Oma's Kohlrouladen - German Cabbage Rolls Recipe (2024)

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Oma's Kohlrouladen - German Cabbage Rolls Recipe (1)

by: Gerhild Fulson / Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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This cabbage rolls recipe is SO German. Stuffed with meat and served with a brown gravy, this really is one of our favorite meals ... classic German cuisine!

These Kohlrouladen are the ones I grew up with. Meat, and just meat, fills these. No rice, no tomato sauce to dilute the great meat and cabbage flavors!

Just great cabbage taste with a wonderful gravy!

Check below for detailed help and pictures. It'll show how easy it is to make this very traditional German cabbage rolls recipe!

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Oma's Cabbage Rolls Recipe Tips:

The number of cabbage rolls you make will be dependent on the size and shape of the cabbage. Get a large head of cabbage if you can, or get a couple heads of cabbage if they're on the smaller side.

I make a large amount of meat mixture so that I'll have enough, just in case I get extra leaves. Any extra meat is then cooked as hamburgers ormeatballs.

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1. How to remove the cabbage leaves:

The only thing that's tricky in making this cabbage rolls recipe is the process of removing the large leaves from the raw cabbage head.

There is a trick to this.

  • Place cabbage head into a deep pot filled with water until the cabbage is submerged. This helps you estimate how much water to use so that the boiling water won't spill over once you add the cabbage.
  • Remove cabbage and put water on to boil.
  • Meanwhile carefully cut out the center core of the cabbage so that the leaves will loosen easily once boiled.
  • Carefully put the cabbage into the boiling water and let simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

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  • You should be able to loosen the leaves, one after the other and remove them from the pot. Use kitchen tongs to do this.
  • Set leaves aside until you have removed as many leaves as you need.

2. Trim the thick cabbage veins:

  • Once the leaves have cooled, turn over so that the thick vein, or hard rib, is on top.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the thick vein away to make the vein and leaf the same thickness.

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3. Prepare ground meat filling:

The filling for this cabbage rolls recipe is the basic meatloafmixture.

I use half beef and half pork. The pork will help keep the meat filling moist with the long cooking time needed.

  • Check the meat filling before using by putting a small amount (about 1 teaspoon) on a plate in the microwave and cooking about 1 minute until done.
  • Cool, taste, and adjust seasonings, if necessary.

4. Stuff the cabbage leaves:

You really want a very well spiced/seasoned meat filling --nothing bland fits here!

  • Add about 1 heaping tablespoon of meat filling to the bottom of each leaf.

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  • Start rolling up tightly, tucking in the sides and then fasten with a wooden toothpick.
  • From here on, follow the recipe for cooking this most traditional, authentic, pure German recipe! Pure COMFORT FOOD!

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Want still easier Cabbage Rolls?

Well, as much as I really LOVE German cabbage rolls, they are still a fair bit of work when one is in a hurry. So I re-created my recipe and created anunstuffed cabbage roll dish. Yep, same great German flavors and easy enough for a quick weekday meal.

Go to recipe >

Yep, wonderful brown gravy (no tomato sauce in sight) and no rice. Just those amazing caramelized cabbage flavors and that rich dark gravy with potatoes on the side to mash into this.

Nevertheless, making traditional German cabbage rolls is still happening, especially when I have company or on weekends. Hey, we love anything cabbage! After all, we're Germans!

Lydia Remembers...

I have so many wunderbar memories in the kitchen with my Oma, and have had MANY of her most popular and traditional recipes, like these cabbage rolls!

Wowza, where to start with these rolls is going to be a challenge. They are just SO good! I have always adored cabbage rolls. To me they are such a comfort food! Not to mention they are very German and that will always make any dish delicious!

I remember my first time trying Oma's cabbage rolls during a family dinner. I just kept going back for seconds, then thirds... maybe even fourths. Of course, Oma would always send home a little doggie bag with us too! (She loves to spoil us, that's for sure!) I can't get enough of this traditional recipe. When served with its nice warm homemade gravy, it is one irresistible dish!

Learn a little bit about me,Lydia, and my kitchen adventures with Oma!

