This cabbage rolls recipe can be a real saver when it comes to meal planning.
Looking for a comfort food that comes in
Looking up this recipe means you’re a comfort food lover, and you’ve come to the right place. Our cabbage rolls make a hearty meal with flavorful meat rolls, all cooked and doused in an easy homemade tomato sauce.
The best part is, you can make the rolls in advance, store them in the freezer, then reheat them whenever you want. It’s practically a quick meal you can have when.ever.
So, if you can’t wait any longer, hit that “jump to recipe” above for the full disclosure of this cabbage rolls recipe. Or, take your time to learn more about this ultimate comfort food.
Is Cabbage Rolls Healthy?
Cabbage rolls are one of the healthiest comfort foods. Each of the pouches packs abundance of flavors and nutrients.
To begin with, cabbages give a good amount of fiber, and fiber is known to promote gut health. It also helps to form bulky stool, which allows for easier bowel movements.
Along with the fiber comes very little calories, plus an abundance of micronutrients. The most prominent ones are vitamin C, vitamin K, and polyphenols with antioxidative properties that boost our immune system.
Within the pouch hides the meat filling made of minced beef, rice, bread, flavored with herbs and homemade tomato sauce. It’s a harmonious blend of the macros, and they’re just delicious.
Each serving of this cabbage rolls recipe yields around 507 calories.
Up to 43% of the calories come from minced beef, oil, and dairies. We did not hold back on the total fat, because it’s essential for our health.
What we did regulate, however, is the unsaturated fat. It’s known to raise your blood cholesterol levels, and in this recipe, it’s at an acceptable level.
Another 23% of the calories derive from the meat protein. It has a full EAAs profile, which is good for the growth of our body, especially muscle building.
The rest of the calories (34%) are from the baguettes and arborio rice. These are good sources of carbohydrates and should be consumed, in moderation.
Cabbage vs Lettuce
Their appearances might look alike, but you can easily tell the two by their name tags and the texture. Cabbages are tough and almost hurt someone when you throw them; lettuces are softer, lighter, and more fragile.
If you’re looking for alternatives of cabbage, we’re sorry to tell you that lettuce doesn’t do a really good job. No one eats cooked lettuce, to be frank— it’s mushy and has a bad texture.
Health-wise, lettuce’s nutrient yield is much lower than cabbage. It doesn’t come with much fiber, either.
If you do want to switch things up a bit, there are plenty of cabbage alternatives to choose from.
What Types of Cabbage for Cabbage Rolls?
Let’s have a look at the possibilities
1. Green Cabbage
Originally called for, green cabbage has the correct everything for perfect rolls. It holds its shape when cooked, looks good with tomato sauce, and doesn’t release too much moisture.
2. Red Cabbage
Similar to green cabbage, red cabbage also has the right texture and water content.
What we’re more concerned about is the color of the sauce it cooks in, which can turn a little bit dark. If it’s not one of your concerns, we’re sure it’ll bring you a foreign experience.
3. Napa Cabbage
This type is often referred to as Chinese cabbage, with a sweeter note and crispier, juicier crunch to it. If tenderness, melt-in-your-mouth sensation is your soft spot, Chinese cabbage is the one you want.
How Long to Boil Cabbage for Cabbage Rolls
For any cabbage rolls recipe, we don’t want the cabbage to be well-done at the rolling stage. What we want is soft, pliable leaves that will be baked in the oven and cooked in there.
So, what we did is boil the water, cook the leaves for about a minute or so, then wash them with water to stop the cooking process.
At this stage, the undercooked stalk can make wrapping difficult as it’s still too tough to roll. Since further boiling will lead to mushy leaves, we simply chopped the stalk off, and still ended up with satisfying results.
Because we didn’t make a big batch, we didn’t boil the whole head of cabbage. We only striped the parts needed for the recipe, then saved the rest in the fridge for other dishes like cabbage soup.
If you were to use red cabbage, the process is pretty much the same. Although, you will result in a purple boiling water that turns blue with a few drops of lemon.
Sauce for Cabbage Rolls
Instead of going for the salty store-bought, we’re making the tomato sauce from scratch. By doing this, we can control how much salt goes into the sauce, lowering risks of heart diseases!
