The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Stuffed Cabbage recipe?

davidg618's picture

Stuffed Cabbage recipe?

I just harvested the last head of our winter garden's cabbage. Former heads have become cabbage soup, ham and cabbage, cole slaw, and three are fermenting into sauerkraut (hopefully). I want to make something different with this last one. I've eaten stuffed cabbage (with varying degrees of enjoyment) many times, but I've never made them.

I could google for a recipe, and get thirty million returns, but perhaps a few of you could point me to the recipe you've come to love.


David G

dstroy's picture

Here is the recipe I use:


Gołąbki -Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

What you need:
-1 LARGE cabbage
-large onion
-a mix of ground pork and beef (2lbs)
-about 1 and a half cups of cooked short grained rice
-approx. 3 ½ cups beef broth
-1 6oz can tomato paste
- salt, pepper, 2 Tablespoons flour, butter

How to make them

First, with a sharp knife, cut the core of the cabbage out (I think this is the part that sucks most. It's a royal pain in the butt. Everything after is easy.) Then, dump the cabbage into a big pot of salted water (enough to cover the cabbage) and boil for about 5-7 minutes so the leaves can be peeled off using tongs.

Meanwhile, chop up onion and fry it in a little butter till they are all brown and caramelized. (Keep the pan handy...)

In a big mixing bowl, throw in all the ground beef and pork, the cooked rice, the caramelized onions, some salt (about 1 teaspoon) and some pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon). Mix it well.

Pull off a cabbage leaf, place some balled up meat mush into the curved inner base of the leaf. Roll from the base of the leaf upwards, then curl the sides over to close the little wrap.

Place the rolls, with the rolled ends face down, on the frying pan and cook it on medium heat about 5 minutes (flipping once) till it sort of gets lightly browned. (This not only helps the taste, it also seems to help the rolls keep their shape.)

Arrange the rolls in a big Pyrex baking pan, rolled ends faceing down.

Mix tomato paste with about a cup of beef broth and pour that over the rolls. Pour in the rest of the broth.
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes.

Take 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of flour and fry it till smooth and golden brown. Ladle in about a cup or more of the pan drippings from the cabbage roll pan. Cook in fryer till mixture is bubbly and sort of thickens.
Then, pour that over the cabbage rolls.

Return the rolls to the oven (uncovered) for a few more minutes until the sauce is bubbling and starts thickening a little.

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Your ingredients are the same as my mother uses, French-Canadian parents cooking for her Polish parents husband and kids, but Mom uses a pressure cooker. The recipe came from my Grandmother, Babci, and has stood the test of time as well as feeding my brother and I when we ate like there was no food tomorrow. I've seen different names from different countries, mostly Slavic, but everybody noted that it's a great dish to feed hungry crowds of people.

ehanner's picture

Postal Grunt, could you elaborate on the use of a pressure cooker for this dish please? My mother made these when I was a child and we loved them. I have a pressure cooker and try to find ways to use it since the flavors seem to be enhanced with the process.



Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Hi Eric,

 I talked to my mother today and discussed her recipe. Most of the ingredients are common to what other people have posted today. Mom made particular note that the cabbage leaves are to be blanched or softened before the assembly begins. Her preferred filling is using half ground beef, half ground pork.

Before loading the golombki in the pressure cooker, Mom melts a small amount of bacon grease in the bottom of the pan. She then places the first layer in the pan and lightly browns the cabbage on those pieces. Once that's done she puts more in until she reaches about 3/4s of the way up. Then she adds the tomato sauce which has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne pepper. Brown sugar is one of her options. Mom closes the pressure cooker and brings it up to heat and cooks the golombki for 20 minutes. After the cooking is done, let the cooker cool and then serve with a hearty rye bread.

Despite the different spellings I've seen on this thread, the recipes look so similar that I don't think I'd have any hesitation in sitting down to a plate full of any of the recipes here,

ehanner's picture

I appreciate you asking the expert how this goes. I agree all of these recipes look like they have more in common than not and would be delicious. I kind of like the idea of the sweet and sour with the brown sugar and vinegar. I picked up the ingredients today so this weekend is my Polish weekend. I can't wait!

Thanks again.


copyu's picture

Hungarian Version: [Might even be the ORIGINAL?]

1 cabbage

500g (1lb or so) lean beef mince

1 onion, peeled, chopped

1/2 cup rice [uncooked]

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup sour cream

salt, pepper

1 400g (1lb) jar Sauerkraut

1 400g (1lb) can tomatoes, sieved, (ie, 'passata')

1 bay (laurel) leaf

extra sour cream for serving

Pre-heat oven to 180°C (350°F). Remove leaves from cabbage and blanch the leaves (up to 5 min) in boiling water, a few at a time. Combine beef, onion, rice, garlic, sour cream, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. 

