Bulgarian Stuffed Cabbage (Sarmi)

Stuffed cabbage with ground beef
Brian Hagiwara/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
276 Calories
11g Fat
18g Carbs
26g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 276
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 192mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 26g
Calcium 114mg 9%
*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 finely chopped green onions
  • 1 medium finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 cup raw rice
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 cup broth (or water)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon mint (finely chopped)
  • 1 jar tomato juice
  • 1 cup plain Bulgarian yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) hot or sweet paprika

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.

  2. Remove core from cabbage. 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. You will need about 24 leaves.

  3. 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.

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

  5. In a medium skillet, saute chopped onion, carrots and rice in a little oil until rice grains are completely coated with oil. Add 1 cup broth or water and stir until water has been absorbed. Let cool and transfer to a large bowl. Add veal, lamb, salt, pepper, parsley and mint and mix until well combined, but don't overmix or the meat will become tough.

  6. Place about 1/2 cup of meat on each cabbage leaf. Roll away from you to encase the meat. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll.

  7. 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. 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.

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


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