Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmi)

Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmi) in a baking dish and on a plate

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
302 Calories
14g Fat
22g Carbs
24g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 302
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 5g 23%
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 407mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 22g 8%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 115mg 576%
Calcium 137mg 11%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 790mg 17%
*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.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for Bulgarian stuffed cabbages or sarmi is made with veal, pork, rice, and yogurt.


  • 1 (4-pound) whole cabbage head

  • 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup raw rice

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 cup broth, or water

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped mint

  • 1 (32-ounce) jar tomato juice

  • 1 cup plain Bulgarian yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon paprika, hot or sweet, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmi) ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Remove core from cabbage.

    Cabbage with the core removed

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Place whole head in a large pot filled with boiling salted water. Cover and cook 3 minutes, or until softened enough to pull off individual leaves.

    Cabbage in a pot with water on a burner

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Remove cabbage from water, and when cool enough to handle, pull off 24 leaves.

    Cabbage leaves in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  5. When leaves are cool enough to handle, use a paring knife to cut away the thick center stem from each leaf, without cutting all the way through.

    remove step from the cabbage leaves

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. Chop the remaining cabbage and place it in the bottom of a large oiled casserole dish or Dutch oven.

    Chopped cabbage in a pot

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  7. In a medium skillet, saute chopped onion, carrots and rice in 1 tablespoon of the oil until rice grains are completely coated with oil.

    chopped onion, carrots and rice in a pan on a burner and oil in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  8. Add 1 cup broth or water and stir until water has been absorbed. Let cool and transfer to a large bowl.

    chopped onion, carrots and rice mixture in a white bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  9. Add veal, pork, salt, pepper, parsley, and mint and mix until well combined, but don't over mix or the meat will become tough.

    veal, lamb, salt, pepper, parsley and mint combined with the rice mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  10. Place about 1/2 cup of meat on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the meat.

    Cabbage wrapped around the meat filling mixture

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  11. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope.

    Meat filling wrapped with cabbage

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  12. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll.

    Meat wrapped with cabbage and meat filling in a bowl

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  13. Pre heat oven to 350 F. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage in the casserole dish or Dutch oven, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Pour enough tomato juice over rolls so it comes 2/3 up the side of the Dutch oven or casserole. Bring to a boil.

    Cabbage rolls in a large pot with sauce

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  14. Turn off heat, place a weighted ovenproof dish on the cabbage rolls, cover and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour or until cabbage is tender and meat is cooked.

    Cooked cabbage rolls in a pot with sauce

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  15. Make a sauce in a small bowl by combining yogurt, paprika, and a little olive oil, mixing until smooth. Transfer stuffed cabbages to a serving plate and cover with sauce.

    Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmi) served on a plate with sauce

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • This same filling recipe may be used for stuffed peppers, eggplants, and zucchini.