Pork Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Traditional Hungarian stuffed cabbage rolls. Cabbage leaves, stuffed with ground pork, onions, garlic, egg, rice and spices, braised in a tomato sauce.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever had stuffed cabbage rolls with sauerkraut? It’s a classic Hungarian dish. Lightly cooked large cabbage leaves are stuffed with a mixture of paprika-spiced ground pork and pork sausage, and then rolled up into little bundles.

They’re cooked over tomato-infused sauerkraut and then served with a sour-cream sauerkraut sauce. So good!

Like tamales, they take some time to prepare, but the result? Fabulous.

Pork Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

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  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Paprika can go flat if it's too old. Make sure you taste test your paprika for cooking with it in this recipe. If it doesn't have a strong flavor, it's no longer good and you'll need to replace it.

Cook the rice while preparing the cooked cabbage.

Caraway seeds can also be used to season the stuffing in this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs sauerkraut (preferably a good brand, such as Bubbies, that you would find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store)
  • 1 large head green cabbage
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup minced onions
  • 1/4 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 3/4 cup cooked white rice (from about 1/4 cup of dry rice)
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 2 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (or plain paprika if your market doesn't offer a choice)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram (can sub oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup water mixed with 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup sour cream

Method

1 Rinse the sauerkraut in cold water. Squeeze out excess moisture and set aside.

place cabbage in boiling water spread cooked cabbage leaves out to dry on paper towels

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (1 Tbsp of salt for every 2 quarts of water). Add the whole green cabbage to the boiling water. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cabbage. Remove the cabbage from the water and let drain until it is cool enough to handle. Pull off as many large, unbroken leaves as you can and lay them on paper towels dry. If the inner leaves haven't cooked enough to bend easily, return them to the simmering water to cook a little longer.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté them until translucent and beginning to color. Add the garlic and cook half a minute longer. Remove from heat.

mix ground meat with spices and rice

4 In a large bowl, place the ground pork, cooked rice, beaten eggs, paprika, marjoram, the cooked onions and garlic, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Mix with your clean hands or a wooden spoon until just combined.

place stuffing in cooked cabbage leaf begin to roll cabbage leaf over stuffing
tuck sides of cabbage leaf in towards stuffing roll cabbage leaves into small bundles

5 Working one at a time, place a couple tablespoons of the pork stuffing in the center of a blanched cabbage leaf. Start at the thick end of the leaf and fold the sides of the cabbage over the stuffing. Then roll up the whole cabbage leaf into a tight bundle. Repeat with the remaining leaves until you have used up all of your stuffing.

place sauerkraut in even layer on bottom of pan arrange stuffed cabbage on top of sauerkraut
pour tomato sauce over stuffed cabbage rolls cook for one hour

6 Place the rinsed and drained sauerkraut in an even layer on the bottom of a 5 or 6 quart thick-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven. Place the cabbage rolls on top of the sauerkraut. Pour the diluted tomato purée over the cabbage rolls. Heat on high to bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook the cabbage rolls on a low simmer for one hour.

add sour cream to sauerkraut to make sauce spoon sauce over stuffed cabbage rolls

7 Remove the stuffed cabbage rolls from the pot and place on warm dish. Slowly stir the sour cream into the sauerkraut. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the creamy sauerkraut sauce onto a serving platter. Arrange the stuffed cabbage rolls on top of the sauerkraut and spoon some sauce over them as well. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

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Recipe adapted from The Cooking of Vienna's Empire, Time Life Books, By Joseph Wechsberg, 1968. Out of print, but often available on ebay.

Showing 4 of 37 Comments

  • Betty Sinclair

    Cabbage does not need to be boiled first. I buy it and put it right into the freezer.The night before I’m making them I take it out of the freezer to thaw. In the morning the leaves are all soft and wilted.They are very easy to work with to fill. Never boil your cabbage again.

  • Lisa

    OMG Awesome. But take 3 hours covered on low. U have to try

  • Wendy..Galway NY

    Here’s a tip to cook the cabbage for the rolls.
    Bring the water to a boil with a tsp. of salt in a large pot.

    Do not core the cabbage.
    Carefully place the cabbage in the boiling water.

    Keep the core side up. Let the water return to a boil and cook undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Then turn the cabbage over in the pot core side down. As the first individual leaf softens from the outside, it will move away from the cabbage. Turn the cabbage back to core side up, hold the cabbage down with a 2 pronged fork and cut that leaf off at the core.
    Place the softened semi-cooked leaf in cold water so that it does not overcook. Continue the process until you only have a small head left at the bottom of the intact core. Remove the remaining cabbage left on the core, chop it up and use it for the layers.

  • Jarhead

    This is a gr8 recipe!! Like all recipes, I tweek ’em a bit to suit my palate. 1st, use a lightly drained can of sauerkraut. 2nd, use a quart of pureed tomatos (leave out the water). 3rd, use a peeler with those coarse, serrated teeth to core the cabbage B/4 blanching! 4th, 1 egg’ll do the job. 5th, if you use more than 8 cabbage leaves, your rolls are too small! 6th, add 1 or 2 pounds of 2″/3″ Kielbasa nuggets and let ’em cook next to your rolls. 7th, nix the sour cream!

  • Dana

    This recipe is a traditional romanian recipe and the name is “Sarmalute”. I’m glad that you have the original recipe! With one exception: we don’t put sour cream in sauerkraut, we serve as a topping on rolls. And we use thyme in pork mixture.

    I want also to tell you that I like your blog, especially Mex-tex recipes. Great job!

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