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Classic Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Classic Cabbage Rolls Recipe

I've always enjoyed cabbage rolls but didn't make them since most methods were too complicated. This recipe is fairly simple and results in the best cabbage rolls. My husband, Sid, requests them often. They're terrific to share at gatherings with our children and grandchildren. —Beverly Zehner, McMinnville, Oregon
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1-1/2 hours YIELD:4 servings


  • 1 medium head cabbage
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped onion, divided
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) Italian stewed tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 1/4 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup V8 juice, optional


  • 1. In a Dutch oven, cook cabbage in boiling water for 10 minutes or until outer leaves are tender; drain. Rinse in cold water; drain. Remove eight large outer leaves (refrigerate remaining cabbage for another use); set aside.
  • 2. In a large saucepan, saute 1 cup onion in butter until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the rice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and remaining onion and salt. Crumble beef and sausage over mixture and mix well.
  • 4. Remove thick vein from cabbage leaves for easier rolling. Place about 1/2 cup meat mixture on each leaf; fold in sides. Starting at an unfolded edge, roll up leaf to completely enclose filling. Place seam side down in a skillet. Top with the sauce.
  • 5. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Add V8 juice if desired. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes longer or until rolls are heated through and a thermometer inserted in the filling reads 160°. Yield: 4 servings.

Reviews for Classic Cabbage Rolls

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schamberlain User ID: 8299832 245637
Reviewed Mar. 18, 2016

"These are truely amazing. First time made as directed, second time i used hot sausage, both were great"

dorren k User ID: 8480624 243378
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2016

"blah :(

not so much..."

Boxermom8 User ID: 7512392 242964
Reviewed Jan. 31, 2016

"This is the best cabbage roll recipe that I have tried. Thank you! I used Italian seasoned turkey so very little fat. Served it with a dollop of sour cream on the side in the tomato sauce. Reminded me of meals in Lithuania."

choward1 User ID: 8584377 242930
Reviewed Jan. 31, 2016

"By far the most amazing cabbage rolls ever, I did add a can of tomato sauce to the sauce, also I cooked them in the oven for an hour at 325"

gloria krebsbach User ID: 1278838 242820
Reviewed Jan. 29, 2016

"Here is a prep hint that makes these seem almost effortless. Freeze the entire head of cabbage. Several days before, drain in a colander. The leaves will peel off like petals on a rose."

Fireflyx2 User ID: 8272167 241553
Reviewed Jan. 11, 2016

"Harv614. Finally someone who appreciates a truly classic cabbage roll! You make them as I do. Sauerkraut and tomatoe juice topping is what raises cabbage rolls to a whole new level of flavour?"

reindeer1 User ID: 8650194 238811
Reviewed Dec. 6, 2015

"My family loves these cabbage rolls!!! My only tweak is using sweet Italian sausage instead of just plain Italian sausage. I have served these to friends and they are always a huge hit!"

semoore User ID: 2098741 237383
Reviewed Nov. 15, 2015

"Entire family loved it made just how recipe was written."

DJTiessen User ID: 8588186 235732
Reviewed Oct. 27, 2015

"This recipe is better than mine and I have made cabbage rolls for 45 years. I changed the stewed tomatoes for simple canned Italian diced tomatoes and 1/2 more cup of rice. I also used chorizo sausages instead of Italian sausages. The last change I made was I mixed in some of the sauce to the rice/meat mixture."

maryloushuman User ID: 8579726 235492
Reviewed Oct. 23, 2015

"Overall a decent recipe, but as far as "easy" I have found that NAPA cabbage is the key to making great cabbage need to boil a head of cabbage..a simple blanch works and you get to use almost ALL of the cabbage leaves!!!"

lorimayi User ID: 5790406 221900
Reviewed Mar. 3, 2015

"I have made this recipe as directed several times now. It is incredible! My Polish in laws claim they have never had better. That is very high praise!!"

sstetzel User ID: 158954 218924
Reviewed Jan. 26, 2015

"No TMR031, you're basi making a meatball and baking it inside the cabbage leaf."

tmr031 User ID: 5913184 218918
Reviewed Jan. 26, 2015

"Do you cook meat first..or mix in raw?? Help!! want to make tomorrow"

char401 User ID: 862139 217449
Reviewed Jan. 10, 2015

"My husband loves stuffed cabbage, I also bake mine in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. If you want to raise this a notch and give a little kick for the tomatoes, use 2 cans mild Rotel tomatoes and 1 T Italian seasoning. I put the tomatoes in the blender, for a smooth sauce."

