Our delicious homemade Runza recipe features freshly baked bread stuffed with a flavorful beef, onion and cabbage mixture! Make a batch now and freeze some for later — these little pocket sandwiches make for a comforting lunch on the go!
Today we’re making Homemade Runzas! If you’ve ever spent time in Nebraska, you’re probably familiar with our beloved fast food chain Runza that sells, well… Runzas! Also known as bierocks, Runzas are yeasted dough pockets with savory fillings that were brought to the Midwest by German-Russian immigrants. At the Runza restaurant, you’ll find original Runzas filled with ground beef, onion and cabbage, along with other variations and even seasonal twists. And if you stop in don’t forget to order a side of the best crinkle fries around!
And no worries if you live nowhere near Nebraska — we’ve got you covered with our delicious homemade Runzas recipe! It’s the first dish Viktor ever cooked for me (having never been to Nebraska but having read about our Runza obsession) and has since become a staple in our home. And to get the recipe just right, we even compared notes with my brother-in-law who developed his own version to get the spices just right!
Homemade Runza Dough Ingredients
- Active dry yeast
- All purpose flour
- Melted butter
Beef and Cabbage Filling Ingredients
And now onto the filling! Although the Runza seasoning used in the restaurants is a closely guarded secret, we’ve come up with a simple blend that we think is quite similar. Here are our ingredients for homemade Runzas:
- Ground beef
- Diced onion
- Shredded cabbage
- Garlic powder
- Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper
Step By Step Instructions
Making The Dough
The homemade Runza dough can be made in three simple steps:
- Activate the yeast in warm milk.
- Combine all ingredients and knead until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for an hour.
Making The Filling
The filling for homemade Runzas comes together quickly:
- Brown the hamburger with the diced onion until the meat is just about cooked through.
- Add the seasonings.
- Stir in the chopped cabbage, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
And that’s it! You’ll want to drain the mixture when it’s done cooking and make sure to let it come to at least room temperature before filling the Runzas.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Activate the yeast in warm milk. The milk should be warm (but not hot!) to activate the yeast — about 110°F (43°C) if you want to get technical. I generally just heat the milk in the microwave for a few seconds.
- Start with less flour. Unless you’re making homemade Runzas with a kitchen scale, I highly recommend starting with less flour to make sure your dough isn’t too dry. It’s easy to overmeasure flour when using cups so try starting with three cups and add the additional cup of flour as necessary. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky, but it shouldn’t be sticking to your hands so much that you have difficulty kneading it.
- Rising times may vary. The rising time for your dough can take from 45-90 minutes. You can start working with the dough as soon as it has about doubled in size.
Storage and Reheating
Homemade Runzas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To freeze homemade Runzas, let them first come to room temperature. Wrap each Runza individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place in a freezer-safe bag or container. Thaw Runzas in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
To reheat your Runzas, wrap them loosely in foil to prevent excessive browning. Heat at 350°F (180°C) for about 25-30 minutes or until they are warmed through.
The Runza restaurant has introduced various new flavors and seasonal Runzas over the years. If you want to spice things up, here are some of our favorite suggestions to give your homemade Runzas even more flavor:
- Swiss Mushroom Runza: Add sauteed mushrooms and top with swiss cheese.
- Philly Style Runza: Use thinly sliced steak and add sauteed green peppers and onions.
- Spicy Jack Runza: Add jalapenos and crispy bacon. Top with pepperjack cheese.
- Reuben Style Runza: Use corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
Frequently Asked Questions
We opt for active dry yeast here, but you can substitute instant yeast if you’d like. There’s no need to activate instant yeast, so you can just mix everything together! To make this substitution, I would recommend using a bit less instant yeast — about 1¾ teaspoons (5 g).
If you’re finding that the dough is springing back a bit when rolling out, I recommend first dividing the dough into 15 portions and then letting it sit for about 15 minutes, making sure it’s covered with a damp towel. The dough should be easier to work with after the short rest.
Yes, this is actually one of our favorite freezer recipes! I recommend baking the Runzas before freezing. Just let them come to room temperature and then place in an airtight container or freezer bag. The Runzas can be reheated in the microwave or wrapped in foil and baked at 350°F (180°C) for 20-25 minutes.
If you love this homemade Runza recipe, check out these posts for more delicious dinner inspiration:
- easy poolish pizza dough
- chicken sheet pan dinner with beets and carrots + herby yogurt sauce
- spicy salmon cakes + cilantro lime aioli
- lemon arugula pasta + parmesan crusted chicken
- chipotle jackfruit quesadillas
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