It takes only a few steps, too:
- Pureé diced tomatoes with a food processor;
- Simmer tomatoes and seasonings and reduce it;
- Strain the mixture through a sieve to get a silky smooth texture;
- Use or store in the refrigerator for future use.
For detailed instructions on how to make the sauce, refer to our homemade tomato sauce recipe right here.
How to Make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Oven
Baking things in the oven is a way to cook things low and slow, which seems time-consuming but it’s really not. While it’s baking, you can do other chores in the house and care for only one thing: the timer.
This is a short version of the cabbage rolls recipe, to give you an overview of what to do. For the detailed instructions and a full ingredient list, check out the recipe card down below.
- Boil the cabbage. Preheat the oven.
- Make the sauce
- Mix the filling ingredients
- Make little rolls
- Bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes
What to Serve With Cabbage Rolls?
Cabbage rolls are already good on their own, but it’ll be perfect when paired with a complementing dish. Here’s our ideas:
1. Mashed Potatoes
Having comfort food is cool, but have you ever had two at once (and it’s healthy)? If not, make some mashed potatoes on the side and get ready for a flavor bomb.
Not only brings extra creaminess to the table, mashed potatoes are also a good carb, what cabbage rolls lack. The two together would make a wholesome meal.
If you think about it, cabbage rolls are a healthier version of meatballs, which desperately need some spaghetti. It also adds a healthy amount of carbs, and it’s quite easy to make.
How Long Does Cabbage Rolls Last in the Fridge?
Foods in general require proper storage to last. To keep leftovers around the longest possible, store them in an airtight container and place the container in the fridge.
Doing this, your cooked cabbage rolls can last for up to 4-5 days in the fridge.
If an airtight container isn’t a member of your kitchenwares, simply cover the leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Can You Freeze Cabbage Rolls?
Freezing cabbage rolls not only keeps it around for longer, but also makes it more delicate. Their texture will be softer afterwards, and the flavor seems to be more infused and concentrated.
But when it comes to freezing, a question arises: to freeze the leftovers or the raw rolls? Which take to take is not important, but you need to be aware of how things turn out in those two scenarios.
By storing raw cabbage rolls in the freezer, you need to thaw them out first, then spend another hour-ish to cook. In return, the texture almost resembles freshly cooked cabbage, and no one can tell it’s frozen food cooked.
Cooked cabbage rolls are likely to turn mushy if you reheat them for too long. Our tip is, cut each roll in half so it reheats evenly and doesn’t take long, hence not turning mushy.
Cabbage Rolls Recipe
- 8 large cabbage leaves
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp garlic minced
- 2 tbsp Hunt’s tomato paste
- 1 1/4 cups Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 1/3 cup unsalted chicken broth
- 12 oz 85% lean ground beef
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar unpacked
- 2 1/2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1.5 oz plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup arborio rice
- 2 1/2 tbsp parmesan shaved
- 2 tbsp parsley
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- Preheat the oven to 375°C.
- Boil 8 leaves of cabbage in hot water for one minute. Use a pair of tongs to take them out of the pot, then carefully cut off the stem.
- Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add 4 oz onions in. Cook until it’s translucent, then add 2 tsp garlic and cook for another minute. Add 2 tbsp tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce in, stir in 1/3 cup chicken stock, and turn off the stove.
- In a large bowl, add 12 oz ground beef, 1 tsp dry oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp brown sugar, 2 1/2 tbsp heavy cream, 1.5 oz plain panko breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup arborio rice, and 1/3 of the sauce you’ve just made. Mix well.
- Divide the beef filling into 8 portions with a spoon. Lay a cooked cabbage leaf on a flat surface, scoop one filling portion onto it, and start rolling. Tuck the sides in while you roll. Put that aside and continue rolling until you get all 8 equal-sized rolls.
- In a large baking dish, add half of the remaining sauce in. With the spoon you’ve just used, smear it out to create an even layer. Carefully place 8 cabbage rolls in, and add the remaining sauce on top. Also smear it out so every roll gets enough sauce. Cover with foil and slide into a preheated oven to cook for 1 hour.
- When it’s done, sprinkle 2 1/2 tbsp parmesan and 2 tbsp parsley on top. Serve immediately or wait until the rolls cool down a bit (it’s super hot inside!)
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