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Oct 16, 2020

Nebraskan Runzas

Runzas are a pocket sandwich where a filling of ground beef, cabbage, and onions are baked in a yeasted dough. They are also known as bierocks and krautburgers. 

Nebraskan Runzas


The theory of their origination is that they are from Russia or Germany, and came to the U.S. via the Volga Germans who settled in Nebraska, Kansas, and North and South Dakota in the 1900s. 

The shape depends on the region. In Nebraska, runzas are shaped into an elongated roll. In other regions, the bieroks can be shaped into rounds. 

Either way, these things are seriously delicious. 


The bread for these runzas is super soft and light, and the dough is very easy to work with. It's enriched with butter, milk, and eggs, and I think I might use the dough for hamburger buns in the future. 

This recipe makes 12 "sandwiches," which seems like a lot, but they reheat perfectly. We gave away five of the sandwiches and easily managed to finish the rest. 

For the cabbage in the filling, I used one of those bags of cole slaw mix, which saved some time. 

Nebraskan Runzas with cabbage and ground beef

How to make runzas:

First, you make the dough for the bread by combining the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Next, you mix the yeast, warm milk, melted butter, and eggs, and then stir it into the flour mixture. Once you have a rough dough, knead it on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until smooth. 

Set the dough in a warm place to rise for an hour, deflating it once half way through. 

While the dough is rising, you cook the onions, beef, and cabbage until the beef is cooked through and the cabbage has wilted. Finally, stir in some grated sharp cheddar cheese. You can actually make the filling in a day in advance if that is more convenient for you. 

To shape the sandwiches, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. One-by-one, roll the dough out into six inch circle. Place about a half cup of the filling in the center, and then wrap the dough around it, pinching the seams. Fold the ends under and place them seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. 

Runzas on a baking sheet

I baked all twelve on a single half sheet pan. If you prefer, you can use two pans to keep the sandwiches separate. I kind of like the "pull-apart" sides of these Runzas. 

I seasoned the meat mixture with Worcestershire sauce as well as some seasoned salt and pepper. For the onion, I used a sweet onion, but you can substitute yellow or brown onions. In the book, Midwest Made by Shauna Sever, (the recipe I adapted these from... the cookbook is wonderful) she uses a mixture of "superfood" precut slaw and loves the extra crunch. 

In the book, The New Midwestern Table by Amy Theilen, she uses spinach instead of cabbage, which sounds like a great way to sneak it into your meal. 

Nebraskan Runzas after baking

These runzas are ready to eat straight from the oven, other than having to wait 10 minutes for them to cool a bit. While I skipped this step, you can brush more melted butter over these after removing them from the oven. 

Hint for rolling out the dough:

When rolling out the dough, I kept the middle of the circles a little thicker than the edges. If the dough is too thin in the middle, it gets kind of see through on top when baking. 

This month, the Bread Baking Babes are baking runzas, and our host is Kelly of A Messy Kitchen. After the recipe, be sure to check out everyone's runzas!

Nebraskan Runzas or bierocks


Yield: 12 servings
Author: Karen Kerr
Runzas are a pocket sandwich where a filling of ground beef, cabbage, and onions are baked in a yeasted dough. They are also known as bierocks and krautburgers.


For the Dough
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (about 110 degrees F)
  • 640 grams (5 cups) bread flour
  • 75 grams (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 337 grams (1 1/2 cups) warm whole milk (about 110 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large room temperature eggs
For the Filling
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 320 grams (2 cups) finely chopped onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • (400 grams) 4 cups shredded cabbage or packaged cole slaw mix
  • Seasoned salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 170 grams (1 1/2 cups) sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and let sit for a few minutes. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, and salt and whisk. 
  3. In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, add the milk, melted butter, eggs, and yeast and water mixture. Whisk until combined and pour it into the flour mixture. Stir with a dough whisk or wooden spoon until you have a rough dough.
  4. Mix the dough with the dough hook on medium speed for 5 to 6 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, place it in a warm spot, and let rise for 30 minutes. Press it down and let it rise for 30 more minutes. 
  6. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. 
  7. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the Worchestershire sauce and cabbage and cook, stirring regularly, for about 8 minutes. 
  8. Generously season the mixture with seasoned salt and black pepper to taste. It's best to over season the filling. 
  9. Turn off the heat and let the pan cool. Once it's cooled, stir in the cheese. 
  10. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a half sheet pan or large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
  11. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the pieces into balls. Cover the balls with a towel while you are working. 
  12. One-by-one, roll out each ball into a six inch round. Place 1/2 cup of the filling in the middle and fold two sides together and press together to form an elongated roll. Press the ends together and fold them closed. Place the formed runza, seam side down on the baking sheet. 
  13. Bake the runzas for 20 to 25 minutes until golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving. 



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runza, bierock
Main course, sandwich
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Bread Baking Babes' Runzas!

Would you like to comment?

  1. Wow, that is some beautifully perfect dough. Packed country diner worthy plating, and with those onion rings too? C'est si bon!

    1. Yeah, I kind of wante to capture the Nebraska diner feel, even though I've never been there!

  2. One of my coworker's makes runzas with his family for Christmas every year, so I had been dying to try them. I kind of cobbled together a recipe from his stories, now I want to try your version. They look amazing!

  3. Ooooh!! How brilliant are you to serve these with onion rings?

    Beautiful Runzas, Karen!

  4. Oh my heart be still ... those onion rings! WOW how good those with the Runza! Perfect. and I love that red and white paper.
    Thank you for the tip on leaving the center thicker! So obviously once you said that.
    Seriously good for sure. I have most of a dough recipe in the fridge for in the AM.

    1. Thank you!! I had a lot of fun with this one!

  5. They look great - and sound great. Jealous!

  6. Beautiful! I can actually see the cabbage in your rolls. I think you did capture the diner feel. Very nicely done!

  7. Clarify seasoned salt please. The seasoning has to be right or its really not a runza.

  8. Oh Karen, these look sooooo good!! My family and I would love these. I'm definitely trying! I have some cabbage that needs to be used up too.

  9. I've never heard of runzas before but they sure do look delicious!

  10. Do you let the runzas rise again before baking?

    1. I didn't. They rose a little while I was assembling them but they rose nicely in the oven.


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