These Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are so comforting and a nice departure from your typical winter foods. These are packed with lean ground beef, onion, garlic, dill, and just a hint of nutmeg. The cabbage rolls are slow-cooked in marinara sauce until they’re melt-in-your-mouth delicious. So delicious.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls are one of those super nostalgic meals that totally takes me back to my childhood. My Mom was always a great cook, but every once in a while, she found a pre-packed gem at Sam’s Club she’d pull out on a super busy school night. Cabbage rolls were one of those dishes.
What are Stuffed Cabbage Rolls?
Ok, so admittedly, cabbage rolls don’t sound like the most exciting meal on the planet, however, they are a total comfort food. They’re Polish in their origination and they basically consist of cooked cabbage leaves wrapped around a meat filling. There are a bunch of different filling choices out there, but my favorite it a combination of lean ground beef, brown rice, dried dill, onion, garlic, and just a hint of nutmeg.
The stuffed cabbage rolls are covered in marinara sauce and then slow-cooked in the oven until they’re melt-in-your mouth delicious. If you’ve never had them, you’re in for a treat!
Ingredients in Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- Ground beef. When is comes to ground beef, I normally like to use a pretty high fat ratio. However, when you’re making something like Stuffed Cabbage Rolls that have quite a few additional ingredients, you can get away with using something a little leaner. For this particular recipe, I went with a 90/10 beef to fat ratio.
- Onion and garlic. As with many dishes, onion and garlic add the base flavor in these cabbage rolls. I minced my onion and garlic super-fine, but you can chop them to whatever your preference is.
- Spices. In a traditional stuffed cabbage roll recipe, you’ll find a pretty simple spice blend – usually just a little bit of fresh dill, salt and pepper. I like to up the dill a little bit and also add in a little bit of nutmeg for just a hint of warmth.
- Egg. Similar to a meatloaf, you’ll want to use an egg to bind the meat together. It gives is a sturdier structure and adds a little bit of richness I love.
- Rice. Rice is an essential ingredient in a stuffed cabbage roll recipe, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one with out it. This is no different, except instead of using traditional white rice, I bumped up the fiber content a little bit with hearty brown rice. Because brown rice takes longer to cook, I like to use a quick-cooking brown rice such as Trader Joe’s quick-cooking jasmine rice.
- Cabbage. Regular ol’ cabbage will do!
- Marinara sauce. So you could make your own marinara, but I say, use your favorite store-bought! This stuffed cabbage roll is ALLL about that filling!
How to make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Par-cook the cabbage leaves. While this is a super easy recipe, the most difficult part is probably cooking the cabbage leaves. There are two ways you could do this:
- Cut the core off of the cabbage. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Lightly salt. Add the whole head of cabbage to the water. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the leaves are super pliable. Without tearing, gently pull the leaves off of the head of the cabbage.
- (My preferred method.) Cut the core off of the cabbage. Very gently peel off the leaves of the cabbage doing your best to keep the cabbage from tearing. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. Add the cabbage leaves 3 at time and cooked for 3-4 minutes until super pliable. Dry on paper towels.
Make the filling. Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, dill, salt, nutmeg, egg, a little bit of marinara and cooked rice to a medium bowl. Use hands to gently combine the ingredients together.
Stuff the cabbage leaves. Spoon a little bit of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish. Use a small pairing knife to cut the thick vein from the cabbage leaves. Place ½ cup filling in the middle of the cabbage leave. Wrap up jelly-roll style. Place in the prepared baking dish, seam-side down.
Bake. Cover with remaining marinara sauce and cover with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until the cabbage leaves are very tender and the meat is cooked through.
Can I make Cabbage Rolls in the slow cooker?
Yes! These would actually be PERFECT to make in the slow cooker. Just assemble them exactly as in instructed, but in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Can you freeze cabbage rolls?
Again yes! You can either:
- Prepare the cabbage rolls up until covering them in marinara. Place the cabbage rolls on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Place in the freezer until frozen solid. Transfer to a freezer ziplock baggie.
- Make the cabbage rolls from start to finish. Cool completely. Place in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to two months.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Use whatever beef you’d like! Ground sirloin, 85/15 – it all works.
- To make peeling the leaves off of the cabbage head even easier. Place the cabbage in the freezer for 2 hours. Pull it out and let it defrost. The leaves should be easier to peel off.
- Make sure to cover the cabbage rolls with foil while baking. The steam helps the cabbage rolls become super soft and tender.
- For an extra hint of warmth, add it a few dashes of cinnamon.
What to serve with Stuffed Cabbage Rolls?
- These Creamy Dreamy Mashed Potatoes would be the perfect side dish to sop up all the delicious marinara.
- If pasta is more your thing, this Instant Pot Fettuccine Alfredo is SO good and the perfect addition to any meal.
- If you’re on the healthy train, this mashed cauliflower would be equally delicious to sop up all that marinara sauce.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
- 1 head cabbage
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 24 oz marinara sauce
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. Use a pairing knife to cut around the core. Gently pull off six leaves of cabbage, trying not to break them. If they tear a little bit that's ok. You can also submerge the whole head of cabbage in the boiling water for a few minutes to losen up the leaves a bit before pulling them off. Boil cabbage leaves, three at a time until very soft and pliable, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ground beef, onion, garlic, ½ cup marinara, egg, salt, dill, nutmeg, and brown rice to a medium bowl. Use hands or a fork to mix the ingredients just until combined.
- Spoon half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish. Use the pairing knife to cut the hard vein out of the cabbage. Spoon about ½ cup of the filling in the middle of each cabbage leave. Tuck the edges in and roll up jelly-roll style. Place in the prepared pan seam-side down. Cover with remaining sauce.
- Cover with foil. Bake until cabbage is super soft and meat is cooked through, about 1 hour.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.