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.
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (or 2 packages)
1/2 cup water
1 stick of margarine, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 pounds ground beef
1 small cabbage, sliced
1 onion, diced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Dash of Worcestershire sauce to taste
Begin by preparing your dough. Mix flour, sugar and salt. Combine yeast with warm water. Add to flour mixture. Mix in melted margarine 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.
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.
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.