Cabbage Rolls Recipe

This comfort food classic makes great use of cool-weather cabbage.
Wrap savory meat filling in fresh cabbage leaves to make this classic comfort food.

Cabbage Rolls

Wrap savory meat filling in fresh cabbage leaves to make this classic comfort food.

Wrap savory meat filling in fresh cabbage leaves to make this classic comfort food.

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Variations on the theme of rolling spiced meat in leaves of cabbage have existed for thousands of years in cultures as diverse as those found in Eastern Europe, Brazil and China. Here in the United States, even Thomas Jefferson was a fan, calling his version “Cabbage Pudding,” because the dish resembled the savory puddings of the time. Whether you call it cabbage pudding, stuffed cabbage or cabbage rolls, it’s one of those meals many remember fondly (or perhaps not so fondly) as a favorite of their mothers or grandmothers. 

Although it is sometimes stuffed with pork, lamb or even poultry, ground beef is most often used. Blended with bread crumbs or rice and using egg as a binding agent, the filling of this classic dish is not unlike meatloaf. Nestled inside a blanched leaf of cabbage, it resembles some pasta dishes, but with a healthy twist. 

If you grew up eating this well-known roll up, you may harbor a love-hate relationship with the economical and easy-to-make meal that sometimes made the rotation a little too often. Whether it’s a blast from your past or even if you’ve never tried cabbage rolls, this recipe is comfort food at its finest, making terrific use of a cool weather crop fresh from the garden and those sweet and tangy canned tomatoes you put up last summer.

Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 cup rice, cooked
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Place head of cabbage in a pot of boiling water, cook 3 minutes and remove from water.

Peel 12 intact leaves from cabbage, carefully cutting from the core.

Place ground beef, rice, onion, egg, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl and fully combine by kneading with hands.

Divide filling between 12 cabbage leaves.

Starting at the core end, roll leaves around filling, folding in the sides to seal.

Arrange cabbage rolls in a baking dish, seam side down.

Drain tomatoes and combine with  brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce in food processor.

Pulse until still chunky and pour over cabbage rolls.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 70 minutes.

Serves 6

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