Are Those Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Worth The Pain?

1 Posted by - March 6, 2015 - Food & Drink

So cabbage is a thing I didn’t think much about in my young life until my family moved to the South. Here, cabbage is quite important because of, you know, coleslaw, but you can also do many other interesting things with cabbage, like saute it with kielbasa. But without a cabbage-rich background, I admit I’m a little at a loss, so when I saw stuffed cabbage rolls, I thought I should learn how to do it. Plus err’body on Pinterest was saying stuff like, “It’s slap-my-dead-grandma delicious!” So, ya know.

Plus, the picture totally made it look easy. (Famous last words.)

Basically, you just need meat and cabbage to do this. I mean, yeah you need some tomato sauce and spices and stuff, but mostly just meat and cabbage. I like it already.

beef and cabbage

Now you’ll note that my cabbage is really white and not green like the cabbage in the picture. I don’t know why that is. There are probably other varieties of greener cabbage that I should have bought, but guys, it’s fucking cabbage. It didn’t seem that important at the time.

I tried to follow the directions and, like, steam the cabbage and stuff to make the leaves all pliable, but I never quite got it to work right.

torn cabbage

I tried all the methods (or at least the ones that sounded like they wouldn’t take too long) (and by “all” I mean “two” out of the many). I’m here to tell you that all the microwave method does is make the leaves slightly warmer. And also the method where you jab a sharp knife into the veiny thing of the leaf really only leaves you with knife marks on your cabbage and, in my case, a nice cut on myย finger. (No picture of that. Thank me in the comments.)

So I ended up with some cabbage carnage.

cabbage carnage

I kind of wanted to quit, but I was already like an entire goddamn hour in, and hungry, so I forged ahead with the meat sauce.

beef filler

(Do I know how to take appetizing food photos or what?)

all the beef

So the stuffing of the cabbage leaves seems like the most important part. It, therefore, made me pretty upset when this step went horribly. The leaves were not even a little bit pliable and by the end of the pile, I ran out of fucks.

cabbage rolls

Fine. Cabbage lasagne it is.

The recipe said to saute some more of the cabbage, so I did.

cabbage sautee

And then I made a sauce out of it.


(There were bright red spatters all over everything in my kitchen when I was done making this.)

I put the bed of cabbage sauce on the bottom because if you’re making cabbage, it should really be on top of more cabbage. I don’t know.

sauce in pan

And then I had this:

cabbage rolls in pan

I was not confident that this would, by the magic of heat and chemistry, transform into anything edible. I was also pretty convinced that it would spill over and start a fire in my oven.

It didn’t catch on fire, but it didn’t magically turn into something delicious-looking either.

cooked cabbage rolls

My husband and I gamely ate some for dinner. I thought it was mega-gross. He actually said he liked it, but that may have been a lie (probably because he thought I’d have sex with him if he complimented my cooking or something). The leftovers sat in the refrigerator until they got that cabbage-fart smell and then I had to throw them away and it was kind of awful, but at least if I had thrown up on them they wouldn’t have looked (or tasted) any worse.


Are Those Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Worth The Pain?
Article Name
Are Those Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Worth The Pain?
Everyone on Pinterest says these stuffed cabbage rolls are the best thing EVAH. Pintester tries them to find out.


  • rfoust March 6, 2015 - 10:12 pm Reply

    I thought they were yummy. But I love meat. And I love cabbage. So, meat + cabbage = #winning.

  • Melanie March 6, 2015 - 10:18 pm Reply

    Great attempt, but not a fan.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:13 pm Reply

      Not a fan of the cabbage rolls, or not a fan of me? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Either way is fine, of course.

  • Traci D. Haley March 6, 2015 - 10:37 pm Reply

    If you boil the head of cabbage first – just blanch it for a couple minutes, then dunk it in an ice bath – that’ll help. I like cabbage rolls, but I also kinda do my own thing with seasonings and add-ins and make the filling more like a stuffed pepper.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:14 pm Reply

      I read that, but I was too lazy to do it. Lesson learned. I would have saved myself lots of time ripping apart cabbage had I done it “the hard way” to start with.