Spoon 2-3 Tblsp of mixture into each drained cabbage leaf, roll and fasten with one or more toothpicks. Place the Sauerkraut into the bottom of a casserole/ dutch oven and place rolls on top. Pour the pureed tomatoes over the rolls and (optionally) season with a dash more of salt and pepper. Add bay leaf and add a little water if tomato puree doesn't quite cover the rolls. Cover and cook in oven 60 to 90 minutes. Add a couple of spoonsful of sour cream to sauce before serving.

Bread: up to YOU! This IS a baking forum, after all! [Trying to stay on-topic! ;-) ]




davidg618's picture

Thank you all for your wonderful recipes, shared memories, and humor. Be making some soon. As I usually do, I'll probably borrow from three or four or more of your recipes, and come up with "my own";-)

David G.


Gourmand2go's picture

I just noticed this thread, and I have a very popular recipe that includes photos:

<a href="">Cabbage Roll Recipe</a>

I think the problem most people have is getting the cabbage leaves cooked just right.  I spent a lot of time working out the snags for this recipe.

ehanner's picture

I just want to thank everyone for posting their family recipes for cabbage rolls. I read every recipe and took a little from each hoping to find a balance. I thought the brown sugar Postal Grunt mentioned sounded good and also the idea of a little vinegar.

And PG your mother nailed it with the pressure cooker time. That can be dicey if you go to long. They were perfectly done. Please let her know how much I enjoyed her help. 20 minutes and they were done just right.


bobdrob's picture

All of these recipes sound equally yummy! In our house, meat and rice were't mixed together. Babci & Mom would make 2 separate batches as long as they were going to make a mess. Babci said that meat & rice together was Ukranian style, but Aunt Helen claimed them as Lithuanian style.

Our meatless rice golumbki were always a source of amusement especially on Fridays and during Lent because Babci sauteed saltpork (fatback) first & then sauteed the onions and then added the rice. They were only cooked in undiluted Campbells Tomato soup. Apparently, some sort of Dispensation was granted, because even Fr. Stempkowski was known to indulge on more than one occaision...

Mom added an egg to the meat mix  as a binder. Meat golumbki were only cooked in Hunt's brand tomato sauce.

The Ladies Sodality endorsed these recipes and they were the standard of my yout' .

BLHNYC's picture

I love Ina Garten's stuffed cabbage. It's in the Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook.

AnnaInMD's picture

basically a good meatloaf mixture without the rice (we like to serve salt potatoes with the cabbage rolls)

1 1/2 to 2 lbs of leanish ground beef

2 cups of crumbled up old bread, soaked in some beef broth (those little cubes or one envelope of Knorr broth)

2 beaten eggs

1/2 of diced medium onion

a small shot of Maggi or a bit of soy sauce or a touch of BBQ sauce, just to give it some distinct flavor

salt and pepper to taste

Steam (boil) a few nice cabbage leaves, cool

wrap meat mixture into the leaves, I fasten the leaves with thin twine

Sautee in some bacon grease until brownish, add 2 cups of broth and simmer for about 40 minutes, take out, keep warm, add some flour and if you have it, some sour cream to the liquid, make a gravy. 

Serve the rolls with the gravy and quartered new potatoes boiled in some salt water.

Guten Appetit !



dirider's picture

Hello David,

Here's a process instruction for a wonderful Romanian traditional holiday dish, Sarmale (sahr-mah-leh)

My friend Maria Tomescu wrote down her recipe and her son Bogdan translated it into English for me. Takes some time, but oh so worth it. Review my notes at the end of this recipe.

If ye would like my formatted Microsoft Word File, em me and I'll send it along.

Enjoy, Diane 

Maria's Sarmale Recipe (Traditional Romanian Christmas dish)

(Sauerkraut wrapped meat balls, or Kraut Roulade)

With Diane's notes in (parenthesis)

Ingredients:   - 2-3 lb. ground pork and or bulk pork sausage

                        - ½ lb. country style bacon; a bacon slab is preferred, as it is recommended to use bacon that also has some meat. (I used pepper bacon from LG Meats, cutting slices into 4 pcs)

                        - 2-3 green, fresh cabbages; if available, whole leaves sauerkraut is the preferred and original (recommended) ingredient.  One can pickle the cabbage, which is the subject of a future recipe.

                        - Approx. 1-2 quarts of chopped sauerkraut (I used Steinfeld's)

                        - 1 lb. rice, uncooked

                        - 1 can of tomato sauce

                        - baby dill (1-3 whole bunches) ( I used regular dill once, worked fine!)

