My Mother’s Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed CabbageThe weather begins to cool off this time of year, which also coincides with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. On Sukkot, the tradition is to build a temporary dwelling outside (usually a hut without  heat or insulation), know as a sukkah. Many people eat all of their meals in the sukkah and some have the custom to sleep in the sukkah as well. This is when I often turn to hearty, long-cooked dishes.  These stick your ribs, soul warming dishes are some of my favorite comfort foods.  I have very fond memories of sitting in my parents sukkah on a chilly fall night and warming my bones with things like mushroom barley soup, roasted root vegetables (AKA tzimmis), and stuffed cabbage.  This time of year is particularly special for me as my lunar birthday falls out during sukkot, and my mother always tried to make some of my favorite dishes.

Stuffed Cabbage Recipe

The recipe for below is for my mothers stuffed cabbage.  While I do provide specific amounts, these are guesstimates as mother never really uses a recipe for it. Feel free to adjust the amount of the sweeteners (dark brown sugar, honey, and duck sauce) if you want it less sweet. Also, you can adjust the total amount of sauce if the pot you are cooking in is too small to handle it.  Note that I call I call for instant rice in this recipe, which I usually avoid, but here I use it as to ensure it cooks all the way through in the meat mixture.  Finally, do not skip the freezing and thawing step, believe me you will thank me later.

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Stuffed Cabbage
Stuffed Cabbage
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
4 d
Total Time
2 hrs 30 mins

This is a great traditional recipe I learned from my mother.  It is very sweet though, so feel free to leave out some of the sugar or honey if you want to cut back on the sweetness.  If you get lazy the sauce is also great for unstuffed cabbage or meatballs.  I call for instant rice, which I usually shy away from, but is necessary here to make sure it cooks all the way through.

Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Eastern European, Jewish, Kosher, Polish, Russian
Keyword: cabbage
Servings: 12 Rolls
Author: Daniel Peikes
Cabbage Rolls
  • 3 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 Cup Instant Rice
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 Large Head of Green Cabbage Frozen, and thawed
  • 87 oz Tomato Sauce 3 Large Cans
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1 Cup Duck Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • Salt and Pepper To Taste
Special Equipement
  • Heavy Pot or Dutch Oven
  • Freezer
  • Kitchen Scale
Cabbage Preparation
  1. About four days before you plan on making your stuffed cabbage, freeze the whole head for 3 days.  Then thaw for a day. This helps to break down the cell walls of the cabbage which softens it.

  1. Separate the leaves, trimming down any thick stalks.  If leaves are particularly large you can cut them in half, but I would wait and see how big you want to make your filling before doing this. 

  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the meat, eggs, rice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Use your hands, they are the best tools for the job.

  3. Grab a handful of the meat mixture.  Ideally use your kitchen scale and weight out a 1/4 lb of the mixture for each roll. Form a thick log and place it horizontally an inch or so from the the bottom of the cabbage leaf.

  4. Roll the cabbage leaf up, until the bottom of the leaf reaches the top of the meat.  The fold the sides over the ends of the meat and then continue to roll the cabbage leaf the rest of the way around the meat. Repeat until you have used all of the meat.  It should make about 12 rolls. Make sure they are rolled tight so they do not open when cooking.

  1. Add the tomato sauce, sugar, honey, and duck sauce to a large heavy pot or dutch oven.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Put the sauce over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir regularly to make sure the sauce does not burn.

  3. Carefully add the cabbage rolls to the sauce making sure the rolls stay intact.  Cook for about 2 hours, or until the leaves are tender.  Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to a week, or wrap tightly and freeze.  

What are some of your favorite recipes you learned from a parent or grandparent? Do you have any cold weather dishes you really enjoy? Let us know in the comments.

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