Crock Pot Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Freshly stuffed cabbage rolls ready to be cooked

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 8 hrs 20 mins
Total: 8 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 12 cabbage rolls
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
554 Calories
28g Fat
29g Carbs
48g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 554
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 28g 35%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 174mg 58%
Sodium 951mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 48g
Vitamin C 86mg 431%
Calcium 168mg 13%
Iron 5mg 28%
Potassium 1333mg 28%
*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.)

Cabbage rolls are considered comfort food in many cuisines, and they're not difficult to make. The filling for these slow cooker cabbage rolls is made with a savory mixture of ground beef, ground pork, a little bacon, and cooked rice. The tangy tomato sauce is perfect for this tasty dish. 

The cabbage rolls are cooked in the slow cooker. It requires a little bit of prep before going into the slow cooker to make sure the green cabbage is pliable enough and that the rolls aren't tough but instead, tender after slow cooking. This just requires a bit of steaming ahead of time. The recipe steams the cabbage in the microwave, but you can simmer the cabbage on the stovetop if you like.

If you need a faster meal, you can make this on the stovetop. Just simmer them in a Dutch oven or similar pot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serve them with homemade rye bread, some garlic mashed potatoes, or a side of sauteed mushrooms for a complete meal.

"An excellent main dish for weeknights, these cabbage rolls taste great. The seasonings for both the filling and sauce are perfect. They’re also easy to make. The only challenge is being careful to pull full leaves from the head; take your time and work layer by layer for the best results." -Colleen Graham

Crock Pot Stuffed Cabbage Rolls - Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, 1 to 2 pounds

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped

  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 pound ground pork

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion, from 1/2 medium onion

  • 1 cup cooked rice

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1/2 large lemon

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the head of cabbage in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave the cabbage on high for about 14 minutes. Once the cabbage is cool enough to handle, peel off the leaves.

  3. Fry the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crisp and set aside (no need to drain the bacon as you will use the bacon and drippings in step 6). 

  4. In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, beaten egg, milk, onion, rice, salt, and pepper; mix well.

  5. Place 1/4 cup of the meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf. Roll it up burrito-style (fastening it with toothpicks if desired) and put it into the crock pot seam side down. Repeat with the remaining leaves and meat mixture.

  6. In a small bowl, combine the tomato sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.

  7. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Add bacon and drippings. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until the meat is cooked through. The filling should reach 160 F on an instant-read thermometer.

  8. To serve, carefully scoop cabbage rolls onto a platter or individual plates and spoon the tomato sauce over the top.

Tips

  • Fresh cabbage varies in size, though the average head weighs 1 to 2 pounds. You should get at least 12 to 15 cabbage rolls.
  • For cabbage rolls, you want to use the largest leaves and pull them gently from the head to avoid tearing. This becomes more difficult as you get to the center of the head. Extra cabbage can be saved for other meals, or you can blanch and freeze cabbage.
  • If you don't have a microwave, you can prep the cabbage on the stovetop. Peel and drop cabbage leaves into boiling salted water. Cover and cook the leaves for 3 minutes or just until pliable.
  • When microwaving the cabbage you may need to peel off the outer, pliable leaves after 14 minutes, then place the cabbage back in the microwave in 3-minute increments and continue removing layers as they soften.

Recipe Variations

  • If you like, replace the bacon with salt pork.
  • To cook the dish on the stovetop, put the stuffed cabbage leaves in a stockpot or Dutch oven. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover the pan, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

How to Store and Freeze Cabbage Rolls

Tightly covered, cabbage rolls will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can reheat them in a casserole dish in a 350 F oven with additional tomato sauce (jarred works well in this situation) for about 30 minutes.


Cabbage rolls can be frozen but it's best to do it slowly because cabbage leaves are delicate. Let them come to room temperature, then transfer them to the refrigerator. Once they've chilled, transfer them to a freezer-safe container and cover each roll with a little bit of tomato sauce. Cover and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost them gently in the refrigerator, then bring them to room temperature before reheating them, covered, in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes.