Joan Nathan's Chosen Jewish Stuffed Cabbage

September  4, 2013
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 24 rolls
Author Notes

Sweet and sour comfort food. A perfect one-dish meal for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or for any time! —Joan Nathan

What You'll Need
  • Filling
  • 1 head cabbage, frozen, about 2 pounds
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Sauce
  • one 35-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Defrost the cabbage the night before cooking. When it is completely defrosted, separate the leaves.
  2. To make the filling: In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, salt, pepper, eggs, rice, ketchup, and chopped onion; set aside.
  3. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling on each cabbage leaf. Tuck the ends in and roll up like a big cigar. Place them, open side down, in a 6-quart casserole.
  4. To make the sauce: Cook onions with oil in a saucepan for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste, onions, ketchup, the juice of one lemon, brown sugar, and raisins. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes, covered.
  5. Pour the sauce over the cabbage. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for one hour and a half, and then uncover for an additional half hour, adding water if too dry. Taste for sweet and sour and, if needed, squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over all.
  6. Turn the stuffed cabbage rolls onto a serving platter, spoon the sauce over, and serve. This is even more delicious the second day.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Marsha Gainey
    Marsha Gainey
  • Doreen Cheyne
    Doreen Cheyne
  • Kukla
  • QueenSashy
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx

26 Reviews

Jackie September 21, 2016
Instead of beef, is it okay to use ground turkey or chicken?
sbf-ct April 12, 2015
Could I cook this in a slow cooker?
Jocelyn February 22, 2015
Should the stuffed cabbage rolls be cooked before freezing, or frozen uncooked? It's a Sunday night, and I want to serve this Saturday evening... Thank you!
[email protected] August 4, 2014
Am I missing something? Is the ground beef cooked?
lena16 October 4, 2014
Ground beef is usually not pre-cooked before being mixed with other stuffing ingredients. The rice, however, should be partially cooked before using to minimize the risk of it being undercooked in a finished dish.
Bev H. March 31, 2014
Why is the cabbage frozen?
HalfPint June 27, 2014
Softens the cabbage and makes the leaves easier to stuff and roll. Freezing skips the extra step of boiling the cabbage that some recipes employ to soften the leaves.
JudyC September 15, 2019
It’s a very bad idea, and I would never trust a Joan Nathan recipe again. Completely ruined the cabbage. Stringy, eatery and limp. I’ve been making stuffed cabbage since before Joan Nathan was born. Never, ever wound up with such a mess. This way of cooking it made it inedible. Joan Nathan doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Ketchup, indeed.
Marsha G. March 28, 2014
Made this and it's great! It was my first time eating AND making stuffed cabbage. Great inaugural experience!
Elaine G. November 20, 2013
My sister is the cabbage stuffer in the family and she follows Barbara Kafka's method of coring the raw cabbage and giving it six minutes in the microwave. She says the leaves peel right off.
From Elaine Greene
drbabs March 16, 2014
I tried this technique today and it worked great. Thanks for sharing it.
Doreen C. October 3, 2013
thank you for the tip on freezing the cabbage.I've been making stuffed cabbage for years, and the part I wasn't fond of was boiling the cabbage. I'm definetely going to try this and this recipe, sounds delicous
JudyC September 15, 2019
Don’t bother! Doing this ruined the entire finished product. Cabbage rolls need texture; this created a stringy mess.
Gayle E. October 3, 2013
Do you provide nutritional values to your recipes?
JGinLSL October 3, 2013
I don't understand, why freeze the cabbage only to have to thaw it overnight before using?
Kate October 3, 2013
Because when it is frozen, and then thawed, the leaves are limp, and you don't have to boil them.
QueenSashy October 3, 2013
Kate is right. This tenderizes the cabbage, and it also helps with separating the leaves...
JudyC September 15, 2019
It is a bad, bad idea.
Fred F. October 3, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen, adding katchup or tomato puree to stuffed cabbage is gross and disgusting... see hungarian recipes...PLEASE
QueenSashy October 3, 2013
I come from the region and the recipes I’ve seen, call for a cup or so of tomato juice or tomato pulp in the sauce for the stuffed cabbage, when it is made from fresh cabbage leaves. This is the summer version of the dish. The winter version of the dish, made with sour cabbage (preserved cabbage) leaves is typically made without the tomato juice.
JudyC September 15, 2019
I agree! Never heard of such a thing. And freezing cabbage? Don’t know who this woman is; this recipe is for the birds. Actually, it’s wouldn’t eat the mess that resulted with this big waste of wonderful ingredients.
Kukla September 19, 2013
We never use any eggs in the filling for stuffed cabbage, bell peppers, grape leaves or Zucchini. The uncooked rice is keeping the filling together perfectly.
It is also very tasty, piquant and traditional in Romanian recipes to stuff sour cabbage leaves. Many European delis carry jarred whole sour cabbage leaves. A good brand is “ZerGut”. You’ll just need to soak them for a few hours in cold water, changing the water a couple of times. We also add a heaping cup of the tomato sauce to the filling, which makes it moist and very flavorful. And one more thing: the meat should be not les then 80/20 % fat. Rice love fat; it makes them plump and delicious.
QueenSashy September 18, 2013
Ha! I really like the trick with freezing the cabbage. Stuffed cabbage is one of the "national dishes" of Serbia (where I am originally from) and for about 30 years I have been using the boiling water method, and this is sooooo much easier. Thank you!
Joan N. September 4, 2013
This one is really a recipe for Sukkot -- so you've still got a couple weeks to plan :)
JGinLSL September 19, 2019
I’d like to make this for Sukkot, what else would traditionally be served with it? Thanks.
sexyLAMBCHOPx September 4, 2013
Love the recipes you share, but they're often way too late to consider since my holiday menus usually planned in advance (or the day before)!