How To Make Your Own Runzas

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Every culture seems to have their own version of the same dish. Mexicans have empanadas, Italians have calzones, Chinese have bao buns. Even regions within the US have their own variations. Here in Texas we have kolaches which are the German version of meat filled buns. If you haven’t had one, it’s kinda like a pig in a blanket where the pig is a sausage or short hot dog and the blanket is a fluffy roll.

Imagine my surprise when a friend mentioned a runza. A what-za? A runza apparently is a kolache-like bun in the Nebraska area. It’s a big thing up there and the Nebraskans will drive for miles to get them. After quickly googling, I found that I could have the real thing delivered straight to me… for just over $100. Yeah, no running for a runza delivery here. No, thank you.

So I did the next best thing. I made my own by changing up a recipe that I had for dinner rolls. The buns turned out pillowy and soft on the inside, and golden brown on the outside. The texture reminded me of potato rolls, only no potato flakes were harmed in the making of these rolls.

Runza Dough Homemade Runza

  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp (24g) granulated sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (not quick acting)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup (75g) coconut yogurt (see notes for alternate)
  • 2 Tbsp (28g) butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 cups (270g) all purpose flour

Combine the warm water, sugar and yeast in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside for about 5 minutes to activate the yeast. It will get slightly foamy as it rests. In a large bowl, mix the almond milk, yogurt, butter and salt until combined and smooth. I just stirred it well with a fork.

When the yeast is ready, add the yeast to the rest of the wet mixture. Add 1 cup of flour and mix well. Add the rest of the flour about 1/2 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together into a shaggy ball. You may not need all of the flour. Once the ball starts to form, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes.

The dough will be smooth and stretchy. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl with a lid, place in a warm area and let it rise for about an hour. The dough will double in size during this time. Remove the dough from the bowl after rising and punch it down. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 metal baking pan with non-stick spray.

Divide into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a rectangle about the size of a 3×5 index card. Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of desired filling down the center of the dough, leaving a border around the edges. Fold the short ends in over the filling, and roll the bun like an eggroll or burrito.

Place the bun, seam side down in the baking pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces. There should be room for two rows of buns with about 1/2-1 inch between them. They will rise and touch when they bake. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with dipping sauces of choice.

Makes 8 buns at approximately 159 calories each (for the bun without filling) – 4g protein, 29g carbs, and 3g fat.

Notes

I used So Delicious coconut milk yogurt the first time I made this dough and it took about half of the single sized container for the recipe. The second time I made it, I subbed in 1/3 cup of vanilla soy milk in place of both the yogurt and the almond milk and it also worked well. Don’t feel like you need to make a special trip to get non-dairy yogurt for this recipe.

Runza Filling

  • 8 oz lean ground beef
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 2 Tbsp (33g) tomato paste

Heat a pan over medium heat and brown the ground beef. As the beef is browning, break it into small pieces. Once there are no pink pieces left, add the sauerkraut and tomato paste. Stir until combined and cook for about 2-3 minutes until any liquid is cooked off. Remove from heat and use to fill the buns.

Makes filling for 8 buns at approximately 99 calories for the filling – 13g protein, 5g carbs, and 3g fat.

I used Beyond Beef crumbles instead of the ground beef and they came out great. I’ve also used 4 minced hot dogs in place of the beef. Get creative with your fillings and add cheese, mushrooms, onions, or any other filling that sounds good to you. Next weekend I plan to try using a fruit filling to make sweet kolaches with the dough.

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