (and still wrapped runza package) into the oven and heat for 20-25 minutes. The last 5 minutes, remove the foil.


Add 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
Add 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes


22 Responses

  1. Hey I was just wondering when you would be able to get the dough recipe up. I’m kind of weird in the way that i like to make everything from scratch… I love Runza, and runzas so thanks for the recipe!

  2. Gads.. I totally forgot. I’ll get it up here this evening. Sorry for the delay.


  3. […] 5 Posts Half-Hour Marinated Pork ChopsBuckwheat Porridge – recipe by DukeLupusOriginal Runza RecipeOld Fashioned Corn DogsThe Best Macaroni and Cheese – The Lady’s Cheesy […]

  4. Yummy yummy! Originally from NE, moved to MD many years ago. I had a runza party last night for 20 of my nearest and dearest and everyone loved them! I don’t think I’ve ever made runzas for anyone who didn’t go crazy over them.

  5. Been looking for an original runza recipe to make my fiance since he moved to denver and HAS to eat them everytime he comes back to NE lol……now i can make a batch and freeze them to send with him when he goes back out to Colorado =]

  6. Hi, I noticed the link to the bread dough was not working, could you tell me where to find the recipe?


  7. I moved away years ago but still love them! I had not made these in a few years and needed refreshed. Thanks for the recipe, my friends here in Maine love Runzas!

  8. A bit of nutmeg (1/4 tsp) or allspice in the basic recipe does wonders. HAIL RUNZA!!!

  9. Love Runzas! Discovered them from a coworker’s grandmother when she brought them to a potluck here in Sacramento.

    She gave me the recipe, and I’ve made and shared them ever since!

    The recipe I was given calls for the sauerkraut and cabbage to be cooked separately in half a can of beef broth to add flavor, as well as thyme and carraway.

    As an alternative to homemade dough, crescent roll dough is fantastic for Runzas, being light and flaky. Just seal the perforations, and use two crescent roll triangles per Runza. Fold edges over to make a unique 6 sided shape. Brand name preferred over generics, which tend to be dry.

  10. I’m from Nebraska, and I miss Runza restaurants terribly. However I make mine a lot like darkblades (only I bake mine in casserole form with the crescent dough on the top and bottom and filling inbetween).

    My husband is from Scotland and absolutely loves them. It is very much a comfort food dish.

  11. You’ve all got such good variations on this, I think I’ll plan to make some runza in a couple of weeks (when it is nice and cool). I’m dying to make them with crescent dough, and I think that the idea of baking this as a casserole a neat idea.

    I can’t do both at once, (the two of us could never eat it all), but I’m going to do them both over the next couple of months.

  12. My Grandparents are from NE and I have eaten runzas my whole childhood. My daughter had a project for third grade called ” State fair” and she chose to research NE. The extra credit part was to prepare a food from the state. We chose runzas.
    My wife being from MI had no idea how to make them and my grandmother had lost her recipie. I used the basic recipie found here and most of my day off to make this dish. Every child that ate them loved them and every parent wanted the recipie!!!!!!! the parents also wanted to know how I got their kids to eat cabage and onions!!
    The only thing I did different was to use frozen bread dough instead of fresh. It worked great!

  13. I just found your site and was excited to make them, but the bread dough recipe is nowhere to be found. :(

  14. I always use frozen bread dough and they come out great! I let the dough soften a litle (don’t let it rise), cut off pieces, flatten and form the runzas. Let them rise and cook. Be sure to put butter on the top after you take them out of the oven. Makes them especially yummy!

    Our cook in college (UNL) used to serve them with brown gravy–yum.

    I’m making them tonight for a New Year’s Eve party.

    • Oh, the gravy with these would be excellent. And since my son and I are making these tomorrow, (using frozen bread dough as well), I am absolutely going to make gravy. Yumm!!

      Thanks for the idea :)

  15. I’ve been looking for a similar item we ate as children (in Hawaii). In my memory it was called “Peroski” or something similar … sorry not sure of the spelling. It sounds like your Runza but it had some sort of cheese in it. Have you ever used cheese or a cheese sauce in your Runza?

  16. I had a friend who made these a few years ago but we soon moved afterwards and I didn’t have a chance to get the recipe. I am so happy to find your site. I grew up in Iowa and since a lot of the families there are German descent I really don’t know how I never had them as a child.

    Jae, my friend had mozzarella cheese in here and they were to die for!

    Will you be putting the dough recipe back up?

  17. Jae,
    I think “perogies” are what you mean. They’re similar, but I think they’re boiled.

  18. You can also use biscuits, just flatten them out and put the mixture in, add another flattened biscuit on top and seal them together with a fork.

  19. Jae, try googling “pierogies”. That is a polish delicatessen, YUM!!

    Thanks for this recipe, I need to make it for some of my Las Vegas buddies who caught wind of this on Facebook!

    Lived in Nebraska for 28 years and they are hard to describe :)

  20. Need a Runza, Tastees, & Rotello Bread in Oklahoma. Miss Nebraska!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: