How to Make Homemade Runzas

My best friend growing up was Grace. I spent countless hours playing at her house – and she at mine – after church on Sundays. Our Moms became friends too, and as grown women do, start sharing recipes. One of the recipes Sabrina (Grace’s Mom) shared with my Mom was her recipe for runzas.

Now, if you have any connection to Nebraska, you will know that there is an entire chain of restaurants dedicated to runzas. Runzas are a staple in Nebraska. For those of you unfamiliar with them, runzas are a delicious sandwich stuffed with ground beef and cabbage. Now, I went to college in Nebraska so do have a claim to Nebraska. Whether you have a connection or not, you should still give runzas a try.

I learned from my Mom to make a batch of runzas at once. Some of the runzas are served immediately. The rest of the runzas are wrapped up individually in saran wrap and put in the freezer. Then, when you need a quick lunch or dinner, you can pull a runza out of the freezer and have dinner in minutes! Runzas are a great sandwich – and a great freezer food. Here is my homemade runza recipe.

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Dough Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs

Filling Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef
1 small cabbage, sliced
1 onion, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash of Worcestershire sauce to taste

Directions:

Begin by preparing your dough. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Combine yeast with warm water. Add to flour mixture. Mix in melted butter and milk. Mix the ingredients until combined, and then add eggs. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles.

Meanwhile, begin cooking your filling. Brown the hamburger with the diced onion. Drain the grease from the cooked meat. Return the meat to low heat. Stir in the sliced cabbage and allow the heat to wilt the cabbage slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. Let the mixture cool while the dough finishes rising.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. I recommend doing this by halves so your dough divisions will be even. Using your hands, roll or pull each piece into a flat circle. Add filling into the middle of the dough. Sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the filling, if you are so inclined. Then, pull the dough together and fold over the filling. Here are those steps in pictures so you can see clearly what I mean.

Runza Steps - Joyfully Thriving

Flip the runzas over and place on greased cookie sheet. Let the bundles rise for 10 minutes.

Bake runzas for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Serve runzas warm or allow them to cool before wrapping for the freezer.

Additional Notes:

Runza dough has a great texture and taste to it. Even if you don’t typically make breads from scratch, this dough is still simple enough that anyone can make it.

If you plan ahead of time, take the runzas out of the freezer in the morning on the day you plan to eat them. Let them thaw in the fridge. Unwrap and heat individual runzas in the microwave. I do this for a quick lunch. If you are heating multiple runzas, I recommend using the oven. Otherwise, one frozen runza thaws completely with 60 seconds in the microwave.

The shredded cheese is completely optional but I like the little extra bit of flavor it gives. I also serve runzas with ketchup and mustard to dip my sandwich.

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How to Make Homemade Runzas

Ingredients

Scale
  • Dough Ingredients:
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 small cabbage, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce to taste

Instructions

  1. Begin by preparing your dough.
  2. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Combine yeast with warm water. Add to flour mixture.
  3. Mix in melted butter and milk.
  4. Mix the ingredients until combined, and then add eggs.
  5. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles.
  6. Meanwhile, begin cooking your filling. Brown the hamburger with the diced onion. Drain the grease from the cooked meat.
  7. Return the meat to low heat. Stir in the sliced cabbage and allow the heat to wilt the cabbage slightly.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce. Let the mixture cool while the dough finishes rising.
  9. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Using your hands, roll or pull each piece into a flat circle.
  10. Add filling into the middle of the dough. Sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese on top of the filling, if you are so inclined. 
  11. Then, pull the dough together and fold over the filling.
  12. Flip the runzas over and place on greased cookie sheet. Let the bundles rise for 10 minutes.
  13. Bake runzas for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
  14. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Serve runzas warm.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1

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18 Comments

  1. I’ve made these a couple times! My husband and I lived in Omaha 40 years ago and have never forgotten how good they were! Every once in awhile, he’ll suggest these for dinner! They’re great – thank you for posting it!

  2. What kind of flour…all purpose, plain or self rising? I have never made bread in my life but would love to o try this receipe!

    1. Just plan all purpose flour! Nothing special needed runzas. Even if you have never made bread, this is an easy dough to start with! Good luck!

  3. Hey there!! Is there a certain yeast I should use? There is instant dry yeast and active dry, I just wasn’t sure if it matters or not?! Thanks so much

    1. I’ve done it with both. Generally, I use instant dry, but last time around I think I used active dry. Enjoy your runzas! They really are delicious!

    1. Hi, Dorothy. At this point in time, I don’t have a printable version, but you could simply copy and paste from webpage into a word document. I’m working on getting printable forms up on all my recipes over Christmas.

  4. Runza was in northern Colorado when I was growing up, always enjoyed them. After moving to Wisconsin iII learned they are not every where and have been missing them, especially when I went home last month and Runza had closed. This is very similar to their recipe and SO good!

    When rolling out the dough I didn’t think the size would be large enough, it is. I doubled a number of them and the runzas a huge.

    Thank you for posting this!

    1. I didn’t know runza used to be Colorado! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Nicole! It really is so similar. And you’re right. The dough is easy to double and make any size of runza your heart desires! 🙂

  5. Wow — I spent six weeks in Nebraska for work a few years ago… and fell in love with Runzas. I’ve been missing them ever since!

    But here’s where I’m a little afraid to try this recipe — I’ve never made dough before, so the “combine yeast with warm water” step confuses me. lol Once I combine it, do I just add it to the flour mixture immediately, or do I need to wait for the wet yeast to *do* something, and then add it to the flour mixture? 🙂

    Thanks!

    1. Runzas are delicious, aren’t they? And only people who have visited Nebraska can truly understand this! 🙂 It’s really a simple recipe – even if you haven’t worked with yeast before! In fact, I’d say it’s a great yeast recipe to begin with! Once you add the yeast to the warm water (and just get the water from your faucet, making it hot / warm to the touch), add the yeast. You can go ahead and add the rest of the ingredients right away…or let the yeast sit for a minute or so. Either way, your dough should be just fine. Let me know what you think of the runzas once you make them! I like to make a batch and freeze some individually for a quick dinner or lunch later.

  6. Runzas, yum. I love this recipe. I have one almost like it, and have been making it for years. I’m also a Lutheran teacher, well, an off-duty one at the moment. I’m home with the smallest one for a bit. Did you go to Concordia to college?

    1. It is a great recipe! Yes, I’m a Seward grad myself. You? Good for you for staying at home with your littlest one. That’s our most important job as teachers, to teach our own children! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Wow, I’ve never heard of these before but they look amazing! Another great recipe I’m sure my husband will love! Must try!

  8. I am SO pinning this. Every once in a while I crave Runza’s. I live in the Pacific Northwest now and no where a runza. Love your series.

  9. Thanks for the shout out. We here in Nebraska want to know if you are going to share your apple pie kit recipe. We picked apples yesterday.

    1. Thank YOU for the great recipe! Apple pie kits are coming up tomorrow – and the next day. It’s a two part recipe! 🙂 I spent my Saturday working through a bushel of apples and making 13 pie kits, and 1 apple pie to enjoy immediately!

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