Old-Fashioned Cabbage Rolls: Hearty Comfort Food

Traditional cabbage rolls, also known as stuffed cabbage or golabki, have been a favorite comfort food for generations. Tender cabbage leaves are stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ground meat, rice, and seasonings, then simmered in a rich tomato sauce. Here’s how to make this filling and hearty meal.


For the Cabbage Rolls:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1 pound ground beef (or a mixture of beef and pork)
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Prepare the Cabbage:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Carefully remove the core from the cabbage and place the whole cabbage in the boiling water. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until the outer leaves are tender and pliable.
  • Remove the cabbage from the water and carefully peel off the softened leaves. You may need to return the cabbage to the boiling water a few times to soften more leaves.

2. Make the Filling:

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked rice, chopped onion, milk, breadcrumbs, beaten egg, salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. Mix until well combined.

3. Fill the Cabbage Leaves:

  • Take a cabbage leaf, place a spoonful of the filling mixture in the center, and fold in the sides, rolling it up like a burrito. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

4. Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  • In a separate bowl, combine the tomato sauce (or crushed tomatoes), beef broth (or water), brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Mix well.

5. Layer and Cook:

  • Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large, oven-safe pot or baking dish.
  • Arrange the cabbage rolls seam side down in the pot.
  • Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls.

6. Bake:

  • Cover the pot with a lid or foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the cabbage is tender and the filling is cooked through.

7. Serve:

  • Serve your old-fashioned cabbage rolls hot, with some of the tomato sauce spooned over the top.

Old-fashioned cabbage rolls are a comforting and timeless dish that brings together tender cabbage leaves and a flavorful meat and rice filling, all smothered in a rich tomato sauce. Whether served as a hearty dinner or a special holiday meal, this classic recipe is sure to evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia as you enjoy each bite.