Instant Pot Runzas—a Nebraska favorite, runzas are a cross between a hot pocket and a burger. Ground beef, onions and cabbage are wrapped in a yeast dough and baked, resulting in a savory pastry. This Instant Pot version quickly pressure cooks the meat and cabbage in your electric pressure cooker. In addition if you have a yogurt button on your Instant Pot you can quickly proof the yeast bun dough.
For the SLOW COOKER instructions see the note section of the recipe card below.
Instant Pot Runzas
Each week in 2020 I’m sharing a recipe inspired by one of the 50 states. So far I’ve covered…
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- North Dakota
See all the state recipes in one place.
Today’s recipe come from the Cornhusker State, Nebraska. When I think of Nebraska I think of that song by the Counting Crows, “Omaha…
Somewhere in middle America.” I also think about the University of Nebraska and football. On Saturdays when the University of Nebraska football team plays at home, the stadium itself becomes the third-largest city in Nebraska. I also think of the pioneers crossing the plains. It must have been a long haul to get across that state. I also think about Colleen one of my favorite internet blog/facebook friends…she lives in Nebraska (hi Colleen!!!). Join the 365 Days of Instant Pot recipes FB group to make super cool IP friends too 😊
Today’s recipe doesn’t involve corn but it does involve a popular Nebraska sandwich called a runza. You can learn more about this tasty sandwich by watching this Youtube video:
If you’re not able to get a runza in Nebraska then you can make your own at home. Basically it’s a mixture of ground beef, seasonings and cabbage cooked inside the middle of a yeast dough. This is what they look like when they come out of the oven…
It looks just like a roll or a hoagie bun. But when you open it up there is a delicious filling inside! You can get creative with the filling by adding cheese or other items. The original runza is just the ground beef, onions and cabbage though.
This sandwich reminds me of a Hot Pocket, except, of course, it tastes much better. Bread on the outside and a delicious filling on the inside. Just like Hot Pockets they freeze great and then can be warmed up in a toaster oven, oven or microwave. This recipe makes 12 runzas so perhaps you will want to freeze the leftovers. What a great option for a kids lunch this summer. Grab and go!
Some tips to making Instant Pot Runzas:
- The dough is FAST and easy. There is just a bit of mixing that occurs and no real kneading. Plus the dough only needs to raise one time. With the help of your Instant Pot yogurt function you can raise the dough in less than 30 minutes. If you don’t have the yogurt button the dough will raise in about an hour. This dough is super tasty and I’ll be using it for rolls and buns in the future!
- Cool the filling a bit before rolling it up into the dough. It doesn’t need to be cold, room temperature is fine. This will help the dough stay together better.
- Strain off liquid from the meat mixture before adding it to the dough. When I didn’t do this the liquid came seeping out the sides.
- Stuff the dough with enough but not too much filling. You want a good meat to bread ratio but not so much that the dough bursts open. I weighed my dough into 3.75 ounce portions so that they were all equal and then I used ½ cup of filling.
- I used ground beef but another type of ground meat like turkey or pork could certainly be used.
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Instant Pot Runzas
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
A Nebraska favorite, runzas are a cross between a hot pocket and a burger. Ground beef, onions and cabbage are wrapped in a yeast dough and baked resulting in a savory pastry.
For the filling:
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 cup diced onion
- 5 cups chopped cabbage
- 2 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup water or beef broth
- Optional: slices of medium cheddar cheese
For the dough:
- 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 4 1/2 tsp instant yeast (also called quick rise yeast)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- Turn Instant Pot to saute setting. When the display says HOT add in the ground beef and break it up*. Add in the onion. Brown the beef for about 5 minutes. Drain off excess grease (if there is any). Turn off Instant Pot.
- Stir in the cabbage, seasoned salt, black pepper and water. Cover the Instant Pot and make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 5 minutes. When the time is up let the pot sit for 5 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid. Pour mixture into a bowl and let it cool while you make the dough.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or in a large mixing bowl) add 1 ½ cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Set aside.
- In the microwave or on the stove heat the milk, water and butter to 120°-130° F (this isn’t that hot, I use a digital thermometer*)
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Stir a few strokes. Then add in the eggs.
- Mix on low speed adding in 1 cup of flour at a time until it starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (just a minute or two).
- Place dough in a greased bowl and let raise for 1 hour OR place in greased Instant Pot liner and set Instant Pot to yogurt function LESS (use adjust button to get it to less, it should say 24 hours) and let it raise for 25-30 minutes. Dough will double in size.
- Punch the dough down. Then divide it into 12 equal portions (mine was 3.75 ounces each). Work with one portion of dough at a time. With a rolling pin, roll a portion of dough into 6 inch x 8 inch rectangle/oblong shape. Scoop a heaping ½ cup of filling (use slotted spoon, make sure there is no liquid) into the middle of the dough. If desired, place a couple slices of cheese on top of meat. Bring two sides of dough up to each other and pinch to close, pinch the ends to close as well.
- Place each filled dough (seam side down) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (you might need 2 pans to fit all of them). Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes and then serve. (We liked a bit of mustard with ours!)
