Stuffed Cabbage Rolls {Sarmas}

6 servings
1 hr 45 min

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, also known as Sarmas, are a comfort food I grew up eating on the Iron Range of Minnesota. Cabbage leaves are stuffed with a seasoned mixture of beef, pork & rice and baked in a tomato sauce for a hearty & filling meal.

I'm so excited to share another recipe that was a common dish served in my hometown in Northern Minnesota. I know them as Sarmas, while you may recognize them as Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. This is another one of those dishes that was commonplace to me growing up, but I quickly found out when moving away from home, that they were more unique than I thought. I talk more about this on my Porketta post.


What Are Sarmas?


I will likely use both the name Sarmas and Stuffed Cabbage Rolls throughout this post, but don't be alarmed, they mean essentially the same thing. Sarmas are the Croatian version of Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and how I've always referred to them.

Sarmas are softened cabbage leaves that are stuffed with a seasoned mixture of beef, pork and rice and rolled up into little parcels. These rolls are covered in tomato sauce and sauerkraut & then baked to perfection. They can be served on their own or alongside mashed potatoes for a hearty meal!

Sarmas were a popular menu item served at the cafe I worked at in my hometown during my teenage years. People would return to town after having moved away and would jump at the chance of having Sarmas again. Many of our regular customers would call ahead to reserve orders of Sarmas to ensure they didn't miss out. This cafe served many of these dishes that were traditional to our area, but that many people may not have made at home anymore. It's easy for recipes like these to fall to the wayside to be replaced by easier, more mainstream recipes.

My hope is that by showcasing these recipes, I can revive their popularity and keep their traditions going for generations to come. I think it's so important to not forget how a certain dish or recipe can invoke a memory or create entirely new ones to pass on.

How to Make Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Cabbage Prep -

  • Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Cut core end off cabbage and place in boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cabbage from water and allow to cool. When cabbage is cool enough to handle, separate 12 leaves from the head.
    • Quick tip #1- I leave the pot of water boiling while picking the cabbage leaves. As you get further into the head, the leaves may not have gotten as tender. If this happens, I place the head back in the boiling water to soften the inner leaves. Two cabbage heads are sometimes best to use depending on the size. You want mostly the larger, greener leaves as the inner leaves can be smaller and tougher.

Filling Prep

  • In a mixing bowl combine beef, pork, rice, onion and seasonings. Be careful not to overwork the mixture, mix just to combine.
    • Quick tip #2 - for easy cooked rice, use a ratio of ½ cup raw rice to about 1-¼ cup of water. Simmer until water is absorbed and rice is tender. An even easier shortcut is to buy the microwaveable rice packets!

Cabbage Roll Assembly

  • First, start by making a V-shaped cut on the bottom of each cabbage leaf to remove the thick rib. This makes the cabbage leaf much easier to roll up.
  • Place ⅓ cup of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf like a burrito, bringing the sides in first then rolling it up to seal. Repeat with remaining 11 rolls.
  • Next, place ½ cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish along with 1 cup of sauerkraut. Place the cabbage rolls in the baking dish and cover with remaining sauerkraut and tomato sauce.
  • Finally, cover with foil and bake 75-90 minutes until cabbage is tender and meat is fully cooked.
How To Serve Stuffed Cabbage Rolls


Stuffed Cabbage Rolls can be served on their own or alongside mashed potatoes or noodles for a hearty & filling meal!

Can They Be Frozen?


Yes! Stuffed Cabbage Rolls freeze beautifully. Make a big batch and divide them out in smaller portions to freeze for future meals. They can be reheated from frozen or thawed, just the time will vary. I'd stick with 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes for thawed Sarmas, or 60-70 minutes for frozen.

Other popular main dishes:

Perfect Pot Roast

Baked Spaghetti Casserole

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

Hamburger Casserole

Sloppy Joes with Chicken Gumbo Soup

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Have you made one of my recipes? I’d love your feedback on the comment box and star rating below the recipe!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls {Sarmas}
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 75 Minutes Total time: 1 hr 45 min
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cabbage or 2 medium
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 1 cup cooked white rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 # sauerkraut about 2 cups
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce
Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Cut core end off cabbage and place in boiling water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cabbage from water and allow to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine meats along with the rest of the ingredients besides sauerkraut & tomato sauce.
When cabbage is cool enough to handle, separate 12 leaves from the head. Make a V-shaped cut on the bottom of the leaf to remove the thick rib of the leaf.
Place ⅓ cup of filling in the center of each cabbage leaf. Roll the leaf like a burrito, bringing the sides in first then rolling it up to seal. Repeat with remaining 11 rolls.
Place ½ cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish along with 1 cup of sauerkraut. Place the cabbage rolls in the baking dish and cover with remaining sauerkraut and tomato sauce.
Cover with foil and bake 75-90 minutes until cabbage is tender and meat is fully cooked.
Tips
  • Serve Stuffed Cabbage Rolls on their own or alongside mashed potatoes for a hearty meal.
  • Stuffed Cabbage Rolls freeze well!
  • I leave the pot of water boiling while picking the cabbage leaves. As you get further into the head, the leaves may not have gotten as tender. If this happens, I place the head back in the boiling water to soften the inner leaves.
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Comments
  • Eleanor Eleanor on Mar 04, 2022

    A different way of making what we used to call "piggies in a blanket", but it is delicious. I think adding the sauerkraut made a big difference - it was very good!

    • See 2 previous
    • Mary knight Mary knight on Mar 05, 2022

      We grew up also calling them pigs in a blanket. I have seen the sausage or hot dog version wrapped in a pancake, and they do look like pigs in a blanket, but not nearly as good.

  • Red22821936 Red22821936 on Mar 04, 2022

    I’m from Chicago and we know this as globacki

    • Red22821936 Red22821936 on Mar 05, 2022

      It’s fun to read all the comments from different parts of the country!


      For dessert it’s always good to have a few kolackzi !!


      the cookies not the yeast bun style.

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