Runsas (Beef and Cabbage Buns with Cheese)

Ok, I know what you guys are thinking.
Yeah, I tend to wince a little when someone mentions cabbage in a recipe too. But this is different! For this delicious meal, soft, and slightly sweet, yeast rolls encase an unusual filling of ground beef, browned cabbage, chopped onions and green pepper, along with a slice of pepper jack cheese.
Runsas originated with Volga Germans, ethnic German farmers who settled in Russia. When they immigrated to the Midwest, they brought this little treasure of a recipe with them.
I proudly pass it on to you!
A few disclaimers: I’ve tweaked things a bit so I’ll indicate that where necessary. And, the process is a little involved so if you plan on making it, give yourself some time.A tip if you have small kiddos: grab all your ingredients while they’re awake and playing and set everything up. When they go down for an afternoon nap, start your prep. I’ve found it’s much easier to accomplish things during nap time if everything is already set out ahead of time. (Learned that while trying to finish my fall wreathe!)

Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients for the dough (pictured below)
Ingredients for the filling (cheese not pictured)
1/2 small head cabbage, cored and chopped, 1 large onion, 1/2 green bell pepper
(btw, that weird green “grass” in the background is how we dry Ali’s bottles, in case you were wondering . . . )
1 1/2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
Start by mixing up the water, condensed milk, oil, sugar, and egg in a large measuring cup. Mix the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl . . .
. . . add the water mixture to the flour mixture
and stir until the dough comes together
Turn onto a heavily floured surface a knead until smooth and shiny (about 4-6 min). Shape into ball and set in a large, lightly greased, bowl. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.
Tip: It’s getting cold out (hurray for fall!), but this does tend to require some creativity when it comes to finding a warm place for your homemade doughs to rise
(especially if you’re trying to save on the electric bill like us and keep your house a little cooler during this time of year . . . well, that’s Daniel’s reason. I just like it cooler in general)
A few suggestions: if you’re drying a load of laundry, plop your bowl right on top for some extra warmth (unless you have an overactive dryer and fear your dough would be shuffled right off the edge or deflated), OR let it rest on top of the oven if you’re preheating or cooking, OR preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Wait 10 min. Turn it off and place your bowl on the middle rack with a bowl of warm water directly below it. All effective methods that I’ve used! (The bowl should be covered in each case of course.)
Ok, back to cooking up these delicious buns!
While your dough is rising, you can chop up the ingredients for your filling, brown (and thoroughly drain) your meat, and saute your veggies.
Ok, now that your dough has doubled in size, turn onto lightly floured surface and divide into 8 equal parts.
roll each section into 7” circles
To form each runsa, place one dough round on a deep bowl (or mug 😉
top with cheese
(the recipe calls for white american, but we like a little zing to our food so we use pepper jack)
pour on 3/4 C of the filling


Stretch the edges of the dough over the filling, pinching the edges together to form a bun.
Transfer the bun, seam side down, to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until puffed (about 20 min)
Bake the buns until golden brown, about 20 min, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through.
Brush the hot buns with a little melted butter and serve!
(serves 8)
For quick reference:
Runsas (Beef and Cabbage Buns with Cheese)
Ingredients for the dough:
3/4 C warm water (110 degrees)
1/2 C sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sugar
1 large egg
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 packages of rapid-rise or instant yeast
1 tsp salt
Ingredients for the filling: 
3 Tbsp unsalted butter – (I only used 1 Tbsp)
1 1/2 lbs. 90% lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/2 small head cabbage, cored and chopped (about 3 cups)
salt and pepper
8 slices American cheese (I use pepper jack)
(I added some savory seasoning to the meat while cooking and about 1/2 a green bell pepper, finely chopped)
1. For the dough: Lightly grease a large bowl and set aside. Mix the water, condensed milk, oil, sugar, and egg in a large measuring cup. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the water mixture the flour and stir until dough forms. Turn onto heavily floured surface and knead until shiny and smooth (about 4-6 min). Shape into ball. Place in greased bowl and cover. Let rise in warm place about 1 hour.
2. For the filling: Melt 1 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat (I skipped this step bc I didn’t see a need for extra oil). Add the beef and cook until just beginning to brown, about 6 min, breaking into small chunks (season the meat if desired). Drain off the grease from the meat. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat from the pan (I drained it all . . . again, didn’t see the need for the extra oils). Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 min. Add the cabbage (and green pepper if using) and toss until just beginning to wilt, 2-4 min. Return beef to the pan and season with salt and pepper.
3. Assemble and bake: Adjust two oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Coat two baking sheets with cooking spray (unless they are non-stick). Following the photos above, divide the dough into 8 equal parts. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 7 inch circle. Place one dough round in a deep cereal bowl and top with one slice of cheese. Spoon 3/4 C of the filling over the cheese and pinch the edges of the dough together to form a bun. Transfer the bun, seam side down, to a prepared baking sheet. Cover the buns and let rise until puffed, about 20 min. Bake the buns at 350 degrees for about 20 min, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Brush with a little melted butter and serve.



  1. Girl!!! Lookin good in your kitchen! 🙂 Want to make these next week. 🙂 And I want a green grass bottle dry thing now…always a bottle drying issue around here…where can I find one?

  2. Your comments always seem to brighten my day 🙂 The bottle drying "thingy" is from Target if I remember correctly. I use it for our glasses too because we don't have a dishwasher. Works great!

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