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. This can also be made in your 3 or 8 quart pot with no changes.
Slow Cooker Instructions: You can use your slow cooker to make the filling. Add extra lean ground beef, onions, seasoned salt, pepper, cabbage and water to your slow cooker. Break up the meat with a spoon. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Then remove the lid and break up the meat again. I like to use this tool*. Cover and cook on high for 2 more hours, or until meat and onions and cabbage are cooked through. Let the meat cool a bit before adding into the dough.
- Category: Beef
- Method: Instant Pot
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Merrie Bass says
These are PERFECT! My husband and I both grew up in Nebraska and now live in California, where no one has a clue what a runza is. I can’t wait to make another batch and try some of the Runza chain variations. Thank You!
I’m so glad you can make them at home! They are so tasty!
Heather Chalmers says
Hi Karen (and her Readers)
I see a few comments that you can freeze these before or after baking. BUT can I make and proof the dough, fill the runzas, then cover and refrigerate them until I want to bake them (a few hours later), taking them out of the fridge say a half hour before baking?
Or do I make them a few days ahead, then freeze them? If so, freeze before or after baking?
I bet you could refrigerate and bake a few hours later with success.
You could also fill and freeze and then let them come to room temperature before baking.
Hi Karen – I’m creating a recipe round-up of variations to the traditional Runza and I wanted to include this recipe. I couldn’t find a good way to contact you so I hope this works! May I have permission to use a photo from this post in the round-up?
I’ve made these before and love them! I have the Duo-Crisp Instant Pot which doesn’t have the Yogurt function. Will I still be able to proof the dough in my Instant Pot?
I would proof it in a bowl on the counter. You’ll just need double the proofing time.
Do I put the lid on the Pot while proofing the dough?
I would put a plate on top or foil…don’t put the actual IP lid because the dough might push up on it and you won’t be able to get it off.
Karla Fishburn says
Can these be frozen after making them? I’m thinking about meal prep and it would be such an easy grab and go lunch or nice to come home from work and just need to reheat….
Yes! We froze ours individually wrapped in foil. They were perfect for grab and go!
Made this today on a cold, windy day. Being from Nebraska I am a tough judge, but these are great. I only made half because I wasn’t sure how they would turn out. Now I wish I would have made more. The dough was so easy in the instant pot and had just the right texture of a true Runza. Yummy!
Oh, thanks so much Tam! I’m glad I get the thumbs up from a Nebraskan!!!
Have you made this dough in a bread machine on the dough cycle? What do you think? I enjoy all your recipes!
I haven’t tried that. I don’t have a bread machine and am not familiar. It might work????
Kathy Rose says
You are correct about them also called bieroks or kraut bieroks. I learned to make these from my mother who of course learned from her mother. The background of these go back to Russia. In the mid 1700’s Catherine the Great brought Germans to Russia and settled them on the Volga River. They remained faithful to their heritage and continued speaking German. Many came to the states in the early 1900’s and brought this wonderful dish with them. All of my grandparents were among those immigrants.
Tonianne Robinson says
Thank you for stating the origin of this food, I always feel that it important to know the history.
Thanks for sharing! This is so fun to read.
Mary Knox says
Too bad your relatives didn’t have an Instant Pot back then!
Have you ever tried this using a sourdough starter? I started using my starter for most of my baking when yeast suddenly became hard to find. Cinnamon rolls , pita, whole grain bread all come out well but I have no idea how to modify a recipe.
I have no idea!!! I don’t know much or anything about sourdough starter.
Jeanne Gibbons says
It’s much easier to shape the runzas if you lightly grease a small cereal bowl and drape the rolled dough over it, then add the filling into the bowl. Just remember you’re filling them upside down so the cheese goes in first. It’s so much easier to pinch them shut this way.
Cool! I like this tip! Thanks for sharing.
Can you make this filling with something other than cabbage? What kind of mixer are you using and where did you purchase?
Judy Lawrence says
I have substituted left over rice, or diced raw potatoes for the cabbage. Also diced chicken or turkey is delicious. I have added small amount of shredded carrot also. It is your Runza put in the filling what you or your family enjoys.
Hi Frieda, you can get creative with whatever fillings you like! I have a bosch mixer that I inherited from my sisters mother in law! It’s probably 25 years old.
Thank you. I always look forward to you recipes each week. Good job.
Thank you Frieda! 💗
Linda N says
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see this recipe. We lived in KC and I covered Nebraska in my sales job and always brought these home in the frozen state, ready to be baked. It is now 25 years later and we are living in Florida and neither of us could come up with the name! So thank you for helping two old timers remember the name and for the great recipe. I will be making it next week.
