Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Patrick Mooney
cabbage rolls

Cabbage rolls recipe are a fun alternative to your usual dinner fair. They are a great way to get your kids into cooking and are a delicious way to get cabbage into your diet.

Roll with It

Cabbage rolls are part of the comfort food group. They are one of those foods usually made with grandma's recipe from the old country and they often bring with them memories of family dinners. Because the construction part of cabbage rolls recipe is a repetitive task, they are usually made by groups of people. It is not unusual for cabbage rolls to be rolled by the kids, mom, dad, and any one else that can be talked into lending a helping hand. It is not a difficult task, just tedious and more fun if shared.

The fact that the preparation is more fun when done by everyone only serves to more deeply entrench cabbage roll recipes into the mind as a comfort food. When you take out the old recipe and show your kids how it was done back when you were a kid, you are teaching a tradition and perpetuating the comfort part of the meal. Years from now, when your children teach their children how to make cabbage rolls, they will be passing along not just a recipe but the warmth of family love that reinforces a connection to the past, an invaluable thing in these days of far flung families.

The Beauty of Versatility

While traditional cabbage rolls recipe calls for ground beef, it is not unusual to have dinner guests who don't eat meat or, at least, beef. In my years of enjoying cabbage rolls, I have experienced a large variety of them. They can be made with the usual ground beef, lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, and even sautéed portobello mushrooms.

Since cabbage rolls are part of the peasant food tradition, it is not uncommon to find them filled with leftovers of infinite variety. The filling was often a way to use food that otherwise would have been wasted. This is a great way to add healthy vegetables, like cabbage, kale, and cauliflower to your meal.

Cabbage Rolls Recipe

This recipe makes eight rolls, which should be enough to feed four people. Since cabbage rolls are almost better the next day, you may want to make more.

The Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 14-ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cloves or garlic minced
  • 2 cups of water


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over a low flame.
  2. Add the onions and sweat them until translucent. Sweating is when you cook the onions over a low flame. Stir them occasionally to keep them from caramelizing. Once the onions are translucent move on to the next step.
  3. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for at least fifteen minutes.

The Cabbage Rolls


  • 8 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 large pot of boiling salted water
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or any ground meat you like
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of basil
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of cooked rice


  1. Place the cabbage leaves into the boiling salted water for three minutes or until they are tender.
  2. Remove the leaves from the water and let them cool.
  3. If the stem of the leaf is very thick, carefully cut it out leaving as much of the leaf intact as possible.
  4. Mix the ground beef, onions, salt, pepper, herbs, garlic, egg, tomato paste, and rice.
  5. Combine thoroughly.
  6. Separate the beef mix into eight equal portions.
  7. Place a portion at the top of one of the cabbage leaves and roll the leaf until the beef is just covered.
  8. Fold in the sides and roll to the end of the leaf.
  9. Repeat for each leaf.
  10. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, into the sauce.
  11. Cover and simmer for one hour.

If you opt to use chopped portobello mushrooms rather than meat, be sure to sauté the mushrooms until they are tender first.

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Cabbage Rolls Recipe