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This healthy Stuffed Cabbage Roll recipe is packed with flavorful meat, tender cabbage, and a rich tomato sauce. These homemade cabbage rolls are not only delicious but also a fun, hands-on recipe and the ultimate comfort food for the whole family.

Growing up with a German grandmother who was a proud homemaker, I remember her making cabbage rolls often. This easy cabbage roll recipe is based on my Grandmother’s recipe, and it brings me so much joy to share it with all of you. You can also try her crunchy pickled carrot recipe too.

Why We Love This Recipe

I know it is a good recipe when my kiddos ask for it if we haven’t had it for a while! This is one of those cozy comfort foods that the whole family loves, and I love it because they are simple to make! A few reasons to love this recipe are:

  • Amazing Taste – Stuffed cabbage rolls are like a flavor explosion in your mouth! The mix of seasoned meat, rice, and tender cabbage creates a delicious combo that’s hard to resist. It’s comfort food at its best.
  • Healthy For You – These cabbage rolls are a complete meal in each roll, including carbohydrates, protein, and fats. 
  • Family Tradition – Many families, like mine, have a recipe that gets passed down through generations. They each have their own special way of making stuffed cabbage rolls.
  • Versatility – Stuffed cabbage rolls are like a blank canvas. You can mix up the meat, try different spices, and even experiment with the sauce. This recipe lets you add your twist and make it uniquely yours.
  • Warm and Cozy Feels – There’s something cozy about sitting down to a plate of hot stuffed cabbage rolls. It’s like a warm hug for your taste buds. Perfect for chilly days or when you just need some feel-good food. I love to make this cabbage recipe in the fall during the garden harvest with fresh cabbage, vegetables for the filling, and vine-ripen tomatoes for the homemade tomato sauce.

Stuffed Cabbage Roll Recipe 

Now that you know what makes this recipe so special, let’s get cooking this classic dish! 

Ingredients:

For the Rolls

  • Cabbage. Cabbage serves as a sturdy and nutritious wrapper for the filling, bringing a mild sweetness and satisfying crunch to each bite.
  • Ground Beef. Ground beef is the heart of the filling, offering a robust and savory flavor. 
  • Cooked Rice. Cooked rice complements the meat and acts as a wholesome binder in the filling, adding a soft and fluffy texture.
  • Onion. Finely chopped onions add layers of sweet flavor and an aromatic element to the filling.
  • Garlic. Minced garlic provides a pungent and savory kick, infusing the filling with a delightful aroma.
  • Egg. The egg serves as a binding agent, ensuring the cohesion of the filling.
  • Salt and Pepper. Salt enhances the ingredients’ natural flavors, while pepper adds a subtle kick. 
  • Chopped Parsley. Chopped parsley adds a subtle earthiness, adds a pop of color,
  • Paprika – Paprika contributes a warm and slightly sweet flavor with a hint of smokiness. It adds a distinctive color and depth to the filling, enhancing its visual appeal and overall taste.
  • Dried Thyme (Optional)– Dried thyme offers a gentle herbal note.

For the Sauce

  • Crushed Tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes form the base of the sauce, providing a rich and hearty texture and bringing a natural sweetness and acidity that balance the flavors.
  • Tomato Sauce. Tomato sauce enhances the tomato flavor and contributes to its smooth consistency. 
  • Beef or Vegetable Broth. Beef or vegetable broth is the liquid foundation, ensuring the rolls are moist and flavorful.
  • Brown Sugar. Brown sugar introduces sweetness to the sauce, balancing the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Lemon Juice. Lemon juice adds a tangy element, cutting through the sauce’s richness.
  • Worcestershire Sauce. Worcestershire sauce creates a richer and more well-rounded sauce. 
  • Salt and Pepper. Salt and pepper in the sauce allow for final seasoning adjustments.

