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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls in Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Author: jzmcbride
  • Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 24 cabbage rolls 1x



For the Filling:

  • 1 head cabbage (green, red or Napa), frozen and thawed
  • 2 pounds ground beef (or use 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground pork)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup ketchup, preferably organic
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • ½ cup rice, uncooked (omit for Paleo or Whole30 version)
  • 1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 45 oz. Portobello or white mushrooms, chopped
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic

For the Sauce:

  • 40 ounces of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2cup ketchup, preferably organic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar (omit for Paleo or Whole30 version)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins or chopped dates (omit for Paleo or Whole30 version)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Put the entire head of cabbage in the freezer for at least a few hours, preferably overnight. Defrost the cabbage before cooking. This step (courtesy of Joan Nathan) wilts the leaves so they are pliable.  Alternatively, you can submerge the whole head of cabbage in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes.  Separate the cabbage leaves.
  2. To make the filling: Mix the ground meat, mushrooms, garlic, onion/shallot, salt, pepper, eggs, rice, and ketchup in a large bowl. It’s easiest to mix with your clean hands.
  3. Pull off a few of the outer cabbage leaves and line the bottom of a 6-quart casserole dish or dutch oven. This will keep the cabbage rolls from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  4. Place approx.. ¼ cup of the filling on each cabbage leaf. The amount of filling you can use will vary based on how big the leaves are. Tuck the ends in and roll up like a burrito. Place cabbage rolls, seam side down, in the baking dish.
  5. To make the sauce: In a large saucepan, saute sliced onions in olive oil for a few minutes until softened and fragrant. Add salt and pepper.  Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, ketchup, the juice of one lemon, coconut sugar, and raisins/dates. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
  6. Pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls in the casserole dish. Cover with lid (or foil).
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes, and then uncover for an additional 20 minutes, adding water if sauce starts to look dry.
  8. Optional: Stir in 4 ounces of sour cream to tomato mixture before serving.
  9. Plate the stuffed cabbage rolls right from casserole dish or (if you’re feeling really fancy), put them onto a serving platter, and spoon the sauce over the top.
  10. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.


You could easily split this recipe into two batches. Make one now and freeze a second one for later.  If freezing, complete steps 1-6 and then put the entire dish into the freezer, labeling it to be baked at 350 degrees for 2 hours once it’s defrosted.

Once cooked, the leftovers reheat and keep beautifully for several days.

For Paleo or Whole30 version, omit the rice and coconut sugar, and use a compliant ketchup.

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours