Runza Copycat

Monday, May 11, 2020
Maybe you have heard of this famous Nebraska-made sandwich called Runza? This is how to make Runza in your own kitchens!

This is a copycat recipe inspired by my niece Lana, who lives in Nebraska, and told me about its origin.

I literally ran straight to my kitchen to make a copycat version homemade of this tasty stuffed creation she bragged to me about.

They sounded exactly like something my family would love and boy was I right they devoured them quickly!

I always try and recreate many ethnic foods that I had never heard of before I saw what went inside a runza on their restaurant menu and website, I decided to give it a try.

These baked little stuffed loaves and my filling recipe are as close as I am going to get until I can find a restaurant close by to try an original one.

For now, these German-Russian beef sandwiches quickly became a family favorite and I make them often, we just love them.

I have now experimented with many versions and fillings and they are all a favorite hot pocket and different every time I make them.

Check out my many ideas, tips, and filling suggestions below.

Our family has always been a big fan of stuffed dough like stromboli, antipasto rolls, and stuffed panzerotti pizza so these are a nice change for sure to the Italian style.

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for instructions and photos to make these delicious soft filled stuffed loaves called runza.

these are a stuffed white dough with loose cooked ground beef, onions, cabbage baked called runza. They are in a basket with checkboard red and white paper.

Where Did Runza Come From?

This sandwich is originated in Nebraska that was started in 1949 by a brother and sister Sarah (Sally) and Alex Brening.

They opened the first Runza drive-Inn in Lincoln, Nebraska and the state now has over 78 locations.

The Runza Sandwich is also called Bierocks, this delicious dough bundle has German-Russian roots going back to the 18th century.

They are a yeast dough (a bread hot pocket) with a filling of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings.

these are a runza copycat sandwich famous in Nebraska with a bowl of assorted greens served on the side

Filling and Sealing

I did overstuff my first batch of runza and learned quickly the sealing process is so important.

The dough must not be rolled too thin or the stuffing will bleed through.

Always make a thin layered of egg wash before pinching together so they don't burst open.

I still overstuff mine and use around 1/2 cup of the suggested fillings inside!

Actually, the filling is so delicious I could eat that as a side dish!

these are raw runza bundles on parchment paper ready to be baked on a cookie sheet

Molding the Dough

The dough is soft and easy to mold you do not have to use my bowl method, it's just what I prefer to do.

Whenever we made this kind of stuffed dough, to keep the filling in place, I use a bowl for molding the runza.

This makes it so much easier and keeps them uniform in shape also.

The bowl is around 3 inches high, and 6 inches in diameter, very much the size of a small cereal bowl.

The circle is around 6 to 8-inch rounds.

If you're in a big hurry one other tip I have is to use frozen white bread dough thawed.

The dough is on the sweeter side and soft not like Italian or No-Knead French bread.

this is how to make a runza in a bowl and sealed before baking using egg wash for sealing

Optional Filling Ideas:

(all meats and vegetables should be sauteed first
below are options for filling suggestions)

  1. Steak thinly sliced, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese
  2. Cheddar cheese, sauerkraut, diced kielbasa
  3. Sauteed loose hamburger, onions, hot peppers,  jack cheese
  4. Cabbage, corned beef, swiss
  5. Ham, cheddar, chopped pineapple
  6. Ham, swiss and cabbage
  7. Sausage, cabbage, peppers, mozzarella
  8. Peppers, artichoke hearts minced, cabbage, provolone cheese
  9. Loose hamburger, bacon, cheddar, tomato, spinach
  10. Swiss, mushroom, loose hamburger, cheese
  11. Black bean, loose hamburger, cheese, cooked rice
  12. Barbecued loose meat, crispy bacon, cheddar

this is runza dough cut in 12 pieces and shown on to filled and seal them

Tools You Will Need

  • Mixing bowls
  • Frying pan
  • Spoon
  • Fork
  • Pastry brush
  • Cookie sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Cutting board or floured board
  • Cereal bowl is optional
  • Knife

this is runza dough getting ready for the filling using a small white bowl to keep the filling in place

Ingredients to Make This Recipe

Scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements

  • flour
  • sugar
  • active dry yeast
  • salt
  • lukewarm water
  • lukewarm milk
  • shortening
  • eggs at room temperature

For the Filling:
  • ground sirloin
  • canola oil
  • sliced onion
  • shredded cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • granulated garlic powder
  • assorted dry herbs, parsley, oregano, basil or more to taste

this is cabbage, hamburger meat and peppers in a fry pan and the filling to make a runza sandwich

