Runza: The Original Hot Pocket



  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar (or less for a less sweet dough)
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  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , plus extra for rolling out dough
  • 2 packages instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt

Or use frozen bread dough, thawed or any bread dough you like.


  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter , 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 1/2 lbs. 90-percent lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 lbs. onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. cabbage, chopped (you can use slaw cabbage from the store but it will cook faster)
  • Salt and pepper

This can be adjusted just keep the ratio 1-1-1 for the filling.

Dough Directions

Lightly grease large bowl with cooking spray. Mix water, sweetened condensed milk, oil, sugar, and egg in bowl. Mix flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.

With mixer on low, add water mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until shiny and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes.

Turn dough out onto heavily floured work surface, shape into ball, and place in greased bowl.


To make dough by hand: Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, make well in center of dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, and mix with wooden spoon until shaggy dough forms. Turn dough out onto heavily floured work surface and knead until shiny and smooth, about 10 minutes.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Filling Directions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until to brown, breaking up any large clumps. As the meat cooks, add ground pepper (1-2 tsp.). The browner the meat, the more beef flavor it will have.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pan. Add onion and cabbage, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 -3/4 cup of water and cover (I'm a beer drinker so I add beer, apple juice works if the cabbage is bitter or old).


Cook 15 -20 minutes or longer, if needed. Stir every few minutes. Sometimes, the cabbage is older and drier. Add some more liquid. Onions should be soft and cabbage a bit crunchy. I like my cabbage a little more cooked. Taste for seasoning. It should have a little pepper bite. There should be a little juice in the bottom of the pan. If not, add some liquid, stir, cover and cook a minute or so.

Assemble and Bake

The meat mixture needs to be close to room temperature. If you want cheese runzas, place it on the dough before the meat.

Adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

The original runza roll is oblong. Roll a piece of dough to 7-8 by 3 inches, 1/4-1/3 inch thick, or thicker if you like. Place some meat mixture down the center and bring the sides over the mixture and pinch the dough to seal. Place seam side down on parchment. Repeat with the rest of dough and meat.


Or round - divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Working on lightly floured work surface, roll each piece of dough into 7-8 inch circle. Place one dough round in deep cereal bowl. Spoon 1 cup filling over cheese, if using and pinch edges of dough together to form bun. Transfer bun, seam side down, to prepared baking sheet leaving room for the runza to rise. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Cover buns with plastic wrap and let rise until puffed, about 20-30 minutes, more or less depending on temp. If you have extra filling it is good on hamburger buns the next day.

Bake buns until golden brown at 350 degrees F, about 20 minutes, switching and rotating position of baking sheets halfway through baking time. Brush buns with melted butter and serve.

They reheat well in the microwave or in the oven. They freeze well. Once frozen, wrap tight in tinfoil. I normally double the batch and freeze meat mixture and dough.


I have used different fillings: BBQ beef, corned beef and kraut (pressed dry) and Swiss cheese, pulled pork, shredded chicken with some bbq, ham and cheese, leftover roast beef or pigs in a blanket with bratwurst. Let your imagination be your guide.

By Scott E. from Chicago

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July 5, 20080 found this helpful

My family used to make these when I was growing up. My aunt was married to a man of Russian decent and she learned to make them from her. We called them cabbage burgers. There are several Runza drive through s in Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas and Iowa.

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July 7, 20080 found this helpful

This sounds just like what the Amish and Mennonites call 'Beirocks'--similar recipe in my "More with Less" cookbook.

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July 15, 20080 found this helpful

these sound good. Will make some to put in freezer for my DH's lunches. Thanks for sharing.


I like the versatility of these, can use bout anything i have on hand. Great way to use up some leftovers that never seem to get eaten.

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