Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

Prep: 37 mins

Cook: 65 mins

Total: 102 mins

Servings: 6 servings

Yield: 12 cabbage rolls

These cabbage rolls are stuffed with ground beef and rice and baked to perfection with a tangy tomato sauce. Cabbage rolls are a favorite comfort food from Eastern Europe and are often reserved for special occasions or big family dinners.

Freeze Your Way to Tender Cabbage Leaves

Instead of boiling the cabbage, there's an easy shortcut to soften the leaves if you plan ahead. The night before you plan to make the cabbage rolls, put the whole head of cabbage in the freezer. Take it out in the morning and give it the rest of the day or several hours to thaw. The leaves of the thawed cabbage will peel off easily and are flexible enough to stuff with no precooking required. 

What to Serve With Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Serve stuffed cabbage with mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes for a filling and special meal. If all the ground beef has you craving a fresh vegetable side, try a quick cucumber salad or roasted beets. A few slices of rye bread are an excellent accompaniment for soaking up the flavorful tomato sauce.

Tips for Making Stuffed Cabbage

  • Use very lean ground beef – The meat isn't cooked ahead of time, so try to use very lean ground beef to avoid the excess fat.
  • Taste Test – To make sure the ground beef filling is adequately seasoned before stuffing the cabbage leaves, cook a spoonful of the filling in a small skillet and taste it, then adjust the seasoning as needed.
  • How to Save Split Cabbage Leaves – Boil a few extra cabbage leaves in case one of the leaves splits or breaks during filling and rolling. There's no need to transfer the filling to a new leaf. Just place the broken leaf with its filling atop a new, intact leaf and roll up as directed. If using the freezing method, you can just peel off a few extra leaves.
  • When Using a Baking Dish – If you are able to use a baking dish where the cabbage rolls fill the dish tightly, there's no need to skewer the rolls with toothpicks. Just place the rolls seam-side down in the dish.
  • How to Cook With Cornstarch – It is very easy to over-thicken a sauce with cornstarch. To avoid this, add the cornstarch slurry a little at a time, waiting a minute between additions. When the sauce reaches your preferred consistency, stop adding the cornstarch.

“These traditional stuffed cabbage rolls will conjure up childhood memories of your grandmother’s kitchen. The rolls are bathed in a savory-sweet tomato sauce while they bake in the oven. The sauce is thickened at the end to the perfect consistency, then poured over the rolls to make this the ultimate comfort food.” —Diana Andrews

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Rolls:

  • 1 head green cabbage, about 1 dozen large cabbage leaves

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for the water

  • 1 pound ground beef, 85 percent or leaner

  • 3/4 cup cooked rice

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water, divided

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  2. Peel about 12 to 15 large leaves off of the cabbage head.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  3. Drop the cabbage leaves into a large pot of well-salted boiling water; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  4. For the filling, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, egg, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well and divide into 12 portions.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  5. Place a portion of the beef mixture (about 2 1/4-ounces) onto the center of each cabbage leaf.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  6. Roll the leaf around the filling, burrito-style, folding in the edges to seal it in.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  7. Fasten the rolls with toothpicks. Place the rolls in a single layer in a large baking dish or an oven-safe Dutch oven.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  8. For the sauce, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  9. Pour sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil (carefully avoiding the toothpicks) and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the cabbage is tender and the sauce is bubbling.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  10. Remove the rolls with a slotted spoon and discard the toothpicks.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  11. Carefully pour the juices from the baking pan into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir the cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold water until dissolved. Add about half the cornstarch slurry to the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly. Continue adding the remaining cornstarch slurry a little bit at a time until the sauce is as thickened as you like.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

  12. Serve the cabbage rolls topped with the sauce. Enjoy.

    Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

How to Store Cabbage Rolls

  • Stuffed cabbage rolls will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days. Place them in an airtight plastic container or wrap tightly in aluminum foil.
  • You can freeze cabbage rolls, but it is best to leave them uncooked if doing so. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight, prepare the sauce and cook them as directed.

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • For a low-carb option, replace the rice with steamed cauliflower rice.
  • If desired, you can substitute a plant-based ground beef replacement for the beef, use plain unsweetened nondairy milk instead of milk, and omit the egg. The filling will be a little more crumbly but still delicious.
  • If you are looking for cabbage roll flavor but are short on time, try an “unstuffed” version.
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 228
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 52mg 17%
Sodium 919mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 12g
Vitamin C 91mg 457%
Calcium 195mg 15%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 846mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


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