Need that “all’s good with the world” feeling? Comfort food will do that. Get your copy of Oma's German favorites in herComfort Foods e-Cookbook.

Oma's Kohlrouladen - German Cabbage Rolls Recipe (11)

Take a peek at all Oma's eCookbooks. They make sharing your German heritage a delicious adventure!

My Cabbage Roll Story ...

I had always thought cabbage rolls were a nuisance to make, and even though I loved them, I hadn't made them in years.

That is, until I was having company and they wanted to taste real German cabbage rolls.

Never turning down a challenge, I researched recipes and methods, and returned to the one my Mutti used to make. And surprise! It really wasn't that difficult. And best of all, I made lots so there were leftovers for us to enjoy the next day!

Now, of course, I put them on the menu more frequently. Hubby's happy. I'm happy. I'm happy particularly when I make a HUGE batch. Those leftovers are so delicious.

Oma says,

I know! I know! The Montreal Steak Spice is NOT German!!!! It's my OWN addition.

To give a bit of a kick to the filling, I season the meat with Montreal Steak Spice -- any similar seasoned salt will do. Or, just omit this and stay purely German ;)

Ready to make this German Cabbage Roll Recipe?

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Oma's Kohlrouladen - German Cabbage Rolls Recipe

This cabbage rolls recipe is SO German. Stuffed with meat and served with a brown gravy, this really is a family favorite. (The unused inner cabbage often becomes abraised side dish.)

These Kohlrouladen are the ones I grew up with. Meat, and just, meat fills these. No rice, no tomato sauce to dilute the great meat and cabbage flavors!

Prep Time

30 minutes

Cook Time

90 minutes

Total Time

2 hours


Makes 6 servings


  • 1 medium to large head green (white) cabbage (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 pound ground lean beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal steak spice (optional ... see hints below!)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • about 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 2 cups beef broth
  • about 1 - 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Prepare cabbage head by removing the stalk. Cook head in a large pot of boiling, salted water for about 10 minutes to separate leaves. Remove leaves and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the leaves have cooled, turn each leaf over so that the thick vein, or hard rib, is on top. Trim hard rib with a sharp small kitchen knife.
  3. Pat leaves with a paper kitchen towel to remove any excess water.
  4. Mix ground beef, ground pork, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, salt, steak spice, and pepper together in a large bowl.
  5. Place meat mixture, about 1 heaping tablespoon, on the bottom end of each cabbage leaf. Roll up tightly, tucking in sides. Fasten the stuffed cabbage rolls with a wooden toothpick. (Or use baker's twine.)
  6. In a large saucepan, heat butter and oil over high heat. In batches, carefully brown cabbage rolls on all sides. When all have been browned, return all cabbage rolls to pan and add beef broth so that the liquid almost covers the rolls.
  7. Simmer gently for about 1 hour.
  8. Carefully remove cabbage rolls onto a platter, removing the toothpicks. Keep rolls warm while you make the gravy/sauce.
  9. Mix corn starch with a bit of cold water. Add as much as needed to the liquid in the saucepan until it is the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  10. Serve cabbage rolls with potatoes (boiled or mashed) and a green or cucumber saladon the side. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls and potatoes.


  • As a delicious option, I like adding Montreal Steak Spice for just a bit added kick ... a totally non-German addition.
  • Use additional seasonings as preferred, such as nutmeg, Maggi, caraway seeds, paprika, thyme ... :)
  • Instead of beef broth, dissolve a beef cube in about 2 cups of water.
  • Save any extra cabbage for another cabbage recipe, such as this yummy braised cabbage side dish that can be served alongside, if you wish.

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Unless otherwise noted recipe, images and content © Just like Oma |

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Oma's Kohlrouladen - German Cabbage Rolls Recipe (2024)


Are cabbage rolls German or Polish? ›

Stuffed cabbage rolls are a popular Polish dish. Pork and beef mixed with rice or barley are nestled in a cabbage leaf and cooked in the oven or on the stove until tender. The cabbage rolls are called gołąbki in Polish, holubky by Czechs and Slovaks, or sarma / сарма by Serbs, Croatians and Bulgarians.