  • Jessica March 6, 2015 - 10:42 pm Reply

    I made these last Christmas and they were amazing. I think where you went wrong was not blanching the cabbage leaves first. That’s what the author does. They have to be soft to roll properly and seep up all the yummy sauce when baking. Despite all that, I did laugh at the “stuffed crappage”!

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:14 pm Reply

      Yeah, you’re probably right. These things are almost always my fault and turn out really well when people other than me make them, ha.

  • Rhondda Lake March 6, 2015 - 11:09 pm Reply

    I do a thing called “Lazy Cabbage Sorta Rolls”, or “Cabbage Roll Stew” . You chop up the cabbage into approx 1″x1″ pieces, toss into crock-pot, throw that slab of ground beef in there, toss in rice, add a can of tomato soup and a can’s worth of water, salt and pepper to taste. Then let that puppy simmer about 8 hours on high. Stir occasionally. No wrapping, no blanching, same taste. You can also use a smaller head of cabbage that way.

    Of course we love the taste of cabbage rolls to begin with.

    And thanks for no pictures of the cut on your finger. It’s nice tht you put a little bit of yourself into every dish you make. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:15 pm Reply

      Right? Cabbage lasagne! That sounds much easier.

  • Beth Anne Riches March 7, 2015 - 12:13 am Reply

    Oh dear. I’m not entirely sure what went wrong here, but from the pictures, your cabbage leaves weren’t anywhere near soft enough. All you have to do is put them in boiling water for a minute or so until they soften, and then it’s easy to roll them. You can also do an “unstuffed” cabbage roll thing in the crock pot, where you kind of toss everything in there and let it do its thing. I love cabbage rolls, but I’m of German heritage and I grew up in a place with a large Polish population, so that’s our thing! I hope you’ll try an easier recipe at some point…but if you aren’t a cabbage fan, it’s probably not gonna float your boat. If I make them, it’s when my husband is on a business trip, because he’s not a fan, either!

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:15 pm Reply

      Yeah, they were not soft, and I did not follow the directions to make them soft, so I’m sure that was my mistake.

  • JAYBES March 7, 2015 - 1:12 am Reply

    Doesn’t all cabbage have “that cabbage-fart smell”? Or is that just me?

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:16 pm Reply

      It didn’t really smell before I cooked it. But yeah, cooked cabbage kind of always stinks.

  • Michelle March 7, 2015 - 1:35 am Reply

    My mom’s family is super Polish and usually my mom is all about “honoring tradition” and whatnot when she makes family Polish recipes… but when it comes to stuffed cabbage, she pretty much does the unstuffed thing by forming the meat/rice mixture (her recipe has rice) into logs and then dumping the tomato stuff on it and baking it from there. Basically, we’re over the cabbage part, too.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:16 pm Reply

      YES! Glad I’m not the only one over cabbage.

  • Kathy March 7, 2015 - 2:34 am Reply

    I was so psyched when I saw you tested my favorite cabbage roll recipe on the web, but bummed to see you hated it. This recipe is by far the best cabbage rolls I’ve ever had (and I’ve tried many). If your husband liked it with barely cooked cabbage and barely any sauce to cover the unrollable (is that a word?) raw cabbage to begin with, he’ll worship you if you do it right. Throw the head in boiling water until the leaves start to separate, then right into ice water. Even if you hate cabbage, I think even you’ll love it when it’s done right.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:17 pm Reply

      Thanks for the encouragement. Maybe I’ll try it again sometime after I’ve inadvertently done something asshole-ish to my husband so that he will worship me instead of be mad at me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Rach March 10, 2015 - 10:41 pm Reply

      Hi Kathy, I love stuffed cabbage rolls so much but make them like once a year because it is so much work to separate the leaves. I have not tried boiling the whole head of cabbage. About how long does it boil before the leaves start to separate? Just a ballpark estimate is all I am asking. I would really appreciate any advice to make that task easier.

      • Melody June 13, 2015 - 5:09 pm Reply

        You just need to leave it boiling in rolling boiling water for 6 or so minutes. you will be able to see them soft when moved with a fork. If you don’t boil them you will end up with rolls like this post. Im sorry she didn’t like them. She should try again and follow ALL the instructions.

