Easy Cabbage Rolls

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This stuffed cabbage rolls recipe is one I enjoyed from my grandma’s kitchen for years and years.

Tender cabbage leaves are filled with a beef and rice mixture and baked in with a simple tomato sauce.

This dish can be made ahead of time and reheats and freezes well.

cooked Cabbage Rolls in a casserole dish

Types of Cabbage Rolls

This cabbage rolls’ recipe comes from my grandma and my mom. My grandma immigrated from Poland so we have enjoyed many cabbage dishes or even just simple fried cabbage.  Between pierogi and rouladen, Grandma’s kitchen always smelled incredible and there was always something amazing to eat!

There are many many different ways to make cabbage rolls based on family tradition and location. Polish cabbage rolls usually contain meat and rice while the Ukrainian version my friend Penny makes generally contain only rice.

While some add raw meat and rice and cook them with the cabbage, our family has always pre-cooked the rice and meat.

Cabbage Rolls ingredients with labels

Ingredients in Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage

We use a head of regular green cabbage and boil it in a large pot of water to make it tender. Many people freeze the whole head of cabbage and thaw it to eliminate the boiling step but I find the cabbage isn’t as tender this way.

Meat Mixture

My grandmother always used pork in her cabbage rolls so I use a mixture of beef and pork. You can use just one or the other (or any ground meat). Cooked long-grain white rice is added to the meat along with an egg to help it hold together.

Sauce

Most Polish cabbage roll recipes are covered in tomato sauce or tomato juice. We love the addition of a can of tomato soup to tomato sauce. It may not be typical but it softens & sweetens the sauce slightly and tastes delicious!

ingredients in a pot with bowl of cabbage to make Cabbage Rolls

How to Make Cabbage Rolls

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil cabbage until tender.
  2. Cook rice slightly undercooked per the recipe below. Brown the ground beef and pork while the rice is cooking. Combine remaining filling ingredients
  3. Add the filling to cabbage leaves and roll. Place seam side down in a casserole dish.
  4. Top with the sauce and bake.

process of rolling Cabbage Rolls and putting in dish

Tips for Great Cabbage Rolls

  • For the most tender cabbage leaves, boil them in salted water.
  • Cut 1/2 inch off the head of cabbage, the leaves will fall off as they cook.
  • Once boiled, use a small knife to cut the thick stem of the leaf (image above).
  • Overlap smaller leaves and fill, even if they’re not pretty, they’ll cook perfectly.
  • You may have leftover filling depending on the size of your cabbage. Extra filling can be added to tomato soup, or stuffed in zucchini or bell peppers.
  • Cabbage rolls can be frozen before or after baking.

plated Easy Cabbage Rolls

More From Grandma’s Kitchen

Did you make these cabbage rolls? Leave a comment and rating below! 

cooked Easy Cabbage Rolls in the dish
4.94 from 346 votes
Review Recipe

Easy Cabbage Rolls

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6 servings
Homemade Cabbage Rolls are so flavorful & filling. With meat, rice, sauce, and cabbage, they're just like Grandma used to make!

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 pound ground pork (or ground turkey)
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • 2 small onions diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon dill weed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14 ounces) with juices
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ cups + ⅓ cup tomato sauce divided
  • 1 can tomato soup 10.5 ounces

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Instructions

  • Boil cabbage leaves for about 2 minutes or until soft. (See note below for removing leaves). Set aside to cool.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Cook rice according to package directions but reduce cooking time by 5 minutes so the rice is slightly underdone. Set aside.
  • Cook pork (or turkey), beef, onions, garlic, & seasonings in a pan until no pink remains. Drain any fat. Add in rice, diced tomatoes, & ⅓ cup of tomato sauce. Stir in egg.
  • Mix remaining tomato sauce and tomato soup in a bowl. Spread a very thin layer of the tomato sauce mixture in a 9x13 pan.
  • Remove or thin any thick stem on cabbage leaves. Lay the cabbage leaf flat and add ¼ to ⅓ cup filling to the center of the leaf. Fold in the sides and roll the cabbage up. Place seam side down in the pan. (See note for small leaves). Repeat with remaining cabbage.
  • Pour sauce over the cabbage and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 75-90 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

To remove leaves from head of cabbage, cut approx ¼" off the bottom of the head and place the whole head of cabbage in boiling water. Boil about 2 minutes. Peel off the softened leaves. Place remaining head back in the boiling water and repeat until all of the leaves are removed. Remove any tough stems from cooked leaves.
  • Once boiled, use a small knife to cut the thick stem off the leaf (image above).
  • Overlap smaller leaves and fill, even if they're not pretty, they'll cook perfectly.
  • You may have leftover filling depending on the size of your cabbage. Extra filling can be added to tomato soup, or stuffed in zucchini or bell peppers.
  • Cabbage rolls can be frozen before or after baking.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 488, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 108mg, Sodium: 431mg, Potassium: 895mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 620IU, Vitamin C: 66.1mg, Calcium: 113mg, Iron: 3.3mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Beef, Casserole, Dinner
Cuisine Polish
ingredients to make Easy Cabbage Rolls with plated dish and writing
plated Easy Cabbage Rolls with a title
cooked Easy Cabbage Rolls in the pan with a title
Easy Cabbage Rolls on a plate with a bite taken out with writing
About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. Just finished up wrapping the cabbage and I have alot of left over meat. What can I do with it?

