Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Ground Beef and Rice

Stuffed cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 37 mins
Cook: 65 mins
Total: 102 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 12 cabbage rolls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
362 Calories
15g Fat
33g Carbs
26g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 362
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 958mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 6g 23%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 91mg 457%
Calcium 177mg 14%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 1020mg 22%
*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.)

These cabbage rolls are stuffed with ground beef and rice and baked to perfection with a tangy tomato sauce. Cabbage rolls are a favorite comfort food from Eastern Europe and are often reserved for special occasions or big family dinners.

Instead of boiling the cabbage, there's an easy shortcut to soften the leaves if you plan ahead. The night before you plan to make the cabbage rolls, put the whole head of cabbage in the freezer. Take it out in the morning and give it the rest of the day or several hours to thaw. The leaves of the thawed cabbage will peel off easily and are flexible enough to stuff with no precooking required. 

The meat isn't cooked ahead of time, so try to use very lean ground beef to avoid the excess fat. Serve stuffed cabbage with mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes for a filling and special meal.


Click Play to See This Savory Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe Come Together

"These traditional stuffed cabbage rolls will conjure up childhood memories of your grandmother's kitchen. The rolls are bathed in a savory-sweet tomato sauce while they bake in the oven. The sauce is thickened at the end to the perfect consistency, then poured over the rolls to make this the ultimate comfort food." —Diana Andrews

Stuffed cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice on a plate
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Rolls:

  • 1 head green cabbage, about 1 dozen large cabbage leaves

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more for the water

  • 1 pound ground beef, 85 percent or leaner

  • 3/4 cup cooked rice

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup milk

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water, divided

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4.

    Ingredients for stuffed cabbage rolls recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Peel about 12 to 15 large leaves off of the cabbage head.

    Cabbage head with leaves removed on a white marble table

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Drop the cabbage leaves into a large pot of well-salted boiling water; cover and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well.

    Cabbage leaves in a pot of salted water, on a white marble table

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  4. For the filling, combine the ground beef, rice, onion, egg, milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix well and divide into 12 portions.

    Ground beef, rice, onion, egg, milk, salt, and pepper in a glass bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  5. Place a portion of the beef mixture (about 2 1/4-ounces) onto the center of each cabbage leaf.

    Meat and rice mixture in a leaf of cabbage

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  6. Roll the leaf around the filling, burrito-style, folding in the edges to seal it in.

    Cabbage leaf stuffed and rolled up on a white marble table

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  7. Fasten the rolls with toothpicks. Place the rolls in a single layer in a large baking dish or an oven-safe Dutch oven.

    Cabbage rolls with a toothpick in a casserole pan on a white marble countertop

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  8. For the sauce, combine the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar, and 1/2 cup of water.

    Tomato sauce for stuffed cabbage rolls in a bowl with a spoon

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  9. Pour sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil (carefully avoiding the toothpicks) and bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the cabbage is tender and the sauce is bubbling.

    Cabbage rolls covered in tomato red sauce in a casserole dish

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  10. Remove the rolls with a slotted spoon and discard the toothpicks.

    Baked cabbage rolls covered in tomato red sauce

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  11. Carefully pour the juices from the baking pan into a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir the cornstarch with 1/4 cup cold water until dissolved. Add to the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly until thickened.

    Red tomato sauce thickening in a saucepan for cabbage rolls

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  12. Serve the cabbage rolls topped with the sauce. Enjoy.

    Stuffed cabbage rolls with ground beef and rice cut in half on a white plate

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

Recipe Variations

  • For a low-carb option, replace the rice with steamed cauliflower rice.
  • If you are looking for cabbage roll flavor but are short on time, try an "unstuffed" version.

How to Store Cabbage Rolls

  • Stuffed cabbage rolls will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days. Place them in an airtight plastic container or wrap tightly in aluminum foil.
  • You can freeze cabbage rolls, but it is best to leave them uncooked if doing so. Unthaw them in the refrigerator overnight, prepare the sauce and cook them as directed.