A runza
Place of originUnited States
Region or stateNebraska
Created byNone/Traditionally Ethnic (Volga Germans)
Main ingredientsBread, Ground beef, Cabbage, Seasonings, Onion
VariationsCheddar Cheese, Swiss Cheese & Mushrooms, Italian style, Jalapeños, Vegetarian[1]
Food energy
(per serving)
530 (Standard/"Original")[2] kcal

A runza (also called a bierock, krautburger, or kraut pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings.[3][4][5][6] Runzas can be baked into various shapes such as a half-moon, a rectangle, a round (bun), a square, or a triangle. The runzas sold by the Runza restaurant chain are rectangular while many of the bierocks sold in Kansas are round buns.[7]

The runza is a regional cuisine of Nebraska, with some commentators calling it "as Nebraskan as Cornhusker football."[8] It is served by the Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C.,[9] and the Nebraska Society of New York[10] at their Taste of Nebraska events and was chosen to represent the state at Flavored Nation, an event serving iconic dishes from all fifty states.[11]


The runza sandwich originated from the pirog, an Eastern European baked good[4][12] or more specifically from its small version, known as pirozhok (literally "little pirog"). In the 18th century, Volga Germans (ethnic Germans who settled in the Volga River valley in the Russian Empire at the invitation of Catherine the Great because of their skill in farming[13]), adapted the pirog /pirozhok to create the bierock, a yeast pastry sandwich with similar savory ingredients.[4][12] When the political climate turned against the Volga Germans as part of Russification[14] including the threat of conscription into the Russian army,[13] many emigrated to the United States, creating communities across the Great Plains.[15][13][16][17] These immigrants, including the Brening family that settled near Sutton, Nebraska, brought their bierock recipes with them.[12] Sarah "Sally" Everett (née Brening), originally of Sutton, is credited with adapting her family's bierock recipe into the runza and also inventing the name for the sandwich.[4][12][3][18][19] In 1949, Everett went into business selling runzas with her brother Alex[20] in Lincoln.[18][3][4]


Many sources agree that Sally Everett invented the name "runza"[18][3][12] although it is likely she adapted it from an existing name for the sandwich; either the krautrunz,[18] an older, different German name for the bierock, or the Low German runsa,[12] meaning "belly", alluding to the gently rounded shape of the pouch pastry. The modern German ranzen, also meaning satchel, derives from runsa. The word "runza" is registered as a trademark in the United States, held by the Runza restaurant chain.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Coffey, Kevin (18 Oct 2019). "Have you tried the new veggie Runzas? We did". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved 16 Nov 2020.
  2. ^ "Runza Nutrition Information" (PDF). December 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Rojas, Warren (March 26, 2014). "Nebraskans Know There's No Substitute for Runza". Roll Call. Washington D.C. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bordsen, John (December 27, 2016). "Sandwich That Stems from Eastern Europe Powers Great Plains Chain". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  5. ^ Billingsley, Kay; Carman, Tim (April 29, 2016). "Nebraska Runzas, by Way of Washington". Washington Post. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  6. ^ Pearce, Marlene. "Krautburger". Retrieved 16 Nov 2020.
  7. ^ Neil, Denise. "Where to get bierocks, the official food of Kansas in the fall". The Wichita Eagle. Some bake them in a round shape. Some make them rectangular.
  8. ^ Landsel, David. "Only Nebraskans Know The Runza". Food & Wine.
  9. ^ "2016 Taste of Nebraska". Nebraska Society of Washington, D.C. Archived from the original on 2018-11-05. Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  10. ^ MacMillan, Kyle (15 May 1987). "Manhattan to Taste Nebraska Foods". Omaha World-Herald. What do you do when you live 1,252 miles from Nebraska and you suddenly have a craving for a Runza or a slice of Valentino's pizza? You order them flown in, of course. That's exactly what the Nebraska Society of New York plans to do for its Nebraska food extravaganza in New York City Sunday.
  11. ^ O'Connor, Michael (28 August 2017). "The Runza will represent Nebraska at new national food event". Omaha World-Herald.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Baker Hansen, Sarah (1 April 2017). "Runza: The story of one of Nebraska's most treasured foods". Omaha World-Herald.
  13. ^ a b c "Encyclopedia of the Great Plains | GERMAN RUSSIANS". Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  14. ^ "What Happened to the Volga German Colonies in Russia -". Retrieved 2023-11-14.
  15. ^ "Nebraska". Welcome to the Volga German Website. Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  16. ^ "Volga German History | GRHC". Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  17. ^ "Strangers in a Strange Land: The History of Volga Germans in Colorado". Retrieved 2023-11-16.
  18. ^ a b c d Rosengarten, David (11 April 2018). "The runza sandwich: Where else but Nebraska?". Dallas County News.
  19. ^ McMorris, Robert (15 July 1978). "Runza: Original Name for Old Recipe". Omaha World-Herald. pp. 15–16.
  20. ^ "Alex Brening". Orlando Sentinel. 12 June 1992.
  21. ^ "How We Support Our Franchises". Retrieved December 27, 2016.