    Super pleased with the recipe so far! Excited to eat it!5 stars

    1. Hi Katy, if you have extra cabbage leaves you could always make a few extra cabbage rolls for the freezer. We also have this unstuffed cabbage roll casserole, you could make a personal size version of that or use it to top pasta or mashed potatoes.

  2. oh boy Holly!…I needed something to do with some extra cabbage I have for the 17th with corn beef and cabbage…I didn’t know I had a head of cabbage and ended up buying a second one…now I have something to use it with…this recipe, as usual, it just perfect!…thanks for sharing!5 stars

  3. I keep a head of cabbage in my freezer and just defrost when I want to make cabbage rolls. When defrosted it eliminates the handling of hot cabbage leaves.

  4. Those are amazing I buy 6 for24$ and nowhere near as good. For these the cabbage was perfectly cooked I would be proud to make for company. Thanks for all the good tips in all your recipes.5 stars

    1. So glad you love these Irene! Mom and grandma always made the best, there’s nothing like homemade!

  5. I like to core the cabbage before I soften it in the hot water bath. Leaves come off easily and
    are easier to cook. If you place hot rice into the meat, onion mix, and mix, it is very sticky
    and you don’t need any eggs.4 stars

  6. We always made them with raw hamburger. Cook the rice and add it to raw hamburger. Also when cooking the cabbage leaves, lay the leave flat and filet the thick rib off the back and it will then bend without breaking. We used homemade canned tomatoes but now just use diced tomatoes. put a layer of pigs in the bottom of the roaster, then a layer of sauerkraut then spatter tomatoes over the kraut. Then another layer of pigs etc. Browning the meat before hand changes the taste. Also, no egg needed if using raw meat.

      1. Love this recipe! My grandmother used to make stuffed cabbage all the time for me but I never got the recipe from her before she passed away. These took me right back to her kitchen! Thank you!
        One question, how to you recommend storing them for freezing? Do you put them in a freezer bag or Tupperware with the sauce or keep the sauce separate? Thanks again!5 stars

      2. You could freeze the un-sauced cabbage rolls in a zippered bag and add sauce when baking. Or for convenience, I like to freeze the cabbage rolls after baking with the sauce in a foil pan, and then I can just reheat right in there when ready to enjoy.

  7. I like this recipe but when I saw to cook the meat, onions etc beforehand I decided to find a different recipe. Would this recipe work if I didn’t cook the meat before?

    1. Hi Marlene, we haven’t tried this recipe without cooking the meat first so I can’t say for sure how it would work. But maybe another reader can offer some insight.

      1. Just an FYI, I followed this recipe because I liked the diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted diced tomatoes and it was wonderful) and the tomato sauce. Except I did not cook the meat and onions before. I just mixed it all and rolled it in cabbage leaves and put diced tomato mix on top. They were delicious! My friend said she wants to watch me next time I make them!

    2. I don’t cook anything beforehand (except the cabbage, of course); just make sure you cook everything long enough. You might have to top up the liquid while it cooks.

      1. The recipe doesn’t specify the type of rice used. Are you using instant rice or long grain?

    3. I never cook the meat , onion mix, and they always turn out very good. I layer the cabbage rolls
      in a large pot covering each layer with tomato juice, and sealing the top layer with unused cabbage
      and a bit of juice

  8. Can I just add the rice without cooking it? I usually use a rice cooker so not sure how long to cook it to keep it somewhat cooked.

    1. Hi Rachael, the rice does need to be partially cooked in order to work in this recipe. Check out the instructions on your package of rice, which should be able to guide you on how long to prepare it for.

  9. Hi Holly

    Take a bow Grandma wherever you may be! You make a mean cabbage roll!

    Followed everything as written and was amazed with the final dish …given my first go at cabbage rolls…Great!

    Ok Grandma bring on the rauladen 5 stars

  10. Tasted great. Very similar to my process, but never thought of using tomato soup in the mix. I omitted the parsley and dill, but we still thoroughly enjoyed it. I always precook meat and rice as well.5 stars

  11. Worst cabbage rolls I ever made. Thought I’d try a new recipe. Wondered when it said to cook the meat before. Mistake. Plus par boil the rice, not taking rice off burner 5 minutes before it’s ready.
    Very disappointed.1 star

  12. My grandmother was also Polish, so we are used to the meat/rice version. I like the tomato soup addition, it does soften the acidic portion of the sauce. But instead of boiling the cabbage I core it and freeze it. After thawing the leaves peel off very easily. Will use this recipe again.4 stars

  13. Omg the best cabbage rolls I’ve had since my Mom’s! Thank you for the tip to cut off 1/4 inch of the cabbage root as I was always coring the cabbage with little success- Ive made these twice and my entire family loved them especially the kids! I would highly recommend these to anyone as I have tried 3 other recipes and these are the absolute best!!5 stars