Make-Ahead Cabbage Rolls

Total Time

Prep: 1 hour + chilling Bake: 50 min.


12 rolls

Updated: Jun. 30, 2023
I've relied on this recipe for years, and my cabbage rolls never fail to impress. As the host of a number of holiday parties, my guests have come to expect this main entree. —Nancy Foust, Stoneboro, Missouri
Make-Ahead Cabbage Rolls Recipe photo by Taste of Home


  • 12 cabbage leaves
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • SAUCE:
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 2 cans (one 15 ounces, one 8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In batches, cook cabbage leaves in boiling water until crisp-tender, 3-5 minutes. Drain; cool slightly. Trim the thick vein from the bottom of each cabbage leaf, making a V-shaped cut.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef, salt and pepper over medium heat until no longer pink, breaking into crumbles, 8-10 minutes; drain. Stir in rice and eggs.
  3. In another skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook and stir until tender, 6-8 minutes. Stir in water, tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, parsley, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture onto each cabbage leaf. Pull together cut edges of leaf to overlap; fold over filling. Fold in sides and roll up. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Pour sauce over rolls. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  5. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake, covered, until heated through, 50-60 minutes.

Can you freeze Make-Ahead Cabbage Rolls?

Cover and freeze unbaked cabbage rolls. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake casserole as directed, increasing time as necessary to heat through and for a thermometer inserted in center to read 165°.

Nutrition Facts

2 cabbage rolls: 492 calories, 28g fat (12g saturated fat), 176mg cholesterol, 1376mg sodium, 28g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 4g fiber), 33g protein.