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Ground beef, onions, and uncooked white rice wrapped in cabbage leaves, topped with tomato sauce, and then cooked in the oven for 2 hours.

(Last Updated On: April 20, 2022)

Cabbage rolls are very easy to make. Made with lean ground beef, uncooked white rice, and diced onions, then wrapped in cabbage leaves and topped with tomato sauce. Baking time is about 2 hours. The little bit of rice in the ground beef gets cooked during the baking time.

Pigs In A Blanket?

I have had this cabbage rolls recipe for more than 50 years. My mother-in-law made them all of the time. She called them “pigs in a blanket” but I changed the name years ago to cabbage rolls because I didn’t understand where the “pigs” part of the name came into play. There are probably many names for this recipe, but we call them cabbage rolls. Enjoy!

Cabbage Rolls Dinner.

Key Ingredients for Cabbage Rolls

  • 2 pounds of lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/8 cup of uncooked white rice
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • A can of tomato sauce (29 ounces)

Optional

  • 2 cans of green beans
  • 2 can of carrots
Ingredients for cabbage rolls.
Ingredients for cabbage rolls.

Step-By-Step Instructions for Cabbage Rolls with Photos

Preparing The Cabbage

To begin with, cut the core out of the middle of a medium-size head of cabbage. The core is on the bottom side of the cabbage. It is easier to cut the cabbage in half and then cut out the core. Separate the leaves and cook them in a large pot of hot water until they are tender. Then, drain the cabbage leaves in a colander. Set aside.

It Doesn’t Take Long

It doesn’t take long for the cabbage leaves to become tender. Probably about 5 minutes or less. They are already getting softened by the water just heating up. So keep checking them and when they seem sorta limp, then you can turn the burner off and drain them in the colander. The cooking time in the oven will cook the cabbage leaves enough, but this step makes it easier to roll the ground beef in them.

Cabbage in a pot.
Cabbage leaves are cooking in a pot of water.

Preparing The Ground Beef

In a large bowl, put about 2 pounds of lean ground beef together with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/8 cup of uncooked white rice. I use 93% lean ground beef. Mix it all up. It is easier to use your hands to mix it up.

Beef, rice, and salt and pepper.
Salt, pepper, and uncooked rice are added to the ground beef.

Dice one medium onion. Add the diced onion together with the ground beef mixture. If you don’t like onions at all, you can omit them. I have not made cabbage rolls without onions, but I would think they would taste okay without them.

Add onions.
One diced onion was added to the ground beef mixture.

Mix the diced onions with the ground beef mixture. You can add the diced onions when you add the salt, pepper, and uncooked rice and mix everything up at the same time.

Mix it up.
Mix the onions with the ground beef mixture.

Roll the ground beef mixture into little oblong shapes. None of them have to be the same size, just sorta close in size so they will all cook evenly at the same time. This is not the bowl that will be going into the oven. I have a bigger roasting pan that will be used.

Roll the meat mixture up.
Ground beef mixture rolled into oblong shapes.

Forming The Cabbage Roll

Take one cabbage leaf and center one ground beef roll on it. We are now going to roll it up. You can see that after cooking the cabbage, the leaf is still intact and still has its shape. It’s just going to be easier now to roll it up.

Roll cabbage leaf around the meat.
One ground beef roll is placed in the middle of a cabbage leaf.

Fold the left side of the leaf halfway over towards the right side, then fold the right side over the top of the left side. Then roll the whole thing up. I’d say that’s a cute-looking little cabbage roll. 😉

Final cabbage roll.
A cabbage leaf wrapped around a ground beef roll.

Put Cabbage Rolls In A Big Pot

Roll up all of the rest of the ground beef in the cabbage leaves and place them in a big roasting pan. Throw any extra left-over cabbage directly into the pan. I love cooked cabbage, so the more cabbage the better.

Cabbage rolls in a big pot.
Cabbage rolls are arranged in the roasting pot.

Pour a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan, just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. The size of this roasting pan took 1 cup of water. This roasting pan is about 16 inches long by 12 inches wide by 4 inches deep.

Add Tomato Sauce

Then pour one 29-ounce can of tomato sauce over all of the cabbage rolls. Put the roasting pan in the oven at 325 degrees for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how hot your oven gets. I left my cabbage rolls in the oven the other night for 2 hours because the kids were late getting here for dinner, and they turned out just right.

Add tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce poured over the top of the cabbage rolls.

Optional Carrots And Green Beans

Pour two cans of green beans and two cans of whole or diced carrots over the top of the cabbage rolls before putting the roasting pan in the oven. This makes a meal in itself. Buttered biscuits and/or veggies are a great side dish too. We also put ketchup over the top of the cabbage rolls before eating. Still hungry, try some peach cobbler for dessert.

Dinner on the plate.
Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Flo
Ground beef, onions, and uncooked white rice wrapped in cabbage leaves, topped with tomato sauce, and then cooked in the oven for 2 hours.
5 from 2 votes
Cost $15
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: German
Servings 6

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs ground beef (approx.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 cup white rice (uncooked)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 head of cabbage (medium size)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (29 ounces)

Optional

  • 2 cans green beans (optional)
  • 2 cans carrots (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Cut the core out of the cabbage. Separate the leaves. Boil in water until tender, less than 5 minutes. Drain leaves in a colander. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, salt, pepper, and uncooked white rice.
  • Add 1 medium diced onion. Mix together.
  • Shape the ground beef mixture into individual oblong rolls. Put each individual ground beef roll in the center of a cabbage leaf and roll it up.
  • Arrange the cabbage rolls and any extra pieces of cabbage into a roasting pan.
  • Pour just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour the can of tomato sauce over all of the cabbage rolls.
  • Bake for 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on how hot your oven gets.

Optional Carrots and Green Beans

  • Pour 2 cans of carrots and 2 cans of green beans over the top of the cabbage rolls before baking.

Recipe Notes

  • Onions are optional. I couldn’t imagine these cabbage rolls without them though.
  • When I have fresh raw carrots, the big long carrots, or baby carrots, I will use them instead of canned carrots. The 2 hour cooking time cooks them up as tender as can be.
  • If you have a garden in the summertime and plant green beans, they are great to use for this recipe too.
Keyword beef, cabbage, cabbage rolls, ground beef, hamburger
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