Recipe: Runza

This is Nebraska. I am a 4th generation Nebraskan and 4th generation German on my mother’s side (father’s for the most part too). My grandmother even had a newspaper clipping from the 30s that was a recipe my aunt provided. No one knows what happened to that clipping once she passed away however so we no longer know what that recipe was like.

As such my family doesn’t remember life without runzas. Its a comfort food for me and I get in the mood to make them mostly in the summer and fall. Probably because cabbage is so easy to get then, and once made you can freeze these guys whole. Just allow them to cool completely and seal them securely against freezer burn. All you have to do is warm them up in the microwave, toaster or oven and they taste just like fresh made.

Locally we have a fast food chain called Runza. You can see what theirs look like on the outside here and on the inside here. They are good! But we all know homemade ANYTHING is better than fast food. No exception here either.

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2 loaves bread dough or sweet dough (I prefer sweet dough and my recipe is at the bottom)
1 lb of hamburger (or use sausage for a HOT variety)
1 small head of cabbage, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped finely
salt and pepper
cheese, optional and whichever kind you prefer but Swiss is fantastic!
1 egg

You can use frozen bread dough or your favorite recipe. Either way you need the equivalent of 2 loaves of dough. Thaw, if needed, and allow to rise until double. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle and cut into squares, approximately 3 to 4 inches on each side and 1/4 inch thick. You can size them down if you would like smaller ones, but I don’t recommend any bigger…they get hard to eat.

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While dough is rising go ahead and start the filling. Brown the hamburger (or sausage) in a skillet and drain. Don’t over cook it…you want it just browned. Add the cabbage and onion and cook until soft. The cabbage WILL cook down so use twice as much as you would like. Salt and pepper it to taste.

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Once the dough is cut and filling done scoop a spoonful into the center of each dough square. Moisten the edges of the square with the beaten egg and fold opposite corners into the center, then fold the remaining corners over the top. Seal any seams that may be open yet and place on a cookie sheet to bake. Once all of the runzas are made brush lightly with the remaining egg.

Let them rest (and rise) for about 20 minutes then bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until light brown.

Serve. I like dipping mine into ketchup, but mustard or nothing at all is also popular.


My Sweet Bread Dough (also good for cinnamon rolls)

2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Proof the yeast in the warm water. Combine the dry ingredients and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add all of the wet ingredients and mix well. Use as needed.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Recipe: Runza

  1. Pingback: From coney to Runzas « LivingInLincoln

  2. Jan

    I love them. I’ve only lived in Nebraska for 8 yrs now, originally a New Englander who never tasted anything quite like these, but they also have another purpose in my household.
    My dog at 3 months old snatched a piece of a Runza I was eating at the time, hence her name became RUNZA after her first people food!

  3. Paula

    I am from Omaha, Nebraska and worked for Runza for 3 years while in high school and college. I can honestly say that the company is wonderful, the food is always fresh, and delicious! The hamburger would be delivered fresh, not frozen for making hamburgers and Runzas. I frequently made the homemade onion rings which were done with fresh onions each morning and was able to help make the Runza filling a few times. The Runza is made from fresh homemade bread dough each morning as well. I now live in Baltimore half way across the US from the nearest Runza restaurant and plan on making them today to feed my craving! Thanks for your recipe!

    • Marilyn

      Paula – any chance you would/could share the onion ring recipe? I live in Florida and don’t ever get back to Nebraska any more and miss the onion rings more than you can even imagine!
      Thanks,
      Marilyn

  4. Pingback: Runzas | Letters from Lusaka

  5. Jent

    I love Runzas! Had a bunch of cabbage in my fridge and wasn’t sure what to do with it, but as a native Nebraskan, I realized I just needed a recipe! Still letting my dough rise at the moment, but excited by that wonderful smell of cabbage and beef on the stove! Thank you!

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