Instructions

Preparing the Cabbage Leaves

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully core the cabbage head and place it, head down, in the boiling water. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the outer leaves soften. Remove and drain the cabbage and let it cool.
  2. Once cooled, carefully peel off the tender cabbage leaves, trimming the thick vein in the center for easier rolling. I keep the large leaves on the outside of the cabbage to use on the bottom of the baking dish.

Making the Filling

  1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, cooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, chopped parsley, and dried thyme. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Assembling the Rolls

  1. Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Spoon a generous portion of the filling (about 2 tablespoons) onto the bottom of each leaf. Fold in the sides and roll it up, securing it with toothpicks if necessary. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

Preparing the Sauce

  1. In a separate bowl, mix together crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef or vegetable broth, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Cooking The Cabbage Rolls

  1. Heat oven to 375 F. 
  1. Place some extra leaves from the cabbage on the bottom of your baking dish. 
  1. Pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a large Dutch oven or pot. Place cabbage rolls in the pot, seam down. Dot with butter, and then pour the remaining sauce over the top. Cover with a few of the extra leaves on the top.
  1. Bake at 375 F, uncovered, until lightly brown on top.
  1. Remove from the oven and baste with the sauce. Then cover, reduce heat to 325 F, and bake for 60-90 minutes.

Serve

  1. Carefully remove toothpicks before serving. Spoon some sauce over each cabbage roll and serve hot.

Enjoy your homemade Stuffed Cabbage Rolls!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Tips

Here are some tips to help you perfect the art of making delicious cabbage rolls:

  • Choose a large and firm cabbage with vibrant, tightly packed leaves. The cabbage leaves should be pliable enough for rolling but not too soft.
  • Experiment with spices like onion powder, smoked paprika, thyme, marjoram, or your favorite herbs to add depth and flavor to the meat filling. Remember to add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Avoid overfilling the cabbage leaves, as this can make rolling challenging and result in the filling spilling out during cooking.
  • Secure the rolls with toothpicks or kitchen twine before cooking to ensure they hold their shape. Remember to remove these before serving.
  • Brown the cabbage rolls on top. This step adds a delicious depth of flavor to the dish.
  • Allow the cabbage rolls to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This will allow the flavors to settle and make them easier to handle when serving.
  • To complement the dish, pair your cabbage rolls with traditional sides like mashed potatoes, rice, or a simple salad, like this green bean and goat cheese salad.

Ingredient Substitutes

I always recommend trying the recipe as written the first time; however, feel free to change any ingredients to suit your desired flavor or dietary restrictions.

  • Ground Meat – Substitute ground beef with mixed ground meat like ground pork and veal, or try using ground chicken or turkey for a lighter option (my preferred option).
  • Cabbage – If Savoy cabbage is unavailable, use green or Napa cabbage. Large collard green leaves can be an alternative for a low-carb option.
  • Rice Mixture – Swap white rice with brown rice or quinoa for added nutritional value; my Grandmother sometimes used pot barley, too. Cauliflower rice is an excellent low-carb alternative.
  • Spices – To enhance the flavor, experiment with herbs like thyme, rosemary, or dill. For a smokier taste, try adding smoked paprika.
  • Sauce – Try a mushroom sauce with cream, mushrooms, and broth as an alternative to a tomato-based sauce. Create a sweet and sour sauce using vinegar, sugar, and ketchup for a tangier twist.
  • Filling Variations – Add grated cheese to the filling mixture for an extra layer of flavor. Incorporate finely chopped vegetables like bell peppers or carrots for added texture.

Storing Cabbage Rolls

Allow the cabbage rolls to cool completely after cooking. Arrange them in a single layer in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent them from sticking together. Place a sheet of parchment paper between the layers if stacking multiple layers to prevent sticking. To minimize the risk of freezer burn, squeeze out excess air from freezer bags before sealing them. Then, label the containers or bags with the date of freezing.

Cabbage rolls can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months. When ready to use, thaw them in the fridge overnight. Reheat them in the oven or on the stovetop until heated through.

