Original Runza Recipe (Cabbage Burgers, Cabbage Rolls or Bierocks)

Ready for eating!

Runza’s, ready for eating!

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. A version of this recipe was bastardized, commercialized and Runza restaurants have popped up all over Nebraska, one in Kansas, and a few in Colorado now, too.  Their version is okay — but nothing quite compares to the way my mother and grandmothers made theirs.  (This recipe, however, is NOT  a copy cat for Runza Restaurants recipe at all.  This recipe is much older and much better – it’s what our great grandmothers made on a Saturday afternoon in the 30’s and 40’s as hand food for farmers.  If you are looking for a copycat recipe, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  )

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’.

Enjoy!

Original Runza Recipe

2 pound ground beef
1 large onion , chopped
Salt
Pepper
1 Medium Cabbage, chopped
2 batches of a white 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.  (See note below). Place seal side down on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased sheet).  Allow these to sit, covered lightly with a tea towel, for about 20 minutes – so the dough can rise for the second time.

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

A side note:  Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

Runza Recipe – Variation on the Original Recipe

1 pound ground beef
1 Pound hot italian sausage
1 large onion , chopped
Salt
2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
Pepper
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).

A side note:  Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

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

Notes:

Freezing:

Use a slotted spoon or similar when filling the dough to allow the cabbage/hamburger mix to be dry’ish.  You don’t want these “juicy” or the bottom of the roll will be doughy and wet and not cook properly.

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.

Reheating:

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.

Variation:

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

upchili2

About Michelle

I write two blogs - This Food Thing, (www.thisfoodthing.com) and This Life I Lead (www.thislifeilead.com). You can find me on Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/0/107541341956938355529/posts
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157 Responses to Original Runza Recipe (Cabbage Burgers, Cabbage Rolls or Bierocks)

  1. i_cook_for_mom says:

    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. LMP says:

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

    LM

  3. Pingback: Traditional Egg Bread (Also for Runza Recipe) « this food thing…

  4. Dee Jay says:

    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. forsterk says:

    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. corky310 says:

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

    Thanks

  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. arex says:

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

  9. darkblade says:

    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. Lindsay says:

    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. lawdy says:

    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. Jim W. says:

    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. Jessica says:

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

  14. Sharon says:

    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.

    • Denise O'Connor says:

      Are you talking about perogi? That is dough generally filled with mashed potato and onion or mashed potato and cheese. It is a polish recipe and Martha Stewart, being polish, has an excellent one on her website.

  15. Jae says:

    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?
    Thanks

  16. mitzs says:

    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. momminut says:

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

  18. Nicole says:

    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. Renee says:

    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. Jenny says:

    My Grandmother is from Lincoln and made these all the time. Anytime any of us Grandkids would come to visit we would always ask for them. Now as an adult When the weather turns cold I find myself making a batch

  21. Iris says:

    I have loved Runzas all my life. 34 Years ago we moved south, So I learned how to make them. Beats going up to NE every year! Well anyway, I put sage in mine and put brown gravey over the top and they taste great! My kids and husband love them!

  22. Jessica says:

    I was wondering if you could put theTraditional Egg Bread recipe back on here for those of us that just found your site. I haven’t been to a Runza restaurant in years, and miss them terribly. Would love to make them as close to traditional as possible.

  23. Sandy says:

    Lived in Omaha for 9 years (military), never thought I would miss a food so much, I’m making them now and was checking on what spices to add. Can’t wait for my new husband to try them.

  24. Liz says:

    I’m also from NE and sooo excited to try this recipe. Does anyone know how many runza’s this recipe makes? (with the 2 batches of dough as called for above) I’m having my 30th birthday party this weekend and a bunch of my NE people will be there.. what a treat this will be!! :)

    • admin says:

      Liz – This recipe can make anywhere from 8 to 16, depending upon the size of the rolled out dough. I often end up making these a bit large and get 10 or so. YMMV.

  25. Sue says:

    My dad was in the AirForce and I grew up in Omaha for 15 years. Going to the Runza Hut was a treat – almost 30 years ago! Since then I have lived from the east coast to Hawaii and now in the deep south. NO ONE has ever heard of a Runza! But no one as heard of a kolache either. I just found the web site and can’t wait to make my own and share them with everyone! Thank you.

  26. Alan says:

    We used to get runzas at ruth pyrtle elementary school in Lincoln in the 60’s. I became a vegitarian in 1972 but still get a hankerin for runzas 38 years down the line. I have actually succeeded in making a vegitarian version substituting prepared vegitarian burger (the best substitute is Ceadar Lake Vege burger) and can manage to keep on being a happy veg.

  27. Nicole says:

    I am originally from Nebraska, living in Ohio now, so I also love to make homemade runzas! However, I always use frozen bread dough, and I put a combo of cheddar and American cheese in my Runzas. I also mix a can of cream of mushroom soup into the mixture. Enjoy!

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  29. Andrea says:

    I’m ready to try this recipe. I lived in NE for a few years and loved runza’s!! Do I need to let the beef mixture cool before placing in dough pockets??

  30. DIANA RICHEY says:

    I TO AM FROM NEBRASKA AND HAVE EATEN RUNZA AND MADE RUNZA FROM SCATCH FOR MANY A YEARS, I MAKE HOME MADE BREAD, ROLL OUT AND PLACE MY COOLED HAMBURGER ONION AND CABBAGE MIXTURE. WHEN I MAKE THEM I MAKE A DOUBLE TO TRIPLE BATCH OF BREAD, 4 TO 5 LBS OF HAMBURGER AND 4 TO 5 HEADS OF CABBAGE. MAKE ABOUT 40. WHICH SEEM LIKE A LOT, BUT WHEN WORD IS OUT I AM MAKING THEM FAMILY AND FRIENDS COME OUT OF THE WOODWORK.

  31. John Thomsen says:

    This may be heresy, but the runza filling works real good wraped up in a whole wheat tortilla. It’s a quick way to pack my lunch in the morning.

  32. Karla says:

    My family loves Runza’s but not the ones from Runza. They prefer the ones I make.
    I use sweet roll bread, ie: Cinnamon roll dough. I cheat on both the dough and the filling. I usually mix the dough up in the bread machine. And instead of buying cabbage and shredding it I usually just buy the shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix in the bag. The coleslaw mix works fine the only difference is you have some carrots in the mixture. I go light on the salt. When I make them I usually make a large batch so I usually buy to average size bag of cabbage/coleslaw mix and enough dough to make 24 or so cinnamon rolls. I can not stand greasy food so instead of just draining the meet I also rinse with water before I season and add the onion and cabbage mixture. The sugar needs to be stirred just before taking the mixture out of the pan.

    • Penny Wal says:

      Never rise your hamburger with water. You take all the flavor of it. I don’t like greasy food either. So I put old towels or wash cloths in a bowl and then put the hamburger, cover, press down. Grease goes into the cloths and it leaves all the flavor in the meat. Just wash the cloths in hot soapy water and they are ready for the next use.

  33. Sharon says:

    Thank you SOOOO much for this recipe! I grew up as the grand daughter of a German immigrant and watched my grandmother make ‘bidochs’ so many times…but never took note of how she did it (I do remember that she sometimes used bacon pieces instead of hamburger). I can’t wait to try this recipe out!

  34. Janey says:

    I was born and raised in Kansas and never had heard of these sandwiches until I worked in dowtown Wichita and around the corner from my office was a place called Bierocks. I ate there at least once a week back in the 70’s. And as far as i know the place is still in business serving up these most delicious sandwiches. So is this the one runza restaurant you are taking about in your intro?

  35. danny says:

    Thanks, I’m a kneebrasky boy and for some odd reason woke up with
    a runza on the mind to make this weekend. I live overseas and they look at me
    funny when I bring this kind of thing up, LOL.
    Thank you!!

    Danny

  36. Lori Jo says:

    You have brought me back to my Nebraska roots. I miss this treat and I am glad to have found it again. Thank you.

  37. Candice says:

    I LOOOOOOOOVE RUNZAS!!!! It’s been 4 years since I actually did the trek from TX back home to NE and had one of these pockets of heavenly goodness! I make them at home but I use a packaged hot roll mix found in most large chain supermarkets(don’t know if I can say the name, but it’s pretty commonly found in the cake mix aisle). I have never gone by a recipe, but just winged it from memories of home as a kid in Nebraska. My mom and I both make these but I’m planning to bake them and give them to my family as gifts for Christmas… in a frozen state, of course. Gonna check out the recipe and the bread dough recipe here and possibly make them this way. I hope they’re yummy!!! :)

  38. Dianne says:

    I am a native Nebraskan and discovered I could make Runzas at home and have now gotten it down to a painless process that does not require a lot of prep to make homemade dough. I too also used to make the dough in my bread machine but frozen dough was faster and using already pre-shaped buns meant even less time with better results! We grow cabbage in the garden and you are able to freeze shredded cabbage in plastic bags for making fresh homemade Runzas any time.

    The easiest dough is to use Rhodes frozen Texas size buns – perfect size when you roll out or use your hands to make a rectangle. I place the bag of frozen buns in the fridge overnight and take out of the bag before they begin to rise and end up sticking together! Just place on a plate and leave some room between each while you make the meat mixture. Do let the hamburger, onion, cabbage mixture cool – place in the refrigerator for awhile. I usually am flattening the buns at this time (don’t use a lot of flour to roll out or the dough will not ‘seal’, in fact the dough will almost stay stuck to your cutting board until you fill and fold over without flouring it) then take cooled filling out and place about 1/4 to 1/3 cup on the center of each bun. You can add a slice of cheese at this point. Bring up the edges and make sure you seal them or you will lose the juice while they bake! Place sealed side down on a baking sheet and reshape into a rectangle if they are now more round unless that is the shape you prefer :)

    Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Some people do butter them after removing from the oven, a personal preference but it does make the dough softer. Other people will also wrap in foil after baking which also tends to soften the crust. Enjoy eating these pockets of YUMMO!!

  39. Marcy says:

    I was wondering if you have to bake the runza’s before you freeze them?

  40. Marcy says:

    Can you freeze the runza’s before baking them?

  41. admin says:

    Marcy — I’ve never frozen them prior to baking before. I’m not sure how that would go. I’d experiment with a few, and see what happens

  42. jan says:

    I have frozen them without baking them, just get them out thaw and let rise, always turned out great and you have “fresh baked” runzas everytime.

  43. Dawn says:

    Bless You
    Grew up in NE
    Love Runza’s
    Have looked for years for a recipe.
    Thanks

  44. Lew says:

    I ate my first Runza about ten years ago, now every time we drive I-80 through NB a lunch stop is always made at a Runza restaurant. About a week ago we stopped in a local American Legion in the Denver area; they were making what the call Kraut Burgers for a fund raiser. They allow my wife to peek in the kitchen, they placed the bread dough in a small coffee cup, then folded it over the contents, setting it aside to rise a second time. Enjoyed the site, thanks.

  45. kotton says:

    Years ago Runza in Lincoln used to sell the frozen runza, premade, but not baked. You could buy them in the grocries stores. They were good.

  46. kotton says:

    Years ago runza sold premade, but not baked runza’s in the gro. stores in Lincoln

  47. sounds absolutly delightfull. Maybe some pictures of the dish would be good, but I am definatley going to try this dish.

  48. ahullman says:

    I’m from Iowa (1 mile from the NE border) and adding your own extras like salsa and cheddar cheese, or my favorite swiss and mushrooms also make for a very tasty Runza!!

