This stuffed cabbage rolls recipe is cabbage leaves filled with beef and rice, coated in a homemade tomato sauce and baked to perfection. A comfort food classic that’s hearty, delicious and simple to make.
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. Serve your stuffed cabbage rolls with a side of Instant Pot mashed potatoes and parmesan roasted broccoli, and watch the rave reviews pour in!
I grew up eating cabbage rolls, and I’ve had enough in my time to know the difference between a good cabbage roll and a less than stellar cabbage roll. My version of cabbage rolls features a flavorful beef and rice filling, and the rolls are cooked in a simple homemade tomato sauce for fabulous results.
How do you make stuffed cabbage rolls?
The first step is to make your filling. The filling is a combination of ground beef, cooked rice, onions, garlic, egg and seasonings. Everything gets mixed together to form the base of your dish.
The meat mixture gets wrapped up inside cooked cabbage leaves, then the cabbage rolls are layered in a baking dish on top of homemade tomato sauce and baked. This dish takes over an hour to bake because to want to make sure your meat is cooked through, so plan accordingly!
How do you get cabbage leaves off the head?
If you try to remove raw cabbage leaves from the cabbage head, you’ll want to slice off the root end and very carefully peel the leaves off to avoid tearing. Sometimes tearing is inevitable no matter how careful you are, so I’ve found the best method is to cook the head of cabbage first. Cut off the root end, then submerge your cabbage head in a pot of boiling water until the leaves are tender and can easily be peeled away.
Tips for Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- You’ll need to cut thick part of the cabbage leaves away before you start rolling them up. I’ve found it’s easiest to take a paring knife and cut a V-shape out of the bottom of each leaf to remove the tough rib.
- Place the cabbage rolls seam side down in the baking dish.
- The homemade tomato sauce does contain brown sugar and vinegar, as cabbage rolls are traditionally baked in sweet and sour style sauce. If you don’t want to use brown sugar, you can omit it, but the flavor won’t be as authentic.
- Cabbage rolls can be assembled and stored covered in the fridge for up to 8 hours before you plan to bake them.
How long do you bake stuffed cabbage rolls?
You’ll want to plan on baking your cabbage for a minimum of one hour. The cabbage should be tender and the meat cooked all the way through. I typically start checking at the hour mark, but have found that sometimes it can take as long as 1 hour 30 minutes for cabbage rolls to be ready.
Cabbage Roll Soup
Love cabbage rolls but don’t want to go through all the effort of peeling and folding and baking? Try my easy and wildly popular cabbage roll soup instead!
These stuffed cabbage rolls may be a little more work than your typical dinner, but they’re totally worth it the extra effort!
More great dinner options
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
- Pizza Stuffed Shells
- Stuffed Pepper Soup
- Beef Noodle Casserole
- Chicken Parmesan Pasta
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Video
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
For the tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes do not drain
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
For the cabbage rolls
- 1 pound ground beef I use 90% lean
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves chopped, divided use
- 1 egg
- 1 head cabbage
- cooking spray
- For the tomato sauce: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper to the pot.
- Stir in the brown sugar and red wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is simmering, assemble the cabbage rolls. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Immerse the cabbage head in the boiling water. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until cabbage leaves are pliable. Peel 12 large leaves off the cabbage.
- Place the ground beef, rice, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, 2 tablespoons of parsley and egg in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce to the bowl. Stir to combine.
- Lay each cabbage leaf on a flat surface. Use a small knife to cut a V-shaped notch to remove the thick part of the cabbage rib.
- Shape 1/3 of a cup of the meat mixture into a log shape and place in the center of a cabbage leaf. Roll the cabbage leaf around the meat mixture. Repeat with remaining meat and cabbage leaves.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat a 9"x13" pan with cooking spray. Place 1/2 of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, in the dish. Top with remaining sauce.
- Cover with foil. Bake for 60-90 minutes or until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked through.
- Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley, then serve.
Best Cabbage Rolls ever! Used a large can of San Marzano tomatoes the sauce was phenomenal- kept left overs for meatballs and pizza sauce. Added pork sausage to ground beef and the rolls were to die for! Cabbage was perfect after boiling and cutting as suggested. This recipe is a keeper for every New Year’s Day party.
First , sorry mom, I found another. Second, this recipe is awesome, other then the cabbage leaf prep, I followed it to a T. Sauce is definitely the best I’ve had for stuffed cabbage rolls. The red wine vinegar and brown sugar are definitely the key. I normally don’t leave reviews, but I felt I should for this stuffed cabbage recipe
Question. Rice measured raw or after cooked?
Measure the rice after it’s cooked!