Oh how fun! I’m glad I could help 😊
Brendan Plonka says
So, the runzas are out of the oven and the place smells heavenly (baking bread!). I did make the filling the day before, and drained it well (of fat and water). I chose to saute the meat and onions on the stovetop in two batches on a non-stick frying pan. But I did use the IP for the next step. As I put the meat/onion mixture in the IP, I seasoned, then added some chopped raw cabbage. This took several batches. Since I only used about 4.5 – 5 cups of flour, I was only able to measure out 10 pieces of dough. So, I had a little cabbage/meat mixture leftover. I think this would make a nice mixture to add to some cooked spaghetti. Since I kept the fat/water mixture, I will de-fat that and add it to the meat too to make more of a “sauce”. Should make a nice helping of pasta for one, maybe two. Next time I will use two cookie sheets, as the dough does expand during baking. But all in all, with your expert guidance, it all went off without a hitch. The dough rose beautifully too. AND, I mixed the dough myself. No need for a blender or other appliance. I felt like an Italian nonna. haha I watch “Pasta Grannies” on YouTube, and I felt a kinship with these elderly women as I made this multi-step recipe, Thanks Karen. P.S. I also really like the rice-a-roni recipe. Comes in handy and is soooo easy. Love the recommendation to eat the runza with some mustard. I chose not to add cheese, as I will be freezing some of these. Will be eating 1 (or more) tomorrow for dinner, as will my elderly mom. I have to say, you are the most prolific IP recipe provider on the net. I’m amazed and grateful. Brendan in Toronto, Canada
Brendan, thank you so much for the nicest compliment I have ever received! I love all these tips and ideas.
Omg. I followed your recipe to the letter. It was the easiest dough ever and wonderful. The whole thing turned out scrumptious and I couldnt believe I did it. Thank you so much!
Thanks Wendy!!! Glad it turned out well for you. I love it too.
These are like Bierocks. And I agree with making the filling the day before or if you can make the whole thing and not eat it right away (LOL) they get more and more flavorful.
I keep hearing bierocks! I had never heard of them before now. Sound amazing!
I live in Nebraska and we are fortunate to have fast food/drive through Runza restaurants throughout the state. We are lucky and can have them anytime we want. They really are wonderful!!
Could all of the ingredients be halved to make a smaller yield? Here are only 2 of us and would take us forever and a day to eat 12 servings.
Yep!!! I’ve done it that way and it was great.
Thank you so much!
Peg- the Runzas freeze very well, just 2 of us here. I always freeze 8 in packs of 2 for a quick meal another day. I always wish I had doubled the recipe!
Bev- I was looking through the comments to see if anyone had froze these. I’m curious as to how to thaw them. I’m just afraid the bread with be mooshy. 😆. Thanks for any advice you can give.
Tiffany, try freezing them before cooking. Let them thaw in the fridge and cook as usual. I’d use a toaster oven for this small amount.
Verna W says
Is there a store bought dough that can be used.
I would love to make this but I do not have a suitable dough maker.
Candice, a girl from Nebraska who told me about runzas says, “the dough I use is usually made from Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix.” That would make these super fast and easy!
You can use frozen bread loaf dough. Just thaw it and roll it out! –From a born and raised Nebraskan! 🙂
Love the recipe!! Can you freeze them before baking?
I bet you could but then they’d need to be thawed out well before you bake.
Thank you! I grew up with a neighbor from Nebraska and she always made these. They are a favorite, now I can make them. So excited. Your site is awesome, thanka for all your hard work!
I hope you like them! How fun that your neighbor would make them. I am really starting to love Nebraskans.
Jan Tossman says
Thanks for this outstanding recipe. It is right up my alley. But – I don’t have a stand mixer. What kind of mixer did you use? It looks like a chopper with a hook attachment. If I don’t have a stand mixer, can this be made with a hand mixer?
Hi Jan, this recipe really can be made with a spoon and a bowl (or a hand mixer). It’s basically just mixing the ingredients and no real kneading. So awesome!
Brendan Plonka says
This is the most exciting recipe I’ve seen for the various States so far! I’m not a baker, but I do make my own pizza dough, so this seems very doable. Thanks so much for this! Can’t wait to try it! Brendan in Toronto, Canada
You will love it! Usually I don’t like making bread and dough because it seems overwhelming with all the kneading and raising but this recipe couldn’t be easier!
I lived in Nebraska for 40 years and Runza is very popular, your recipe is pretty close to the original Runza sandwich. I would add that if you made up the filling the day before it improves the flavor alot. make sure to taste the filling you will probably need to adjust the salt/pepper (lots of pepper) I freeze baked Runzas 2 in a quart bag because that is what we will eat. Now we live in Florida so baking homemade Runzas is a must, thanks for sharing the recipe
Candice B. says
Thanks so much , Miss Karen for showcasing a beloved Nebraska favorite from my home state! I already had all the ingredients in the fridge/freezer when we talked about Runzas this week, so I am definitely making them this week for the Texas family.
I agree with Bev’s comment. Make the filling the day before and bake in the evening, or struggle to resist eating them till the next day, once their made. The flavor is soooo much better. Black pepper is a must, for sure. I love mine with American cheese, hubby likes Swiss (mushrooms added to the filling mixture right on the mixture before folding), and my son LOVES his with Pepper Jack, so it’s always fun to make these with different cheeses! Thanks for the recipe! Csnt wait to read everyone’s comments about my FAVE food of all time!
Thank you Candice for giving me the idea! I really appreciate it.
Good idea on making the filling the day before! I will have to try that!