  49. Penny Wal says:

    Hi I grew up in Ne. My great-great aunt used to make theses. She was from Germany. When she passed away when I was bout 10-12 y/o, she passed the recipe on to my family. But we never made them very often. After Runza opened in Lincoln, we stopped making them all together.
    I no longer have her recipe but your is the closest I have every come to hers.
    When I made the dough (won’t use store bought/pre-made dough), I used 100% whole wheat flour for half of the flour. Had to use extra water to make it sticky but it turned out great.
    I found another recipe for the dough but yours is like my g-g aunts. It is soooo goood!
    I just use coleslaw mix (easier on me) and add Mrs. Dash instead of salt. It gives it nice flavor. I also only use cast iron skillet to cook in. Also I only cooked the cabbage and hamburger for bout 20 mins with a lid.

    I grew up in Ne and now live in SD. Few years ago, we drove through NE to KS. On the way back we stopped at a “Runza” and it just didn’t taste the same as I remembered. So I got home and looked up a recipe. People round here just don’t know what runzas are and when I make them they ask me to make them some. I gave them a recipe but they don’t want to do all the hard work. LOL

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS WONDERFUL RECIPE!

    • Michelle Piniella says:

      I’m so glad the recipe has that taste you remember. I have so many memories of foods that I had as a child, and cannot seem to replicate. :)

  50. Phyllis says:

    I have never heard of these until this weekend.. I am impressed. We made many variations, cooked and individually froze them as my mother is going in for surgery and will be unable to cook for a while. We also made some Au Jus to dip these in… This was amazing.

    • Michelle Piniella says:

      Oh, I’m glad you like these — and I hope your Mother will too — they are one of those “comfort foods” that always seem to fit the bill.

  51. D Knotts says:

    I went to UNM in Lincoln and was introduced to runzas in the late 1960s early 1970s. My recollection was the there was cumin with the cabbage and beef…

  52. marie schreiner says:

    hi, we grew up with runza, my grandmother who was german Russian, made them, she taught my dad who taught my mom. my daughter would like to write a report on them for school.

  53. Marie Schreiner says:

    we just used regular dough not sweet dough, but the italian side made something similar with sweet dough with hamburger, carrots, onions, and potatoes and folded the dough in half and squished the edges wit ha fork like you do with peanut butter cookies, they are called pasties,

  54. SLR_65 says:

    My wife makes Runzas in a casserole form so we eat them on a plate with a fork rather than like a sandwhich. We eat them with a dollop of sour cream – try it, it’s delicious!

  55. Lauren Geiger says:

    How many runzas does this recipe yield?

  56. s.s.s. says:

    I grew up in Lincoln, NE, out by Pioneer Park and went to Yankee Hill Sch. in the 40’s and 50’s. I’m now 71 yrs old. So I do know. The original “RUNZA” drive-in was a small shack made out of 2×4’s and sheets of plywood. It was located about 1/2 mile or so, south of Gooches Mill. I think the road was called Van Dorn. This Runza was the only one in existance for decades. It always had plenty of customers from the time it opened until it closed. I had 2 brothers who worked there. Many of the kids in the area wanted to work there. The owner would only trust one person with the recipe and that was the manager. Sometime in the 80’s, disgruntaled relatives, I heard, took the recipe and changed it to contain sauerkraut instead of cabbage. That way they could peddle their Runzas-so-to-speak, legally. Such a shame. I now live in Oregon, but, every time we went back to Neb. or a relative came out here, they were required to bring Runzas with them from the original shack. I understand it was torn down to make way for a new highway. Another shame. I haven’t seen a recipe published yet that is the “real” recipe.
    Note to Marie: If your daughter wants to write a paper on the original “Runza”, she should do so. If I can answer any questions , she can contact me at yankeehillsss@mail.com I think I have a newspaper photo of it when they were going to tear it down.

    • Wes Griffin says:

      I was in Lincoln last week for my forty year high school reunion. I have fond memories of the original runza shack. I loaded up on runzas and brought a load back to Oklahoma where I reside. German cooks are nonexesistant here but I now have a frozen example and have downloaded the recipe. I know an excellant cook who loves to experiment and being retired he has plenty of time to do it right. Yankee Hill is great with Pioneers Park and the lake south of there. I used to take my Britney there to hunt quail. Long live Nebraska. WES

    • Nancy Protexter says:

      I would love to have the original recipee or what you believe the real recipee is.
      Thanks for considering this.

    • Peggy says:

      I’m with you s.s.s. you are right the the taste changed in the 80’s but if you want an original or good recipe check out the 1981 Dorchester Centenniel Cookbook. There are several recipes in it by several of the local ladies (many now gone) that made “runza” family recipes..

  57. Alice says:

    I live in Texas now but grew up in Nebraska. I was in Lincoln this summer and brought 3 dozen runza home with me. I am particular whom I share the runza with- mostly for my Nebraska friends living here or with special friends. Runza are truly a “Taste of Home”. AF

  58. Lois Geer says:

    I use a little sage in my Runzas as I can taste it in the ones sold here in Council Bluffs. I’ve made them for years this way and everyone loves them. And I only make the cabbage, beef & onion recipe, we don’t care for the other versions. We love carrots & green peppers but not in a Runza, I put them on a relish tray!

    • Michelle Piniella says:

      Ah, yes — if you are using sage, it adds such a flavor that it would overpower most other savory ingredients. I’ll have to try that :)

    • I lived in Omaha and raised my kids there. I had a wonderful Runza recipe given to me by a friend who swore it was the original. Sure tasted like it. The secret ingredient was Savory. Try it and you’ll see. That’s the flavor I remember. I live in Arizona now, but my kids still come over for Runzas when they have the craving.

  59. Sheila says:

    Someone mentioned pasties being similar to Runza, and they are….as in meat wrapped in dough. However, pasties are made with potato, onion, rutabaga, and chopped meat, not ground, and baked in pastry dough. I grew up in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, where a large number of Cornish people had migrated from the UK. They came to work the iron ore mines. Pasties were handy for a miner to take to work, a hand held meal wrapped in pastry. They are outstandingly delicious. I still make them although if I make a dozen, I freeze 10 to have for future meals. There is an ongoing discussion about whether they should be “dressed” with ketchup or gravy….but I’m in the ketchup camp on that.

