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Cabbage Rolls

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close up shot of a plate of Cabbage Rolls with a fork
​​Simple and delicious these classic, homemade cabbage rolls are filled with a seasoned meat mixture with rice and baked in a rich tangy tomato sauce. 
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Table of Contents
  1. Cabbage Rolls Ingredients
  2. How to Make This Cabbage Rolls Recipe
  3. How to Serve
  4. Storage
  5. More Recipes You’ll Love
  6. JUMP TO RECIPE

Easy to make ahead of time, this cabbage rolls recipe is a comfort food favorite in our family. The meat and rice filling cook to perfection inside of the tender cabbage leaves, and the tomato sauce adds a delicious hint of sweetness.

For more old-fashioned dinner ideas, try our Hamburger Casserole. For another take on the classic cabbage rolls, try our Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls.

close up shot of a plate of Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls Ingredients

Cabbage Rolls raw ingredients that are labeled

You’ll need:

For the Sauce

  • 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water

For the Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup cooked rice (cook rice in your Instant Pot)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of the sauce that has been mixed together
  • 1 head green cabbage

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

MEAT: Instead of using 1 pound of ground beef, you can also use a pound of ground chicken, ground pork or turkey. Beef is the traditional type of ground meat used in cabbage rolls, but the alternatives are also tasty.

VEGETARIAN: It’s easy to make this traditional recipe vegetarian by swapping out the ground beef for an extra cup of rice (use 2 cups of rice total).

TOMATO SAUCE: You can also use homemade tomato sauce in this recipe if you prefer.

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How to Make This Cabbage Rolls Recipe

PRO TIP:

This is a fantastic freezer meal, make the cabbage rolls ahead and then store them in the freezer until you are ready to serve them. Thaw and warm in the oven.

To Prepare the Cabbage Leaves

STEP ONE: Cut off ¼ inch from the bottom of the cabbage head. Place the whole head of cabbage into a big pot of boiling water and boil for two minutes.

STEP TWO: Using long tongs, gently peel off the outer leaves from the cabbage head inside the pot. You can also use the tongs to gently roll the cabbage head around in the hot water and gently lift the leaves.

STEP THREE: After several layers have been removed, you may have to use a knife to disconnect the leaf next to the core of the cabbage. Set aside the removed leaves to cool while you prepare the sauce and filling.

PRO TIP:

An alternative to get the leaves off easily is to cut the stem out of cabbage, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze overnight or till ready to use. Leaves peel off so easily.

For the Sauce

STEP ONE: In a medium bowl, mix all of the sauce ingredients together. Remove ¼ cup of sauce to be added to the meat filling.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of sauce ingredients combined in a bowl

STEP TWO: Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

STEP THREE: In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown the ground beef. Then add the onion, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and dill. Cook until no pink remains in the meat and onions are tender. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of ingredients in a skillet

STEP FOUR: Remove from heat and add the cooked rice, ¼ cup tomato sauce mixture and egg to the meat mixture. Mix well. Set aside.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of ingredients in a skillet

STEP FIVE: Remove the thick stem of the cabbage leaves.

PRO TIP:

Cutting a V at the bottom of each leaf to notch out the thick part helps it lay flatter.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of stem removed from the cabbage leaves

STEP SIX: Lay the cabbage leaf on a flat surface and place ⅓ cup of filling toward the middle bottom of the leaf. Fold burrito style by folding in the sides onto the filling and rolling the leaf up.

PRO TIP:

If your leaves have torn that’s okay, just fold the torn side in first and cover it up with the other side before rolling.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of meat mixture placed on the cabbage then rolled up into a burrito

STEP SEVEN: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place cabbage roll seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat the process until all the leaves are filled and dish is filled.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of rolls placed in a baking dish

STEP EIGHT: Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Cabbage Rolls process shot of sauce ingredients poured over the rolls

STEP NINE: Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Let cooked cabbage rolls sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

How to Serve

Stuffed cabbage rolls are packed with plenty of savory flavors and are a complete meal all by themselves. If you’d like to add a side dish, try a Caesar salad or garlic bread for a heartier meal.

Storage

MAKE-AHEAD: This classic dish can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Be sure to cover the rolls with airtight plastic wrap or foil. 

IN THE FREEZER: You can freeze these easy cabbage rolls for up to a month. To prepare the rolls for freezing, allow them to cool completely and refrigerate them overnight first. Place cabbage rolls in freezer bags or an airtight container, along with sauce in each plastic bag. 

