Balandeliai: Lithuanian Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage
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Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 9 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
151 Calories
5g Fat
23g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
Calories 151
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 34mg 11%
Sodium 185mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 23g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 91mg 455%
Calcium 127mg 10%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 691mg 15%
*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 Lithuanian stuffed cabbage is known as balandeliai or "little doves." This dish is common throughout Eastern Europe and the recipe varies from country to country, region to region, and family to family.


  • 1 head cabbage, about 4 pounds

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 cup finely chopped celery

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 cup cooked white rice

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, lamb, or pork, or a combination

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 pinch marjoram

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup tomato puree

  • 1 cup beef stock

  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

Steps to Make It

  1. 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 18 leaves.

  2. 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. Chop the remaining cabbage and place it in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large saucepan.

  3. Sauté chopped onion, celery, and bell pepper in butter in a large skillet until tender, and let cool.

  4. In a large bowl, mix cooked rice, cooled onion mixture, meat, garlic, egg, marjoram, and salt and pepper until well combined. Don't overmix or the meat will become tough.

  5. Place about 1/2 cup of meat on each cabbage leaf.

  6. Roll away from you to encase the meat.

  7. Flip the right side of the leaf to the middle, then flip the left side. You will have something that looks like an envelope.

  8. Once again, roll away from you to create a neat little roll.

  9. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the chopped cabbage in the Dutch oven, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Combine tomato puree with beef stock and pour over rolls. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer on the stovetop for 1 hour.

  10. Serve with pan juices and a drizzle of sour cream, or mix the pan juices with sour cream and ladle it over the cabbage rolls.


  • Cabbage rolls freeze well before or after cooking and can be made in a slow cooker (see your manufacturer's instructions).
  • Since they can be eaten hot or at room temperature, mini cabbage rolls make great appetizers. Just spear them with a frilled toothpick and you're good to go.