Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, also known as Golubtsi or Holubtsi in Eastern European cuisine, are hearty and comforting rolls filled with a savory mixture of ground meat, rice, and spices, wrapped in tender cabbage leaves and simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce. This recipe brings together the flavors of meat and vegetables in a satisfying dish that is perfect for a family dinner or special occasions.


For the Cabbage Rolls:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1 pound ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


1. Prepare the Cabbage Leaves:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully remove the core from the cabbage head and place it in the boiling water. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, until the outer leaves are tender and can be easily peeled off. Remove the cabbage from the water and set aside to cool.
  2. Carefully peel off the softened cabbage leaves, trying to keep them whole. Trim the tough rib from each leaf.

2. Make the Filling:

  1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, cooked rice, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, egg, milk, salt, pepper, paprika, nutmeg, and allspice. Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

3. Assemble the Cabbage Rolls:

  1. Take a cabbage leaf and place about 1/4 cup of the meat and rice mixture in the center, near the base of the leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling, then roll it up tightly to form a neat roll. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling.

4. Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  1. In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, beef or vegetable broth, tomato paste, brown sugar (if using), dried thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

5. Cook the Cabbage Rolls:

  1. Carefully place the stuffed cabbage rolls seam-side down into the simmering tomato sauce in a single layer.
  2. Cover the Dutch oven or skillet with a lid and simmer gently over low heat for about 45-50 minutes, or until the cabbage rolls are cooked through and tender.

6. Serve:

  1. Carefully remove the stuffed cabbage rolls from the sauce using a slotted spoon and transfer them to serving plates.
  2. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over the stuffed cabbage rolls.
  3. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley if desired.

7. Optional Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt on top for added richness.
  • Enjoy with crusty bread or mashed potatoes on the side to soak up the delicious tomato sauce.

8. Tips:

  • You can prepare the cabbage rolls ahead of time and refrigerate them until ready to cook. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw before cooking.
  • Adjust the seasoning of the filling and sauce according to your taste preferences. You can add herbs like parsley or dill to the filling for extra flavor.
  • Leftover Stuffed Cabbage Rolls can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave before serving.


Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are a comforting and hearty dish that combines tender cabbage leaves filled with a savory mixture of ground meat, rice, and spices, simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce. This recipe offers a taste of traditional Eastern European cuisine, perfect for enjoying with family and friends. Serve Stuffed Cabbage Rolls as a satisfying main course for a cozy dinner or special celebration, and savor the delicious flavors and textures in every bite.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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