Tips That Make These Easier

  • Always cooked the filling with the exception of adding cheese that's last
  • I bake the Runza seam side down with a seal of egg wash inside and brushed on top
  • Slicing the cabbage thin as possible to cook quickly with the meat for best results
  • All vegetables should be julienne style for easy filling or chopped fine
  • Keep the dough covered while assembling
  • Always drain the juices from the fried meat first before filling to prevent soggy dough
  • The bowl method makes it easy to form the loaves all the same size
  • Use a half slice of cheese when filling and it goes on last
  • Be sure to tuck all dough edges in pinching together tightly
  • Always use an egg wash to seal inside and out
  • If you are in a hurry use thawed frozen white bread dough
  • These freeze well up to 6 months, thaw and reheat in foil
  • Cut the dough in 12 equal pieces 

For More Copycat Recipes Check out my Recipe Copycat Roundup

Pin for later

this is a pin for later Runza recipe


Hopefully, with my step by step photos on how to make this delicious runza sandwich, I will have inspired you to try them.

If you have your own white bread recipe, you can use whatever you like, get creative with your own style sandwich.

Let me know in the comments if you ever try this recipe, we just love them!

Runza Copycat

Runza Copycat

Yield: 12
Prep time: 1 hourCook time: 35 MTotal time: 1 H & 35 M
These are a copycat of baked famous meat, cabbage, onion stuffed dough, and very well known in Nebraska. A soft white dough baked until golden brown stuffed with several meat filling options in their local restaurant locations. These sandwiches are also called Bierocks.


  • For the Dough
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 packages of active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • For the Filling:
  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small sliced onion
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon combined assorted dry herbs, parsley, oregano, basil or more to taste
  • Optional Filling Suggestions: sliced mushrooms, sliced peppers, minced garlic
  • slices of American, Swiss or cheddar cheese, ground pork, ground turkey, ground lamb, thinly sliced steak.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the sugar and yeast in a small measuring cup with the warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. In a medium saucepan warm the milk with shortening until melted.
  4. Do not pour in the flour until it's cooled down to lukewarm to the touch.
  5. Once cooled to lukewarm make a well in the center of a bowl with flour, put the eggs, yeast mixture, and milk mixture in the center of the flour and mix until combined all together.
  6. Let rise until double in size about 1 hour in a warm place covered away from drafts.
  7. In the meantime make the filling.
  8. In a large deep frying pan, add the oil and fry the meat with the onion, cabbage, granulated garlic, salt, pepper to taste cook until the cabbage is wilted herbs using and any other desired vegetables for the filling suggestions.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and cover as you work each of the dough balls.
  10. Roll into a circle around 6 inches not too thin leave the dough a little thick so they won't break open and place the rolled dough into a 6 inch round cereal bowl style dish to hold the shape of the dough.
  11. Brush the edges with egg wash, fill then pinch to seal edges.
  12. Set on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheets until you've completed all the runza loaves ( seam side down).
  13. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
  14. Bake at 350 degrees hot oven until browned around 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Fat (grams)
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German Russian runza copycat, runza recipe, stuffed dough with cabbage and ground beef, hot pockets,
sandwiches, stuffed dough, hot pockets
German, Russian, American
Created using The Recipes Generator

Pin for later

pin for later runza sandwich and how to make them

Other Copycat Recipes To Try:

Longhorns Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Arby's Beef and Cheddar

Homemade Eggrolls

these are a runza copycat sandwich famous in Nebraska with a bowl of assorted greens served on the side


  1. My husband will for sure love this!

  2. These look fabulous! I loved your tip about using the egg wash to keep the dough from opening - very helpful!

    1. I have been making these since my husband’s grandmother taught me. It’s been a while and I made them too big. Still delicious, tho!!

  3. The history is just fascinating! I have a lot of family in Nebraska, I'll ask if they are familiar with them.

  4. They look yummy. Remind me of piroshki. I just got in a supply of yeast, so I'm going to try these soon. Stay safe.

  5. I've never heard of these but they sure do look good and remind me of the pasty's found further north.

  6. My family will love this. Thanks for sharing!

  7. It is a rainy, dreary day here today and I knew these runza would be perfect! We absolutely love them!

  8. I've never heard of these and have lived in the Midwest my whole life. 😊 A perfect sandwich for sure and I have to try making some soon. Thanks for the tip about the filling, I always go overboard with filling!

  9. Runza is totally new to me and I'm excited to try them!

  10. Love the endless sandwich filling options for this Runza copycat recipe! So excited to try it!

  11. That is seriously amazing! It turned out so good! It is full of flavors!

  12. Wow, I had never heard of Runza but it looks totally delicious! Great recipe - thanks.


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