I made this over the summer and I’m back for a second helping! It’s delicious, it’s the sauce that makes it perfect. After pulling off the large leaves of cabbage I shredded the rest and put that and some sauce in the bottom of my casserole, added the stuffed leaves on top and baked it.
I’m making your recipe tonight and can’t wait to eat them! This recipe looks just like the ones I made 30 years ago until one of my sons threw ithe recipe away. He thought he was doing his brothers a favor. Needless to say, they didn’t like cabbage rolls. But guess what I’m freezing for Thanksgiving! Lol
How does this recipe rate for a diabetic? Thinking of eliminating the brown sugar….
It does contain rice which is a carb, so you’d need to discuss it with a doctor since it isn’t naturally a low carb dish!
Do you put the meat and rice in raw and then wrap it up?Thats how i do stuffed grape leaves.
The meat is raw, the rice is pre-cooked.
You can always cut back on the rice. My father and husband not fond of rice therefore I used less than half of the rice called for on stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers – still turns out delicious. Good. Eating.
This was my first time making these. My family really enjoyed them. Believe it or not they never had them before and my daughter really liked it. Thank you for this recipe.
Can I freeze this recipe – before or after baking? Making the rolls was much easier than I anticipated. Looking forward to digging in but with two or us wondered about freezing for another meal or two ..
I typically freeze after baking then reheat!
I also freeze after I have cooked them.
I have a question! Can the cabbage be blanched a day in advance and refrigerated before assembling into rolls? Thanks for this great recipe!
Yes that’s fine!
Great recipe! Already have requests to make it again and the leftovers arent even gone lol. The meat filling I bet would make great meatballs a d /or meatloaf too. This was simple to make, not bad cleanup. We all loved it thanks!
These were great! I followed your recipe exactly came out phenomenal thank you for sharing I will save this recipe for future use
These were absolutely delicious. I will for sure be making this recipe again!! I’ve never made cabbage rolls at home before. This recipe was perfect. I did happen to have a really large head of cabbage so I added a pound of ground pork to my meat mixture. AMAZING. I was slightly unsure of the sauce when I read the recipe but it’s fantastic. Seriously. Make these. Perfection. Pure comfort food deliciousness
I’m lazy, I use my crock pot.
I also use coleslaw instead of a big head of cabbage.
I cook, crumble my chopmeat in the microwave , I use the defrost setting about 6min at a time till cooked. Drain.
While cooking chopmeat I put cole slaw ,a jar pizza sauce, 1 can Italian seasoned diced tomatoes , can of mushrooms, about a cup of frozen seasoned blend ,it contains onion,celery, red pepper, parsley.
Garlic Powder ,seasone salt to taste.
Add chopmeat, cook on high 4hrs.
1 cup reg .rice
Why comment on a thoughtful recipe that you’ve literally changed every step and ingredient?
I agree Leah😂
No kidding! So crazy…
I agree and was thinking the same thing…
Whatever! I think it’s always good to read other people’s recipe. I usually look at a few before deciding anyway. Thanks to both recipe sharers! Appreciated and I’m so excited to make my golabki!
First time making these myself. I browsed over a lot of recipes before settling on this one. It came together really well.
Strange that the person “S” posted with their own version – really? What was the point of this strange posting?
Anyway though, thanks for taking the time to share your wonderful recipe Sara! This is a keeper!
My son just requested that I make a double batch for him..He Loves these cabbage rolls
To cut the carbs I substituted riced cauliflower for the rice. I loved it, my stuffed-cabbage-deprived neighbor loved it. I’m going to try this for meatloaf and meatballs.
What an amazing suggestion. Did you precook the cauliflower? Is it riced or cut into small chunks? I’m so curious!
I’m doing the same thing. I’m making half with rice for my family and half with riced cauliflower for me since I do KETO……
So l how did it work with the cauliflower rice? Initially i would think those two cauliflower and cabbage would have a battle with each other but perhaps not?
I mixed beef broth gelatin cubes, about pencil eraser size , into the meat for an added fluffyness . I also added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon for a much improved aromatic experience…. just lovely.
I made this dish today, absolutely delicious. I used fresh basil for the sauce and parsley from my garden.
Can you freeze and save for later?
Yes that’s fine!
Is it ok to brown the meat first and bake for a shorter time?
I haven’t tried it this way but I believe it would work!
I wouldn’t recommend browning the meat first, unless you want a messy cabbage roll.
It’s the raw meat combined with the other ingredients that forms the shape and holds it all together when cooked. Precooked meat when trying to put it all together won’t hold it’s shape. It will a sloppy mess trying to shape it and eating it afterwards ….the filling will just fall out when it’s ready to eat.
I agree, Kim! The consistency of the stuffing after it’s cooked within the roll is part of the appeal of this dish.
Absolutely fabulous! So delicious. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you!