Diane's note: I reduced the yield, using 1 lb ground mild Italian sausage, 12 oz long grain white rice and 1 head cabbage. Yield was about 30 sarmale, one 4 qt crock-pot and one small crock-pot full.

11/13/07 I made this using 2.2 lbs ground meat (½ chicken ½ pork sausage) and 1 ¼ lbs rice.

Recipe:          If no whole leaves sauerkraut is available, one can pickle the cabbage in the fall, or use steamed cabbage leaves, as described next.

            Take the cabbages and remove their cores and outside leaves.  Set to boil approx. 2 quarts of water and ½-1 cup white vinegar in a large pot, so the water fills about half of the pot.  After the water starts boiling, immerse one cabbage, with its opening from the removed core facing downwards.  Put the lid on and boil, on Low, for about 15 minutes, after which check to see if the cabbage has been softened and, if not, turn it upside down and continue to boil it until its leaves are soft.  When it is done, carefully take the cabbage out and set it to cool in a pan upside down so it can drain.  Repeat this procedure for all cabbages that will be used.

            After the cabbages have cooled to room temperature, peel each cabbage and remove the big veins in each leaf trying to save as much of each leaf as possible.  For the big leafs, try to separate each leaf in two, across the main, middle, vein.  Each such leaf will be used to wrap the meat.  From three healthy cabbages, one can usually make about 50-to-60 sarmale.

            Take the ground pork and put it in a bowl large enough so you can add the rice and salt and then mix them well. (No salt necessary if using ground sausage, it's already spiced.)

            Take the (wide) pan in which the sarmale will be cooked and put a good layer of chopped sauerkraut evenly spread on the bottom of the pan.  On top of that layer add whole peppercorns according to your taste (not too much, in my opinion) and chopped bacon, which are both to also form an uniformly spread layer.  On top of this add a thin layer of (baby) dill.

            Next we start making the sarmale.  We take portions of the ground meat mix and wrap it carefully in the previously prepared cabbage leaves, making sure to fold the leaf well so it wraps the meat completely.  Then, lay each sarma in the pan, with the part of the leaf that wrapped over last towards the bottom of the pan, on top of the dill layer.  Once a tight layer of sarmale has been laid down, put another layer of bacon, dill and peppercorns, proportioning each ingredient according to your taste (especially the bacon :)).  For the last layer of sarmale we need to provide enough room to the top of the pan as follows.  On the last, top, layer of sarmale we put the chopped sauerkraut in a good layer that covers all the sarmale.  Then, we add another combination layer of bacon, dill and peppercorns.  Then, we take the brine in which the sauerkraut was conserved and, mixing it 2/3 brine and 1/3 water (½ and ½ also works), we fill in the pan so the entire sarmale composition in the pan is covered with liquid.  Last, we add a layer of tomato sauce.  If sweet cabbage was used for the sarmale, one needs to add more tomato sauce so the sauer taste is ensured.  Then we cover the pan and we set it to boil on LOW, on the stove, approx. one and a half hour.  During this time - BN (Bogdan's note) - besides eating some caviar, or pate and enjoying some wine, carefully re-fill with water so the liquid keeps barely covering the sarmale. If using crock-pot, fill brine and water mixture to top layer of sarma, put the lid on and set it to cook on high until it gets piping, then reduce to low and slow until done 6-8 hours total, depending on your crock-pot power range. No need to add more liquid if using crock-pot. I make it in the evening and let it cook as I sleep. Sure makes the house smell good in the morning. This is wonderful breakfast food also.

            After this boiling time, we put the pan in the oven for another one or two hours, setting the oven temperature so the sarmale continue to boil, on Low. I did not do oven bake when I made it in the crock-pot. In fact, one could boil them in the oven from the very beginning, but it would extend the cooking time to about four hours.  Throughout the cooking, make sure that there is enough liquid in the pan, so the sarmale do not get too dry or burned.  Normally, when the sarmale are ready, the top layer is not covered in liquid, but there is enough liquid to cover up to the second layer of sarmale.

            When the sarmale are done, pull the pan out of the oven and leave it to settle and cool a little bit, before serving.



            I asked my mother about the sarmale recipe and, yes, you mix the meatand rice in the raw. As I thought, it takes a while to cook them and thus they need to boil on very low for a long time, until they are cooked. You can always check and see if they are done. The only thing, you need to make sure that you replenish with water and none of them stick (too much) to the bottom of the pan, so they don't get burned. 


Diane's Notes:

Maria is Bogdan's dear Mother.

I made this recipe and used 1/3 amounts: e.g. 1 lb mild ground Italian sausage, 1 head cabbage, 12 oz rice more than 1/3!). I used 1 whole bunch of baby dill. It is very light in flavour and so don't be afraid to add the whole bunch.

I used Steinfeld's kraut, 1 quart. Maria said the flavour was nice and sauer, just the way it should be.

