Thursday, July 12, 2012


I've received several emails regarding the Runzas I mentioned in several previous posts, from people wanting to know what they are, and how to make them, so today I'm going to share my recipe. 

Runzas,(sometimes called Bierocks) originate from Germany and were brought by immigrants who settled in the mid-west USA. (and in some areas of Canada.)

These little wonders are delicious bread pockets filled with mainly cabbage, ground beef or ground pork, onions and seasonings. Depending on who you ask, they can be round, rectangular, or a half moon shaped. They can be small like an appetizer, or as big as a Calzone. They can be dipped and eaten with anything from Ketchup to Creamed Horseradish.

Everyone seems to have their own way, and their own little spin on making them. Some people only use pork, some only use beef. Some never do onions, some won't even call it a Runza without the onion.

I'll share the way that my family makes them, and include some other seasoning options that i've tried.

I usually make about 20 or more at a time because they're great to have around as leftovers. I'll give you a half recipe though, just in case you don't need to feed an army. 

If you do decide to double it though, I'd suggest making two single batches of the bread portion, rather than doubling it. This dough is quick and only takes 15 minutes to rise, and a single batch is already a lot to work with. Unless of course you have a stand mixer with a dough hook that will hold that much dough!

I always make the filling first, because it's easier to work with when it's not terribly hot.
For the filling:
 1 lb of ground beef (or ground pork)
Half a head of cabbage, shredded (Or one bag of coleslaw mix works well if you're tight on time!)
One onion, diced.
Salt and Pepper, to taste.

Stir fry the ground beef and onion on medium heat. When the beef is almost finished, throw in the cabbage. 
It will look like a lot of cabbage but it really cooks down.
Once your cabbage is nice and wilty, turn it off and let it sit until it's time to fill the Runzas. 

Don't drain it just yet, let the cabbage absorb some of the beef juices. I usually drain off the fat (if there is any) right before I go to fill the Runzas. And then add the salt and pepper to taste. 

At this point, preheat the oven to 350, and start on the dough.

For the dough, you will need 
2 pkgs yeast
1.5 cups of warm water
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/3 cup of sugar
4.5 cups of all purpose flour + a bit extra for fine tuning and rolling

Mix the yeast and water and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the salt and sugar. Last goes the flour. Now this recipe says 4.5 cups. Depending on the weather, the flour i'm using , and as they say, um, altitude (I don't get that. I'm not scientific, but we'll go with that..) I often need a bit more, or slightly less.
 I recommend adding the flour slowly, stirring it in until you have to knead it. If you've added all your flour and it still looks like batter, you'll need a bit more. If you've added almost all your flour and you're already at the pizza dough consistency, stop.

Ok, if you put in too much flour, it isn't the end of the world. Just add a bit more water. We've all been there.
I picture these immigrant women measuring their flour with old tin cans and rolling their dough out on uneven harvest tables. I don't think precise accuracy is the key here

Once you get to that magical pizza dough consistency, let the dough sit and rise for 15-20 minutes. The warmer the area you let it sit, the faster it will rise.
Once it's doubled or near there, it's time to roll it out. 

There are two ways to do this. You can either roll them out individually, or roll a large circle and cut smaller circles out of the dough by tracing a saucer with a knife. I find it much easier to just roll them out individually.

I divide the dough into 10 equal balls, which are just slightly smaller than a tennis ball, and roll them out one at a time on a floured surface, and fill them as I go.

Once the dough is rolled out into a circle at about 1/4 inch thick,(doesn't have to be perfect) put about a half cup of beef and cabbage mixture on one half of the circle. Then close the dough over it and pinch the edge shut. I like to crimp the edges with a fork, but it isn't absolutely necessary. It does really seem to keep it from opening in the oven as a it bakes though.

Once folded, place on either a greased or a parchment lined baking sheet. They do puff up quite a bit, so try not to put them too close together.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown. For extra magic, brush the tops with melted butter before serving. 

Now for the fun part: the dipping options! I like these best with ketchup (homemade is even better) or Nacho cheese. I know that sounds bizarre, but trust me, it's amazing.

These can also be eaten with sour cream, or smothered in gravy, salsa...anything you want.

Some of the different seasoning options for the filling include (but are not limited to:)
taco seasoning (chili powder, cumin etc)

italian seasonings (basil, oregano etc.)
cajun or creole seasonings (paprika, cayenne pepper) 
Hungarian style:( Smoked paprika, caraway)
Indian : (curry with tiny diced carrots and peas)

The possibilities are endless. I've added things like mushrooms and carrots, or even chorizo and queso fresco.

As delicious as all of these are, I have to say that my favorite, hands down is the traditional simple salt and pepper. I'd suggest trying it this way first before any other. It seems simple, but the flavour of the beef and cabbage together is anything but boring.

If you try them, I'd love to hear how yours turn out! 


  1. I think I'll give these a try. Thanks for the recipe and great step-by-step instructions.

  2. Yum!! I think I may just have to try these this weekend with the boys! I could see doing a pizza version, too. Thanks for the instructions!!

  3. Love your blog!!!!! these look so yummy :)

  4. yum.
    so similar to spanish empanadas, except of course, being that part of europe, they include a ton of spices and herbs.