Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

stuffed cabbage, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

Stuffed cabbage leaves are another food from my husband’s family (the Polish side of his family); it’s a staple dish in our house and one of the first dishes my mother in law taught me how to make. This is always a favorite for anyone who comes over for a meal–often people wonder, “What is it STUFFED with?” and are pleasantly surprised to discover rice and beef in the middle of the tomato sauce and cabbage. The cabbage leaves are savory with just a hint of sweetness that complements the beef and tomato sauce–no wonder this has been a family favorite for generations.

The little cabbage rolls are pretty whimsical on a plate, little pockets of tasty goodness. The most difficult part of this recipe is boiling the cabbage leaves–and it’s real fun rolling them up with the filling. If you mess up a bit, it’s okay, you’ll get the hang of it. And besides, it is going into a baking dish where worse comes to worse, it can be a “casserole” 🙂

This dish is, by the way, even yummier the next day reheated.

Recipe follows after the jump….

Recipe for Stuffed Cabbage Leaves


  • head of white cabbage
  • 1 lb. of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup raw long grain rice
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • box of Pomi tomato sauce


Preheat overn to 325F

You need to boil the cabbage leaves: Boil a head of cabbage in water until all the leaves are softened. I like to boil it in several stages: boil until outer leaves are soft, remove. Then return head of cabbage to boiling water and boil until more leaves are soft, remove….until you get at least 12 whole, boiled, intact cabbage leaves. The other way you can do it, I hear, is to detach the cabbage leaves by cutting a deep cone into the core at teh stem end before plunging teh whole cabbage into boiling water.

Prepare the filling: fry the onion in a 12 inch pan in oil until soft. Then add the meat and stir until it changes color. Add the raw rice and season with salt and pepper.

Lay the cabbage leaves on a plate, and fill them one at a time: Put about 2 heaping tablespoons of filling (you’ll need to adjust, according to cabbage leaf size) on each leave near the stem end, and roll up. I like to roll the bottom up, then fold in each side (left and right), then roll up to trap the filling. It should not be rolled too tight, because the rice will expand while cooking. Put in a baking dish, with the seam side down, close together. (You can make more than one layer).

Pour the Pomi tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. At this point, I like to add any remaining cabbage leaves over teh casserole (I like cabbage leaves).

Cover with aluminum foil and put into the preheated 325F oven for 2.5 hours.

2 responses to “Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

  1. yummy! we used to eat these growing up–not because we’re polish, but we did have a great number of polish friends. so good–

  2. Omigosh – love this! I’m Slovenian and Croatian, and this dish – we call it sarma – is my absolute favorite!

    We add enough water to the tomato sauce to make a soup, to which we also sometimes add sausage. You put a cabbage role in a bowl, pour the soup over, add a sausage if you put them in there, and enjoy. Yummmmmmm!

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