    Definitely going to try runza original recipe..sounds like it would be a hit here.

    • Stacy says:

      My in -laws are from Nebraska and my father in law made some for me and made a “gravy” with it using tomato soup and velveta cheese. Pretty good!!

    • Megan says:

      My mom and her side of the family are from Upper Michigan, too, and whenever we drive up there from Wisconsin to visit, my mom stops to buy pasties for us on out way there. It’s a great memory of my trips up to see my grandparents. I would love to make pasties myself; do you have a recipe that you would be willing to share, or a website with a recipe you’d recommend? Thanks!

    • Deb Lofgreen says:

      Sheila – have you tried a Runza yet? I grew up in Lincoln, with the original Runza Hut, and make them often.

      I must admit, that for health reasons – to cut the fat and cholorestrol I now use 1/2 meat and 1/2 brown rice. We found that we actually prefered them that way.

      My family moved to the UP (after I was in college) so I have experienced Pasties, too. Love ‘em both.

    • Diane says:

      Our family always use both ketchup and mustard with our Runza sandwiches or with the Runza casserole when we make it. I have never heard of a gravy…what type?

  60. Nebraska Bob says:

    Here’s the Runza secret ingredient. The recipe posted here is PERFECT but it lacks that one little item: White Pepper. Not Sage. Be generous with it and enjoy the perfect Runza!

  61. Bob Braze says:

    I’m a 2nd generation german from the volga river area of russia. My Grandmother made these and I knew them as Bierooks. I live in Oregon and they are unkown this far west. the recipe is almost identical but I remember my grandmother using a pinch of allspice in her recipe. Ah, the smell of growing up German.

    • Angela says:

      Michelle,
      I thought you might like to know how far back the roots are in Colorado for this…
      My grandmother’s family were German and came from Russia. (Same area that Bob Braze mentioned.) She was born in the Arkansas River Valley of Southeast Colorado in 1914 and the family has enjoyed bierocks for a very long time. We are even finding a way to have them at our family reunion this year. Thank you for posting this. Now, I don’t have to look as hard for the recipe.

  62. Pam Moritz says:

    Though I am originally from Nebraska, I did not taste a runza until I was in college in Colorado. They were introduced to me as “kraut burgers”. I make them with hamburger, onion and cabbage. I add a couple of spoonfuls of dry brown gravy mix and use a sweet dough. They are wonderful!

  63. katy says:

    I MAKE RUNZA STROMBOLI, AND IT IS DELICIOUS!

  64. Pat says:

    We have a bakery in McCook, NE that makes runza’s everyday, both cabbage & kraut. They use to be called runza’s but since “Runza” moved in they call them bierocks. I prefer the bakery’s. All family & friends, who come back home, have to stop and have a “bierock” before they head back to where they are living now. Kind of like our “Pizza Burger” from Mac’s Drive-in.

    • Sandi Flint says:

      I remember that Bakery, I used to work there, The Bierocks were so Delicious. I live in Texas now and you can’t get them here so I make my own. Some were stuffed with cheese too. I think it was “Ivanhoes”

  65. Kerry Kielion Engle Laughlin says:

    We hit the Runza Huts EVERY TIME my husband & i drive into OMaha… they are also in Council Bluffs, IA.. .right across the river. My Grandmother taught My Mother , who tried to teach me.. but i will re-start the tradition as one of our Holiday foods !! I always eat a Runza when i visit Omaha…just like i always go to Joslyn Castle to get my childrens pictures & we always Visit Henry Doorly Zoo… my kids are entering High School now & we will continue our Omaha Traditions wherever we live !!

  66. Cindi says:

    My husband and I are from Upper Michigan and my husband is a HUGE Nebraska Cornhusker Football fan. We were in Lincoln last year for the Missouri game (what a great game!) and my husband’s friend, Dave, who was our host, introduced us to the runza. Now Dave has lived in Upper Michigan and he said that the runza was the closest thing he could get in Nebraska that compared to the pasty from Michigan. While I am not a huge pasty fan, due to the side effects of the rutabaga, I tried the runza while in Nebraska. In my opinion, out of the two of them, I have to say I prefer the pasty. I think what it boils down to is the type of dough used to make it. I like the pastry dough versus the bread dough. But, that is just my opinion. I have found the runza recipe and plan on making the runza’s tonight for my husband. Nebraska is playing the Wisconsin Badgers and I think my husband will be more than appreciative that I gave it the effort (I was just going to go to the local pasty store!) So, hopefully I can make Nebraska proud today by trying the runza recipe! Oh, and “GO BIG RED!”

  67. Bill Stewart says:

    I’m originally from Illinois, but I attended school at Nebraska Wesleyan back in 1983-1984. Obviously, the typical college student is usually strapped for cash. My first Runza was delicious and relatively inexpensive. It was a real treat, but I have yet tried to make my own with some of the recipes that I’ve seen on the Internet. Can somebody out in cyberspace explain to me why they haven’t expanded to Illinois and other surrounding states? It’s 3:00 am right now and I swear, I would do any thing to have a cheese Runza with some crinkle cut fries on the side. Ha-Ha!

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  69. Patrick says:

    Well to top it all, I used to make the Runzas back in Lincoln Nebraska. I worked there for 9 years and was known as the Runza king. I could wrap runzas so to speak behind my back. We still make them out here in Oregon once in a while and I do know the real secret that will remain a secret to making the perfect Runza.
    Thank you Don for the opportunity to learn how to make this awesome sandwich.

  70. Patrick in Oregon says:

    I met my current wife while working at the Runza drive inn. That was back in 1973. Now we have 3 children and 7 grand children who all love runzas.
    We still follow the Huskers even though we are Duck fans in Oregon now.

  71. Marc says:

    Where the recipe talks about freezing runzas, are they talking about cooked or uncooked runzas?

  72. Benjamin Powell says:

    I was a teacher ( 70s – 90s ) at Littleton 70s-90s High School and the cafeteria used to serve Runzas at least once a week. The cook was a wonderful lady who came from Lincoln, NE. I was single at the time and I used to take runzas to parties away from school. I never told anyone that it was “cafeteria food.” They all thought it was a family “secret.”

  73. Benjamin Powell says:

    My apologies for repeating 70s-90s. Littleton is a Denver suburb.

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  75. Denise says:

    im going to test the recipie and if all goes as planned…im going to make it
    for my 2nd grade sons christmas party next week! i am excited…when i was 12 my mother made them once. i was young, but remember i thought that i was going to die! they were so wonderful. She was born in Bethany, NE in 1925 and so she grew up with them. When she made them it was off of PURE manual research! in 1973 we did NOT HAVE the internet to google, research and share a plethora of information like we do now! I look back in retrospect and can sweetly, fondly and lovingly appreciate the LOVE my mother displayed in doing something like that to bring back a memory. I wish now I would have expressed how greatful i was she did that!
    I am going to carry on a wonderful, yummy tradition! She wasn’t even German. She was Czech!

  76. Elgie says:

    I have also used the prepared pizza dough that you can buy in the deli section of the grocery stores. It has worked out very well and I haven’t had the mess.

  77. Tracy Williams says:

    I grew up in Lincoln, and the bakery I worked at, Geiers on South Street, made kraut beirocks twice a week. We sold tons of them on football Saturdays!

    I just made runzas a couple days ago. I prefer hamburger with a small can of sour kraut with a bit of caraway seed and pepper rather than the usual cabbage-based stuffing. I let them raise on the baking sheet for about 90 minutes before baking them. They turn out huge but light weight, and so tasty!

    • Mary says:

      Tracy, I grew up at 39th and Lake street. Just a few blocks from Geiers Bakery. They had wonderful baked goods. We would walk down there often. I also worked at Alices Rest. in high school. (It was on the corner diagonal from the bakery). Ah, memories.

  78. Husker Red says:

    I lived in Lincoln for 25 years and we visited the original Runza Drive-In on the way to Pioneers Park whenever we could. Today’s Runza’s are very similar to the originals except they are quite a bit smaller. I always liked the ones that were near the pan sides as the bread got a little crustier. We made these at home and they never lasted a day before they were gone. My mother would make bread dough and the filling, and we would wrap and crimp the ends together. The simple recipe with ground beef, onion, salt and pepper and cabbage is the way to go. Don’t scrimp on the pepper as this is what makes these sandwiches what they are noted for. Make sure you cook the mixture after the cabbage has wilted to steam off excess water. You need a fairly dry mixture, otherwise the dough get gummy. Some day Runza may go national – I don’t know why they haven’t yet.

  79. Parajimbo says:

    In the 1960’s, I was in a 4-H club with the son of the owner’s of Geier’s Bakery and we took on the Food Nutrition project. Once a week each member of the club would host the club at their home and cook for the group. My mother was there taking copious notes and was able to produce excellent runzas for decades. I now do the same. As I read the previous comments I see only one mention of caraway which, along with black and white pepper are truly the key to the distinctive taste. So this recipe was NOT in the 4-H preparation guides but added to only our club’s regimen, but with pretty good authority considering Mrs. Geier was right there in the kitchen. I recall back in the day when RDIA’s were better because the proportion of filling to bread was more substantial then today’s cost-cutting ratio. I also remember the lawsuit that forced Geier’s to rename their “Runza” a “Bunza” because the name is protected from infringement by being a registered trademark and still is.

    • L.D.Meyer says:

      Everytime a restaurant goes big the good old down home flavor gets thinned out or watered down so to speak, remember Valentino’s pizza,(I blame it on the bean counters), Runza was a victim also, I still remember the little makeshift shack where Runza started out by Gooch Mills on the way to Pioneer’s Park. I’ve met travelers from Oregon and when they learned I was from Lincoln,Ne., the first thing out of their mouths was, (this was back in the 70’s) you have the greatest pizza we’ve ever had. Everytime they come through Lincoln they would haul a dozen half bakes on dry ice back to Oregon. Lincoln got put on the map with Runzas and pizza. Oh and football

  80. Marcia says:

    Love Runzas! And can’t get them in Tennessee, but have them whenever we get to Nebraska. What an awesome surprise to find runzas at the bowl game in Orlando this year!!!! We ate our share and introduced runzas to our soon to be family!!! What a treat!!!!! It certainly made our day!

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  82. CC says:

    I have a quick recipe for when there is no time to make the dough. I use the frozen bread or dinner roll dough. Let them thaw in the fridge, overnight, and then divide and put small balls into muffin tins. Let them rise and then push dabs of stuffing down into the middle of the “muffins” and let them rest as the oven warms. Pop them into a 350 oven for 20 – 25 minutes where the dough rises back up around the stuffing. I LOVE beirocks/runzas and seldom have time to go the whole route with them but these quickies are an excellent substitute and freeze perfectly. It is wonderful when the whole family can gather for an entire day of beirock making for filling the freezers, but it isn’t always possible. With this method, you can make them any day!

  83. Tricia F says:

    I worked in the kitchen at Rock ‘N’ Roll Runza at 14th and P when I was 17 (1997), and always loved coming in and smelling the Runza filling cooking in the basement. I use two teaspoons salt, two teaspoons white pepper, and two teaspoons of garlic powder in your basic recipe and it tastes the same going to any of the Runzas here in Lincoln. I also get lazy sometimes and buy frozen bread dough, it is almost as good as homemade. Wish I had worked there longer, may have learned the real recipe but alas it was a summer job for a teenager.

  84. Ann Ermel says:

    My husband was stationed at Offutt in the late 60s. The World Herald published an article about runzas along with a recipe. I found the place that was mentioned in the article ( run by people from now what is now called the Chezk (sp) Republic. Oh my, they were so good. On our second tour at Offutt I discovered Runza Hut. I have two sons in Omaha and Runza is a must. I now live in Illinois and use the recipe first used in this blog. However I use Crescent Roll sheets. They are baking now and I am looking forward to tonight’s dinner. Ummmm!

