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Our site's Best Stuffed Cabbage

Our site's Best Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage is great for a crowd, but if you find yourself with a lot of leftovers, it’s also a dish that freezes well. Pack the rolls a few at a time into resealable plastic bags, press out the air, and freeze. This is part of Our site's Best, a collection of our essential recipes.


Tomato Sauce

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Filling and Assembly

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup parsley leaves with tender stems
  • 1 pound ground beef (20% fat)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • ½ cup long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons dried currants or chopped golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal or 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large head of savoy cabbage, outer layer of leaves and core removed
  • Sour cream or whole plain yogurt (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

Tomato Sauce

  • Pulse garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add onion and pulse until onion is finely chopped.

  • Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until foamy. Add onion mixture and bay leaves and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in crushed tomatoes, then add whole tomatoes, breaking up with your hands. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar; season generously with salt and black pepper. Reduce heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened slightly and flavors have melded, 20–25 minutes. Remove bay leaves and let cool (you should have about 5 cups).

  • Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 2 days ahead; cover and chill.

Filling and Assembly

  • Pulse garlic in food processor until chopped. Add onion, celery, and parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl and add beef, egg, rice, currants, Worcestershire, paprika, salt, and 1 cup tomato sauce; season generously with black pepper. Mix gently with clean hands until incorporated; set filling aside.

  • Fill a large pot with 2" water and place a steamer basket inside. Bring water to a boil, then place cabbage in basket. Cover and steam cabbage until outer layer of leaves is translucent and pliable, about 3 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, gently peel off softened leaves (being careful not to tear) and transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover pot and continue to steam cabbage until next layer of outermost leaves is translucent and pliable, about 3 minutes more. Remove leaves and transfer to bowl. Repeat until you have 16 leaves (you might eventually need to remove cabbage and cut farther into core so leaves easily detach at the base). Reserve remaining cabbage for another use.

  • Using a paring knife, cut a narrow V-shape into the base of each leaf on either side of rib in order to remove thickest part of rib (this will make the leaves easier to roll).

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Using a ⅓ measuring cup or 2½" (#12) scoop, portion out filling into centers of leaves. Shape filling into a log about 3" long and 1" wide. Starting at the base where you cut the V, fold end of leaf over filling, then fold in sides. Roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. Repeat until you’ve rolled all 16.

  • Ladle half of remaining tomato sauce into a 13x9" pan, spreading into an even layer. Tightly pack cabbage rolls into 2 side-by-side rows (8 rolls in each). Top cabbage with remaining sauce; season with black pepper. Tightly cover with foil. Bake rolls until rice is tender and cabbage can be cut with a spoon, 1½–1¾ hours. Let cool slightly.

  • Divide cabbage rolls among plates. Top with sour cream and serve.

  • Do Ahead: Cabbage can be baked 1 day ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill, or freeze up to 1 month. Reheat in a 350° oven until warm, 25–30 minutes.

Reviews SectionUgh - I love BA - but as a Hungarian whose family has been making cabbage rolls generation after generation I don't get why they had to complicate the recipe so much. Less is more. Good quality meat, cabbage and rice are the essentials. I have never even heard of cabbage rolls with celery, sugar and currants - better luck next time.I made this without the sugar in the sauce after reading previous reviews, and it is AMAZING. Filling, comforting, satisfying, with the perfect amount of subtle heat. The raisins are perfect, but I'd even add a few more next time. This is more like enough for 6-8 people, and we were not mad about the leftovers.Y'all haters said I couldn't do it, but I didThis recipe is THE BOMBJust do like all the negative ratings said and DO NOT ADD ANY EXTRA SUGAR. This baby is sweet enough on its own.I give this 4 stars only cause its good with modifications. 86 the brown sugar and the currants/raisins first of all, and Then you have a pretty traditional stuffed cabbage and its good too. I got 14 rolls not 16 out of this. I used a ⅓ cup measure and did even it off too. I could only fit 7 rolls to 2 rows in my 13x9 Pyrex and I ran out of meat too. I would also say you have way more servings than 4! I don’t know how many rolls you eat, but honestly I ate 2 per serving with a side salad and was satisfied. I suppose you can eat more but I would just figure 2 per person for a family of 4 and you have a little left over for those who might want one more or leftovers.Jax BakerAtlanta, GA04/11/20No! I'm so disappointed. Just made this recipe and we can't even eat it! It is so disgustingly sweet. I wish I would have seen these comments before wasting money on all of these ingredients. Please update this recipe, the sugar isn't necessary. In the compost these sugary cabbage rolls go! :(AnonymousMinnesota05/24/19To echo the other commenters - sauce is too sweet. If you have a trusted sauce recipe, just go with that and scrap this one altogether. Everything else was good.First things first: Definitely omit the brown sugar in the tomato sauce. I read the previous reviews, nixed it entirely, and ended up with a perfectly delicious, savory sauce that perfectly complemented the cabbage. The meat filling has pops of sweet currants/golden raisins in the mix; any more sugar would have thrown off the balance of the whole thing. All that said, this was such a fun weekend project to make with a group of friends on a cold Sunday. It served 5 of us as a main course with a couple days' worth of leftovers that I'm going to freeze for another night. Would definitely make this again, but only if I'm serving a crowd of 6-8.I wish I had read the previous review. I feel the sauce is WAY too sweet. I would not have added the brown sugar at all. I will try again sometime, but without the sugar.This recipe was a bummer. The tomato sauce was just overwhelmingly sweet and threw the balance off for the whole dish. I much prefer a modified Marcella Hazan tomato sauce if looking for sweeter sauce- just blend the stewed half onion into the sauce with an immersion blender. I wish I had followed my instinct and done that instead of using the tomato sauce recipe here. Honestly, the sauce here might not need any brown sugar- so that the sweetness of the currents is a nice surprise. If making this recipe I would recommend to make the sauce without the brown sugar, then add to taste if needed.