I went to a specialty deli and bought very lean bacon. I used 10 thick slices for this batch.

I used my crockpot, cooking the sarma overnight. Worked beautifully. No need to add more water during cooking. The original addition of water and tomato sauce is sufficient.

Have fun!


berryblondeboys's picture

I got a similar romanian recipe from a Maria I used to work with in Ontario. Her recipe is FANTASTIC, a bit different from this, but I stopped making my husband's family's Croatian recipe in favor of this one (meat is a bit different - hers was a mix of ground turkey and ground pork).


Getting sour cabbage TRULY makes the dish, though there are ways to work around it. For less time consuming versions, you can also make unstuffed cabbage, making meatballs and cookint among sourkraut and chopped cabbage and the rest of the traditional ingredients. yum! We make it every year for Christmas time.

Patf's picture

I used to make stuffed cabbage like this:

Use a firm cabbage, remove damaged outside leaves cut the bottom flat and scoop out the heart.

Poach in a deep pan for about 10 mins.

The stuffing -

6oz brown breadcrumbs

4oz chopped walnuts

tin pineapple pieces

Combine and moisten with olive oil.

Drain the cabbage shell and fill with stuffing. Make about a pint of vegstock, using a tin of tomatoes and a chopped onion.

Bake in  a deep oven dish, covered , in a very slow oven, for about 2 hours.


njbetsy's picture

Dear David,

Which recipe did you end up making?  My mother and grandmother used to make it with beef, long grain rice, grated onion, egg sometimes.  They would cook it in a large pot with tomatoes and saurkraut.  I've heard of some people adding a little brown sugar (sweet and sour), but I don't remember my family doing that.


holds99's picture



1 large head of green cabbage

1 large pot of boiling salted water



5 slices bacon cut into small pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 cabbage heart, chopped

3/4 cup half cooked rice (about 7 minutes), drained

3/4 cup water (for braising cabbage heart)

1 pound lean ground beef (or 1 pound of equal amount of veal, pork & beef combined)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice (Essential ingredient)

1/8 teaspoon ground thyme or herbs de provence

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper



8 slices bacon

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large onion, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 bay leaves (broken into small pieces)

3 large fresh tomatoes (peeled, seeded and diced)

2 cups brown sauce or thick brown veal stock




Note: This recipe is best done a day in advance and refrigerated to allow all the flavors to blend together.   


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water (enough to completely cover the cabbage) to boil. 


2.  Pull off the tough outer leaves and discard.  Detach the remaining leaves, trying not to break any.  When finished removing the leaves you should have the core or heart left.  Coarsely chop the heart and set aside.  Plunge the cabbage leaves into the boiling  salt water and cook for 3 minutes (al dente)...NO LONGER OR THEY WILL BE TOO SOFT AND WILL FALL APART during the oven cooking.  From the cooking pot place the leaves in cold water to stop the cooking process.   The leaves should be pliable and easy to fold and roll.  Return any leaves that do not get done to the boiling water until tender and pliable.


                PREPARE THE RICE

Boil the rice over low heat in 3/4 cup of water for 7 - 8 minutes.




3.  Place a large cabbage leave on a work surface, curley edge up. Lay a smaller cabbage leaf on top of the large leaf and place about 2-3 ounces of the stuffing on top of the leaf.  Fold the outside edges over the stuffing mixture, and roll the cabbage leaves as tightly as possible into ovals.


4.  Continue stuffing leaves until all have been filled.


5.  Lay the bacon strips in the heavy-bottom casserole (Le Crueset, Corning, etc.) with a lid. (Use a casserole at least 12 inches by at least 6 inches deep).  Sprinkle all the remaining ingredients (except the brown sauce) on top of the bacon and arrange the stuffed leaves side by side, with the folded side down, on top of the ingredients in the roasting pan, so they touch on another.  Add the dry white wine and cover tightly with a lid or a piece of aluminum foil and cook in a preheated 350-degree F. oven for 1 1/2 hours.   Remove the aluminum foil and pour the brown sauce over top of the cabbages.  Place back in the over for 20-30 minutes uncovered. 


6.  Remove the stuffed cabbages to a serving platter, cover and keep warm while finishing the sauce.  Place the cooking liquid, including the strips of bacon in a food processor or use a hand food processor (wand) and puree into a smooth sauce.  Place into a large heavy bottomed sauce pan and reduce until moderately thick.  Taste the sauce for seasonings and correct if necessary.  A small amount of cornstarch and water may be used to thicken the sauce, if desired.


7.  Arrange the cabbages on either individual heated plates or a large serving platter.  Spoon or ladel the sauce over the cabbages and serve immediately.


This dish may be frozen and is excellent reheated.