  85. Allison says:

    @BenjaminPowell – I grew up in what is now Centennial during the 70s and was part of Littleton Public Schools. I loved those runzas and am excited to find a recipe to try. Wonder if they’ll be ok with a non-meat substitute?

  86. Tonya says:

    My Grandmother was born in Frank, Russia and I grew up in Nebraska eating runzas on a fairly regular basis. She made them with EITHER ground beef or bacon cut up into small pieces before placing in the pan. My preference was the bacon version. My Mother changed the recipe somewhat by using frozen white bread dough. Like others, I don’t have the time to deal with the bread dough. I’ve shortened the prep time even further by substituting pita bread. I make a small slice along one edge of the pita bread and stuff it with the meat mixture. Everyone seems to like it just about the same as the bread dough.

  87. ROGER G. JACOBS says:

    DEAR RUNZA HUT. I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN LINCOLN, NEBRASKA. I USED TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL RUNZA HUT WHEN I WAS A KID. IT WAS A SMALL PLACE NOT FAR FROM A BOY SCOUT CAMP NOT FAR FROM GOOCHE’S MILL.
    AT 17 YEARS OF AGE I JOINED THE MARINE CORP IN 1951 DURING THE KOREAN “POLICE ACTION” AND HAVE NOT RETURNED TO NEBRASKA. I NOW LIVE IN CALIFORNIA.
    I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE THE ORIGINAL RERCIPE FOR RUNZA AS WE DON’T HAVE THE RUNZA HUTS.
    THANK YOU. ROGER G.JACOBS ‘

    • Sandy Lorenzen says:

      Roger, I was reading this recipe and it seems to be very close to original to me.
      I have a few other Nebraska recipes if you would like to email me.
      Please put your request in the subject line so I dont delete you right off. Sandy

  88. Julie says:

    My first meal in Lincoln NB was at a Runza, close to the State Capital. I had just been dropped off by my step dad to start college at NU and a neighbor recomended I go there. With cheese or without they were delicous and I was hooked! It has been 20 years since the Fall of 1992 and I still think about them! I’m so glad that I googled the recipe. I cant’wait to start making my own version of them. Thank you all for the great ideas. From a Utah native

  89. Gordon French says:

    Love coming back to these comments on occasion to read the upbeat messages from satisfied Runza lovers. In the early 60’s I was part of a team which opened the first Air Force Recruiting Office in Lincoln, (SE corner of 15th and “O”) and one of our local recruiters, Bob Greenwald brought in a batch of home-made Runzas to take back to Omaha that day. My family fell in love with them and I have taken them with me to eat in our travel trailer when on the road, eaten many, many of them here in Lincoln at the stores and even at a friend’s house where she made them so huge that one was a meal. Not only are the Runzas great here, but they have the best french fries in town. Oh yes!!!!!!! That is why I battle the waist-line problem.

  90. Gordon French says:

    A Follow-up…….Born and raised in Michigan and I can honestly say that Pasties don’t even come close to a Runza !!!!!!

  91. L.D.Meyer says:

    When I make a Runza I sub ground turkey for beef and I used the pizza dough mix in a bag. I divided the dough into two small balls and flattened them and then loaded the center with the cooked filling. I then fold the dough over and crimp the edge and it comes out more like a calzone. This method makes two very large Runzas I then brown it on one side then flip iit over and brown the other side, this way the dough gets baked clear through. I used an infrared oven to bake mine, if I remember right I had the temp at 350* and it took about 5-6 minutes per side. I like this style of oven as there is no pre-heating and starts to bake almost instantly.

  92. Pobbie says:

    My mom-n-law worked at the original Runza in Lincoln NE. They are still there. My hubby and I live in Georgia and Runzas are unheard of hear. I don’t think as recipe will be the original, the secret is the bread that Runza restaurant uses! But we are going to give it a ole big red try for the Husker vs Georgia bowl game!

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  94. Renee Reece says:

    I grew up in the Meadowlane area, so we would go to Geier’s Bakery anytime we could scrape together some allowance money! The Bavarian creme doughnuts were legendary, I have yet to taste any as good as they were!

    I used to live in McCook and I purchased the Bieroc’s, loved them and I liked them a little better than the original Runzas I grew up on. The Bakery in McCook is still there and doing well, if you have a chance, stop by there.

    Runza has the Miller & Paine Cinnamon rolls, I always ask for them by that name, sometimes get a blank look… No, I will not call them just “cinnamon rolls”, that doesn’t do it justice.

    I live in Iowa and surprisingly, many if not most, have not heard of a Runza! I have to explain what it was. I quit asking to find a Runza in Iowa! I have also asked to find Kolaches. That is equally unfamiliar. Guinea grinders and Dutch letters are the only regional foods I have found in this area.

  95. Rick says:

    Runzas, Kraut Runzas, Cabbage burgers, Bierocks, doesn’t matter what name you use, they’ve been around for hundreds of years. I, too, am a second generation German from Russia and grew up making and eating these. Nearly everyone in my church has an old family recipe that they use and everyone of them is the REAL recipe. Homemade from any family recipe will always be better than a fast food restaurants product.

    The recipe given here is nearly idendical to the one I use. The two things we do different is to brush each bun with an egg wash just before they go into the oven, and with melted butter when they come out. As a child I remember the entire family being involved in making very large batches (70 to 80) to send to the fire dept when my father went to work.

    There are a large number of German’s from Russia that also live in Colorado and Wyoming. My favorite place to buy Kraut Runza’s is Schwartz’s Krautburger Kitchen. If you are interested you can find out more about them at http://www.krautburger.com/

    For those interested in a variety of “germans from russia” family recipes I can recommend Küche Kochen, a community cookbook of family recipes collected by the “American Historical Society of Germans from Russia”. See http://www.ahsgr.org/Products/books.htm#Kueche and
    http://www.ahsgr.org/Products/books.htm#Gueldner for more information.

