Classic Cabbage Rolls

Timeless Elegance on Your Plate: Crafting the Perfect Classic Cabbage Rolls

Embark on a culinary journey that transcends generations with our spotlight today—the Classic Cabbage Rolls. A dish rooted in tradition, these delectable bundles of joy bring together the wholesome goodness of ground meat, aromatic rice, and the earthy comfort of cabbage. Join me as we explore the nuances of creating the perfect Classic Cabbage Rolls—a recipe that not only honors the past but also promises a symphony of flavors that will make it a timeless favorite in your kitchen.


For the Cabbage Rolls:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For Garnish:

  • Fresh parsley, chopped


1. Prepare the Cabbage Leaves:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Carefully immerse the whole cabbage head in boiling water for about 5 minutes until the outer leaves become pliable.
  • Remove the cabbage, let it cool slightly, and carefully peel off the leaves without tearing.

2. Cook the Rice:

  • In a separate pot, cook the rice according to package instructions until just slightly undercooked.
  • Drain and set aside.

3. Prepare the Filling:

  • In a skillet, sauté the chopped onion and minced garlic until softened.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, sautéed onions, garlic, cooked rice, egg, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce, salt, and black pepper.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly to create a cohesive filling.

4. Assemble the Cabbage Rolls:

  • Place a cabbage leaf on a clean surface.
  • Spoon a generous portion of the filling onto the center of the leaf.
  • Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling and roll from the bottom, creating a neat bundle.

5. Make the Sauce:

  • In a bowl, mix tomato sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and black pepper to create the sauce.
  • Pour a small amount of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish.

6. Bake to Perfection:

  • Arrange the assembled cabbage rolls in the baking dish.
  • Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls, ensuring they are generously coated.
  • Cover the dish with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for approximately 1 hour or until the cabbage rolls are cooked through.

7. Garnish and Serve:

  • Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over the cabbage rolls before serving for a burst of color and freshness.
  • Serve the Classic Cabbage Rolls hot, accompanied by the rich tomato sauce.

Cooking Notes:

  • Choose a cabbage head with large, sturdy leaves for easier rolling.
  • Adjust the seasoning of the filling to suit your taste preferences.
  • Experiment with a blend of ground meats for a more complex flavor profile.


Mushroom and Rice Twist:

  • Add sautéed mushrooms to the filling for a delightful earthy note.
  • Mix cooked wild rice with the white rice for added texture.

Greek-inspired Flair:

  • Incorporate crumbled feta cheese and chopped spinach into the filling.
  • Season the tomato sauce with oregano and a touch of lemon juice for a Mediterranean touch.

Smoky Bacon Infusion:

  • Wrap each cabbage roll with a slice of smoked bacon before baking.
  • Enhance the filling with smoked paprika and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Keto Version:

For those dedicated to a keto lifestyle, Classic Cabbage Rolls can be adapted to align with your dietary choices.

  • Replace the white rice with cauliflower rice for a low-carb alternative.
  • Omit breadcrumbs from the filling or use a keto-friendly substitute.
  • Ensure the tomato sauce is sugar-free or use a homemade version without added sugars.

Low-Carb Version:

If you’re watching your carb intake, here’s how to modify Classic Cabbage Rolls without sacrificing their hearty appeal.

  • Use a low-carb rice substitute such as cauliflower rice or shirataki rice.
  • Opt for a sugar-free tomato sauce or prepare a homemade version with minimal sugar.
  • Experiment with ground meats that are leaner for a lower-fat content.

An Heirloom Recipe for Today:

As we conclude our exploration of the Classic Cabbage Rolls recipe, savor the aroma of a dish that bridges generations and brings a sense of comfort to any table. These hearty bundles, enveloped in a rich tomato sauce, are more than a meal—they are a connection to the past, a celebration of tradition, and a testament to the timeless allure of home-cooked goodness.

Whether shared with family on a cozy Sunday evening or presented at a festive gathering, Classic Cabbage Rolls invite you to partake in the joy of creating a dish that stands the test of time. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the art of rolling, and let the Classic Cabbage Rolls become a staple in your repertoire—a recipe that embodies the warmth of home and the sheer delight found in each satisfying bite.

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