My mom makes the best cabbage rolls. She really does! She calls it her secret recipe but I told her that she’s held the secret long enough and it was time to share it. Thankfully she agreed so we spent the afternoon making cabbage rolls and noting all of the steps so that I could share it here with you. Before I share the recipe and steps, I have to share a funny cabbage roll story with you!
Two years ago, my in-laws were here visiting for Christmas. My mother-in-law brought a huge batch of homemade cabbage rolls and stored them in our cool garage until it was time to heat them up for Christmas dinner. As we were preparing the rest of Christmas dinner, our big orange cat was desperately trying to sneak an early taste of dinner by jumping on the counters, getting under everyone’s feet, etc. We decided to put him in the garage for a while so he could play out there while we finished making supper. We forgot about the delicious cabbage rolls sitting in the garage. When we went into the garage to bring him back inside the house, he was resting comfortably with a full belly because he ate ALL the cabbage rolls! Oh boy! He didn’t care that they were wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil – he got right in there and gobbled them all up! I’m sure he still tells his kitty friends about the best Christmas meal he ever had.
Recipe For The Best Cabbage Rolls:
I’ll start by sharing the recipe and then I’ll share the pictures that help to explain the instructions.
- 1 large sour cabbage head
- 3 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 pound medium ground pork
- 2 envelopes of "Super Burger" mix
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons minced onion
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 1.5 cups white rice, uncooked
- 1.36 L tin of tomato juice
- Preheat oven to 350F and coat the inside of a large roasting pan with cooking spray.
- Using a knife, dig out about an inch of the core on the cabbage head.
- Gently pull off the cabbage leaves and let them soak in a large bowl of water until you are ready to use them. You can rinse off the cabbage leaves if you'd like less of a "sour" taste.
- In a separate large bowl, break up the beef and pork.
- In a small bowl, mix Super Burger mixes with 1 cup of water. Stir until dissolved.
- Pour Super Burger mix into the bowl with the meat and stir well until the meat is evenly coated.
- Add minced onion to meat mixture and mix well.
- Add celery to meat mixture and mix well.
- Add rice to meat mixture (a little at a time) and mix well.
- Drain cabbage leaves.
- Take one cabbage leaf and lay it down on a flat surface (spine down).
- Add enough meat mixture to the leaf to make a plump cabbage roll but leave enough space to still fold in the sides.
- Fold over each side and tightly roll the cabbage roll.
- Place the cabbage roll in the roasting pan with the end of the leaf face down.
- Continue to do this with the rest of the cabbage and meat mixture.
- Once all of the cabbage rolls are in the roasting pan, pour tomato juice over the cabbage rolls and fill the roasting pan with water until most of the cabbage rolls are covered in liquid.
- Place in oven and bake for 90 minutes. Before removing from oven, slice open a large cabbage roll to make sure that it is cooked thoroughly.
I won’t retype all of the instructions in the recipe above but here are some additional helpful hints:
- my mom rinses and strains the cabbage leaves a few times before rolling the meat inside each cabbage roll
- my mom doesn’t really measure her ingredients, she adds minced onion, celery and rice to taste so load up on those minced onions if you’d like
Rolling & Cooking the Cabbage Rolls:
My mom recommends trimming a little bit of the thick spine off each of the cabbage leaves to make them easier to roll. Just be careful not to cut right through the leaf.
There isn’t a specific amount of meat mixture to put inside each cabbage roll because it depends on the size of the leaf. Simply put enough for a thick cabbage roll while still being able to fold over each side before rolling.
After you’ve rolled a cabbage roll, place the end of the leaf face down in the roasting pan to prevent them from opening up during baking.
Empty the entire tin of tomato juice into the roasting pan and fill the pan with water until most the cabbage rolls are covered.
Bake at 350F for about 90 minutes. Before removing them from the oven, slice open one of the larger cabbage rolls to make sure that they are thoroughly cooked.