cfunbug43 User ID: 8204594 217320
Reviewed Jan. 9, 2015

"I found if you put your head of cabbage in the freezer in the produce bag then a regular shopping bag, and then take out the night before you want to make these, the cabbage leaves are soft and tender when it thaws out, it does not omit that cabbage smell, and then the only smell that is in your house is the actual cabbage and meat, which smells way better. I only do it this way, and I have shared this with others, and they LOVE it, no guess work as to if it has cooked enough, or will the middle of the head be soft? it will all be PERFECT."

Arctic User ID: 76280 20310
Reviewed Jul. 27, 2014

"I took the advise of the one reviewer and made the casserole version. Much easier. Still the same great flavor without all the work. I did make a couple of changes. Used tomato sauce instead of stewed and did add the Spicy V-8. Browned beef and sausage, added onions, then added cooked rice. Put in greased casserole dish. Covered with thin sliced raw cabbage. Poured sauce mixture over top. Covered with foil for about 30 min until hot and bubbly, Remove foil for about 10 min. Nummy! There was only an empty dish, no leftovers."

Dogpatchdaisy User ID: 2664431 28963
Reviewed Jul. 21, 2014

"I love stuffed cabbage rolls. Mine is similar but I stuff the cabbage and place the rolls seam down in the casserole dish and use I can tomato soup with 2 tbsp. brown sugar and 2 tbsp. lemon juice for the sauce to go over the rolls....they are so yummy !"

laurieleighm User ID: 7866228 25952
Reviewed Jun. 26, 2014

"Been making these for my family for years."

luigimon User ID: 1692040 54521
Reviewed Apr. 19, 2014

"These were good, but my husband prefers them to be baked, like his mom makes. He doesn't care for them made in a skillet. But the sauce and filling is very good, and I'll use this recipe except I'll bake them."

tlingofelt User ID: 7713739 32985
Reviewed Mar. 13, 2014

"Loved the cabbage role very tastey"

nngrayson User ID: 7468634 70280
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2013

"I have have been using this recipe for years! My whole family loves it. We've even just begun to use the sauce as our recipe for marinara."

karaokedawn User ID: 7445236 28962
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2013

"My Husband decided to make this and I was surprised on how good they tasted"

chrossmolalla User ID: 3085834 20163
Reviewed Sep. 30, 2013

"I hated the fuss, too until I discovered that placing the head of cabbage in the freezer the night before will make the leaves soft and supple when you are ready to use them.."

lilred673 User ID: 1052726 25658
Reviewed Sep. 9, 2013

"The sauce was very sweet. Filling was good. Most probably not make again."

peggyinalabama User ID: 7385403 54519
Reviewed Aug. 25, 2013

"I have always wanted to try using v8 this sounds fantastic can't wait."

Astheart User ID: 6678851 33283
Reviewed Feb. 16, 2013

"harv614 is right; it's an East European recipe, but mainly Polish and Bulgarian. Nevertheless, I love them. Usually the rolls are stewed in a good tomato sauce. It's better to use some summer kind of cabbage because it's really hard to remove leaves off the winter cabbage. The leaves of summer cabbage are looser and it's enough to put them into boiling water for a min or two; then they go off very easy. I recommend it!"

614Diane User ID: 6347863 51978
Reviewed Feb. 9, 2013

"I thought this was vey good. The prep time is longer than what is listed but I found getting everything cooked and ready ahead of time made it easier to cook the cabbage and make the rolls the next day. I also 1 1/2 the sauce recipe since I prefer more sauce. I will definitely make this again. ~Diane (Columbus, OH)"

Dzyner User ID: 3546144 71044
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2013

"I really like cabbage rolls, but always have trouble with the cabbage leaves, so I developed a casserole version. Put the meat & rice mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole. Keep the tomato sauce thick. spoon some on top of the meat & rice mixture. Chop the cooked cabbage and layer on top. Spoon on some more sauce and sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until meat is done. It tastes like traditional cabbage rolls, but, for me anyway, is lots easier to prepare. By the way, leftovers freeze well."

lindatbird User ID: 1630801 203095
Reviewed Dec. 4, 2012

"a word to the close attention to the directions! I thought it said cook over medium high heat..not medium low..had a huge mess on my Still cooking, but lowered the heat. Preparation time took longer than suggested, but hopefully they will turn out ok."

dp2009 User ID: 4532356 51975
Reviewed Sep. 29, 2012

"excellent, well received comfort food. thanks for sharing."

jorilo User ID: 2594571 24269
Reviewed Apr. 25, 2012

"A keeper! Whole family loved it! The sauce is so tasty...even DH, who is not a tomato fan, loved this recipe..."

dmm507 User ID: 2339550 70056
Reviewed Apr. 23, 2012

"These were delicious! The sauce was very flavorful and everyone loved them! The prep time was longer than 30 minutes but definitely worth it. I will be making these again."

shawnnoblit User ID: 6496515 49784
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2012

"Absolutely delicious! My mom, who is a great cook ate them and said "these are the best cabbage rolls I've ever had". Enough said! Takes awhile to make but worth the effort. Once you've made them you realize they really aren't difficult. I use turkey sausage and no V8."

navywife01 User ID: 6121110 70054
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2012

"i enjoyed cabbage rolls similar to this recipe when i was growing up this recipe hits close to home for me now its my family favorite"

Conniejj35 User ID: 6483548 203094
Reviewed Jan. 22, 2012

"Great recipe. My husband loved it! Really tasty with such simple ingredients. I didn't use the V8 juice."

kar52 User ID: 1298672 25951
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2012

"This sounds good,but I never cook my rice first I just mix it in the meat mixture,need more sauce and longer cook time tho.."

KirstenSt User ID: 6434306 20160
Reviewed Jan. 2, 2012

"This is a delicious recipe. Definitely will be making it again!"

cindyost User ID: 2125334 49782
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2011

"The best, taste just like my Grandma's."

491223 User ID: 5101630 33282
Reviewed May. 2, 2011


stevennicole User ID: 2190603 25656
Reviewed Mar. 13, 2011

"Hey harv614-they may not be classic by "old world" definition butI grew up on this type of recipe so maybe they can be called Classic American Cabbage Rolls! I liked them anyway. Please submit your Classic recipe-they sound delicious!"

harv614 User ID: 107350 49781
Reviewed Feb. 22, 2011

"We did NOT like this at all! I wish I hadn't wasted an afternoon making them. I was looking through the Irish section when this popped up and I decided to try it... even though it's Soo not an Irish recipe! Cabbage rolls are Polish/Czech/Russian. You won't find brown sugar, Italian sausage/stewed tomatoes, ketchup or Worcestershire sauce in an authentic recipe... can't figure out how it got the name Classic! They are much healthier/tastier without all of the non-traditional ingredients. Some of us add sauerkraut and bacon to the recipe and our meat is a blend of ground beef and pork... use tomato sauce & juice and leave out all of the other stuff and you will have Classic Cabbage Rolls!"

Val634 User ID: 3816447 70052
Reviewed Oct. 16, 2010

"This recipe is great! Wouldn't change a thing."

nsfoster User ID: 5102733 51974
Reviewed Apr. 30, 2010

"This is simply the best Cabbage Roll recipe I have ever come across. I did not even need to make modifications to it. It reminds me of my Grandma's recipe from years ago. Love it!"

tkarinas User ID: 4389335 32984
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2009

"My family loves cabbage rolls and this is so easy to make. I will be making it fairly often."

katie678678 User ID: 1899185 86425
Reviewed May. 4, 2009

"serve sour cream with your cabbage rolls it is very good"

ritamc53 User ID: 1955833 24264
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2009

"This is an excellent recipe. My husband fell in love with it."

encarta User ID: 2187241 203093
Reviewed Nov. 6, 2008

"I also add a can of sauer kraut to the tomato mixture and it gives it a wonder different flavor


MLabelle User ID: 2901278 49780
Reviewed May. 4, 2008

"These are excellent and very similar to the ones my mother used to make."

tileena User ID: 2804867 33281
Reviewed Apr. 13, 2008


Ann52501 User ID: 2846863 33280
Reviewed Mar. 8, 2008

"These are very very good. My mom used to make them all the time. I love them!!!!"

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Wine Pairings

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti, Sangiovese, Malbec or Zinfandel.