Why are my stuffed cabbage rolls tough? ›

If your cooked cabbage is tough, it's likely because the cabbage is not cooked through yet. Continue to cook the rolls until they're tender. It's also important to make sure you let the rolls rest after they're finished baking.

Where did kohlrouladen come from? ›

Kohlrouladen (cabbage roulades) are a classic German winter dish, the leaves blanched before being wrapped snugly round a mixture of ground beef and herbs. It may sound fiddly, but it's actually very straightforward – and really quite fun – to do.

Why do you freeze cabbage before making cabbage rolls? ›

Freezing breaks down the structure of the leaves, making them pliable and unlikely to crack or break when you pull them from the head or roll them for stuffing.

How do Germans eat cabbage? ›

Cabbage is a common vegetable in German cuisine and is used in many dishes such as sauerkraut, red cabbage, and coleslaw. However, German cuisine is quite diverse, and there are many other ingredients that are commonly used in their dishes, such as meat, potatoes, and various herbs and spices.

Why is my cabbage tough on my cabbage rolls? ›

If your cabbage rolls are too tough, it means that you have not cooked them long enough. My method to start with, letting the cabbage sit overnight, starts to get the cabbage nice and soft. But if they are still not soft enough after cooking, it means that you need to return them to the oven and cook for longer.

Is it better to freeze or boil cabbage for cabbage rolls? ›

Freezing is a far safer method than blanching. You won't be placing a head of cabbage in a boiling pot of water and removing it every minute or two, which will result in hot water splashes. It also means you can do the entire leaf removal at one time and not in stages.

Who invented Rouladen? ›

Region: all over Germany, apparently French origins.

As so often in German cooking, Rouladen are a simple dish. Combined with sides like dumplings and cabbage they make up a true Germany classic. The traditional German Rouladen dish uses a thin and long cut of beef or veal.

What is roulade made of? ›

When thin slices of meat, poultry, fish or leaf vegetables are filled, rolled up and braised, it is called a roulade – a dish that has been popular since the eighteenth century.

Where does beef rouladen come from? ›

Rouladen is the German version of the French roulade, which is a roll made with thinly-sliced meat. The German version is interesting in that it probably came from Germans using items they had on hand most of the time – mustard, pickles, onion, and pork – to make something that's unique in its own right.

Can you refrigerate uncooked cabbage rolls overnight? ›

If you want to save a little time, you can prep your rolls the night before and store them in the fridge overnight (covered tightly) OR you can make these way ahead of time and freeze them, uncooked and properly stored, for up to 3 months!

What happens if you don't blanch cabbage before freezing? ›

Once it's washed and cut up, cabbage can be frozen, but for longer-term storage, it's best to blanch it first. Blanched cabbage can be frozen for up to nine months, while unblanched cabbage will only keep for one to two months.

Can dogs eat cabbage? ›

Along with other cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, cabbage is fine to snack on with your dog. Just be sure to start slow and limit their intake, since the high fiber and water content can cause an upset stomach if your pup has too much.

Where did cabbage rolls originate from? ›

Although the direct heritage of cabbage rolls cannot be certain, it's lineage can be traced back to Jewish cooking some 2,000 years ago. Recipes vary among Jewish communities depending on region; Romanians and northern Poles prefer a savory sauce, while Jews from Galicia and Ukraine favor sweet-and-sour.

What nationality does cabbage rolls come from? ›

Initially, cabbage rolls were created by the Turkish, who claim to be the original cookers of the dish. But as they conquered more and more territory, the recipe was spread and adapted by tens of other countries.

What nationality makes cabbage rolls? ›

Holubtsi are traditional Ukrainian cabbage rolls stuffed with rice and meat or vegetables, usually served in a tomato sauce. They can be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. Fillings and sauces, and even their name, can vary from region to region.

Is sauerkraut a German or Polish dish? ›

Although it is considered a national dish in Germany and is known under its German name in English-speaking countries, it did not originate in Germany and is also a traditional and ubiquitous dish in Central and Eastern Europe.


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