Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Stuffed with bratwurst and bathed in a bacon-and-beer-infused tomato sauce.

On the right of the images is three stuffed cabbage rolls topped with tomato sauce on a ceramic plate with metal flatware. On the left hand side of the image is a serving platter holding more cabbage rolls which is set on a folded cloth.

Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

Why This Recipe Works

  • The smoky tomato sauce gets a boost from bacon, beer, paprika, and caraway.
  • Covering the cabbage rolls before baking them in the oven keeps them tender and moist.

While I am a summer girl through and through, I take heart in knowing hearty, cool-weather food is one of the joys of autumn.

During that season when summer has one foot out the door, but fall isn’t quite here, I like to take a summertime staple—bratwurst—and turn it on its head, removing it from its casings and then browning the sausage meat and tossing it with rice for cabbage rolls.

After blanching the cabbage leaves, I remove the tough stems and veins, then roll them up around the filling. Once filled, I bake them in a bacon-infused tomato sauce that's spiked with beer, paprika, and ground caraway. Covering the dish in foil while it bakes keeps the rolls moist and helps the flavors meld.

The result is an Oktoberfest precursor that'd be pretty tasty with bread dumplings or spaetzle.

The dish can be assembled a day in advance and then popped in the oven to bake. Take it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before you transfer it to the oven. It reheats and freezes beautifully, so don't worry if you have leftovers.

August 2014

Recipe Details

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe

Active 20 mins
Total 90 mins
Serves 6 servings

Stuffed with bratwurst and bathed in a bacon-and-beer-infused tomato sauce.


For the Cabbage and Filling:

  • 1 medium head Savoy cabbage, whole with core removed

  • Boiling water

  • 1 1/2 pounds bratwurst, casings removed

  • 2 cups cooked white rice

For the Rolls and Sauce:

  • 3 slices bacon, chopped

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced

  • 12 ounces light beer, such as lager or pale ale

  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato purée 

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground caraway

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Non-stick cooking spray


  1. For the Cabbage and Filling: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place cabbage in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and let stand 10 minutes.

    Cabbage covered in boiling water in a large heatproof bowl.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

  2. Meanwhile, brown bratwurst in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking meat into little bits, about 10 minutes total. Drain, add rice, and stir to combine.

    A two-image collage. The top image shows bratwurst, broken into small pieces, browned in a skillet. The bottom image shows cooked rice stirred into the now-drained bratwurst in the same skillet.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

  3. For the Rolls and Sauce: Brown bacon in a large saucepan, stirring, over medium-high heat until crisp and rendered, about 5 minutes. Add onion and bell pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until vegetables start to soften, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer. Add beer, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, paprika, and caraway. Season with salt and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

    A four-image collage. The top left image shows onion and bell pepper added to crisped and rendered bacon inside a large saucepan. The top right image shows garlic added to the vegetables starting to soften inside the saucepan. The bottom left image shows beer added to the saucepan and coming to a boil. The bottom right image shows tomatoes, paprika, and caraway added to the beer, onion, bell pepper, and garlic mixture, simmering and slightly thickened.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

  4. Drain cabbage, and remove large outer leaves, being careful not to tear them. Cut out and discard the tough rib from each leaf. Pat leaves dry with paper towels. Fill each leaf with about 1/3 cup of bratwurst filling. Roll up as you would a burrito, tucking the sides in first. Continue making rolls until all filling is used up.

    A four-image collage showing the process for wrapping one of the cabbage rolls. The top left image shows the tough center rib cut out from a cabbage leaf. The top right image shows the cabbage leaf filled with about ⅓ cup of bratwurst filling. The bottom left image shows two hands rolling up the cabbage leaf with stuffing like a burrito. The bottom right image shows the formed cabbage roll in the center of a cutting board.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

  5. Spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and arrange rolls tightly in the dish. Pour sauce on top. Cover with foil and transfer to the oven to bake until bubbly, 35 to 40 minutes.

    Cabbage rolls packed tightly in prepared 9- by 13-inch baking dish, with sauce poured on top.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

  6. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes, then serve, spooning sauce on top of cabbage rolls.

    Cabbage rolls in baking dish after coming out of oven. The sauce is more visibly dehydrated and the color of the cabbage has changed from bright green to dull green.

    Serious Eats / Julia Estrada

Special Equipment

9- by 13-inch baking dish, cooking spray

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
598 Calories
36g Fat
45g Carbs
25g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 598
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 36g 46%
Saturated Fat 12g 61%
Cholesterol 90mg 30%
Sodium 1449mg 63%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 25g
Vitamin C 81mg 407%
Calcium 121mg 9%
Iron 4mg 25%
Potassium 1407mg 30%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)