Cabbage Rolls (it’s so easy!)

Last weeks cooking for men class made cabbage rolls. I have to tell you, they did a great job. Everyone went home with about 6 beautifully filled and rolled cabbage rolls and a tub of delicious tomato sauce to bake them in.

I chose to use Savoy cabbage. The crinkly leaves are not so tightly packed as a drumhead cabbage. This makes it easier to get the leaves off. Some men chose to use the very dark-green outer leaves. I told them that these could be fibrous, although they are packed with nutrients.

Here is the recipe we used:


For the cabbage rolls you will need:

  • 1 whole cabbage with the all the outer leaves still on it
  • 250g finely ground mince of your choice. We used beef, but lamb, pork, turkey or chicken are fine too.
  • 1 very finely chopped onion – about 1/2 a cup full
  • 3 very finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 very finely chopped stalk of celery
  • about 1/4 of a cup of finely chopped red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • if you fancy it – a couple of finely chopped slices of ham or bacon
  • 1 cup of cooked rice. We used white, but brown is a more nutritious option.
  • 2 teaspoon of mild paprika
  • salt and freshly ground pepper – maybe 1 tsp of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Salt is a matter of personal taste. Too much for one person is not nearly enough for the next. Try and imagine that the bowl/pan of whatever you are salting is your dinner.Β Mentally spread it out over a ginormous dinner plate πŸ™‚ Then you can sprinkle on as much salt as you would if it really was your dinner.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.

Carefully remove the cabbage leaves from the cabbage. Remember; the very dark green ones can be fibrous. Some leaves will start to tear as you go further in. Don’t worry too much, you can still use them. Cut the leaves off at the core of the cabbage with a little sharp knife.


Put your leaves into the boiling water. Leave them to wilt. It will only take 1-2 minutes. You don’t want to cook them, just make them soft enough to roll up.

Pull the leaves out with tongs, and put them onto a clean towel. Cut out the tough central core of the leave with a little sharp knife. Not all of the core, just the first fewΒ cm’s of the toughest bit.

Mix all of the other ingredients up in a bowl. Mix it all very well.


Lay a cabbage leaf out in front of you. Core bit facing you. Put a sausage shaped blob of the filling at the end facing you. Roll it up once, and then bring in the sides and roll again.

Put your cabbage rolls in a large, greased baking dish. It has to be large enough to take the rolls and the sauce you are going to tip over them. This baking dish is NOT large enough to cook the rolls and the sauce in. The gentleman took the rolls home in this to transfer to a much bigger dish later πŸ™‚


The sauce an be as simple as plain tomato or vegetable juice or a can of tomato soup diluted with water. Or, it can be something like this one we made:

  • saute one roughly chopped onion and 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.
  • when they are very lightly coloured add a cup of sliced mushrooms and a chopped red capsicum
  • gently fry until the mushroom softens a little
  • add either; 4 very ripe tomatoes, chopped, or a can of tomatoes
  • now add a can of tomato soup + one can-full of waterΒ or a jar of plain Italian pomodoro cooking sauce ( this is basically pureed tomatoes in a bottle. The kind ofΒ sauce Italians make at the end of every summer. Families come together and produce litres and litres of sauce, bottle it, usually in long-neck beer bottles, and distribute it among the family.Β It’s an inexpensive buy at the supermarket)
  • in goes 1/4 cup of vinegar, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar,2 teaspoons of paprika,Β 2 teaspoons of oregano, a bay leaf and salt and pepper.
  • simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the tomatoes break down a bit and you have a lovely sauce


Whatever sauce you choose to use, tip it over your cabbage rolls and bake in a 150C oven for about 1 hour.

The list of ingredients looks long I know, and it seems like a lot of stages to go through, but, my gentlemen, who are all novice cooks made this dish from beginning to end in about an hour. They took it home to do the final cooking.

It’s one of those old-fashioned recipes that’s good to know. It’s economical, it’s delicious, it’s packed with nutrients and it lends itself so well to variations. Try your own flavours in the filling and in the sauce.

I hope you enjoy making cabbage rolls as much as we did πŸ™‚



11 thoughts on “Cabbage Rolls (it’s so easy!)

  1. That last photo looks so mouthwatering! I’m not a fan of vege (I hate them, actually), but considering I like wraps, and boiled cabbages are one of the few vegetables I actually eat, I might give this a go. Thanks for sharing, sweetie! πŸ™‚

  2. hey ovenhaven πŸ™‚ you might like these then, if you like boiled cabbage, and you know you like meat & rice πŸ™‚ There’s some veggies I don’t like so much; zucchini, fennel, green capsicum and okra come to mind…

    We are like peas in a pod (sorry about the veg joke) with our music tastes! That’s brilliant. I’ve always like British, skinny, pale, “indoor types” as far as musicians go, and although Morrissey is a little plumper nowadays he’s as miserable as ever πŸ˜‰

    Have a brilliant week πŸ™‚

  3. Yummmm… looks really good. I haven’t made cabbage rolls in a long time. But they are one of my favorite dishes. I’ve never used vinegar and am thinking that sounds good.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, my dear sweetrosie. The first time I made cabbage rolls was last year and it was Rose who taught me. Her Romanian version is similar to yours except that they used uncooked instant rice, which I can’t find here in KL and I used my usual rice – wow, my cabbage rolls plumped up too much! πŸ™„ I’ll try your recipe with cooked rice. πŸ˜‰

    Have a wonderful week!


    choesf πŸ˜€

  5. I’ve never made cabbage rolls, what an interesting idea.. So you bake the whole thing again with the tomato sauce? Or just serve it as it is..

    You don’t like so many vegetables? Why?? Maybe u had a few bad encounters?

    I love your cooking for men stories, they’re so cute. I imagine these cute old men bringing home tupperwares after class.

  6. Oh i love the idea of cabbage rolls- your entire meal wrapped in cute little packages. The cooking for men class sounds like such a wonderful idea. I bet their wives are so thankful for you πŸ˜€

  7. Oh boy, we can eat this! It looks delicious, I can’t wait to try it. I love the way you describe how to salt it. That is how I put salt in all of my dishes and then when I try to write down my recipes I never know how much salt I actually used. I guess that’s where the phrase “salt and pepper to taste” comes in handy.

  8. Thank you all for your lovely comments!

    The cooking for men classes are such a success! Their wives are usually the ones who have encouraged them to come along, and they having at least one night a week off from making dinner πŸ™‚

    happygrub – the cabbage rolls get cooked in the sauce. I do it in the oven, some people do it in a pan on the stove. You know, about the veggies I don’t like? A lot of it has to do with those veggies giving me awful reflux… 😦

  9. Wow, dear sweetrosie! πŸ™‚
    We was told that this dish is a national Romanian dish … what a surprise to see it in Australia. We cook it very often, but at Christmas it is a must have. It is called “Romanian stuffed cabbage” and we do it in winter with sour cabbage. I’ m glad you like it, and if you add while cooking some fresh dill, it is just perfect.
    Dearest choesf, you put too much rice, that was the problem…:))

    As always, love and bon appetit , rose

  10. Ah, my dearest Rose, now I understand why my cabbage rolls were so plump πŸ˜† 😳 – I thought the uncooked rice I used had absorbed too much water, compared to instant rice! πŸ™„ πŸ˜†

    With love and hugs,

    choesf πŸ˜€

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