Cabbage Rolls

My mother didn’t do much cooking when I was growing up because she worked nights (3-11 p.m.), and wasn’t home for dinner. My father cooked dinner and is the one who taught me how to cook. My father would read a recipe, then change it to suit his needs, or to what he happened to have on hand if he didn’t have all the necessary ingredients. He didn’t measure anything, and always told me “if you like something put it in, if you really like it put more in, if you don’t like something, leave it out.” That’s how I learned to cook and how I usually cook now. Rarely, do I ever, follow a recipe and it drives my husband and family nuts because if they really like something I made I can make it again but it will not always be exactly the same because I probably didn’t measure the ingredients.

The one thing my mother did teach me how to make was cabbage rolls. She made the best cabbage rolls I ever ate and the amazing thing was I didn’t like cabbage when I was younger. However, the way she made them, using sauerkraut, made them absolutely delicious!!! The sauerkraut gives them a delightful little tang…They are so good, at Christmas time, one of my sister-in-laws family would trade homemade tamales for my mother’s cabbage rolls.

I have to say that I found out while my mother was teaching me how to make her cabbage rolls that she doesn’t measure either…must run in the family.

All of our kids love these cabbage rolls. I always make a big pan of them on Christmas Eve when any of our kids are going to be home. In fact, this year, we are going to Colorado to be with our kids for Christmas and I promised I would make cabbage rolls for Christmas Eve there. I can’t count the times I’ve told our kids how to make these cabbage rolls but they always forget or say they would rather have mine… But now, my daughter, Shantel, wants to know how to make them so I told her I would do a blog post so she will always have the instructions, and I will add step by step pictures in case she happens to have a sighted person helping her make them… 🙂 Also, any of our other kids, family members, or friends, will also be able to use this “recipe” too.

Here is the way I make my mother’s cabbage rolls. Keep in mind, I still don’t measure but you can get the general idea and try them for yourself if you like..


Head of green cabbage, or more if your making a lot

Any ground meat of your liking and as much as you think you will need to make as many cabbage rolls as you want.

Old fashioned rolled oats


Several cans of tomato sauce. Make sure you have enough extra for serving sauce

Spices of your liking. I use chili power, granulated garlic, black pepper. I don’t use salt because the sauerkraut is salty and I don’t want to over salt them. Better to add salt at the table than put too much in while cooking.

Good quality sauerkraut. Make sure you have enough extra for the serving sauce. I don’t use canned because I think it tastes like metal but you can use what you like.

Step 1:  Take the green cabbage and cut the core out of the middle of it. Rinse it off and keep a little of the water inside the middle hole where the core was. Turn the cabbage head upside down so the hole is facing down in a microwave safe bowl. Cover lightly with waxed paper and microwave on high for about 10-12 minutes. You are not cooking the cabbage, just softening it so they leaves will peel away and you can use them to roll around the meat filling.

Step 2: Using whatever kind of ground meat you like, I used ground turkey because that is what Shantel will eat, put the ground meat in a large bowl and mix in one or two eggs depending on how well the meat binds. I used one for the turkey because it is more moist than beef but you can see what works for you. Add in about a cup, or cup and a half of uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats, and any spices you like…I always add a little chili powder, granulated garlic, and black pepper, but you can add anything you like.


Step 3: Mix all ingredients into the meat well.


Step 4: Separate each leaf from the head of cabbage and place on a cutting board. Take a handful of the ground meat mixture and place it on the cabbage leaf one at a time.


Step 5: Pour a little tomato sauce in the bottom of an oven proof pan and line up the cabbage rolls seam side down.


Step 6: Continue to wrap and line up the cabbage rolls until your pan is full.


Step 7: Cover cabbage rolls with more tomato sauce.


Step 8: Cover tomato sauce with a really good brand of sauerkraut. Again, I use Glaussen but you can use any good brand. I prefer not to use sauerkraut in a can because to me it has a metal taste.


Step 9: Cover the sauerkraut with more tomato sauce.


Step 10: At this point it is VERY important to put some extra tomato sauce and sauerkraut in a sauce pan on simmer so you have it to pour over the cabbage rolls when you serve them if they need it. Trust me, this is VERY important, as sometimes, depending on how fast the cabbage rolls absorb the tomato sauce as they are baking, you will want this extra sauce when you serve the cabbage roll. I learned this the hard way when I made cabbage rolls for our dear friend, Bob, and I forgot to make the extra sauce until it was much too late so his first experience with my famous cabbage rolls was not all that great although he said they were. I told him I want to have a “do over”  sometime so I can make them right for him…:) The next picture is just tomato sauce and sauerkraut nothing else for the serving sauce if needed.


Step 11: Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 1/2 hours depending on how many you make. I’ve baked them for 3 hours or more when I make really large amounts for Christmas Eve. I baked these last night until they were 160 degrees. Remove from oven and serve.


Step 12: I served these with long grain wild rice and cucumber/tomato/onion salad with Greek Yogurt dill dressing… YUM!


P.S. These cabbage rolls can be made ahead. I’ve made them two days ahead of time for Christmas Eve then just pop them in the oven and your all set. Also, after they are cooked they freeze really well. I always make extra to freeze for another day. I have some in the freezer right now. I will just put them in a large pan on the stove and put a lid on them and bring them up to temperature with a slow simmer. Just be sure you also make more serving sauce to put over them when ready to serve. 🙂


Stay Tuned

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 20:39:45

    What a great post for sharing your recipe!! Great photos too my dear! You go girl, I think you should do more of these types of posts…xoxo


    • beyondcinderella
      Jul 29, 2013 @ 21:10:06

      Thank-you Frissy. I think I will be doing more of these types of posts now that Shantel is getting old enough to appreciate them, and wants to know how to make some of our favorite family meals.. XXOO MORE!


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