REHEATING: To reheat the cabbage rolls, place the rolls and sauce into a saucepan. Cover and simmer until heated through, about 30 minutes.

close up overhead shot of a baking dish of Cabbage Rolls

Delicious and comforting, these cabbage rolls are a vintage recipe that never goes out of style. Stuffed with all kinds of goodness including tender beef, tangy tomato sauce and rice, this recipe will be a welcome meal year-round.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you make cabbage rolls ahead of time?

Because these cabbage rolls take time to assemble and cook (about 90 minutes total), planning ahead is helpful. Our evenings are usually pretty busy, so when I cook these I prepare them in the morning and throw them in the oven when it’s dinner time. 

How do you get the cabbage leaves off without breaking them?

You can either follow our boiling method above or you can freeze the whole cabbage head and then thaw it before using. The leaves will peel off easily with this method.

Do I cook the rice ahead of time?

You need to use cooked rice for this cabbage roll recipe. Cook it ahead of time and add it to the filling mixture as directed in the recipe.

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close up shot of a plate of Cabbage Rolls with a fork

Cabbage Rolls

5 from 6 votes
​​Simple and delicious these classic, homemade cabbage rolls are filled with a seasoned meat mixture with rice and baked in a rich tangy tomato sauce. 
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Sauce

  • 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water

Filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup onion chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sauce that has been mixed together
  • 1 head green cabbage

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the cabbage leaves by cutting off ¼ inch from the bottom of the cabbage head. Place the whole cabbage head into a big pot of boiling water and boil for two minutes. Using long tongs gently peel off the outer cabbage leaves from the cabbage head inside the pot. Using the tongs you can roll the cabbage head around in the hot water and gently lift the leaves. After several layers have been removed you may have to use a knife to disconnect the leaf next to the core. Set aside the removed leaves to cool while you prepare the sauce and filling.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a medium bowl mix all of the sauce ingredients together.
  • Spread a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  • Remove ¼ cup of sauce to be added to the meat filling.
  • In a skillet brown the ground beef cooking along with the onions, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper and dill over medium heat until no pink remains and onions are tender.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Remove from heat and add the cooked rice, ¼ cup mixed tomato sauce and egg. Mix well. Set aside.
  • Remove the thick stem of the cabbage leaves (cutting a V at the bottom of each leaf to notch out the thick part and this also helps it lay flatter)
  • Lay the leaf flat and place ⅓ cup of filling toward the middle bottom of the leaf. Fold burrito style by folding in the sides onto the filling and rolling the leaf up. If your leaves have torn that’s okay, just fold the torn side in first and cover it up with the other side before rolling.
  • Place the roll seam side down in the prepared baking dish. Repeat the process until all the leaves are filled and dish is filled.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  • Let cabbage rolls sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Video

Notes

TIP: An alternative to get the leaves off easily is to cut the stem out of cabbage, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze overnight or till ready to use. Leaves peel off so easily.
TIP: This is a fantastic freezer meal, make the cabbage rolls ahead and then store them in the freezer until you are ready to serve them. Thaw and warm in the oven.
TIP: Cutting a V at the bottom of each leaf to notch out the thick part helps it lay flatter.
TIP: If your leaves have torn that’s okay, just fold the torn side in first and cover it up with the other side before rolling.

Nutrition

Sodium: 551mg | Calcium: 59mg | Vitamin C: 8mg | Vitamin A: 120IU | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 381mg | Cholesterol: 81mg | Calories: 273kcal | Saturated Fat: 6g | Fat: 16g | Protein: 15g | Carbohydrates: 16g | Iron: 3mg
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  1. Mindy says

    5 stars
    My 13 yr old daughter made these and they were delicious! Your recipe was very detailed and easy for her to follow! Everyone loved them!

    • Judy says

      I’m going to try this recipe. But wanted to pass on a tip when I make stuffed cabbage. I freeze the head of cabbage. When indefrost it, the leaves come right off.

  2. Belinda says

    5 stars
    I also cut stem out of cabbage, wrap well in plastic wrap and freeze overnight or till ready to use. Leaves peel off so easily.

  3. Gail says

    5 stars
    Looks delicious. Can’t have sugar. Can I either leave out the sugar in the sauce or substitute it something else?

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