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 mashed potatoes and broccoli, and watch the rave reviews pour in!

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Stuffed cabbage rolls filled with beef and rice then topped with homemade tomato sauce.

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.

Ground beef, onion garlic, rice and herbs in a mixing bowl.

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.

Ground beef and rice on cooked cabbage leaves.

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.

Cabbage leaves wrapped around beef and rice in a baking dish.

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.

Stuffed cabbage rolls in a baking dish in a pool of tomato sauce.

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!

Stuffed cabbage rolls served over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli.

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

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Video

4.99 from 195 votes

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

AuthorSara Welch
Stuffed cabbage rolls filled with beef and rice then topped with homemade tomato sauce.
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.
Time
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6

Ingredients 

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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 657mg | Potassium: 1180mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 910IU | Vitamin C: 75mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 5mg

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Comments

    1. I have never tested this recipe with uncooked rice, my concern is that there would not be enough liquid for the rice to absorb to become tender.

  1. 5 stars
    Can I cook the ground beef then cool, make the meat mixture and assemble? I’m taking these on the road to a family reunion so I’ll bring them in a cooler and not have a lot of time to cook them. I thought cooking the ground beef first would be safer than taking a raw meat mixture in a cooler and also make cooking a lot faster.

  2. Another option instead of boiling cabbage leaves I take the leaves off the cabbage and place in a zip lock bag in the freezer. Then when you want to make cabbage rolls they are ready and lay flat for stuffing.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious. These were the best I’ve ever had. I particularly liked the sauce. The only suggestion would be to use garlic powder instead of the minced garlic mixed in with the meat.

  4. I make my stuff cabbage in a pot on top of the stove with same ingredients but I also cut kielbasa and drained sauerkraut. This is how my grandmother from Slovakia made it . Any left overs we would freeze . It’s yummy

  5. 4 stars
    I cut the core out of the raw cabbage and place in steamer or a roaster with a couple inches water and just pluck the leaves off every few minutes and place in colander until no nice leaves for rolls. I then chop remaining cabbage and either place around rolls or make a casserole with any leftover meat mixture. No waste 😜

  6. 5 stars
    I followed the recipe as written except I had ground turkey so I used that. Delicious! It’s a keeper.

  7. 5 stars
    Made this recipe for my MIL since she loves stuffed cabbage. It’s first time but after trying this recipes, I love it. I looked at many other recipes but this one stood out because of the ingredients. The sauce is delicious! The only part I don’t like is boiling the cabbage. I read another review about microwaving it. Will have to try that the next time. But other than that, this is my go-to recipe for this meal. Thank you!!

  8. I put the cabbage in the instant pot with 1 cup of water for 8 minutes. Remove the pressure immediately and set on a plate. Separates perfectly and is very pliable.

  9. 5 stars
    I made your cabbage roll exactly as you wrote it except for two things. I didn’t have the red wine vinegar but for only a tablespoon, I wasn’t going to rush out and buy a bottle, so I just used a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar! And the second one is that I did what another lady does and that was to use the microwave for removing the cabbage leaves.
    Wrap the cabbage in wet paper towels after cutting off the root, 8 minutes and they came off eas ily. No more boiling in a big pot for this guy anymore!

  10. 5 stars
    Such a tasty recipe. I used left over rice that I had in the fridge and my usual home made pasta sauce. The whole household enjoyed it this will become one of the family favourites. Thank you

      1. I Only cover mine with tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Inside I only use raw hamburger, i boil a bag of success rice, salt and pepper and always boil my cabbage (my preference). My Mother was a real picky eater so I tried to use as few ingredients as I could and we all love them!

    1. 5 stars
      No deb, great question though. This sauce does not taste nor come out like spaghetti sauce. It is actually somewhere between spaghetti sauce and a nice tomato soup. Sweet, tangy, not too thick, not too thin. Try it, but having made this many times, I wouldn’t recommend it.