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  97. Robyn Barnes says:

    HI, all you Runza lovers! Although I’ve lived in Germany and Colorado (and still do), I never even heard of a Runza until I came across my treasured recipe….of all ways, by a ‘Soap Opera’ celebrity who was being featured, along with her recipe, in the “Soap Opera Digest” magazine back in the mid-to-late ’80’s. The featured actress supplied us readers with her recipe brought to the U.S. by her Russian grandmother. She said the original Runza recipe was ‘borne’ in Russia, where it eventually made it’s way across the European countries by way of the immigrating peaseants, who mostly settled into Germany and Austria, and then finally here, into the US, by German immigrants.

    However the Runza made it’s way here to the US, I’m just so thankful I ran across the recipe. It’s been one of our family favorites for about 30 years. My ex-husband loved them so much, in fact, that he would eat 6 to 8 Runzas at one sitting! I quickly learned to make 4 to 5 dozen hamburger-sized runzas at a time, freezing what we didn’t eat after a couple of meals worth, and he’s then take them to work with him, where he’d to threaten death to any of his fellow soldiers if they dared to touch them, lol!

    As Rick, a prior reader commented, I too, use the egg wash before I bake my Runzas and brush butter on the tops immediately after they come out of the oven. But one REAL difference in my recipe is that after baking, while still hot, I slit one side of the runza and add a slice of a ‘melty-type’ of cheese, usually Velveeta (but you can use cheddar, Monterey Jack, or whatever) before serving.

    YUMM!!! I’m making a huge batch of them tomorrow…want some???

  98. Dr. Geo. Strassler says:

    My mother worked at Elastic Stop Nut in Lincoln during the war. I first encountered runzas when one of her co-workers (Betty Harris) who lived in the South Bottoms made them for parties.
    This was long before they were bastardized and commercialized. She had a knack for finding enough rationed hamburger to feed the whole third shift at Stop Nut. Of course we still make and enjoy this wonderful food

  99. L.D. says:

    You can substitute a couple of items to make Runzas to save time or if you’re lazy like me. I use ground turkey instead of hamburger, its cheaper and healthier. Replace the cabbage with sauerkraut and use whatever refrigerated dough for biscuits or pizza that’s on sale. I’ve made the dough from the pizza mix in a bag too. I divided it into 2 rounds and filled the center with the hamburger filling and fold it over and seal the edge with a fork. It looks more like a calzone or an empanada, then I pop mine into an infrared oven and brown both sides at 350*. (Five or Six Minutes per side).
    Bon Appetit. Hasta La Bye Bye!

  100. chuck bukin says:

    please send me the runza recipe thanks chuck bukin nu60 now in Texas

  101. Luke Landers says:

    I was introduced to Runza when my brother was in grad school in Lincoln and we had several during my short visit. I haven’t had once since, but they have been on my mind, and I am glad I ran across this thread. I also remember having a great burger at a cafe in town. I think the place was called Kuhl’s (?)

    • mike says:

      Yes, it probably was Kuhl’s cafeteria(has since closed). but you can find Pete(cook/owner of Kuhl’s cooking at Cook’s cafeteria great food, and still making homeade pies,

  102. stephanie says:

    I had one today at a lunch put on by something called the Youth Farm, a project to teach low-income kids in the Twin Cities how to grow vegetables and cook them. I grew up in Iowa and now live in Minnesota but had never heard of them. They were excellent. The Youth Farm served a choice of mushroom and cheese runza or the beef and cabbage. I think I’ll have to make my own.

  103. Zori says:

    My Grandma made these all the time and I make them now for my kids. I tried the ones from the restaurant once and while they were ok, they definitely weren’t my grandma’s….to many seasonings to spoil the simple flavors that come together nicely. I may try the variation for my husband though…he thinks the original are bland….what does he know….

  104. L.D.Meyer says:

    This is the same recipe you get when you Google “Runza Recipe”. Everybody is tweaking this recipe by using or substituting ingredients such as white pepper for black, adding cumin, savory, fennel, garlic powder or cloves. Blending Italian sausage with the hamburger, myself I use 100% ground turkey(cheaper & healthier) is another way to make the filling. I roll my dough out in a circle, add the filling and fold and seal so it looks more like a calzone then I bake it for 10 minutes on each side @350*. I find by folding it like a calzone you don’t end up with that thick doughy bottom like you have when you form it like a bun, well to each’s own, what ever blows yer skirt up, or should I say apron. This recipe originally come over to the U.S. in the 1800’s with the “Germans from Russia” Anyway this sandwich is wide open, its a chance to clean out the Ol’ frig and pantry. If you got enough cooks, chefs and bakers together it would be a “knock down drag out fight” over whose is better. Bon Appetite, Adios n’ Hasta La Bye Bye! L.D. Lincoln,Ne. headquarters for Runza Restaurants for over 60+ years.

  105. Deatunks@yahoo.com says:

    I learned how to make runzas from a very excellent cook. And she wasn’t German! She was a bohemanian! But she taught me to make gravy out of the hamburger filling with milk. Yum! Yum!

  106. Linda says:

    Miller and Paine. Served with or without gravy, Wonderful both ways. I am baking them to day for Indiana friends.

    • L.D. Meyer says:

      Runza restaurants feature Miller & Paine cinnamon rolls with chili. Way back in the 50’s my mother would meet my grandmother at the world famous Miller & Paine “Tea Room” it had quite a reputation for good food. Of course back in those days they cooked and baked with real butter and deep fried foods in beef tallow, makes a world of difference in flavor over vegetable oil. Just a little tidbit of history of Lincoln, Ne. Bon Appetite! L.D.

  107. Marcia says:

    Never heard of anybody putting gravy on kraut Kuchen. Not one of the Norka families that lived in Portland, Oregon. We would have them alongside a bowl of homemade noodle soup.

