With tender cabbage leaves filled with perfectly seasoned ground beef and rice and topped with a sweet and sour tomato sauce, these Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are perfect for Sunday dinner or other special occasions.
The Best Stuffed Cabbage Recipe
There is no comfort food quite like grandma’s homemade Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. They’re so fun to make from scratch and a good recipe to involve kids in the assembling of the cabbage rolls.
In my opinion, these are the best stuffed cabbage rolls. They feature the classic sweet and sour tomato sauce that’s made entirely from scratch and the filling is perfectly seasoned. Together, they make the perfect dinner.
Stuffed cabbage is a labor of love, I won’t lie. This is not a quick and easy 30-minute weeknight dinner BUT the end result is worth every second. I love to make these on Sundays when I have extra time to spend assembling them in the kitchen. Once these are assembled, all I need to do is add some mashed potatoes and I have a comforting dinner the whole family loves.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you’ll need to make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (the exact measurements and full recipe instructions are below in the easy to print recipe card):
- Olive oil
- Onion & garlic
- Crushed tomatoes – Be sure you do not drain the tomatoes. You’ll add them, juice and all.
- Tomato sauce & tomato paste
- Brown sugar – The brown sugar helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Red wine vinegar – Adds a bit of sour flavor to the tomato sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce – Adds savory flavor to both the sauce and the filling.
- Seasonings – Dried Italian herbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika add additional flavor to this dish.
- Ground beef – An extra lean ground beef is best.
- Cooked rice – You can use white or brown rice. This is a great way to use up leftover rice.
- Fresh parsley
- Egg – Helps hold the mixture together.
- Head of cabbage – You’ll want one on the rather large side, as large cabbage leaves are easier to work with.
How to Make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
This classic recipe is a bit time-consuming to make, especially when prepared from scratch but it’s worth every second. Definitely the perfect recipe for a special Sunday dinner!
- Simmer the sauce. Cook the onion for 3 to 5 minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the remaining sauce ingredients. Stir well. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add the sauce to the pan. Ladle half of the tomato sauce into a baking dish lined with non-stick cooking spray.
- Cook the cabbage. Immerse the cabbage head in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the water and peel off 12 large leaves. Cut a v-shaped notch at the base of each one to remove the thick rib. Set aside.
- Make the filling. Combine the ground beef, seasonings, Worcestershire sauce, fresh parsley, and eggs, then pour in 1/2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce.
- Stuff the cabbage leaves. Place 1/3 cup of the mixture in the shape of a log in the center of a cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf around the mixture then place seam-side down into the baking dish. Repeat with all of the cabbage leaves.
- Bake. Top with the remaining tomato sauce then cover the pan with foil and bake for 70 to 90 minutes.
- Serve. Sprinkle the cooked cabbage rolls with the remaining parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes or other sides.
Why Are My Cabbage Rolls Tough?
If your cabbage rolls are tough, they likely did not bake long enough. The bigger and thicker the cabbage leaves, the longer they’ll need to cook. If you try to cut through a wrapped cabbage and it feels tough, try returning the pan to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes more.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for making wrapped cabbage.
- Taste test the sauce. The sauce is supposed to be a bit sweet and sour. I always like to try a spoonful and adjust the flavor as necessary.
- Be prepared with extra cabbage leaves. It’s not unusual for cabbage leaves to rip when preparing stuffed cabbage, so I always like to tear off a few extra leaves.
- How long do cabbage rolls need to bake? It really depends on the size of the cabbage rolls but typically at least an hour. You want to give plenty of time for the meat to cook through and the cabbage to become tender.
Can I Prepare This In Advance?
Yes, you can assemble the cabbage rolls in advance. Just assemble as directed, cover the baking dish with foil, and refrigerate up to a night in advance. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the bake time or allow it to come to room temperature before baking.
What to Serve with Cabbage Rolls
Homemade cabbage rolls are perfect with creamy mashed potatoes. Try our recipe for Amish-style mashed potatoes with browned butter. A side of buttered noodles and steamed or roasted vegetables, like broccoli, also goes very well with the cabbage rolls.
How to Store Leftovers
Keep the leftover cabbage rolls in an airtight food storage container. Refrigerate for up to three days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave or oven until hot.
More Sunday Dinner Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Turkey
- Chicken Parmesan
- Roast Duck With Brown Sugar Glaze
- The Best Meatloaf Recipe
- Chicken and Dumpling Tortillas
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes do not drain
- 15- ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- 1 pound extra lean ground beef
- 1 cup cooked rice white or brown
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs blend
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 head of cabbage
To Make the Sauce:
- In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil then add the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Italian herbs, salt and pepper, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer the sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Coat a 9×13 inche baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle half of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish; set aside.
To Make the Cabbage Rolls:
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Immerse the cabbage head in the boiling water and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the leaves are pliable. Remove from water and peel off 12 large leaves. When the leaves are cooled, cut a v-shaped notch at the base of each to remove the thick rib of the cabbage. Set the cabbage aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, Italian herbs, 2 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, and the egg.
- Add 1/2 cup of the prepared tomato sauce to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Take 1/3 of a cup of the meat mixture and shape it into a log, place it in the center of a cabbage leaf. Roll the cabbage leaf around the meat then place in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining meat and cabbage leaves.
- Top the cabbage rolls in the pan with the remaining sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350F for 70-90 minutes, or until the cabbage is fork-tender and the meat is cooked through.
- Sprinkle the cabbage rolls with the remaining parsley and serve hot with mashed potatoes.