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!

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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

5 from 339 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.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6


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.


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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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I’ve made this and my family loves it! I substituted a block of impossible meat and viola its vegetarian. Perfect dinner to cut back on red meat without cutting back on flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    I had no idea what I was doing. I posted on facebook that I had a napa cabbage and I was tired of salad, so I got a lot of recommendations for cabbage rolls. Well, no recipe I found actually used napa cabbage. So…I just winged it. what could go wrong making a recipe for a food I have never eaten in my life and using a vegetable that isn’t even in the recipe?

    I got so frustrated trying to roll these things I ended up just throwing them in to the casserole dish, topping it with leftover meat mixture, topping it with cabbage leaves, then finishing it off with sauce. Did you know that napa cabbage apparently releases a ton of water when it cooks?

    It turned into cabbage roll lasagna soup.

    It tastes great but the recipe writer would probably be horrified to see the mess I created LOL

  3. 5 stars
    This is the best stuffed cabbage roll recipe I’ve ever made! Followed recipe exactly except I used 28 oz can whole tomatoes and threw into a blender. Did not use the 15 oz can of tomato sauce as the 28 oz can seemed to be enough for 12 rolls. Only put 1/4 of the sauce in bottom of pan and used the rest to cover the rolls. Meat was tender and overall delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    My grandmother used to make this when I was growing up I saw your recipe so I tried it I hope it turns out good

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent! Much easier than I thought cabbage rolls were! The meat needed a bit extra seasoning for me. Next time I will use half or all sausage. We really liked it, and it will be in the rotation again.

    1. 5 stars
      I made this, and I loved it! My grandmother was Hungarian descent, and she used to make stuffed cabbage all the a lot. I was trying to mimic hers. Unfortunately, I never got her recipe. However, this was really good and the sauce was excellent. I didn’t have red wine vinegar, but I did substitute it with regular red wine (pinot Noir).

      1. My Dad was Hungarian and my Motver made this all the time. The recipe seems to be similar so I am going to try it.

    1. Next time I’m going to prepare the sauce the night before. Prep time plus cooking was over an hour for me.

  6. I use whole soured cabbage – essentially sauerkraut on the hoof. No need to boil, leaves come free easily and the sour cabbage adds a piquancy that matches the sweetness of your tomato sauce recipe. Very yummy!!

  7. 5 stars
    Hi, thank for sharing your recipe. I have been making my stuffed cabbage recipe for years. I was looking for something different to try and came across your recipe. I made it and it was delicious, my husband and I loved your sauce. Your recipe is a keeper.

  8. 5 stars
    I tried your recipe, loved it and so did my husband. I wanted to try a different recipe from my recipe I have used for 40+ years (a family favorite). We loved your sauce.

    1. 5 stars
      Of course I have heard about the Jewish style sweet and sour with raisins etc. My grandmother was from Poland and walked across Europe to emigrate. (escape the pograms). I love that style and still make it at least once a year. If I had more time I would make it more often. Still personally the only way to make it in my opinion, lol.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious! I did have to make a few changes since I didn’t have all the ingredients. I didn’t have crushed tomatoes so I took my immersion blender and “crushed ” some stewed tomatoes. I didn’t have enough tomato sauce either but had some marinara sauce and used that. I still added the brown sugar and red wine vinegar. It turned out great.

  10. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Instead of rolling up the meat in the cabbage, I just did half the cabbage, the meat in little logs, then the rest of the cabbage with the sauce on top. It’s not as fancy that way, but just as tasty!

  11. So… you boil a whole head of cabbage to use 12 leaves. What use do you suggest with the remainder ? Could I remove 12 large leaves and boil those keeping the rest of the cabbage crisp ?


    1. 5 stars
      With a very large cabbage there is always left over leaves and torn pieces , especially the thick white inner portion. Just go ahead and make your recipe and add a sauce topping. THEN take the cabbage fragments and completely layer across the top of the casserole. This outer “cabbage-crust” will help steam your cabbage rolls, and decrease the amount of sauce used. (Serve the excess sauce as a “gravy” when serving.

      When cooked uncovered the leaf layer browns and dries out- which is an interesting counter-point to the casserole itself. It’s one of those things, even when satiated, you sort of pick at and eat! Try it-if not to your liking you can always discard the top layer.

  12. Can you cook the ground beef while the cabbage boils and use those microwavable packs of rice to shorten the cooking time for baking? How long and what temperature should I cook them for? I’m very picky so I’m leaving the onions out. I’m disabled and can’t stand for long but this seems easy.

    1. Microwave rice will work fine, but this recipe is meant to use raw ground beef. I don’t think that using cooked ground beef will shorten the cooking time as it still takes a while to get the cabbage soft in the oven, and the mixture inside the rolls will not hold together with cooked beef.

  13. I need to make this today to be served for dinner tomorrow. If it’s only good in the fridge for 8 hours, must I freeze it?