​More Traditional Recipes

I hope you enjoyed this classic cabbage roll recipe. Leave me a comment if you try my recipe, and don’t forget to Pin this one for later.

For more classic dinner options, try any of these delicious dinner recipes.

Frequently Asked

What is stuffed cabbage rolls made of?

Stuffed cabbage rolls are made by wrapping a tasty mixture of ground meat, rice, and seasonings, then rolled up in a softened cabbage leave. Simmered or baked in a flavorful sauce, and enjoyed as a classic hearty comforting meal!

Why is my stuffed cabbage tough?

If your stuffed cabbage is tough, it might be because the cabbage leaves weren’t cooked enough before rolling, making them harder to chew. Next time, try boiling or blanching the leaves longer to ensure they are tender and easier to enjoy.

Cabbage rolls displayed on a white plate that have been cut in half and the meat and rice filling showing in the middle.

Stuffed Cabbage Roll Recipe

This classic, hearty stuffed cabbage roll recipe is filled with tasty meat, soft cabbage, and a flavorful tomato sauce. Homemade cabbage rolls are not just a treat for your taste buds but also a fun and comforting meal perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Course: lunch & dinner meals
Cuisine: American, Canadian, german, Polish, Ukranian
Keyword: cabbage roll recipe, cabbage rolls, easy cabbage roll recipe, stuffed cabbage roll recipe, stuffed cabbage rolls
Servings: 12
Calories: 167kcal
Cost: $15

Ingredients

For the Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 large Cabbage
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 cup Rice ,cooked
  • 1 large Onion , finely chopped
  • 2 whole Cloves of Garlic , minced
  • 1 tbsp Parsley , chopped
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Salt and black pepper , to taste
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme (optional)

For the Sauce

  • 1 can Crushed Tomatoes (14 oz)
  • 1 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Beef or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 lemon Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt and Pepper , to taste

Instructions

Preparing the Cabbage Leaves

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Carefully core the cabbage head and place it, head down, in the boiling water. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the outer leaves soften.
  • Remove and drain the cabbage and let it cool. Once cooled, carefully peel off the tender cabbage leaves, trimming the thick vein in the center for easier rolling. I keep the large leaves on the outside of the cabbage to use on the bottom of the baking dish.

Making the Filling

  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, cooked rice, chopped onion, minced garlic, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, chopped parsley, and dried thyme. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

Assembling the Rolls

  • Place a cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Spoon a generous portion of the filling (about 2 tablespoons) onto the bottom of each leaf. Fold in the sides and roll it up, securing it with toothpicks if necessary. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

Preparing the Sauce

  • In a separate bowl, mix together crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef or vegetable broth, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Cooking The Cabbage Rolls

  • Heat oven to 375 F. 
  • Place some extra leaves from the cabbage on the bottom of your baking dish. 
  • Pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a large Dutch oven or pot. Place cabbage rolls in the pot, seam down. Dot with butter, and then pour the remaining sauce over the top. Cover with a few of the extra leaves on the top.
  • Bake at 375 F, uncovered, until lightly brown on top.
  • Remove from the oven and baste with the sauce. Then cover, reduce heat to 325 F, and bake for 60-90 minutes.
  • Carefully remove toothpicks before serving. Spoon some sauce over each cabbage roll and serve hot.
  • Enjoy your homemade Stuffed Cabbage Rolls!

Notes

Here are some tips to help you perfect the art of making delicious cabbage rolls:
  • Choose a large and firm cabbage with vibrant, tightly packed leaves. The cabbage leaves should be pliable enough for rolling but not too soft.
  • Experiment with spices like onion powder, smoked paprika, thyme, marjoram, or your favorite herbs to add depth and flavor to the meat filling. Remember to add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Avoid overfilling the cabbage leaves, as this can make rolling challenging and result in the filling spilling out during cooking.
  • Allow the cabbage rolls to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This will allow the flavors to settle and make them easier to handle when serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 547mg | Potassium: 542mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 542IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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