My Mom's "Kohlrouladen" (stuffed cabbage rolls)

Stuffed cabbage rolls are a typical German dish and there are for sure many ways to prepare the stuffing and the sauce. In the US there are many recipes with a tomato based sauce. However, this is how my Mom makes it. The cabbage rolls are very flavorful and juicy. She pre-fries the stuffing as rolls and then wraps them in the cabbage leaves. That way it will be a little crispier on the inside.

The addition of a bit of an instant sauce is not really necessary, but it deepens the flavor.

Ingredients (for 4 cabbage rolls):

  • 2 slices of white toast bread
  • 250 g ground beef
  • 1 onion - finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 8 big leaves of savory cabbage
  • hot water and ice water for blanching
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter 
  • 2 cups chopped white cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 1/2 l water
  • 2 tablespoon instant brown sauce (e.g. "Knorr - Sauce Pur Bratensause")
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons "Soßenbinder" (sauce thickener, e.g. Mondamin, or corn starch)


  1. Prepare the stuffing: Soak the white toast bread slices in water for a few minutes. Wring them out and add to a bowl. Add the ground beef, the diced onion, egg, parsely and salt and pepper. Mix everything together.
  2. Pre-Fry the stuffing: Form little rolls out of the beef mix. Heat up oil in a frying pan and fry the rolls for a few minutes from all sides till the outside turns a little crispy. 
  3. Prepare the cabbage rolls: Blanch the big cabbage leaves and be careful not to break the leavs. Therfore, you first place them in hot water (5 min for white cabbage, 2 min for white pointed cabbage). Then you take them out and place them immediately in ice water. Alternatively, you can also blanch the entire cabbage head in hot water and put it in ice water afterwards. That way it will be easier to remove single leaves. Now, use two leaves for one roll. Place both leaves on top of each other but crosswise. Fill the cabbage with the pre-fried beef rolls, fold in the sides and roll them up. Use metal sticks or tooth picks to keep the rolls closed.
  4. Slow cook the rolls and start the base for the sauce: Heat up oil in a big pot and add the cabbage rolls. Brown them on each side for about 5 minutes and then turn them. In a separate frying pan, heat up the butter and add the chopped cabbage. Fry the chopped cabbage till it turns slightly brown. Stir occasionally. Add the chopped and browned cabbage to the browned cabbage rolls. Deglace the frying pan by heating up a little bit of water, stir, and add to the pot with the cabbage rolls. Add water to the cabbage rolls till they are covered. Add the cube vegetable bouillon, stir and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 30 minutes till the cabbage rolls are soft.
  5. Finish the sauce: Take the rolls out of the sauce when they are done and place on a plate. As the cabbage does not give such a strong flavor as browning beef, my Mom adds a little bit of instant sauce to the pot. Add salt and pepper and stir. Now,  add the "Sossenbinder" (substitute with corn starch if not available) to the sauce and bring back to a boil. Be careful and add first 1 tablespoon, bring to a boil and stir. It does take a few minutes before the sauce thickens, so be patient. If it does not thicken enough, add another one and so on. When the sauce reached the desired thickness, add the cabbage rolls back into it.
  6. Serve with boiled salt potatoes.

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