Stuffed Cabbage

Some foods are so strictly tied to a certain period, like dishes with sauerkraut, which are associated with winter, that I can’t even imagine a situation where I would eat them in temperatures above 20 degrees.

In negative temperatures, however, this is the best conceivable dish—salty, hearty, tangy, and it has everything to sustain us throughout the entire day. The version I prepare is the lightest, simplest, and least fatty variation of this recipe, yet I still find it a very powerful dish every time.

Like with the recipes of all our important dishes, there can be a lot of debate about stuffed cabbage: what kind of meat should be used for the filling, whether to mix it with rice or barley, or perhaps none of them. What type of meat should accompany the cabbage rolls, in the small cabbage leaves, what spices should be added, should it have a roux, and so on. Even our oldest cookbooks do not provide a clear answer to the question of which is the authentic stuffed cabbage recipe that we could call original.

In the 17th-century “Szakácsmesterségnek könyvecskéje,” the meaty cabbage dish doesn’t include stuffed dumplings, but it does feature goose and chicken. However, Ágnes Zilahy in the late 19th century already provides a stuffed cabbage recipe with plenty of meat cooked alongside it. She refers to this version as the one from Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), while the simple stuffed cabbage is the one with no other meat besides the filling.1

Today, most people cook this dish this way, although it’s rare for the meat to come from poultry; pork is generally the common base here. The important rule in our case is that, alongside the regular pork mince dumplings, there should also be smoked meat in the cabbage—usually not too fatty, such as pork loin or shoulder. We also add bay leaves among the cabbage, and rice goes into the filling, occasionally barley or pearl barley. Sometimes, if the mood strikes, we take a tomatoey approach, similar to how it’s done in Szabolcs, pouring a generous amount of strained tomatoes over the dumplings.

stuffed cabbage with sour cream on top


for 8 servings

– 1 onion
– 10 dkg (100g) fatty bacon
– 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
– 50 dkg (500g) minced pork
– 10 dkg (100g) rice
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 10 sour cabbage leaves
– 1 kg small-sized sour cabbage
– 20 dkg (200g) smoked pork loin
– 3 bay leaves

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours


1. Start by mixing the filling: In a bowl, combine minced meat, egg, caraway seeds, a little sweet paprika, salt, and rice. Mix thoroughly.

2. Remove the thick stem from the sour cabbage leaves. Place a portion of the filling along the length of a leaf and roll it up. Tuck in the protruding parts on the sides. Once all dumplings are ready, rinse the small-sized sour cabbage.

3. Finely chop the onion. Dice the bacon and place it in a large pot. On low heat, slowly release its fat, then stir in the onion. Once the onion is translucent, sprinkle it with sweet paprika.

4. Mix in one-third of the sour cabbage, arrange one-third of the dumplings on top, followed by another layer of cabbage and another batch of dumplings.

5. Meanwhile, cube the smoked pork loin and sprinkle it among the dumplings, then continue layering.

6. Place cabbage on top of the pot, and add a few bay leaves. Pour in a little water, and simmer over low heat for three to four hours.

two plates of stuffed cabbage with bread


So Bors



Products in this recipe:

You're 75,00  away from free shipping.

Don't forget that we are

A webshop

for hungarian ingredients