  • Sara Beth March 7, 2015 - 6:09 am Reply

    I did something similar around Christmas. Not the cabbage rolls, but I tried to make that ramen noodle asian salad stuff and instead of buying pre-shredded cabbage I got a head of cabbage like yours because it was way cheaper. It didn’t work at all. it was toughn to eat and it wouldn’t shred and I cried. Are there different types of stupid cabbage other than green or red? If so– why even sell this kind? its crap and ruins pinterest. *whine over*

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:18 pm Reply

      “It wouldn’t shred and I cried.” Girl, that is me SO OFTEN. Stupid cabbage. Stupid cooking.

    • Melinda May 11, 2016 - 4:50 am Reply

      You can buy cabbage already shredded? Really?

      I’ve never even seen pre-shredded cabbage – to make the asian noodle salad you just have to slice your cabbage really fine. And it’s best if you use Chinese cabbage, rather than savoy.

  • Chris Catoe March 7, 2015 - 6:33 am Reply

    If you wanna be really southern, you should make ’em with collards. You still have to blanch the leaves though. The good news is they don’t stink like cabbage IMO.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:19 pm Reply


  • Laura Bezzeg March 7, 2015 - 3:03 pm Reply

    One of my favorite childhood memories was of my mother making stuffed cabbage. My mother would have made an incredible food pintester, my brothers took a chisel and hammer to a pan of her brownies once, but I digress. She always was trying out new recipes, and tried making stuffed cabbage, made a production of serving it to us. Now my father was soooo loving, he would never say anything unkind to her, and would always just eat what she cooked…but the cabbage was the end of that. He (and all of us children) told her in no uncertain terms how awful they were. She picked them back up on the serving plate and put them down for our German Shepard to eat saying, “at least the dog likes them” . He finished eating them, turned around, and barfed all over the dining room floor. Only saw my mother cry one other time…when I married my current DH (she likes hiim a lot, unlike the other mistakes of my life).

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:19 pm Reply

      HAHAHA! I mean, I’m not laughing that it made your mom cry, but that is a really funny story. I feel bad for the dog. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Jessica March 7, 2015 - 3:09 pm Reply

    My great grandmother always used to make hundreds of cabbage rolls at a time, she taught us to always cut the core out, freeze the entire cabbage head ahead of time and defrost it in the fridge the day before you plan on making them. No need to boil it or anything before freezing. The leaves are perfectly pliable once thawed ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:20 pm Reply

      AHA. Another option to try… when I probably never attempt to make this ever, ever again because I’m traumatized now… But thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • TheSwede March 7, 2015 - 4:31 pm Reply

    First of all, kudos on being back. I randomly checked in and saw that you had started posting regularly again. Yay.

    Secondly we make these all the time here, we call them “kรฅldolmar” (Koldolmaar .. sort of) and while the recipe varies from family to family it’s a popular dish despite having been around for ages.

    However we always use boiled rice and quite a lot of it (as meat used to be expensive).
    Rarely eggs though.
    As others pointed out the best way to handle the cabbage is to dunk it in hot and cold water, it makes the process a lot easier.

    We also generally fry them in a regular frying pan instead of making them in the oven with sauce on top.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:21 pm Reply

      There’s rice in this recipe too, but it’s not cooked already when you mix it in. The frying pan thing is interesting. I feel like frying it might improve it.

  • Denise Tran March 7, 2015 - 11:04 pm Reply

    As others have mentioned: Take the core out of the cabbage, stick it in a bag, and freeze it. When you want to make the recipe let it thaw in the fridge. Beautifully pliable leaves that aren’t watered down by boiling them. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Trick passed down from my Ukrainian baba. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:22 pm Reply

      How does one take the core out? I never quite understood that. But yeah, I should try the freezer thing. Thank you, Denise’s baba!

      • Denise Tran March 9, 2015 - 5:30 pm Reply

        I generally stab around the the core with a knife until i get most of it out. Then once thawed you can get most of the leaves off and cut even more of the core out. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Amy March 11, 2015 - 5:49 pm Reply

        When I was in college I worked in food service and learned an awesome trick for getting the core out of a head of lettuce, and I don’t know why it wouldn’t work for cabbage. Basically, you just hold the head between your hands with the bottom of the core facing the counter. Then you pound that shit hard. The core should then be easy to wiggle out.

