Krautburgers have a been a popular item at the Cozy Cow since we started cooking them many years ago. But to many of our visitors they are a complete mystery. “Is it a burger with sauerkraut?” they ask. Well, that’s close. At its most basic it’s a bun stuffed with a mix of cabbage and ground beef. Most recipes include onions and some substitute sauerkraut for plain cabbage. Sometimes they are also flavored with cheese, peppers, mushrooms, or other ingredients.
Also known as a runza, bierock, fleishkuche, and kraut pirok, krautburgers are one of the many forms of handheld, bread or pastry-encased meals. It has international siblings in Cornish pasties, pan-Latin empanadas, Russian pierogies, and Chinese cha siu bao (pork buns).
Krautburgers were introduced to America by Volga German immigrants. The Volga German were people of German descent who were recruited by Russia to come and farm land near the Volga River. They were allowed to keep their German language and culture. Later, many Volga German immigrated to America to farm in the northern plains states. The krautburger’s heritage is evident it its German name and similarity to the Russian pierogi.
Update May 2013: We are no longer baking krautburgers. We hate to see them go, but our cheese business has grown so much in the last year that the baked goods were turning into a distraction.