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two stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce on a white plate, with a white serving plate with stuffed cabbage rolls and a red bowl filled with parsley in the background

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls [Oven & Instant Pot Instructions]

  • Author: Jenna
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: approximately 20 cabbage rolls 1x
  • Diet: Low Calorie


These stuffed cabbage rolls are filled with a delicious mixture of beef, pork, rice, and fresh herbs and spices. The rolls are cooked until perfectly tender in a delicious tomato-based sauce.


Units Scale


  • 2 small heads green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pot of water

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (Cento brand is my favorite)
  • 2 cups beef or chicken broth – not low sodium, divided (for added flavor I like to use this BTB base: Beef or Roasted Chicken)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced

For the Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Filling:

  • 2 cups cooked rice (brown, basmati, jasmine, etc.), about 1 cup dry rice cooked according to package directions
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage (I use spicy, but mild will work too)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/23/4 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika, depending on heat preference


  1. COOK RICE. Cook your rice according to package directions.
  2. BOIL WATER FOR CABBAGE. While the rice is cooking, fill a 16 qt. or larger stock pot 3/4 of the way full of water (it needs to be large enough to completely submerge one head of cabbage), along with the red wine vinegar and salt, and bring that to a boil.
  3. START SAUCE. Meanwhile, heat your Dutch oven (or your favorite baking dish) over medium/high heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and sauté the onions with the dried thyme and tarragon for 3 minutes. Next, add the garlic and tomato paste, stirring continuously for a couple of minutes. Tip in the whole peeled tomatoes, a cup of beef or chicken broth, salt, and black pepper. Bring that to a simmer on medium/high heat, then lower heat to low, cover, and continue to simmer until you are ready to assemble your rolls.
  4. BOIL CABBAGE. By now, the water for the cabbage should be boiling. Carefully place the cabbage into the boiling water, one at a time, and cook for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of your cabbage (I like to buy two small ones so they cook more evenly and all the way through, without the outer leaves getting soggy). I use a large fine mesh strainer to remove the cabbage from the boiling water; however, two wooden spoons or something similar will work as well. Bring the water back up to a boil and repeat the process with the second head of cabbage. Set the cabbage aside to cool.

    head of cabbage in pot of water with the lid flipped to prevent the cabbage from bobbing up and down - to keep it in place

  5. PREPARE FILLING. Heat a small pan with butter and olive oil. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3 minutes, then the fresh garlic for one minute. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, place the ground beef and ground pork sausage in a large mixing bowl (or in your KitchenAid stand mixer). Combine the meats with cooked rice, fresh parsley, thyme, and tarragon, along with the hot Hungarian paprika, salt, and black pepper.

    bowl of raw pork and beef, parsley, tarragon, thyme, onion, fresh garlic, hot Hungarian paprika, and cooked rice

  6. PREPARE CABBAGE. By now, your cabbage should be cool enough to handle. Take your knife and deeply cut an octagon shape into the core. This will release the cabbage leaves from the core, allowing you to separate each leaf with ease. Cut a V shape into the lowermost part of each cabbage leaf, removing the hard white center (the rib).

    close up of head of cabbage with an octagon shape cut into the core


  7. FORM CABBAGE ROLLS. Place a quarter cup of the meat filling on a piece of cabbage towards the core. Fold up each side of the V, roll forward, fold the ends up, then roll forward again to seal (you can find a quick video/gif of me rolling them in the post above). Repeat with each piece of cabbage until the meat mixture is gone.

    gif/video of hands rolling the stuffed cabbage rolls

  8. FINISH SAUCE AND ASSEMBLE. Remove the sauce from the heat and add the fresh thyme and tarragon. Check to see if the sauce is to your preferred saltiness. Transfer most of the sauce from the Dutch oven to a bowl to make room for the cabbage rolls. Spread a little sauce around the bottom and edges of the Dutch oven, create a layer of stuffed cabbage rolls, then a layer of sauce, and repeat (like lasagna). Pour the remaining cup of beef or chicken broth around the edge of the pan.

    prepared stuffed cabbage rolls layered in a Dutch oven topped with sauce

  9. BAKE STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS. Place the lid on your Dutch oven (or foil if using a different baking dish) and bake at three hundred fifty degrees Fahrenheit (one hundred seventy-seven degrees Celsius) for about an hour and a half. The rolls should be fork tender. Serve with extra sauce on the side, spooned from the baking dish. Enjoy!

    two stuffed cabbage rolls with tomato sauce on a white plate, with a white serving plate with stuffed cabbage rolls and a red bowl filled with parsley in the background


  • INSTANT POT/PRESSURE COOKER DIRECTIONS.  Spray the instant pot with cooking spray.  Spread a little bit of sauce in the bottom and around the edges. Place a layer of cabbage rolls, then a good layer of sauce on top, and repeat until you are out of cabbage rolls. Pour the remaining cup of beef or chicken broth around the edge. Cook on high for 18 minutes, then natural release for 15 minutes. The sauce comes out thinner when cooking in the Instant Pot, but it’s still flavorful and delicious, and the rolls perfectly tender!
  • FREEZER TIPS. Cooked: Cook the cabbage rolls as directed. Once cooled (they can be placed in the fridge overnight), put them in a freezer-safe storage container and freeze for up to two months. Uncooked: Once you’ve finished rolling all the cabbage; place the rolls on a baking sheet (ensuring they aren’t touching, to prevent them from sticking together), cover with foil, and freeze completely. Once they are frozen, place the rolls in freezer bags or other freezer-safe storage containers and label them. You can also freeze the sauce and thaw it prior to cooking.
  • ACIDIC SAUCE? Try one of these options. I usually use sugar, but I’m going to try baking soda next time. I’ll update here!
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven, Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Eastern European

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