Beef & Cabbage Runza Sandwiches

Confession: I had no idea what a runza was before last week.

When researching which recipe to do for the state of Nebraska (as part of my 2019 cooking project, Cooking America), I came across this interesting piece of Nebraskan culture known as the runza, or bierock, a type of meat-filled sandwich. If there’s one thing us Americans know how to do best, it’s stuff bread with…well, basically anything; but in this case, savory ground beef, browned onions, cabbage and cheese. Also, we’re good at frying s**t, but I digress.

Anyway, apparently it’s Nebraskan tradition to eat these hearty runza sammies on College Football Saturdays, which sounds absolutely delightful if you don’t include the football.

beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches
beef & cabbage runza sandwiches

Beef & Cabbage Runza Sandwiches

Makes 4 large or 8 small sandwiches
Prep time: 1-1/2 hours
Cook time: 20 minutes


2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 yeast (1 packet)
1/4 cup melted butter or olive oil
1/3 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1-1/2 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups shredded cabbage
Salt & pepper
8 deli slices Cheddar cheese


1. In a large bowl, mix together half of the flour with 1 packet yeast, melted butter or olive oil, milk, salt and water. Add 1 egg and the remaining flour; mix in the bowl using a wooden spoon or your hand until dough begins to come together. Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead for five minutes. If you notice your dough is too wet, add flour a few tablespoons at a time until you’re easily able to knead the dough without it sticking to your surface. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave it to rise, about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown ground beef for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to break the beef into smaller crumbles. Add sliced onion and garlic to the pan, continue to cook until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Lastly, add shredded cabbage and cook until cabbage is wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Once dough had risen, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a floured surface and portion out dough into four or eight equal balls. Cover dough with plastic wrap while you’re working to prevent any drying. One at a time, roll dough into a 6-inch circle, place a slice of Cheddar cheese in the center of the dough and top about 1/3 cup of the ground beef mixture (2/3 cup if you’re making 4 vs. 8 sandwiches). Fold in the edges of the dough over one another until you form a rectangle, pinching the dough to prevent any leaking. Place runza onto a parchment lined baking tray, seam side down. Continue to fill the remaining runza.

4. Bake runza for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm with your dipping sauce of choice.


Feeding a larger crowd? This recipe can be easily doubled!