  108. Ronda says:

    you can also use a box of hot roll mix..faster than making a dough

  109. Marcia says:

    Just remember your grandmother up in Russia dis not hamburger. You can chop a little leftover beef roast. I prefer mine pure cabbage and onions. Serve with a small bowl of chicken noddle soup. Neither kraut Kuchen or runza were ever deep fried.b. Knew people from Lincoln who ate mine and said flavor was really close. My grandpa@like a little more pepper.

  110. LD Meyer says:

    On days when my appetite is outrunning my patience I substitute the slaw mix or shredded cabbage with sauerkraut, quick n’ easy, works for me. Bon Appetit!

  111. sarah says:

    I loved reading this. I grew up in Wichita,Kansas, my Mom in Lincoln. My Mom made them for us and taught me. I make them now for my kids, whose eyes light up when they find out what we are having for dinner. I have similar memories as yours, growing up smelling them cooking then baking… heaven! We now live in Georgia, and nobody around here has ever heard of them… they give me the craziest look and say “that’s a what?!?” My son loves to do just what I would at his age, take them to school cold in in his lunchbox! I use pillsbury hot roll mix for the dough.. that is what my mom always used and it is very easy with fabulous results/taste!

    • Valerie says:

      Hahaha! We moved from Lincoln to Georgia and we know that look very well! We really miss being able to just run out and buy a Runza! Always the first place we go when visiting back home :)

  112. Dan Schafer says:

    I grew up with these. All four of my grandparents (Schafers and Schneiders) were Volga Germans immigrants (they were German transplants in Russia for several generations). This is a traditional Volga German pocket food. The Volga Germans were simple, poor, unsophisticated, loving people and this food clearly represents how they could take a few, inexpensive ingredients and make something wonderful out them. As kids, when we got to Grandma’s house and got out the car and smelled the cabbage cooking we started drooling right then and there. This is my ultimate comfort food!

    By the way, I’ve seen the additions to the recipes online. Forget it…. grandma made her dough and then used ground beef, a head of cabbage (chopped), onion (chopped), and salt and pepper. If she had some bacon grease around she throw a little of that in for taste. Grandpa Schafer, as I remember, liked a lot of pepper…. so over there they were a little ‘spicier’.

    Even though I was chastised for it, I’d open my up before eating and put a little ketchup in. I don’t do that any more in honor of my ancestors that left me with this special dish.

  113. ruth says:

    i have an original recipe for rumza from my gr grandmother who was a volga german from russia and her recipe is made with pork roast onions and sauerkraut and spices

  114. Rick says:

    Okay, this comment/inquiry has almost nothing to do Kraut Runzas. The small connection is that the recipe I’m about to mention is one handed down by my grandparents who were Volga Germans that immigrated to the US from Russia in the early 1900’s, similar to others who have commented here regarding the runzas.

    The recipe is “Buttermilk Salad”. I have been eating this since I was a small child. It is a summertime favorite. I usually have to make it at least once a summer. I’ve searched cookbooks and the internet and I haven’t found one that uses buttermilk. I just wondered if anyone else has ever heard of it?

    I have found a recipe I think might have been the origin of our recipe in a book titled “German Food and Folkways (Heirloom memories from Europe, South Russia and the Great Plains)” published by the North Dakota State University as part of their Germans from Russia Heritage Collection.
    Here’s how we make buttermilk salad.
    1 qt Buttermilk, Head of lettuce, Green Onions, Radishes, Hard boiled eggs, Salt & Pepper
    Wash and shake dry all produce. Slice green onions into ½” pieces, slice radishes thinly and tear lettuce into bite sized pieces. Toss together in a bowl and drown with buttermilk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add sliced hard boiled eggs and stir gently. Seal with a cover or plastic wrap, chill in the frig overnight. Serve cold.

    From the aforementioned cook book, a recipe titled “Garden Lettuce Salad Suppe”
    2 cups garden leaf lettuce
    2 green onions and tops chopped (optional)
    1 radish chopped (optional)
    ¾ cup heavy sweet cream
    3 cups whole milk
    1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
    1 to 6 tbsps. sugar or to taste
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Toss together lettuce, onions and radish. Mix together all other ingredients and pour over the lettuce mixture.

    I assume that my grandparents / parents found buttermilk to be a suitable substitute for the dairy and vinegar mixture as well as a shortcut. I am too accustomed to our version to consider adding sugar.

    Another similar recipe, Garten Salat Suppe & Stirrum can be found on the North Dakota State University website at http://library.ndsu.edu/grhc/foods/recipe/stirrum.html. That recipe is as follows:
    Most German Russians planted a vegetable garden. One of the first meals enjoyed with fresh garden produce was Garten Salat Suppe with Stirrum.

    Garten Salat Suppe (Garden Lettuce Soup)

    Bib lettuce
    2 green onions and tops chopped
    2 radishes sliced thin (optional)
    Chopped dill
    1 cup cream
    ¼ cup water
    1 tablespoon vinegar
    Salt and pepper
    1 tsp. sugar or to taste

    Mix cream, vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour over chopped lettuce, onions, dill and radishes. Serve over stirrum.

    Modern-day method: Use homemade ranch dressing and thin it with either buttermilk or plain milk.
    Stirrum
    3 eggs
    1 cup milk
    2 cups flour
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

    Mix together like pancake batter. Pour a cup of batter into a greased pan and fry lightly, flip, chop into pea-size pieces while it continues to brown. Serve with maple syrup and covered with Garten Salat Suppe.
    Like the various Runza recipes, these are all most likely variations on a theme modified by various families to accommodate available produce and tastes. As I’ve read in books by James Beard, a recipe is not a hard and fast set of rules set in stone, but a suggestion upon which to build your dish.
    Interested in any comments you all may have.

  115. Linda S Paul says:

    What is the egg dough recipe, dont see it listed

  116. Lawdy says:

    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 :)