I’ve been eating stuffed cabbage since I was a child, and I’ve been working on this recipe for a long time to create the ultimate rendition of cabbage rolls.
This is a family recipe for cabbage rolls that goes back more than 80 years. I have made modifications to this recipe to enhance the taste and flavor. These cabbage rolls freeze well.
This amazing Stuffed Cabbage Rolls recipe has been handed down through the generations. Do you make yours like my family makes ours?
Easy Stuffed Cabbage Recipe
Are you looking for an easy recipe to make with the cabbage sitting in your fridge or just dinner ideas for tonight? Cabbage Rolls with Tomato Sauce is the ultimate meal to make your family.
What is a Cabbage Roll?
I know you are curious about who invented this delicious dish. However, there are many different cultures that have helped create this dish. You will find cabbage rolls in Russia, Poland, and even Ukraine. These rolls are commonly associated with Irish food, but are actually common in several different cultural cuisines of Eastern Europe including Jewish heritage, Swedish and Polish (Golabki).
They are all cooked with their own special ingredients. There is even a rumor that the ancient Greeks knew about cabbage and used the vegetable in their dishes.
overhead shot of baking dish full of cabbage rolls
What Do Cabbage Rolls Taste Like?
The cabbage doesn’t have too strong of a taste after being cooked, so really the flavor comes from the ground beef filling and tomato sauce.
It is a savory dish without being overwhelming. Great for getting kiddos to eat their veggies!
The Best Cabbage Roll Recipe ingredients
Much like Italians make sauce, every family has their own way of doing things and a little bit of nostalgia attached to it. Mine use tender leaves of cooked cabbage with a simple, seasoned ground beef and rice mixture.
Feel free to add any additional ingredients or spices that seem like a good fit. We have a few variations towards the bottom. Here is what we used:
Green Cabbage – Look for the largest head of cabbage you can find, larger rolls are easier to stuff and roll. You’ll have the least likelihood of them tearing.
Lean ground Beef – You can use any ground meat here. Swap for ground chicken, ground turkey, ground pork or even a vegetable or tofu blend. Use something lean, but not too low fat, as this won’t have as much flavor and the fat that drips from the meat will also flavor the cabbage.
Cooked Rice – Most folks use plain white rice, but of course wild rice, brown rice or other flavors like garlic or cheddar are delicious. Some recipes don’t rice and opt for bread crumbs. I like the great flavors of rice better.
White Onion – yellow works too! As does shallots. I do not like red onion in this recipe, it’s a little overwhelming.
Coarse Sea Salt – Sea salt has the best aftertaste, make sure you use a coarse salt, swapping this with a fine grain will be too salty. If you use fine, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
Black Pepper – Freshly ground always gives the most flavor.
Garlic Powder – I developed this recipe using garlic powder because I ran out of fresh. Fresh garlic will pack more of a punch, use 2-3 cloves, minced.
Large Egg – Egg helps to hold the mixture together, the binder.
overhead shot of baking dish full of cabbage rolls at an angle
Cabbage Roll Tomato Sauce ingredients
The tangy tomato sauce is just as important as the stuffing mixture. Ours is a slightly sweet and enhanced with vinegar. Cabbage is like a blank slate, so it needs bold flavors to make it taste amazing!
Plain Tomato Sauce– the stuff from a can, not a marinara sauce.
Plain Diced Tomatoes– Aim for petite diced, as these will distribute the most evenly over top your rolls. Again, plain is best so you can add your own seasonings, but if the seasonings you want are offered in a can, go for it!
Light brown sugar– sugar helps to balance acidity and umami flavors.
Worcestershire Sauce– A robust condiment that can amplify other sauces and soups. Worcestershire is complex and deep, so a little goes a long way. In a pinch, swap with soy sauce, although it doesn’t have the same complexity.
White Vinegar- Apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar offer a little zing.
Salt & Pepper to Taste- Give the sauce a taste test and then decide if it needs seasoning. Different brands of tomato sauce and canned tomatoes will have varying levels of saltiness. It might not need any!
This sauce marry and reduce while baking, so there is no need to cook it ahead of time.
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large head Savoy or green cabbage, including outer leaves
- For the filling:
- 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
- 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions
- 1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ) For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar, raisins, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
2 )Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
3 ) Remove the entire core of the cabbage with a paring knife. Immerse the head of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes, peeling off each leaf with tongs as soon as it’s flexible. Set the leaves aside. Depending on the size of each leaf, you will need at least 14 leaves.
4 ) For the filling, in a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, rice, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add 1 cup of the sauce to the meat mixture and mix lightly with a fork.
5 ) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6 ) To assemble, place 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Remove the hard triangular rib from the base of each cabbage leaf with a small paring knife. Place 1/3 to 1/2 cup of filling in an oval shape near the rib edge of each leaf and roll up toward the outer edge, tucking the sides in as you roll.
7 ) Place half the cabbage rolls, seam sides down, over the sauce. Add more sauce and more cabbage rolls alternately until you’ve placed all the cabbage rolls in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the cabbage rolls.
Cover the dish tightly with the lid and bake for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked and the rice is tender.
8 ) Serve hot with tomato sauce, cornbread fritters or with cornbread muffins.