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March 21, 2024

Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed with pork sausage and ground beef, then wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked to perfection, Natalie’s grandma’s cabbage rolls recipe is as classic and perfect as can be.

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Homemade beef and sausage cabbage rolls with bacon on a plate

Pierogi RecipeCabbage Rolls: A Beloved Family Recipe

Today we’re sharing a recipe that’s close to the heart. This particular stuffed cabbage roll recipe—called galumpkis in our family—comes straight from Natalie’s Polish grandma. She made these homemade cabbage rolls often and her cabbage rolls took center stage on our family’s holiday table (especially on Easter Sunday along with our Pierogies!) She and Natalie’s mom would double the recipe, which meant the family would be eating Polish cabbage rolls for days and no one ever complained (except when the cabbage rolls were finally gone). We’re sharing this traditional cabbage roll recipe straight from her recipe card–unchanged, not modernized, upgraded or otherwise fussed with. Just the very best, classic cabbage rolls we’ve ever had. Yeah, there’s ketchup in that ingredients list, and yes, we absolutely stand by it. Why? Because you don’t mess with perfection. And, between us, ketchup is an underrated ingredient! Particularly if you buy a nicer brand, ketchup is a terrific “secret” ingredient. It’s loaded with spices, has a hint of sweetness and usually a good little zing to it, too. Major bang-for-buck!

bacon, cabbage, ground beef and ground sausage, onions, white rice, ketchup and garlic for homemade cabbage rolls
ground beef and pork sausage browned with onion in a dutch oven
ground beef and pork sausage browned with onion, white rice, tomato paste and ketchup in a dutch oven
ground beef and pork sausage browned with onion, white rice, tomato paste and ketchup mixed together in a dutch oven

Everything You’ll Need to Make the Best Polish Cabbage Rolls

Hearty, tomato cabbage rolls stuffed with a mix of pork sausage and beef are pure Polish comfort food. Like all of the best comfort foods in the world, they’re not fancy and the ingredient list is as humble and familiar as the dish itself. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Green cabbage

  • Ground beef

  • Pork sausage

  • White onion

  • Garlic

  • White rice

  • Tomato paste

  • Ketchup

  • Bacon

a boiled head of cabbage in a strainer
1 boiled cabbage leaf with beef, sausage, rice and tomato filling
1 boiled cabbage leaf with beef, sausage, rice and tomato filling
homemade cabbage roll on a cutting board

How to Make Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls aren’t super hard to make and once you get the hang of them, you’ll be cranking them out like a pro! It’s also easy to double this recipe if you’re feeding a big crowd or hoping for leftovers. Cabbage rolls make great leftovers—their rich, savory, meaty goodness just intensifies as they sit. Here’s how to make the very best cabbage rolls of all:

  1. Boil the cabbage! Yep, boil it whole! You need the leaves to be nice and pliable.

  2. Make the pork and beef mixture that’ll fill stuffed cabbage rolls! Cook the meats until they’re done with onions and garlic, then add the rice and tomato paste.

  3. Prep the cabbage leaves by peeling them carefully off the head.

  4. Wrap the meat filling in the cabbage leaves! Nice and tight, and lay them in the baking dish.

  5. Brush each roll with ketchup and top them with bacon.

  6. Bake!

  7. We don’t recommend freezing cabbage rolls, and these are best when eaten within a couple of days of making them. We think they are best reheated on the stovetop, but the microwave will do in a hurry!

homemade cabbage rolls in a baking dish ready to be baked
homemade cabbage rolls in a baking dish brushed with ketchup ready to be baked
homemade cabbage rolls in a baking dish brushed with ketchup ready to be baked topped with bacon
homemade cabbage rolls with bacon and ketchup in a baking dish

What To Serve With Cabbage Rolls

If you’re preparing for a celebration or family gathering, cabbage rolls are a wonderful centerpiece for your holiday menu. We recommend a hearty potato accompaniment for maximum comfort food mode and Crispy Shallot Mashed Potatoes or Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes would both be great. A roasted vegetable dish on the side would also be tasty, and we suggest our simple Roasted Carrots or Perfectly Roasted Broccoli. Since these are the meat dish for the meal, you could also supplement with a fresh salad like Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Orange Vinaigrette or Broccoli Salad. And we never say no to bread, and while rye bread is traditional, we think big buttered slices of Sourdough Bread would be your best bet.

homemade Polish cabbage rolls with bacon and ketchup in a baking dish
homemade cabbage rolls with bacon and ketchup on a plate with a fork and knife

Tools You’ll Need

More Cabbage Recipes To Try

homemade cabbage rolls with bacon and ketchup on a plate with a fork and knife

Just Like Grandma's Cabbage Rolls

We hope this traditional Polish stuffed cabbage roll recipe finds its way into your heart. It’s greatly beloved in Natalie’s home, and we’re so excited to share it with you today. When you make it, let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Cabbage Rolls

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr 15 min
  • Calories: 289

Ingredients

  • 1 large head savoy or green cabbage, cored
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • ½ pound mild pork sausage
  • ¼ cup finely minced white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 12 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 slices bacon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the head of cabbage and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cabbage to a plate cored side down and let cool.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the ground beef, sausage, and onions and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until meat is cooked through and onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes more. Remove the skillet from heat. Stir in the rice and tomato paste until combined.

  4. Carefully peel the leaves away from the cooled cabbage and lay flat on a clean work surface. Add ½ to ¾ cup filling to the center of each cabbage leaf. Fold the bottom half over the filling, then fold the sides over the filling and carefully roll the cabbage over. Place the cabbage rolls seam sides down in a 9x13-inch baking dish. You should have about 12 rolls.

  5. Brush the tops of the cabbage rolls with the ketchup, then lay the bacon over top in a single layer. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, discard the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until bacon is crisp.

  6. Serve family-style.


Note: These can be prepped a day ahead! Just cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories289
  • Protein19 g
  • Carbohydrates31 g
  • Total Fat13 g
  • Dietary Fiber5 g
  • Cholesterol49 mg
  • sodium512 mg
  • Total Sugars9 g

Cabbage Rolls

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Sharon

    Can you prepare the cabbage rolls a day before cooking them?

    Sure that will work fine. Hope you enjoy Sharon!

  • Theresa

    What do you serve with them?

    A simple salad and roasted vegetable would be great!

  • JoJo

    This cabbage roll recipe sounds tasty and I want to try it soon. Quick question — when you say pork sausage, do you mean breakfast sausage…italian sausage…some other type of ground sausage…? I’m not very familiar with traditional Polish recipes and ingredients. Thanks so much!

    Yes, mild Italian sausage. You can also sub ground pork, which is more traditional than putting Italian sausage in the recipe. But we love it this way!

  • jenn

    These were very delicious!

    Thanks Jenn!