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Stuffed cabbage rolls - Unstuffed recipe

Updated on November 9, 2010

Time is a problem for most

For some of us cooking is a wonderful experience that we enjoy, no matter if it takes hours to prepare.  For a bigger share of the population, time does not permit hours of preparing foods, so the end result may be going to the restaurant for take out.  Some restaurants have good food, but is just not quite the flavor that home cooking provides.

Stuffed Cabbage rolls may be something you remember from your childhood that your Grandma or Mother would spend all day on, the outcome?  Delicious.  Bring those childhood memories back to your family.  Getting the kids to participate in this job is easy, most kids like getting their hands dirty.  Let them be the ones to squish the meat between their fingers.  Remember to wash those little hands first please!  This is one dish that I have no problem getting helpers!

I have taken an old recipe and turned it into a newer time saving, delicious meal.  This is not one that Rachel Ray will be having on her show anytime soon, because the cooking time is more than 30 minutes.  But it is easy and delicious.  And I have taken the fear out of preparing this dish, since you won’t have to learn how to make those cute little bundles of yumminess.  The work has been cut in half and you still get all the flavor!  Save making stuffed cabbage rolls for a day when you have more time.

Plan your shopping list

1 small head of cabbage or 1 large cut in half  cored and chopped.
3 lbs Good ground beef (81% - 19% works best, ground sirloin is tasty but you will need a little fat for the best flavor)
1 ¼ C. whole grain white rice
1 Cup diced onion
1 tsp garlic minced
1 small can tomato paste (6 oz)
½ cup hot water with 2 tsp. good beef bouillon dissolved (allow to cool before adding to meat)
2 eggs
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt

1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 28 oz can whole or crushed tomatoes
1 lb bag sauerkraut (or 1 quart of fresh canned if you can get your hands on it)

The right tools make the job easier

Large mixing bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Crock pot, Dutch Oven, 9 x 13 baking dish or whatever type of pan you feel comfortable using.


Chop cabbage into large pieces, 2 inch, set aside.  In large mixing bowl mix beef onions, garlic, rice, tomato paste, dried herbs, and eggs.  Add water mixture and mix well, I use my hands for this job, makes mixing easier.  Form into balls or logs, whatever shape you  desire. 

For the purpose of this explanation we will be using the crock pot.
Place a layer of cabbage, tomato sauce and some of the sauerkraut on bottom of  crock pot.  Place layer of meat balls on top of this, keeping small spaces between balls (this assists in flavor absorbing into meat and helps rice cook).  Layer again cabbage, tomato sauce and sauerkraut.  Repeat until all meat, cabbage and sauerkraut is used.  Top with can of tomatoes (if using whole, crush with hands before using).  You have effectively ‘un-stuffed’ your cabbage rolls!

Turn on low and cook for 8 - 10 hours.  If using High setting you will only need to cook 4 - 6 hours.  If cooking on stove top, about 2 -3 hours on low setting, you don’t want to scorch.  If baking in the oven about 1 - 1 ½   hours at 350 degrees.  You may want to put a layer of aluminum foil under to prevent any messes should it bubble over.

Extra tip

This same meat recipe can be used to make stuffed green peppers as well! Just omit the cabbage, sauerkraut and layering. Just cut off the tops of the peppers, trim the bottom of this, remove seeds, rinse well with water and stuff the meat mixture into the peppers. Put into baking or cooking utensil, bake or cook about the same time.



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    • hazelwood4 profile image

      hazelwood4 5 years ago from Owensboro, Kentucky

      I love cabbage! I am going to have to make this one! Thank you for sharing!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Perhaps someone here on hubpages?

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      Hmmm, I think I may have heard of that, I do remember my mom telling me something like that a long time ago. I wonder where to find it???

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      There is a way that the Amish make it in a jar that I have tried, but you're right, the old-fashioned way is far superior.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      Absolutely!! As far as I know that's the only way to make it. I think the secret to making really good sauerkraut are two things, old fashioned and a garage or basement. I haven't made any since the fall of 2005, the year before my Mom passed. We all made it together Mom, Dad me and my hubby. Dad did all the chopping and Hubby did all the pounding! Good times!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I agree, Sweetsusieg! homemade sauerkraut tastes so much better than the stuff I have bought at the store. Do you make the old-fashioned fermented kind?

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      Oh yeah.... it's getting to be fall and the cabbage is coming into season so it's good and fresh. I really should write a hub on how to make homemade sauerkraut! Nothing quite like it!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 5 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      I'll have to try this recipe. Nothing like a meal like this one as the days get shorter and there is a nip in the air.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

      This is one of my families favorite dishes! My daughter because she don't like the cabbage ends leaving it for me, which I love!!

      How do you use the lentils in place of beef? Interesting! I think veggie burger could be used as well, if you like that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • mvaivata profile image

      mvaivata 5 years ago

      Really great hub. I recently made stuffed peppers, and it got me to thinking -- I also need to whip up some cabbage! Although I was raised making a similar recipe with meat, I've since stopped eating it, so I've found the lentils work really well in place of the beef. Thank you so much -- this will make my next cooking venture loads easier. I'll be sharing this. :-)

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 6 years ago from Michigan

      I just made it the other day, make sure that you have plenty of meat!! I made it the other day, went for some leftovers and discovered all the 'meatballs' were gone!! They didn't weat the cabbage!! Argghhh kids..

    • AlmostLola profile image

      AlmostLola 6 years ago

      Can't wait to try this! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Mom Kat- I made this for Friday evening dinner, never thought about taking pictures.. LOL Sorry!! My 19 yr old yelled, "Mom, I get to mix the meat!!" LOL With your kids I'm sure you won't have a problem with helpers!

      Glad to have been able to help Angelenastanford!!

      Thanks Lilly!! Usually it's the other way around for me, I take an easy meal and dress it up.

      prasetio30 - Thank you, I will search in my bank of memories and see what other one I can come up with.

      Thanks again all for taking the time to read and comment!

      Thank you all for your comments!!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Yummy...I thought I love this food. You make me hungry. Do you have some more for me? Thanks for share with us.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 7 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      you have taken a time consuming recipe and converted it into an easier meal. thanks

    • angelenastanford profile image

      angelenastanford 7 years ago from Riverview, FL

      mmmm I looooove to cook for one and for two , I LLOOOOOOVVVVEEEEEE cabbage rolls thanks for the recipe! I plan to put this one to use real soon!

    • Mom Kat profile image

      Mom Kat 7 years ago from USA

      OOOOOOH - I love love LOVE cabbage rolls. My grandma DID used to make them, and I never got the recipe :(

      Now I'm going to have to try this recipe.

      It looks delish! I can almost smell it cooking just thinking about it.... yum.

    • Sweetsusieg profile image

      Sweetsusieg 7 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you! We love cabbage rolls here, but I know so many people who just don't have the time to do all the steps, so I thought if I could just cut it down a bit... More home cooking maybe? LOL

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 7 years ago from Minnesota

      I can't wait to make this. I love cabbage and green pepper so I think I'll use both. I think this would be fun to do with the kids. I am definitely going to book mark this recipe. thx Up and Awesome