Step-by-Step Guide: Old-Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

Embark on a culinary journey back in time with Old-Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage, a comforting and hearty dish that has been warming hearts and homes for generations. This beloved recipe combines the simple, wholesome flavors of tender cabbage leaves wrapped around a savory mixture of meat, rice, and spices, all simmered in a tangy tomato sauce. Perfect for a cozy family dinner, special gatherings, or a nourishing meal prep option, this dish exemplifies the essence of home-cooked comfort. Discover why this timeless classic continues to be a favorite across cultures, offering a taste of tradition that transcends the ages.

There’s a special kind of magic in recipes that are passed down through the years, and our Old-Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage is a cherished treasure in our family’s culinary heritage. I remember watching my grandmother carefully roll each cabbage leaf, her hands skilled from years of practice, a ritual of love and tradition. It was more than just a recipe; it was a way to bring the family together, to share stories, and to connect with our roots.

As I grew older, the task of making the stuffed cabbage was passed down to me, carrying with it the responsibility of preserving our family’s legacy. Each time I prepare it, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen, filled with the aroma of simmering tomato sauce and the warmth of shared memories. This dish has become a symbol of our family’s history, a testament to the power of food to comfort, unite, and celebrate our heritage.

Why You’ll Love Old-Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage

  • Rich History: This dish offers a taste of tradition, connecting you to generations past.
  • Comforting Flavors: The combination of meat, rice, and spices wrapped in cabbage and cooked in tomato sauce creates a deeply satisfying meal.
  • Versatile and Adaptable: Easily tailored to suit dietary preferences, this recipe can be modified to include different meats, grains, or vegetarian options.
  • Makes Great Leftovers: Stuffed cabbage tastes even better the next day, making it a perfect make-ahead meal.
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Ingredients Notes For Old-Fashioned Stuffed Cabbage

  • Cabbage: Large, sturdy leaves are ideal for wrapping the filling.
  • Meat: A mix of ground beef and pork offers the best flavor, but you can use any ground meat of your choice.
  • Rice: Acts as a binder and extender for the meat filling, adding texture and substance.
  • Tomato Sauce: Provides the tangy, rich base in which the cabbage rolls are cooked.
  • Herbs and Spices: A blend of garlic, onion, paprika, and dill adds depth and complexity to the dish.

Recipe Steps

  1. Prepare the Cabbage: Blanch the whole cabbage leaves until they’re pliable, then trim the thick vein from the base of each leaf for easier rolling.
  2. Make the Filling: Mix together the ground meat, cooked rice, finely chopped onions, garlic, and seasonings.
  3. Roll the Cabbage: Place a portion of the filling on each cabbage leaf, roll it up, and secure it with a toothpick if necessary.
  4. Simmer in Sauce: Arrange the rolls in a pot, cover with tomato sauce, and simmer until the meat is cooked through and the flavors meld together.
  5. Serve: Enjoy hot, garnished with fresh dill or sour cream for added flavor.

Storage Options

  • Refrigerate: Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: Freeze in a suitable container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.


For the Cabbage and Filling:

  • Green cabbage: 1 large head, about 12 leaves needed
  • Ground beef: 1 lb (450g)
  • Ground pork: 1/2 lb (225g) (optional, you can use all beef if preferred)
  • Cooked rice: 1 cup
  • Onion: 1 medium, finely chopped
  • Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
  • Egg: 1, beaten
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon
  • Pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Paprika: 1 teaspoon (optional for added flavor)
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For the Sauce:

  • Canned tomato sauce: 2 cups (480ml)
  • Tomato paste: 2 tablespoons
  • Water or beef broth: 1 cup (240ml)
  • Brown sugar: 2 tablespoons (adjust to taste)
  • Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon (adjust to taste)
  • Worcestershire sauce: 1 teaspoon
  • Salt and pepper: to taste


  1. Prepare the Cabbage:
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Core the cabbage and gently peel off about 12 leaves. Blanch the cabbage leaves in the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes or until softened. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. Make the Filling:
    • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, cooked rice, onion, garlic, egg, salt, pepper, and paprika. Mix until well combined but do not overmix.
  3. Fill the Cabbage Leaves:
    • Take a cabbage leaf and place a portion of the filling (about 1/4 cup) on the center. Fold in the sides and roll up the leaf to enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.
  4. Prepare the Sauce:
    • In a saucepan, mix together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, water or beef broth, brown sugar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring until well combined.
  5. Layer the Cabbage Rolls and Sauce:
    • Place a layer of the sauce on the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven. Arrange the stuffed cabbage rolls seam-side down in the pot. Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the cabbage rolls.
  6. Cook:
    • Cover and simmer on low heat for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and the cabbage is tender.
  7. Serve:
    • Carefully remove the cabbage rolls from the pot and serve with additional sauce spooned over the top.
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