German Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Kohlrouladen)

German Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Kohlrouladen)

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yields: 10 cabbage rolls
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
159 Calories
8g Fat
8g Carbs
14g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 159
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 122mg 41%
Sodium 656mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 14g
Calcium 58mg 4%
*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 simple recipe for German stuffed cabbage rolls or kohlrouladen is the quintessential German comfort food that satisfies in a macaroni and cheese kind of way. They're excellent when served with boiled or mashed potatoes.

If you crave more spice, try caraway, mustard, or tomato sauce in the meat or the sauce. You also can use any variety of chopped meat you prefer or have on hand in this recipe. Ground beef, pork, chicken, or turkey in any combination works well. In Germany, it's usually a mix of half pork and half beef.

Ingredients

  • For the Cabbage:
  • 1 1/2-pound head cabbage
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
  • For the Filling:
  • 12 ounces ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram 
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • For the Cabbage Rolls:
  • 1 to 2 strips bacon
  • 1 cup beef broth (divided)
  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water (cold)

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this cabbage dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Cabbage

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    German Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Kohlrouladen) ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Peel any old or discolored leaves from the outside of the head of cabbage.

    head of cabbage with the outer leaves removed

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Using a sharp knife, cut the strunk or stem out of the cabbage, leaving a cone-shaped hole.

    cabbage with the stem cut out

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Place the cabbage head in a large pot and fill the pot with water to cover or almost cover the cabbage. Add a teaspoon or two of salt.

    head of cabbage in a pot of water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Bring the pot to a boil, remove from heat and let the cabbage sit for several minutes.

    boiled cabbage on a counter

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Peel the outer leaves off, one by one, and drain the water from them. If, after you remove several leaves, the rest are sticking together, place the rest of the cabbage back in the hot water for a few minutes and try again.

    cabbage leaves removed

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

​Make the Filling and Form the Rolls

  1. While the cabbage water is coming to a boil, mix the chopped meat with the egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, marjoram, and pepper until well incorporated. Do not overmix because the meat will toughen and become pasty.

     mix the chopped meat with the egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, marjoram, and pepper

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Form 10 to 12 meat rolls that are 2 inches long, using about 1/4 cup meat mixture for each roll.

    meat mixture formed into balls

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Lay out a cabbage leaf and cut out the thickest vein (only 1/3 to 2/3 of the way up the leaf) as necessary so you can roll the leaf.

    Lay out a cabbage leaf and cut out the thickest vein

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Place a meat roll in the thinner, cupped portion of the leaf.

    Place a meat roll in the thinner, cupped portion of the leaf

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Fold the roll on three sides, then roll to the thickest part (like a burrito).

    roll the cabbage leaf around the meat mixture

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Tie it like a gift package (in quarters) with kitchen string or, in a pinch, regular thread. This works well if you have another pair of hands to help.

    cabbage rolls on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Cook the Cabbage Rolls

  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces and brown it in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels to be used as a garnish.

    cooked bacon cut into tiny pieces

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Brown the cabbage rolls on two sides in the bacon fat.

    cabbage rolls in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add 1/2 cup beef broth (or enough to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch), cover the pan with a lid, and simmer 40 to 50 minutes. Add more of the remaining beef broth as necessary to keep the cabbage rolls in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of broth.

    cooked cabbage rolls in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Sauce and Serve

  1. Transfer the cabbage rolls to a warm serving dish and snip off the string.

    cabbage rolls in a serving dish

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into 1/4 cup of water.

    cornstarch with water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the cornstarch slurry to the juices in the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened.

    Add the cornstarch slurry to the juices in the Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Top with reserved bacon bits if desired.

    German Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (Kohlrouladen)

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Serve and enjoy.

Recipe Variation

  • Use dried oregano as a substitute for the marjoram.