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Favorite Stuffed Cabbage

I love stuffed cabbage. Aviva loves kasha varnishkes. Our Hebrew birthdays are the 1st and 2nd days of Sukkot so stuffed cabbage and kasha are our celebration fare. Tonight, we celebrated early since I needed photos!

Stuffed cabbage can be a long and involved process; especially for commercial purposes. This past week, I have to empty the big freezer for servicing. It had been fairly empty except for leftover honey cake and ground beef patties. Honey cake went to the Mission, ground beef was destined for Sukkot Shabbat dinner at Hillel. Heading to the local outdoor fruit and vegetable stand, I'm in search of giant heads of cabbage. I score big time at a great price and grab 10 heads.

Okay, I have to stop here for an aside. My father, may his stories be repeated forever, loved to talk about his days as a young man in the Merchant Marines. He spoke frequently of going to Alaska where the land of the midnight sun produced cabbages...giant cabbages that needed a crate for each piece. I recently heard that was true; or at least almost true. Anyway, I didn't get cabbages that big.

Where was I? Oh, since the freezer is defrosting and so is the ground beef, I buy the cabbage and make an appointment for the mashgiach to swing by on Wednesday. I show up and there is no gas in the Hillel building or kitchen so cancel the mashgiach and I decide to throw the cabbage into the now functioning freezer. Before I do, I cut the core out at the bottom. This releases the leaves much easier when the time comes.

Thursday, I'm supposed to prepare break the fast for 200 but I end up making stuffed cabbage all afternoon. I make the sauce prior to the Rabbi's arrival. The Rabbi comes and I remember that HE needs to check each leaf of cabbage before I can use it. I have frozen cabbage but I don't have time to defrost it so I toss the heads into boiling water. With the help of tongs, I remove the outer leaves. Eventually the cabbages defrost and we are able to pull the leaves away from the core. We mix the meat quickly, as quickly as one can mix 25 pounds of ground beef.

Once all the leaves are removed and checked for insects (none), the sauce is made and the filling is ready we are set to assemble the stuffed cabbage. From this point, it is quick and easy; even for 180 rolls. This is another one of those projects were as long as you're making them, you should just make extra for the freezer. I love stuffed cabbage, especially with my special sauce. A little sweet, a little tangy...perfect on top of kasha varnishkes.

Kosher Status: Meat
Number of servings: 12 - 18 pieces
Main Ingredient(s): Cabbage
Preparation Time: 00:50
Cooking Time: 00:40
Skill Level: 2 (1 Easy - 5 Hard)
Estimated POINT value:
Average Rating: 2.5/5


  • 1 large head of cabbage

For the sauce:

  • 1 tart green apple, peeled and small diced
  • 1/3 cup dark raisins
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 x 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 cup of COOKED white rice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced onions (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 egg, beaten



If you have the time, do this step a few days before making your stuffed cabbage. Cut the core from the bottom with a paring knife. Cut as much away as you can with cutting yourself or breaking the knife. Freeze the cabbage. Defrost the cabbage a day or two before making the stuffed cabbage.


To make the sauce, dice the apple.

Heat the oil and saute the apple and raisins until a little tender.

Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer over a low heat for an hour or longer. Taste the sauce for the correct balance of vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper.

In a large pot, boil water leaving room to drop the frozen or thawed cabbage. The leaves will peel away easily.

If you don't have time for freezing, core the cabbage and drop into boiling water. The outer leaves will start to pull away. Remove them from the water with tongs. Cut more leaves away as they become pliable. Don't burn yourself!

Remove as many leaves as possible that are large enough for stuffing. Chop the most inner leaves to use as a bed beneath the stuffed cabbage when you bake them.

Saute the onions in the oil. Add to the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Using a scoop, fill the cabbage leaves with the appropriate amount of filling. Larger leaves hold more filling but if you want more uniform rolls, use the same amount of filling on all leaves.

Roll the bottom up, sides in and then roll up.

Chop the inner leaves of the cabbage. Spray the baking pan with cooking spray. Add the chopped cabbage. Place the rolls, seam side down, into the pan.

Ladle sauce over the stuffed cabbage.

Cover the cabbage rolls completely, letting sauce run to the bottom of the pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350' until the ground beef is cooked to at least 160', or cooked through and the cabbage is tender.

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Rebekah: I substituted ground turkey for the beef. The filling came out kinda bland. Next time, I'm adding some salt and pepper to the filling. The sauce was AWESOME.
Souzan: Hi Leah. I was born in Haifa, Israel. I was grown up in Egypt! This is my cultural background. I would like to share with you how I do stuff cabbage. As to stuffing, I use ground meat, UNCOOKED uncooked rice, Tomato salsa, Parsley, Dill, salt, pepper, Paprika and cumin seed. I stuff the cabbage leaves then cook the whole thing on slow heat. It turns very tasty! I apply same method with vines leaves, scooped zucchini, scooped Tomatoes, capsicum or scooped Japanese egg plant. Please let me know how you feel about this way of doing it. God bless you abundantly.
Leah: Hi Souzan, Thank you for introducting yourself and sharing your technique. Your recipe sounds fabulous. Regarding the uncooked rice versus the cooked rice, maybe because I cater and don't have a lot of 'slow cooking' time, I adopted the cooked rice method. Ground beef doesn't require that much time to cook and I prefer it not overcooked. The rice takes longer and I've had issues of the rice not being as tender as I'd like. I've also started using cooked rice when stuffing 'open face' vegetables like onions, tomatoes or zucchini. Raw rice swells when cooking and I don't like the look of it on the surface of the ground meat. It is just me, I know. Most people use raw rice. Cooked rice just allows me the flexibility on the overall cooking time. Time is everything when catering! Thanks for your good wishes and for writing, all the best ~ Leah
Souzan: Thanks Leah for reply. I tried your cooked rice last night in Capsicum and baked it in the oven. It turned great. Thanks for all your recipes. Blessings!
Lyn: Leah, I am new to your website. Looking for a meat meal for Shabbat dinner for about 25 adults. Kids will have children will have schnitzel. For my daughte's bat Mitzvah dinner. I saw this recipe. My mother used to make sweet and sour cabbage rolls. My father loved it. So - my father was a merchant marine too. Big in his family. This is a small world question. Did your father go to Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy? My father did and so did several other family members.
leslie: Hi Leah, Is there a stuffing that I can use that is vegan? I would love to bring this to my Synagogue for a Shabbath pot luck dinner but our dinners are always dairy. What can I fill the cabbage rolls with that is not meat. Thanks a million for any help. Leslie
Leah: Hi Leslie, You could use quinoa mixed with roasted veggies (like the stuffed tomato recipe posted). I can taste it now! Enjoy! Leah
eileen: Leah, my Mother always used Sour salt or citric acid instead of lemon. How much should I use, or is lemon the best choice?
Leah: Hmm, Eileen - I only know about lemon juice - gallons and gallons we squeeze fresh! Sorry!

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Hi! Thank you for stopping by to watch me, Leah, cook kosher. I've been the owner operator of my boutique catering firm in Seattle, Leah's Catering, for the past 14 years.

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