  • therealkuri March 8, 2015 - 10:04 pm Reply

    Honestly, it’s much easier and just as tasty to make the “lazy cabbage rolls”, with layers of meat, tomato sauce, rice and shredded cabbage. All the same stuff with none of the rolling and difficulty. Even in the Ukrainian heart of the Canadian prairies, the lazy version doesn’t put off too many people. I have a job, so I’ll let the babas make the real cabbage rolls.

    • Pintester March 9, 2015 - 5:22 pm Reply

      Cabbage lasagne!

  • Nancy March 9, 2015 - 6:41 pm Reply

    I’ve made this recipe 3 times in the past 6 months, always to rave reviews. I see cabbage sort of like cilantro. If you don’t like it, try it again. If you don’t like it a second time, try it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you still hate by the 5th try, there’s probably no hope. When it’s cooked right, it’s sweet, tender and maybe try it in something simpler, like a stir-fry or as others have mentioned, cabbage lasagna.

  • Flee March 19, 2015 - 6:47 am Reply

    LOL, the best way to get this right is to steam the whole head of cabbage for 15 minutes first, The leaves become soft and bendable, much easier to use LOL

  • katemail13 March 27, 2015 - 5:12 pm Reply

    I LOVE my mom’s cabbage rolls. Seriously. But sweet Jesus, does that photo from Parsley, Sage & Sweet show RAISINS in there?! Barf.

  • Bri April 27, 2015 - 2:21 pm Reply

    I’ve seen this damn recipe ALL OVER EVERYTHING. But, screw cabbage, I think I’m just going to turn it into lettuce wraps. Lettuce you don’t even have to cook.

  • GP May 3, 2015 - 6:13 pm Reply

    The cabbage fart smell. Yes. Haha.

  • Gina Danger May 20, 2015 - 12:04 pm Reply

    In case you haven’t figured it out from all the other comments up there, I think you need to do something with the cabbage first.

    (Gina Danger–>master of the obvious)

  • Piotr R. June 12, 2015 - 1:38 pm Reply

    Hi, having seen the picture I can confirm on thing. This dish (or a close approximation of thereof) is know in Poland a Goล‚ฤ…bki (Doves). You can find it easily enough by Googling the name ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not a crowd pleaser but has enough following to feature in the cuisine steadily. That being said you have to make sure that the leaves are soft. And I don’t think that this dish will ever be photogenic ๐Ÿ™‚

    Source: I’m kind of Polish ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Mihaela November 9, 2015 - 1:25 pm Reply

    I don’t know if you can find whole sauerkraut (or just leaves). It’s easier to fold and it tastes soooo much better. I should know, I’m Romanian and this is a romanian receipe. If you try it, make sure the cabbage isn’t too salty. Add some smoked ribs or something and boil it all in a covered pot. They’re called “sarmale”. If you need more details, I’ll be happy to help ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Mihaela November 9, 2015 - 1:28 pm Reply

    Oh, and they’re served along with polenta.

  • Mike January 13, 2016 - 2:40 am Reply

    I made these cabbage rolls last night and they were fucking fantastic! Maybe it’s a little irresponsible to call and advertise a recipe as “crappage” when you didn’t prepare it properly? I know you’re known for fucking up pins, but come on now.

  • Sue July 6, 2016 - 5:56 am Reply

    So..I didn’t read all the comments but here goes. Laughed out loud when you ran out of f..ks. I’ve made cabbage rolls for years. Take your head of cabbage, cut the end/ core out and make your cut about 1/2 in deep. Boil the head maybe 10-15 min. All the leaves separate. Cool, put about a tbsp of hamburger mix and voila ..pretty much. My sauce has green relish , hot sauce, tomato soup ..worchestershire sauce..etc. I like extra sauce and kinda tangy. They freeze great too. Damn …now I’m hungry

  • Candace December 13, 2016 - 1:48 pm Reply

    These were the best frigging stuffed cabbage rolls I’ve ever made, Like a million people mentioned above, you didn’t soften the cabbage leaves enough before rolling which is why it didn’t turn out for you. If you do this recipe right, you will be in matter how you feel about cabbage..I promise!

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