Beware: while most of my recipes are super simple, this one is not. But it is super tasty.

Remembering Russia.

When my family and I were living in Far East Russia, we had cabbage just about any way you can imagine (and potatoes just about any way you can imagine, too). Капуста (or ‘poosta’ as my kids call it) became one of our best friends, and we continued to consume large quantities of it upon moving back to the States.

Russian Cabbage Rolls by Raia's Recipes

Sadly, don’t remember where I found the original recipe I adapted this one from, but I do remember it was a Russian girl’s blog, so you can count on it’s authenticity. Although Russians typically put sour cream on everything (ok, not everything), I left that out to make it dairy-free.

To make the meal fully Russian, just add some black tea and brown bread and you’re good to go!

Russian Cabbage Rolls by Raia's Recipes

Note: this meal takes about 1 1/2 hours to make, from raw cabbage to hot-on-your-plate, just so you can be prepared. But it IS worth it! 

In the recipe card I’ve linked to some of the products from my affiliate partners that I like to use. Purchasing through these links won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks!

Russian Cabbage Rolls

Free from gluten, eggs, dairy, and sugar.


  • 1 cabbage
  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 lb. ground beef/venison/whatever
  • 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 3-4 T. minced garlic
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t. pepper
  • 1/4 t. chili powder (optional)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 qt. homemade stock
  • 2 c. diced tomatoes, with juice


Trim the bottom off a head of cabbage, place it in a large stock pot, cover with water, and boil for 5-7 minutes. Carefully pull off the outer leaves and drain them. Place the back in the water and boiling for about 20 more minutes, or until tender.

While the cabbage is cooking, cook the rice as usual. Place one cup of cooked rice in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Caramelize onions. Add garlic and sauté until tender. Prepare the filling by mixing together cooked rice, raw ground meat, garlic, onions, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Remove the tender cabbage from pot and drain. Once the leaves are cool enough to handle, detach leaves from each other and use a knife to remove the tough vein from the outside of each leaf. Place a small amount of filling into the center of each cabbage leaf and wrap it carefully like a little present. Place each roll seam-side down on a plate while you finish wrapping the rest.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan (or the emptied stock-pot) and saute half of the rolls until lightly browned on both sides (just a few minutes per side). Set browned rolls aside while you saute the remaining rolls. When all the rolls have been browned, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer, scraping the browned pieces off the bottom of the pot. Add the tomatoes and the browned rolls to the simmering stock. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes.

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