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Stuffed cabbage rolls in a white baking dish.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

A cherished Polish recipe for amazing Stuffed Cabbage Rolls makes a perfect dinner for a leisurely weekend. Seasoned ground beef and rice fills cabbage leaves to bursting, then everything is simmered in a tangy, fragrant tomato sauce. Enough for seconds, and maybe even thirds.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 18 rolls
Calories 160kcal


For the cabbage:

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 head green cabbage cored (about 3 pounds)

For the meat filling:

  • 1/4 cup white rice long grain
  • 1 onion grated on the large holes of box grater
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato purée
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar divided
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 onion peeled
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 ounces gingersnaps coarsely crushed


To make the cabbage:

  • In a Dutch oven or large stock pot over high heat, bring 4 quarts water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil. Add cored head of cabbage and cook until the outer leaves just begin to wilt, about 3 minutes, turning as needed.
  • As each one wilts, use tongs to remove the outer 20 leaves from the head of cabbage, one at a time, and transfer to a colander to cool. Remove the remaining blanched head of cabbage and let cool. Do not discard the water.

To make the meat filling:

  • Return cabbage water to a boil over high heat. Add rice and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice through a strainer or fine mesh sieve, rinse to cool, and drain thoroughly.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cooked rice, grated onion, beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

To assemble the cabbage rolls:

  • Trim any tough ribs from the cabbage leaves and tightly roll 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into each leaf (you should have 20 rolls). Shred remaining blanched cabbage (both the head and any remaining leaves).
  • Scatter half of the shredded cabbage leaves in a large Dutch oven. Arrange the cabbage rolls , seam-side down, on top of the shredded cabbage, fitting them snugly to prevent unrolling. (If you are using a smaller pot arrange the rolls in two layers). Sprinkle with remaining shredded cabbage over the rolls.
  • In a medium bowl, add diced tomatoes and juice, tomato puree, water, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine, then pour over cabbage. Push the whole cloves into the whole, peeled onion and submerge it in the liquid. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Discard the clove-studded onion. Sprinkle the crushed gingersnaps into pot and shake pot gently to incorporate them without disturbing cabbage rolls. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 1 hour.
  • To serve, gently transfer the cabbage rolls to a serving dish using a slotted spoon. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons of brown sugar to the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon some sauce over the rolls and pass the extra sauce separately.



Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 62mg | Potassium: 237mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 49IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg