|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 7g||35%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 51mg||255%|
|*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.|
Cabbage rolls are a staple of cuisines from Eastern Europe to Northern Africa. The stuffings are varied, from vegetarian mixtures of rice and vegetables to meaty stuffings of pork, lamb, or beef. Cooked in the oven or on the stove, cabbage rolls are a filling and flavorful dish that's great as a make-ahead dinner and also freezes well for future meals. Our classic recipe for kohlrouladen is the quintessential German comfort food that's a complete and hearty dinner on its own, but it also goes well with boiled mashed potatoes or spaetzle.
Versions from areas close to Germany, like Hungary or Poland, use stuffings made with a combination of two or more meats, like pork and beef. Combinations can be common in Germany, as well, but we kept it simple with just beef. Good quality meat is recommended as it will be the start of the rolls. The seasoning of paprika and marjoram can be enhanced with caraway or mustard seeds to taste. Nonetheless, our stuffing is simply delicious as is, as the smoky bacon makes for a bold flavor. For this recipe, you'll need kitchen string to tie the cabbage rolls.
"I love stuffed cabbage of any kind, so I’m glad to have tried this version. The brown sauce and bacon make this dish very hearty and savory. Make sure to use ground beef with enough fat in it, such as 80/20, for a juicy filling." —Young Sun Huh
For the Cabbage:
1 (1 1/2-pound) head cabbage
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
For the Filling:
1 pound ground beef
1 large egg
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Cabbage Rolls:
1 to 2 strips bacon
1 cup beef broth, more as needed
For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water, cold
Steps to Make It
Prepare the Cabbage
Gather the ingredients.
Peel any old or discolored leaves from the outside of the head of cabbage.
Using a sharp knife, cut the stem out of the cabbage, leaving a cone-shaped hole.
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. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the cabbage for 8 to 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the cabbage from the water and let it sit for several minutes to make it easier to handle.
Peel the outer leaves off, one by one, draining the excess water as you go. If, after removing the outer leaves the rest are still sticking together, place the rest of the cabbage head back in the hot water and simmer for a few minutes.
Once you have all the cabbage leaves removed, cut the hard stem off to make them easier to roll. Cut out the thickest vein only 1/3 to 2/3 of the way up the leaf, as necessary, so it's more pliable. Repeat the process to have a total of 10 to 12 leaves—plus a few backups in case one of them breaks when rolling. Reserve.
Make the Filling and Form the Rolls
Mix the ground beef with the egg, breadcrumbs, paprika, marjoram, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Do not overmix to avoid the meat from toughening and becoming pasty.
Form 10 to 12 meat rolls using about 1/4 cup of meat mixture per portion, shaping them to about 2 inches in length.
Place a meat roll in the thinner, cupped portion of each cabbage leaf.
Fold the roll from the bottom side to avoid the meat from spilling, then fold in the sides and continue rolling like you're folding a burrito. Repeat the process with all the meat rolls and cabbage leaves.
Using kitchen string, tie each roll like a gift package. (Note: Although regular white thread could hold, kitchen string is best.) Set aside.
Cook the Cabbage Rolls
Cut the bacon into small pieces and brown them in a large saucepan or Dutch oven, about 6 minutes on medium-high heat. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels to be used as a garnish.
Using the bacon fat, brown the cabbage rolls on top and bottom, about 6 minutes total.
Add the beef broth, or enough to cover the pan to a depth of 1/4 inch. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes. Add more beef broth, as necessary, to keep the cabbage rolls in 1/4 to 1/2 inch of broth.
Make the Sauce
Transfer the cabbage rolls to a warm serving dish and snip off the string.
In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch into 1/4 cup of cold water.
Add the cornstarch slurry to the juices in the pot 1 tablespoon at a time and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. You might not need to use all of the slurry.
Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls. Top with reserved bacon bits. Serve and enjoy.
- Don't overmix the ground beef filling. Overmixing will make the filling dense and springy rather than tender.
- Adding the cornstarch slurry a little at a time ensures that you won't over-thicken the sauce. The sauce should have some body but should not be gloppy.
There are many versions of kohlrouladen, so there's no wrong way of making them. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a 50-50 mixture of beef and pork. Or use any other variety of ground meat like chicken or turkey to make these rolls as hearty or light as you'd like.
- Add cayenne pepper to taste. If you want to be sure of your seasoning, cook a tablespoon of mixture on a pan and taste-test it. Add more salt, pepper, or additional herbs and spices if needed.
- Use dried oregano instead of marjoram.
- Make a tomato sauce to cover the rolls before serving.
How to Store and Freeze
- Stuffed cabbage rolls can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to four days.
- Freeze cabbage rolls in an airtight container for up to 3 months.